Spend a Day in Philadelphia

It’s that time of the year again: you’re scrambling to find a friend’s house to decamp to for part of spring break, lest you get stuck at home without any of your high school friends to hang out with. Well, whether you have a couch to crash on or not, The Thrill‘s crack travel team has you covered. This is the second of five guides to cities around the United States that we’ll be rolling out this week. Safe travels!

Photo by Ed Yakovich via Wikimedia Commons

Philly is the most cozy-feeling big city in the world. The venues are good, the restaurants are better and it’s easily (and cheaply) accessible by Bolt and Megabus from Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. If you happen to be in the fair city of Philadelphia over break, this is what I think you should do.

Below are some of my favorite places to eat, shop and spend time in Philadelphia. The chance that you could complete all of these activities in one day is slim, but I’ve given you an assortment of options so that you can select your favorites. Also, I could list phun Philly phacts forever so feel free to request more of my brilliant insights via email/the comments.


Sabrina’s Cafe is one of my favorite brunch spots in the whole city. Each of the three locations serves its own specific clientele, but the food is good everywhere. Standards include a rotating list of stuffed French toast, special omelets that always bizarrely contain fruit, enormous servings of nachos and really excellent tofu scrambles (if you’re into that).  Most importantly, the coffee is La Colombe (see below for more information). Call 15-30 minutes before you plan to arrive or be prepared to stand on line.

Garces Trading Company happens to be the first Philadelphia restaurant where I dined with Our Most Glorious Leader David McCabe ’14. Nestled in the heart of the Gayborhood, Garces Trading Company serves a conveniently located French market style lunch. Choose from a list of cheeses, meats, sandwiches, salads, sodas and wines, all brought to your table from the bordering market style stalls by a server. While it’s a favorite lunch spot, the dinner prices can be prohibitively expensive. Be aware of your timing!

Han Dynasty is a rising Philly star. Think gourmet but authentic Chinese food. Everyone I know is obsessed with the Dan Dan Noodles, but you literally cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. Also, it’s reasonably priced! Even at dinner time! See The Franklin Fountain (below) for a nearby dessert option.


La Colombe Torrefaction started in Philadelphia and now has locations all over the country. The coffee here is incredible. Like so, so good. Doesn’t your stomach lining deserve something better than Peirce coffee?

The Franklin Fountain might be the only place left in the country where a soda jerk with a waxed mustache will serve you a phosphate from behind a marble counter. It’s almost like you’re back in 1914! Phosphates, sodas, fizzes and local ice creams are all on the menu. Unfortunately, the contemporary prices don’t mirror the antiquated surroundings. Be prepared to part with around $5 for even the simplest of treats.

Pictured are Paul Hoehn '14, Hanna Washburn '14 and Jack Hoehn enjoying their ice cream.


The Mutter Museum is so repulsive that it’s actually fun. This old-fashioned museum showcases an enormous collection of medical oddities collected between the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Body parts in jars and books detailing Siamese twins abound. Also, the mummified body of the famous Soap Lady! Here’s the Wikipedia page.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library has the largest collection of James Joyce papers and manuscripts outside of Ireland. The museum also brags Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula and a sizable collection of Maurice Sendak illustrations. The house itself is impeccably maintained and located on one of the most beautiful blocks in the city. Save time to peruse the gift shop!


Philly AIDS Thrift is my favorite thrift store ever. Not only are their offerings (including clothing, accessories, records, movies and collectables) constantly refreshed, but all proceeds go towards AIDS research. Thankfully, they take credit cards.

If you’re not into thrifting (even though it’s environmentally conscious and anti-blind consumerism) try any of the stores mentioned here.


Check the listings at R5 Productions and The Deli Philly for good bars and good music.

Take note: because Pennsylvania has archaic alcohol regulations, many Philly restaurants are BYOB. Take full advantage of this by pre-purchasing your liquor at a state store.

Outdoor Spaces

Anyone who’s ever been with me in my city for more than two minutes has heard my “Five Squares of Philadelphia” lecture. Here’s the abridged version: when Philadelphia was planned, William Penn arranged for the city to be built around five evenly placed green spaces. City Hall, Washington Square, Rittenhouse Square, Franklin Square and Logan Circle now enumerate the planned squares.

City Hall is the best for visits to the Mayor’s office and taking the subway (Whoops, sorry Will, this square is no longer a green space).

Rittenhouse Square is the best for people watching (I see you, Ritt Rats) and shopping.

Washington Square is the best for real estate envy, proximity to the Gayborhood and access to a beautiful Tiffany glass mosaic.

Franklin Square is the best for mini golf and gourmet hamburgers.

Logan Circle is the best for playing in the fountain with A) children fresh off a visit to the Dinosaur Museum and B) the homeless.

11 responses

  1. Yeah Philly!! You should include Pat’s or Geno’s on this list. You can’t truly visit Philly without getting a legit cheesesteak.

  2. Reading Terminal Market all da way – it’s the best though touristy but it’s an experience
    Also, if you want to go to a really really nice restaurant – Parc on Rittenhouse square is amazinggggg!

    Also – The Magic Garden on South street is incredible. go.

    yayayayayay philly is the best

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