What’s the best time to visit Philadelphia?

©iStock/steveweinik

The best time to visit Philadelphia depends on your preferences, but most visitors tend to arrive during the spring (March to May) and summer (June to August). Philadelphia’s heat and humidity can be a hassle, especially if you want to enjoy this extremely walkable city by foot, and summer vacationers crowd popular tourist attracations. Winters are relatively mild for the Mid-Atlantic, drawing those with a love of snow and holiday décor. However, keep in mind that many attractions — such as the river, bus and trolley tours — are seasonal and are better enjoyed before the chill arrives. Before planning a visit, we recommend figuring out what you want to see and do, so that you time your trip just right.

  • On July 5, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best bars in Philadelphia?

    Grabbing a drink is an affair in Philadelphia, with bar keeps, cocktail crafters, and mixologists shaking and stirring up drinks that amaze in venues with personality.

    If you crave a view with your drink, look upward. From the roof of the Continental Mid-town you can sip colorful martinis beneath the lights of the cities skyscrappers while you lounge on a retro sofa. Slip into a leather-clad booth at XIX where dark wood and a massive fireplace give off the feel of a stately library, all with a killer skyline view. Or head to Philadelphia's newest roof-top spot, Stratus Lounge atop the Hotel Monaco, for a view of Independence Mall the founding fathers never got to enjoy.

    If the classic drinks and some swanky style is what you are after, Philadelphia's speakeasy scene is what you need. The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is a subterranian longue with expertly crafted drinks and always perfect ice. Sweep the alleys by Sansom Street for The Ranstead Room, where a barely marked door and a dark stairwell lead you to a dimly lit oasis housing some of the brightest bartenders in the biz. Or head to Chinatown's Hop Sing Laudromat, where, if you get in, you'll discover some of the sweetest sips in town.

    Philadelphia's a craft beer town, and as such there are no shortage of places to browse through multi-page menus of suds. Old City's Eulogy Tavern is one of the original beer shrines, while Center City's Monk's Tavern has a overwhelming selection of Belgian brews (and some of the best muscles and frites around). Or go stein-style with a picnic table at outdoor Franklin Hall or the German (from the brats to the lederhosen) Brauhaus Schmitz.
  • On July 5, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best bars in Philadelphia?

    Grabbing a drink is an affair in Philadelphia, with bar keeps, cocktail crafters, and mixologists shaking and stirring up drinks that amaze in venues with personality.

    If you crave a view with your drink, look upward. From the roof of the Continental Mid-town you can sip colorful martinis beneath the lights of the cities skyscrappers while you lounge on a retro sofa. Slip into a leather-clad booth at XIX where dark wood and a massive fireplace give off the feel of a stately library, all with a killer skyline view. Or head to Philadelphia's newest roof-top spot, Stratus Lounge atop the Hotel Monaco, for a view of Independence Mall the founding fathers never got to enjoy.

    If the classic drinks and some swanky style is what you are after, Philadelphia's speakeasy scene is what you need. The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is a subterranian longue with expertly crafted drinks and always perfect ice. Sweep the alleys by Sansom Street for The Ranstead Room, where a barely marked door and a dark stairwell lead you to a dimly lit oasis housing some of the brightest bartenders in the biz. Or head to Chinatown's Hop Sing Laudromat, where, if you get in, you'll discover some of the sweetest sips in town.

    Philadelphia's a craft beer town, and as such there are no shortage of places to browse through multi-page menus of suds. Old City's Eulogy Tavern is one of the original beer shrines, while Center City's Monk's Tavern has a overwhelming selection of Belgian brews (and some of the best muscles and frites around). Or go stein-style with a picnic table at outdoor Franklin Hall or the German (from the brats to the lederhosen) Brauhaus Schmitz.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best activities to do in Philadelphia?

    Touring Philadelphia's renowned museums and historic attractions is one thing, but to truly experiences the city, you have to get a little interactive.

    While its available in nearly every city around anymore, hoping on a city tour is a great way to understand the layout and distinct neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Trolley Works, The Big Bus, and Ride the Ducks all offer a quick and affordable way to make sure you at least see all of town, and with hop on/off tickets you can simply disembark when something catches your eye.

    Historic Philadelphia's tours of Old City and its famous attractions are a wonderful way to not only see some important buildings, but get to know their interesting and sometimes surpising back stories. These aren't your classic social studies class lectures, either -- with themes like a Tippler's Tour to area pubs or an after-dark peak into a "live" debate in Independence Hall, you become a part of the history.

    If you have a few days in Philadelphia, another great way to feel the pulse of town is to get out of the tourist core and into one of the local neighborhoods. The old time charm of the Italian Market, the trendy boutiques of Northern Liberties, and wave-making bars of East Passyunk all are worth exploring, shopping, and, of course, tasting.
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  • On June 27, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best attractions in Philadelphia?

    Philadelphia draws visitors internationally every year for its diverse and distinct line-up of attractions.

    Philadelphia may be best known as the birthplace of the United States, and as such it's no surprise the Historic District is often a first stop for visitors. Here you can literally walk the streets that saw the rise of America, from Independence Hall to Betsy Ross' house to Benjamin Franklin's original post office. The area is capped by the more modern National Constiution Center -- the perfect place to understand how everything that happened beyond its windows resulted in the country we have today. Nearby is also the Independence Visitors Center, the perfect spot to get the lay of the city, as well as suggestions and directions.

    While the Historic District dominates the east side of the city, the western end of downtown is the Museum District, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that cuts through it is worth a look of its own. Here you'll stroll past the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Franklin Institute, The Barnes Foundaiton, and The Rodin Museum, then stop in front of the famous "Rocky" stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. All of these destinations offer family-friendly exhibits, as well as full rosters of in-depth activities that complement their amazing treasures.

