A Local’s Guide to Philadelphia

Lounging space at Philadelphia’s Spruce Street Harbor Park

Lounging space at Philadelphia’s Spruce Street Harbor Park

Philadelphia is a city of a several personalities. On the one hand, it is a purely urban destination. One the other, it is a colonial masterpiece and a cornerstone of American history. It is a unique combination of elegance and raw urbanity. Exploring Philly with my good friend Valerie, who grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, offered me insights to the East Coast American city—and also ended up surprising both of us. Upon exploring the city I came to the conclusion that Philadelphia is really cool and layered with different histories creating an experience similar to New York, but with a less intense visitor requirement quota.

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Magic and Charm in Philadelphia

Intricate mosaic at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Intricate mosaic at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

I’ve been to Philadelphia a few times since it’s an easy train ride from my home in New York City, but my most recent trip was by far the most fun. A girlfriend and I decided to take a quick, last-minute trip down backpacker-style. With no heavy luggage in tow and just a short time to prepare, we played everything by ear, skipped all of the major tourist sites—and had the best time. Here’s a rundown of what we saw and did.

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American History on Display in Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Philadelphia. Philly. The City of Brotherly Love. Whatever you call it, Philadelphia has a lot to offer travelers. The largest city in Pennsylvania—and the second largest city on the East Coast—was founded in 1682 by William Penn with intent for it to serve as capital of the Pennsylvania Colony. Philadelphia’s refined age is reflected throughout the city, in the intricately designed buildings and in curved roads carved by horses hooves and coach wheels.

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