As a longtime Key West resident, it’s so great to finally have an option to fly direct to my hometown of Philadelphia (PHL) from Key West (EYW). The flight is about three hours and lands you just minutes from the heart of the City of Brotherly Love.
The first question people always ask is, “Where is the best place to get a cheesesteak?” (Yes, it’s one word.) My answer is always, “My mom, Debbie’s!” The usual debate shifts between Pat’s or Geno’s — right across from one another on Passyunk. But check out the less ‘touristy’ spots as well, like Jim’s, Tony Luke’s and John’s for a real authentic cheesesteak. (And to sound as if you know what you’re doing, don’t order a Philly cheesesteak; they are just cheesesteaks.
But, it’s not all about the cheesesteak. Some other Philly favorites are roast pork sandwiches, hoagies and soft pretzels. The Reading [‘RED-ding,’ rhymes with “wedding”] Terminal Market is on every tourist’s and foodie’s list. It’s the largest and oldest public market in Philadelphia and definitely worth a stop when you’re in the city. Vendors include everything from steamed buns to local distilleries and even…handmade items by the Pennsylvania Dutch, or Amish, communities that live outside the city, where their quaint horse-drawn buggies share the roads with SUVs and Teslas.
One of my favorite ‘eats’ in Philly requires two things — a short ride and a reservation — but not for a table. Instead, you have to reserve your dough in advance at this iconic pizza joint. My family has been going to Tacconelli’s Pizzeria my whole life. The family-run eatery is a reservation and cash-only spot in Port Richmond, serving crispy, thin crust and my favorite pies of all time at this been-around-for-decades brick-oven pizzeria.
Sports & Culture
Sports are a huge part of Philadelphia culture. Philly sports fans are known for their, well, let’s just call it an extreme passion for all of our teams. The Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and ‘76ers all play their home games in South Philadelphia, so if you’re a sports fan interested in spectating there is a good chance you can catch a game or a very lively tailgate, where the action off the field is often as intriguing as the game itself.
In addition to sports, Philadelphia offers a wide variety of historical sites and museums. The Ben Franklin Parkway boasts Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences and of course, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Yes, there’s a world-renowned art museum at the top of the steps Rocky climbs triumphantly.) Other popular attractions include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the U.S. Constitution was created) and, former prison Eastern State Penitentiary.
Most Instagrammable Spots
- LOVE Park – The Love Park aka JFK Plaza is a Philadelphia landmark. Be sure to snap a pic in front of this iconic sculpture. In the summertime, the park hosts outdoor concerts and other events. In the winter, it’s transformed into The Christmas Village.
- Rocky Steps/Statue – A first-time visit to Philly is not complete without a trip to the famous “Rocky Steps” at the Art Museum. Too cheesy for you and not feeling a photo? Test your endurance and run up just like the Italian Stallion did in the ‘70s.
- Magic Gardens – This unique “garden” and art center is made up of beautiful mosaics, bottles, bike wheels and tons of other things. Be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time.
- Photo-worthy Streets – head to the 200-300 block of Delancey Street, Society Hill, for a charming view of old town Philadelphia lined with stunning trees and cobblestone streets. Movie buffs may recognize this area/location from the film “The Sixth Sense.” Also, Elfreth’s Alley is Philadelphia’s oldest inhabited residential street in America dating back to the 1700s.
- Philadelphia City Hall – The 14.5-acre historic building exterior features more than 250 sculptures, including the 37-foot-tall, 27-ton bronze statue of William Penn atop the iconic clock tower.
There’s never a shortage of great things to see and do when visiting Philadelphia. Consider this an introductory guide for a first-time visitor. Direct flights from Key West put the City of Brotherly Love in a few hours’ reach.