Friday, July 24, 2015

24 Hours in Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline. Photo

This past week, my family and I embarked on a whirlwind visit through Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York so my son could play in a lacrosse tournament and we could tour a few college campuses while we were in the area. We had about 24 hours of family downtime in Philadelphia, so I thought I would share a little bit of our time there with you.

Why is this relevant on a blog that normally shares stories that are all about Dallas and what makes it a great place to be? Well, because back in February it was announced that after the expiration of the Wright Amendment, Southwest Airlines would add nonstop service between Dallas Love Field and eight new cities. Beginning August 9th, you will be able to visit Boston, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Detroit, Omaha, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City.... and Philadelphia. Now that the City of Brotherly Love is going to be easier to visit, it is now relevant to this blog. Plus I just like showing off how cute my family is.

It's always interesting to travel with a teenager. They are too old for zoos the kiddy-tours that most museums and cultural centers provide but not quite old enough to have the patience or interest to appreciate things like architecture and art. With only 24 hours to cram in some fun and culture, I turned to Visit Philadelphia for advice. Their amazing website offered many great suggestions and guidance to help me make our time there memory worthy.

We went to see the Liberty Bell where I learned a couple of interesting facts: 1) that inscribed at the top is part of a Biblical verse from Leviticus, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” 2) The clapper cracked the bell on its first use. A couple of local artisans recast the bell twice, once adding more copper to make it less brittle and then adding silver to sweeten its tone. No one was quite satisfied, but it was put in the tower of the State House anyway. 3) The Bell is suspended from what is believed to be its original yoke, made of American elm.

A short walk away was the National Constitution Center. It’s only four pages long, but the U.S. Constitution is among the most influential and important documents in the history of the world. The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. I highly suggest you attend “Freedom Rising,” a multimedia production combining film, a live actor and video projection on a 360° screen to tell the stirring story of “We the people.” It was very moving and explained a lot of what you see as you wander the museum. In Signers’ Hall, life-size bronze figures of the Constitution’s signers and dissenters are displayed, and visitors can choose to sign or dissent. We signed. You can also view one of 12 remaining original pages of the Constitution. Just don't lean in on the display to read it or the guard will sharply tell you to move back... Just sayin.

Of course, we had to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Rocky statue and steps.
Originally created for Rocky III, the sculpture is now a real-life monument to a celluloid hero. The fictional Rocky Balboa of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies was immortalized in bronze in 1980. After filming for the movie completed, Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. I was far too lazy to run the actual steps... but I took a picture of them.

Lastly, we stopped by the Love Statue located at JFK Plaza because you know I am all about an Instagrammable moment! The Robert Indiana sculpture was installed in 1976 and then removed in 1978. Popular demand brought it back where it belongs.

You absolutely cannot visit Philadelphia and not have a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The intersection of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia is the epicenter of Philadelphia Cheesesteak lure. On the south side of this corner, Pat Olivieri first invented the sandwich in 1930. Today, the corner is home to the two most famous cheesesteak vendors in the world: Mr. Olivieri’s eponymous Pat’s King of Steaks and, on the north side of the corner, the always illuminated Geno’s Steaks. For 40 years, the two shops have waged a friendly competition to win the title of best cheesesteak in town, with Geno’s founder, Joey Vento, claiming it was he, not Olivieri, who first added cheese to the cheesesteak. Geno’s has been slinging its famous cheesesteaks from the same location here for more than forty years now and has never been more popular. Like Pat’s, Geno’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you can visit whenever you get the urge.

Although our time there was short, we thoroughly enjoyed the city of Philadelphia. For more information on how to plan your trip there, click over to