If you thought all there is to do in Philly is gaze at the Liberty Bell and eat cheese steaks, you’re dead wrong. The City of Brotherly Love has always had lots more to offer, but lately, it’s been upping its cool factor by a lot. Today you’ll find an awesome restaurant scene driven by innovative chefs, laid-back bars, world-class museums, and indie boutiques galore. While many of the major attractions and cultural sites are located in charming Center City with its historic brick buildings and cobblestone streets, some of the best new restaurants, bars, and shops are off the beaten path in Fishtown, a once-gritty neighborhood that’s now undergoing a major renaissance. It’s worth spending a long weekend here so you can see both the old and new sides of Philly.
Where to Stay
Wm Mulherin’s Sons: The first hotel to open in up-and-coming Fishtown, this boutique spot has just four spacious suites, each with a kitchenette, comfy living space, and custom wallpaper designed by artist Stacey Rozich. You’ll definitely want to spring for brunch or dinner at the namesake restaurant downstairs, which serves up some of the city’s best wood-fired pizzas (including an insane brunch pizza with mushrooms and truffle burrata) and handmade pastas in a beautifully restored pre-Prohibition whiskey blending and bottling facility.
ROOST Apartment Hotel: For stays of a week or more, bedding down at ROOST is like having your own little apartment in a full-service building, complete with a 24-hour concierge and bike share. The clean-lined design is accentuated by thoughtful touches, like antique rugs, modern art, Chemex coffee makers, and even washing machines. Two locations, one in Midtown and one in Rittenhouse, are conveniently located near all of Philly’s major sites.
Where to Eat
Amis Trattoria: One of Philly’s best chefs, Marc Vetri is celebrated for his modern take on Italian cuisine made with local ingredients, like fresh Jersey tomatoes and corn. If you’re in the mood for unfussy handmade pasta, this is the place to go.
La Colombe: Head to this coffee empire’s Fishtown flagship for your caffeine fix. Forget cold brew—you’ve gotta try the draft latte served on tap. Unlike a typical iced latte, it’s got a frothy texture. This spacious location has plenty of space to sit and serves sandwiches, salads, and pastries.
Vernick: Greg Vernick is one of Philly’s most talented chefs. At his namesake restaurant, nothing is too complicated or fussy. He just takes top-notch ingredients and makes them shine. Order the fish crudo and whatever seasonal ingredients he’s putting on toast.
Zahav: Israeli cuisine is having a moment thanks in part to Michael Solomonov, who brought it to the next level when he opened this restaurant in 2008. The acclaimed chef born in a small town near Tel Aviv makes arguably the best hummus you’ll find anywhere in the U.S. This is a great place to go with a group. Take my advice: Order everything on the menu and share it all.
Where to Drink
Root:This modish wine bar is located right next to a popular beer garden and near a cluster of low-key bars, so it can be a great place to start bar hopping or a chill alternative to Fishtown’s rowdier spots. In addition to a nice wine selection, there are a few specialty G&Ts with fruit and herbs for a nice twist and sophisticated bar bites like peas and ricotta on toast.
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.: This speakeasy-style bar is the place to come for serious cocktails. Dark, atmospheric, and vaguely reminiscent of New York’s Death & Co., it serves classics, creative libations, and some excellent punches.
What to DoPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Philly’s main museum is a must-visit institution for art lovers (and fans of Rocky, which was filmed on its steps). The collection spans centuries, with a mesmerizing series of paintings by Cy Twombly, the world’s largest collection of works by Marcel Duchamp, and the greatest arrangement of sculptures by Constantin Brancusi outside of Europe.
The Barnes Foundation: This museum has an unparalleled collection of Renoirs, in addition to other impressionist and post-impressionist painters like Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani. The modern building by Todd Williams and Billie Tsein is a masterpiece in its own right.
Rodin Museum:Thought you had to go to Paris to see Rodin’s "Thinker"? Wrong! With over 140 bronzes, marbles, and plasters, Philly’s Rodin Museum has one of the world’s largest collections of sculptures by the iconic French artist and the only museum dedicated to him outside of France.
Where to Shop
Vestige: This boho-chic shop in Fishtown has all the caftans, woven basket bags, and ultra-mod jewelry you’d expect to find in L.A. or Marfa, Texas. You’ll also find a curated selection of ceramics, skin care, vintage clothes, and imports.
Franklin & Poe: For style that hews more toward classic Americana, head down the street to this indie boutique that started as a pop-up and now has a permanent home. They stock a wide selection of denim, casual tees, leather accessories, and personal care products for men and women.