Greetings Internet Stranger! Last time we met, I chose to follow a tour company for a one day in Philadelphia itinerary. My obedience was rewarded with good beer and photos of dead dogs. That’s what I call a perfect 24 hours! But today we’re going to try something new.
Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Philadelphia is this fabulous art tour right here with tons of five-star reviews!
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We’re going to see the best public art in Philadelphia. Then we’ll learn all about the Constitution! It will truly be a one day in Philadelphia itinerary to remember!
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
Where to Stay?
My favorite neighborhood in Philadelphia, as a tourist, is Old City. It is the birthplace of our democracy! Most of the major attractions in Philadelphia are within walking distance. And unlike many tourist areas, there are actually good places to go out for dinner here.
So I suggest spending your one day in Philadelphia itinerary at the Thomas Bond House. It’s an adorable and historic bed and breakfast. The house was built by Dr. Thomas Bond, who helped Ben Franklin found the first public hospital in the United States. It doesn’t get more historic than that!
But even if you don’t like American history (in which case, man have you picked the wrong city), you’ll love the tasty breakfast, wine and cheese-venings, and beautiful rooms. There’s no more convenient place to stay in Philadelphia for your one day in Philadelphia itinerary.
If you’re looking for a great deal for this amazing hotel, click here.
And if you’d rather save money on tons of other hotels in Philadelphia, click here.
This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your plans for your one day in Philadelphia itinerary. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
Morning: South Philly Art Tour
Our first tour of the one day in Philadelphia itinerary is the Art tour of South Philadelphia. The main reason South Philly is famous is because it’s the birthplace of fictional Italian-American boxer Rocky “The Flying Squirrel” Balboa.
You can join this tour easily by following this link!
But South Philly has much more to offer than imaginary Italians.
approximately top 5: south philly edition
1) Sarcone’s Bakery
The Markets, Mosaics, and Magic tour isn’t technically a food tour, but we got plenty of food samples nonetheless. And if you’re talking food at the Italian Market, you have to sample the bread at Sarcone‘s Bakery. This is a family run business that has been in the Italian Market for 100 years.
That means when this bakery opened, World War I was going on. Germany still had a Kaiser. That’s how old this bakery is.
Fortunately there’s nothing old about the baked goods in Sarcone’s. They’re as fresh as a newborn Kaiser. When Sarcone’s runs out of bread, they just close up for the day. Our group split a warm Italian loaf with little sesame seeds on the outside.
We could tell the bread was authentically popular because there was a fire truck that sped up to Sarcone’s in great haste. We were worried the building was on fire. That’s a terrible way to begin a tour, by setting a building on fire. But it turned out the firefighters were just going on a bread run.
If it’s good enough for Philadelphia’s bravest, it’s good enough for tourists! But I do hope they didn’t turn on their siren just to get to the bread on time. That’s slightly unethical.
Check tour rates and availability by going here to find out more about this bread!
2) Mural Arts Program
Philadelphia is famous for its mural arts program. In fact, it’s the largest public art program in the country. But this mural in the Italian Market is a little more controversial.
It’s of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. Nina says that the mural gets defaced all the time because Rizzo was “to the right of Attila the Hun”. But they leave it up because he was Italian-American and a local.
Could there be a non-fictional choice for a better Philadelphia Italian-American? I tried looking on Wikipedia, but all I could find is that Joey Lawrence is Italian-American from Philadelphia. (WOAH!)
If you want a less controversial mural in South Philly, enjoy this one of civil rights activist WEB Dubois. (Pronounce his name Do-Boyze.) Dubois lived in Philadelphia and wrote books about race in the city. This mural is painted on the side of Philadelphia’s first black fire house.
3) Italian Market Shopping
Of course, what one day in Philadelphia itinerary is complete without shopping? The reason I liked having Nina along was that she could separate the good shops from the tourist traps. My two favorite stores were Cardenas Oil and Vinegar Taproom and Fante’s Kitchen Shop.
Cardenas Oil and Vinegar Taproom is the kind of upscale oil and vinegar shop that every fairly well-off community seems to have. That’s not a criticism!
