An Insider’s Travel Guide to Philadelphia – Courtesy of a “It’s Always Nice” Star and Other Notable Locals


THE OLD Joke about his hometown – I came for the story but I stayed for the cheesesteaks – entertains Rob McElhenney, co-creator and star of the TV sitcom “It’s Always Nice in Philadelphia”. As he puts it, “It has always amazed me that the birthplace of America can be reduced to a sandwich. ”

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While many Philadelphians still pledge allegiance to one particular cheesesteak vendor (for Mr. McElhenney, it is Jim’s South St.), the city’s dining scene is infinitely richer these days, drawing much inspiration from the -beyond the North-East. For great food as well as other entertainment, visit neighborhoods like Fishtown and Northern Liberties where a young, hipster vibe emerges. If you’ve come for the Revolutionary Era, head straight to the Old Town, lined with landmarks such as Independence Hall (timed entry tickets required) and the Liberty Bell. Below are more of the city’s biggest hits and little-known stars, according to four local authorities.

Jim’s South St. Onion Cheese Whiz Cheesesteak


Photo:

Jillian Guyette for the Wall Street Journal

Rob McElhenney

Actor: Rob McElhenney

Co-creator and star of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ and ‘Mythic Quest’

Schuylkill River Trail: As a kid my world was walking a square mile, past my parents’ row houses on Moyamensing Ave., through South Philly to the Mummers Museum. Now my favorite walk is along the Schuylkill River Trail, which winds from Boathouse Row to the Falls Bridge.

Philadelphia Museum of Art: He has a special place in my heart, especially his armor section, where my wife and I were amazed to see full armor designed for a child. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Drive

Park : I have long loved classic French dishes and everything about this brasserie on Rittenhouse Square. 227 S 18th St.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts: I spent so much time there as a child, listening to music outdoors. 5201 Parkside Ave

After passing through Independence Hall, stop at the turn-of-the-century Franklin Fountain building in the heart of the Old Town district. In the photo, store manager Nigel Johnson serves a scoop of cotton candy ice cream.


Photo:

Jillian Guyette for the Wall Street Journal

Adam grant

Academic: Adam Grant

professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; author of ‘Think Again’

Franklin Fountain: The cotton candy ice cream is delicious and feels like stepping back a time machine to the 1950s. 116 Market Street

The Met Philadelphia: It is a historic opera house and a concert hall. I go for stand-up comedy. In recent years, they have hosted comedians ranging from Ali Wong to Jim Gaffigan. 858 N. Broad St.

Longwood Gardens: For a favorite stroll, it’s hard to argue with Longwood Gardens in the winter. The holiday lights are spectacular. 1001, chemin Longwood, place Kennett

Joseph Fox Bookstore: They kept great literature and great ideas alive for 70 years. It is an independent, family-owned bookstore with a range of fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as a premier collection of children’s books. 1724 Sansom Street

Material Culture, an internationally organized bazaar in the East Falls neighborhood.


Photo:

Jillian Guyette for the Wall Street Journal

Quiara Alegria Hudes

The playwright: Quiara Alegría Hudes

Pulitzer Prize winner; co-wrote the musical “In the Heights”

David’s Mai Lai Wah: At this Chinatown restaurant, you can actually taste the egg in their dumpling wrappers. The ginger dip is purely medicinal. 1001 rue de la course

Garland of Letters Bookstore: I love the bewitching aroma of multi-incense which gives you a breath of tranquility as soon as you step inside. 527 South Street

Largest Puertorriqueño: This non-profit organization sells unique arts and crafts, including beautiful, playful vejigante masks and books by Latinx authors from Philly and around the world. 2600 N 5th St.

Material culture: I go there for antiques and treasures from all over the world marching to the beat of their own drum. I bought an old wooden altar there which became a bench for our dining table. It was also a good deal. 700 avenue Wissahickon.

The Italian Market, a staple in Philadelphia for over a century, is one of the largest open-air markets in the United States and is home to some 200 merchants. The market is also home to a number of restaurants, including a Villa di Roma, an old favorite of restaurateur Stephen Starr.


Photo:

Jillian Guyette for the Wall Street Journal

Stephen starr

The restaurateur: Stephen Starr

Owner of 34 restaurants, including the new LMNO in Fishtown

The Franklin Institute: An interactive science museum, it is famous for its heart model. Over the years, I have enjoyed taking all my children there. 222 N 20th St.

Green valley: With its many hiking trails, Valley Green [also known as Wissahickon Valley Park] is one of my favorite places to get away from it all for a slice of serenity in the city.

Villa of Rome: The Italian Market is one of the oldest and largest outdoor markets in America. There are also restaurants including Villa di Roma, which serves the dish that tells me the most “Philadelphia”: the Neapolitan chicken. 934 S. 9th St.

Audi party: I co-chair this event which takes place every October. It supports the performing arts collective FringeArts, bringing together the best of art and food in our city. 140 N. Columbus Blvd.

In addition, do not miss
  • Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center:The 57th-floor pool is for guests only, but even if you don’t spend the night there, you can relax at the 60th-floor bar. From $ 725 per night

  • Local: The old town location of this small hotel group offers stylish rooms and mid-century furnishings. From $ 270 per night

  • Zahav: Multiple James Beard Award winner Chef Michael Solomonov won another in 2019 for this Israeli-inspired restaurant in the Old City. 237 Place Saint-Jacques

  • Perla: A few nights a week, this modern Filipino bistro in East Passyunk serves a traditional Kamayan meal, a lively affair where you feast on your hands. 1535 S 11th St.

  • The Museum of the American Revolution: Refresh your early days of American history by taking your time digging through the 110,000 square foot space. Across the street is Alexander Hamilton’s First Bank of the US 101 S. 3rd Street.

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Corina C. Butler

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