Trip Report: 48 Hours in Philadelphia

Recently, the hubby and I tacked two quick days in Philadelphia onto another trip we were already taking.  Neither of us had ever been to Philly before, and as we’d already be in the Northeast and therefore fairly close, we decided to use our Southwest miles & Companion Pass to make it happen.

Superior King Room at the Le Meridien Philadelphia

Superior King Room at the Le Meridien Philadelphia

For a hotel this trip, we stayed two nights in the Le Meridien Philadelphia, a level 5 Starwood hotel, with free nights ranging from 12k-16k points. This was a fantastic choice, as the hotel was gorgeous and in a great location.  The hubby also claims that, for a tall man, this was the best hotel shower he’d ever encountered – fantastic pressure, mounted above the seven foot mark.  He took two showers a day the whole time we were there, he liked it so much.

The view from our room of beautiful City Hall.

The view from our room of beautiful City Hall.

My Gold status on Starwood meant we got bumped up to a “Superior” room for free, giving us a fantastic view of Philadelphia City Hall – one of the most beautiful pieces of architechure in the country. As Superior rooms during our stay were running $495 a night, we were able to get a points redemption value of 4.1 cents per dollar – a terrific value.

From our home base in the City Centre, we headed out on the night of our arrival to Zahav, a scene-y restaurant cooking modern Israeli cuisine.  And it was amazing.  So amazing, I forgot to take pictures.  Oops.   (But here’s the restaurants own Instagram account, to make up for it.)  After dinner, we wondered down to the waterfront to check out the Spruce Street Harbor Park, a pop up summer park installation complete with hammocks, beer sales, and mood lighting – a fantastic first night in Philly.

Spruce Street Harbor Park. Photo credit: flickr user kjarrett under a creative commons license.

Spruce Street Harbor Park. Photo: Flickr user kjarrett under a creative commons license.

The next morning, we jumped up early to do the “touristy” stuff.  We went to the US Mint (free, but not worth your time), the Liberty Bell (free, only takes a few minutes), and then over to the Franklin Institute for their current exhibit, The Art of the Brick.

The real Liberty Bell vs. the Lego one.

The real Liberty Bell vs. the Lego one, at the Art of the Brick exhibit.

Feeling famished, we headed over to Oyster House for some happy hour action, including their buck-a-shuck raw oysters, as well as their $5 house gin punch. Unable to resist the regular menu as well, we also sampled the crab-topped-fried-green-tomatoes, and this was a fantastic choice.  Philly really shouldn’t have better fried green tomatoes than the South, but, um, they do.

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Oysters and Crab-Topped Fried Green Tomatoes from Oyster House.

Dinner that evening was at Little Nonna’s, the little sister restaurant of the much hyped Barbuzzo. And let me tell ya: the hype was wrong.  Olive Garden was better than this stuff. #Foodiefail.

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Pats to the left, Geno’s to the right.

Alas, we recovered well, and set out the next morning to try to settle the cheesesteak wars, the headquarters of which are settled on a single block in South Philly. We tried a “Wiz Wit” (cheesteak with grilled onions and cheese whiz) from both Pat’s and Geno’s, and…..overall we thought Geno’s was slightly tastier, but that Pat’s has better bread. Really, though, neither were amazing – and the pastrami sandwiches we’d gotten for lunch the day before at a little Jewish deli inside Reading Terminal Market were better than either.

With just a few hours left, we headed over to the Rodin museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, then ventured to the airport early to deal with some delayed flight drama. And that brought our 48 hours in Philly to a close.

Overall, I was really impressed with how gorgeous the City Center was.  There was beautiful art, architechture, parks, and people everywhere we looked.  Of course, with only 48 hours, we surely missed something – tell us what else there is to see in Philly in the comments below.

Whitney