You can sample as many flavors as time allows, but I chose Garlic Vinegar and Meyer Lemon Olive Oil because those flavors will go with no matter what rando vegetables I toss into my office lunch before passing out from exhaustion.
Fante’s Kitchen Shop has a truly heartwarming story. The current owners are Italian immigrants who used to work for the previous owners. One day the previous owners had to sell the store. Fortunately the owners were good-hearted souls and figured out a way that the current owners could afford to buy the store from them, so they wouldn’t lose their jobs.
I’m sure this story is true because Mariella, the President of the store, told us this tale herself. If you like food or cooking, you can’t leave this store without buying something. I chose a spatula with an owl carving on it. It helps me cook turkey burgers to put on my office salad. I truly believe the adorabl-osity of the owl makes my burger taste better.
4) Italian Market Snacks
As I mentioned, this is not a food tour, but that didn’t stop Nina from getting us some snacks. We stepped into an excellent tortilla shop.
This tiny box serves lightly oiled made-on-the-spot tortillas that are just the perfect thing to fill your tummy between lunch and dinner. I generally pretend I’m a hobbit and call it Second Breakfast.
What not-a-food-tour would be complete without a sweet? Nina gave us complimentary chocolates from a great sweet shop. This treat would be enough for most people. But we are not most people.
That’s why I bought this giant cup of Cookie Monster Ice Cream. It tasted just like the Italian ice cream I grew up on in my neighborhood, which is right next to Little Italy. It’s relatively low in fat content and very smooth.
Like the best places in the Italian Market, this is a family-run business. Most places that become famous in movies end up devolving into tourist traps. It’s nice to see that the Italian Market is able to retain some of its local flavor. 9/10 Philadelphia firefighters agree!
Check tour rates and availability by going here to find out more about these treats!
5) Magic Gardens
After you leave the Italian Market, it’s time to enter a world of wonder, imagination, and garbage. Of course I speak of Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah Zagar is a local mural artist who turned an entire lot into a playground made up of broken pieces of pottery, glass, and other media I remain unable to identify at this time. No one day in Philadelphia itinerary is complete without a stop here.
Zagar took the god Ganesh as his personal symbol because he’s also very creative with his hands. Also like Ganesh, he pretty much does what he pleases!
Zagar is really a local guy. In fact he lives next door to the Magic Gardens. Apparently the Gardens started because Zagar had neighbors who had moved away and left this lot abandoned. Zagar took the opportunity to turn the empty space into a Mosaic Wonderland.
When the original owners returned, they were rather peeved to discover their property had been turned into the world’s largest broken pottery installation. Fortunately Zagar was able to raise enough money to buy the property and voila! Everybody wins! Especially people who sell broken shards of glass and ceramics in Philadelphia.
24 Hour Tip
Those are all the secrets of South Philly I can share with you for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour by clicking here to find out the rest!
Check rates and availability right here!
6) Lunch at Puyero
After the tour, I needed to stop somewhere in South Philly for lunch. You can’t have a one day in Philadelphia itinerary without lunch! Nina recommended a Venezuelan restaurant called Puyero. (Lunch was at my own expense, but it was not at all pricey.)
I recommend the Catira arepa, which is a stuffed corn cake filled with chicken, spinach, and fried white cheese. It sounded so healthy but then I had to go and get that fried cheese all over it. But you know what? Fried cheese is delicious and I refuse to be cheese-shamed.
It’s a sign of how much the immigration patterns in South Philadelphia have changed that there are so many Latin American restaurants in the area now. The most famous is South Philly Barbacoa, run by immigrant activist and chef Cristina Martinez. We didn’t have time to wait on line there, of course. But I was just as happy with my arepa.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
Afternoon: National Constitution Center
We’ve been following the Franklin Trail all morning, so let’s try to stay in one place this afternoon of our one day in Philadelphia itinerary, okay? The National Constitution Center was created by Congress to spread knowledge of the Constitution.
An excellent goal for all Americans! If we don’t know our laws, we might elect politicians who don’t respect them either!