    Food is as much a reason to visit Philadelphia as the history or culture, so come hungry. University City is known for its tiny ethic takeaways, the Italian Market for the freshest "gravy" around, Reading Terminal Market for delish Amish specialties. And yes, there are cheesesteaks. While shops abound all over town, the two famed shops of Pat's and Geno's are located in South Philadelphia. 
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best restaurants in Philadelphia?

    Philadelphia's restaurant scene is growing daily, with more esteemed chefs choosing the city as the spot to open a dining room that showcases impecable food with personality. Formal mainstays like The Fountain continue to wow, but with the recent shuttering of Le Bec-Fin, it's clear that Philadelphia diners are choosing fun over formality.

    For bright, vibrant flavors take your pick of one of Chef Jose Garces' restaurants. Now enjoying Iron Chef America fame, Garces started years ago in Philadelphia and has built a series of popular outposts with varying styles of Spanish and Mexcian cooking, from his original Amada to the colorful Distrito to the more refined JG Domestic.

    Another name with a line-up of must-try restaurants is Chef Marc Vetri, the local master of Italian. His orginal, Vetri, offers up a multi-course extravaganza of classics and modern takes, all in a charming townhouse. Osteria serves up amazing pastas with rustic charm, Amis small dishes with an Italian accent, and newer Alla Spina pub favorites and an impressive Italian beer list.

    The farm-to-table concept is huge in Philadelphia, with chefs not only sourcing ingredients from area farms and purveyors, but many growing their own in restaurant gardens. For super fresh dishes with flair, try Fork, Talula's Garden, The Farm & Fisherman, or Fond.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    Where is the best Philadelphia shopping?

    Philadelphia is home to a bevy of fun -- and often tax-free! -- shopping options. Where to head often depends on your personal style. Visitors looking for high-end designer names should hit Rittenhouse Row, a stretch of Walnut Street just off tony Rittenhouse Square. Vintage hunters will find a mix of resurected treasures and new items created with those same elements in mind in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. More funky style seekers will have hours of fun perusing the colorful shops of South Street. If it's rounded out basics you seek, Center City go-tos like The Shops at Liberty Place, Macy's Center City, and The Gallery at Market East will get you covered from head to toe. True shopaholics often head west to retail mecca King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest in the country and home to names like Nordstrom, Lilly Pulitzer, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Tory Burch, and more.
  • On November 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Philadelphia’s restaurant scene like?

    ©iStock/travelif Philadelphia’s restaurant scene has been simmering for the last 15 years, and it keeps getting hotter. Downtown seemed to close up shop when the 9-to-5 businesses did, but the city has transformed the area into a lively dinnertime destination full of aromatic smells from around the globe. Up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Northern Liberties and Midtown Village have flourished in recent years, filling their blocks with diverse dining options that range from corner cozy bistros to mouth-watering tapas spots. You also can find fine dining here; Philly is home to the Five-Star Fountain Restaurant, which serves French-inspired American cuisine, and the Four-Star Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, which turns out progressive global fare. Though Philadelphia’s culinary championship title goes to Iron Chef Jose Garces, who dominates the city with seven restaurants and counting.

    The BYOB boom of the early 2000s has maintained a strong presence in the city, allowing chefs to focus on menus and avoid the sometimes complex and expensive proposition of installing a bar. Most recently, however, there’s been a growing organic and sustainable farm-to-table trend, giving rise to mini farms and restaurants where chefs have access to some pretty incredible ingredients.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What should I pack for a trip to Philadelphia?

    ©iStock/xiaopingliang What to pack for your trip to Philadelphia depends on when you plan to visit. Travel during the spring and fall, and you’ll want to be sure to bring light shirts, pants and a jacket. If you depart for the City of Brotherly Love in the summer, you’ll be hit with humidity that calls more for sundresses, tanks and shorts. In the winter, cold temperatures and wind tunnels caused by the city’s downtown skyscrapers can be harsh, so come prepared with all of the essentials: a heavy coat, gloves, a scarf and hat. No matter when you arrive, though, bring socks and comfortable walking shoes. The city is easy to navigate on foot, and the last think you want is a pesky blister cutting your day of sightseeing short.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Philadelphia’s cultural scene like?

    ©iStock/travelif Philadelphia may be known for its historical landmarks, but it has a rich and ever-growing cultural and arts scene. The centerpiece of the movement is Broad Street, referred to locally as the Avenue of the Arts. The road is lined with theaters of all sizes, including the city’s showcase Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the historical Academy of the Arts. It’s also home to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a venerable institution and museum where greats such as Mary Cassatt and Thomas Eakins honed their skills. Don’t miss the Philadelphia Museum of Art - whose steps were made famous by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky - and the Rodin Museum, where you’ll find the largest collection of Auguste Rodin’s works outside of his native France, including his most famous piece, The Thinker. Stay tuned for another cultural coup: the coming-soon Barnes Foundation, which is building its new home along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit Philadelphia?

    ©iStock/steveweinik The best time to visit Philadelphia depends on your preferences, but most visitors tend to arrive during the spring (March to May) and summer (June to August). Philadelphia’s heat and humidity can be a hassle, especially if you want to enjoy this extremely walkable city by foot, and summer vacationers crowd popular tourist attracations. Winters are relatively mild for the Mid-Atlantic, drawing those with a love of snow and holiday décor. However, keep in mind that many attractions — such as the river, bus and trolley tours — are seasonal and are better enjoyed before the chill arrives. Before planning a visit, we recommend figuring out what you want to see and do, so that you time your trip just right.
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