I was just in our local coffee shop this morning and a fellow customer and barista were chatting about how they had both been to Philadelphia recently and how they both were so surprised about how great the city was. Both of them stated they had very low expectations for the city of brotherly love and actually liked it so much, they plan to go back. I too had just returned from an afternoon in the city and a lot has changed in the 24 years since I had lived there, but some things hadn’t. The people were just as friendly, the cheesesteaks just as good, and the fantastic sense of place and history as you walk the cobblestone streets was the same.
It was wonderful to see how the green spaces and parks had come alive in Center City and the thriving boutique and restaurant scene in Old City. The day I was there we had too many delightful looking choices for lunch, but it had been too long since I had a real Philly cheesesteak so we ate at Sonny’s. The line was quick, the place was packed (always a good sign to me), cool retro-vibe, and the cheesesteak just as I remembered (cheez-whiz only, there is no other cheese).
The neighborhood was a mix of great historic buildings, quirky side streets, and unique shops. One boutique, Select Shop 215 located on 3rd Street, was one we lingered in for quite a while. They had a such a great collection of stationery, wall art, jewelry and home decor that it was hard to leave.
We walked through the narrow side streets to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and walked the grounds of the National Park. It’s not everyday that you see the very first bank of the United States, the second bank of the United States, the first post office, or walk cobblestone lanes. Wandering the streets, exploring the neighborhoods, enjoying the history and architecture, and finding fun shops was a great way to spend the day.
I only had an afternoon in Philly, but now I know that I need to go back again and spend much more time enjoying the variety of neighborhoods in this fantastic city!