The city of Brotherly Love lures travelers with a vibrant mix -- history, culture and community. As the spring and summer seasons bring the promise of warmer weather, visitors from all over the world will flock to Philadelphia. And while the landmark attractions are not to be missed -- the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall and Betsy Ross House among them -- here’s our list of alternative things to do and see in one of America’s greatest cities.
Do the Roasted Pork, Skip the Cheesesteak
The reputation of Philly’s most famous sandwich certainly precedes it. But, as a tasty alternative to the heaping cheesesteak, seek out one of this city’s roasted pork sandwiches. They are a sleeper favorite for many locals. A handful of shops are gaining notoriety for their roasted pork sammies, including John’s Roast Pork, Tony Luke’s and Paesano’s. At Tommy DiNic’s, located inside the Reading Terminal Market in Center City, pork is rubbed with Italian herbs and spices before it’s slow-roasted for five hours, sliced thinly and served up with provolone cheese and broccoli rabe; no wonder the popular Travel Channel show, Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America, gave this creation the No. 1 spot.
Do the Walk, Skip the Cafe
Want to get a taste of Philly? The folks at Chew Philly earn high marks for their culinary and cultural excursions through Manayunk, one of Philadelphia’s most eclectic neighborhoods. Their focus is on gourmet delis, bakeries and one-of-a-kind specialty shops that are family-owned. And, between bites, they turn the conversation to things like architecture and history. The tour through 300-year-old Manayunk covers 1.7 miles of culinary havens, many of them along the scenic Schuylkill River. Plan on 2 1/2 hours and groups capped at 16 hungry participants. All ages are welcome.
Skip the Playground, Visit the Garden
Need to keep the kids intrigued? Many Philly parents will point you in the direction of the Morris Arboretum, run by the University of Pennsylvania. Robyn Unger, a public relations executive who’s lived in Philadelphia all her life, recently took her 4-year-old son and some friends here. “I could not believe my eyes,” she says. “These grounds are just incredible, and the fun tree houses and imitation nests for the kids to climb and explore garnered hours of enjoyment for us all!” The beautiful sprawling property features myriad gardens; the F. Otto Haas Oak Allee is a landscaped European-style lane flanked by Shumard oak trees, hydrangea and hollies. The plant collections feature more than 12,000 specimens, and there are art exhibits and seasonal events featured throughout the year. Birders, bring your binoculars; the wetlands, woodlands and meadows here house hundreds of resident birds.