If you’re inspired and want to learn more about the Constitution in Philadelphia, you can book this excellent and very affordable Constitution walking tour by going here.
Either way, get ready for my little virtual tour of the National Constitution Center with…
Three fun facts about the constitution
1) what about alexander hamilton?
Are you a big Broadway musical fan? Then you’re in luck. When I enjoyed my excursion to Philadelphia, here was a small exhibit on Alexander Hamilton at the Constitution Center. I think they were trying to capitalize on the popularity of the musical Hamilton. (And who isn’t?)
But the exhibit was still informative about the main debates concerning the Constitution. Hamilton believed the Constitution should help create a strong central government. His adversary Thomas Jefferson was more in favor of states’ rights. This is a debate that continues in our country to this day.
Eventually Jefferson and Hamilton did team up to oppose Aaron Burr because they felt he was unstable and unqualified. They proved correct when Burr killed Hamilton in a duel and then was involved in a conspiracy to steal part of the southwestern United States. Thomas Jefferson even had him arrested for treason. I guess that will teach people to think Aaron Burr is unstable!
2) what’s the best exhibit?
This is somewhat subjective, but I’d be happy to share my opinion. In order to enter the main exhibits (where photography isn’t allowed), you have to sit through a live presentation called We the People.
During this presentation, an actor performs a speech about how America came to be, which is then followed by a multi-media presentation. The speech is open and honest about ways in which people have been excluded from “We the people” throughout history.
At the end of the presentation, the actor turns to the audience and tells us that our government is in our hands. Then various dramatic film clips from American historical events play while the music soars. I always tear up at everything. “Ask not what your country can do for you.” More like ask not why mascara is running down my face.
“I have a dream!” I have a dream of a pile of tissues to soak up my tears. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Mr. Gorbachev, give me a handkerchief so I can blow my nose. I do have political convictions, but I guess I’m a bipartisan crier.
3) where can i take foolish selfies?
If you love taking nonsense selfies, you’ve come to the right spot. The best selfie spot in the center is amongst the replicas of the signers of the Constitution. You’re supposed to sign with the representatives from your state. For me that’s Alexander Hamilton, which makes New York State the coolest, yet again.
And here is Franklin again! Didn’t you get enough love on the Franklin Trail today, sir? I guess not. I warned you that Ben here had a big ego.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
Late Afternoon: The Liberty Bell
This world famous bell must be part of any one day in Philadelphia itinerary. The Liberty Bell is free of charge but you need to go through security to get in the bell’s house. So set aside at least 30 minutes if you want to be sure to see the LB. It’s open until 5, so it’s the perfect thing to do before dinner.
The Liberty Bell is one of the oddest symbols the country has. It used to hang in Independence Hall, but it cracked in the 1840s and hasn’t been usable as a bell since. One reason it’s considered a symbol of liberty is that there’s a quote from the Bible inscribed on it. This quote declares, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”
The Liberty Bell has served as an inspiration to everyone from abolitionists to suffragettes to the Free Tibet movement. It’s amazing how something so small and malfunctioning can represent such a big idea.
24 hour treasure: the president’s house
This monument marks the spot where the president’s house stood during the Washington and Adams administrations. It also serves as a memorial for the enslaved people that were kept by Washington while he was president here. (Adams never owned slaves.)
The laws in Philadelphia said that if an enslaved person was kept there for more than six months, they would be granted freedom. But it had to be six consecutive months. So Washington would move his slaves back and forth to avoid their receiving their freedom.
Two of Washington’s enslaved servants, his chef Hercules and a women named Oney Judge, managed to escape. Some people think Hercules made it to New York or Philadelphia but no one knows for sure. Oney Judge made it to New Hampshire and you’ll learn much more about her when we get to that state.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Fork
It’ll be that time for dinner on your one day in Philadelphia itinerary. When I first heard about Fork, I thought it was a strange name for a restaurant. Does it have sister restaurants named Spoon and Knife? But when I learned more about the restaurant’s mission, it made sense.
Fork serves high-quality ingredients with simple preparations that let the flavors shine through. So a simple name like Fork is perfectly appropriate. And it’s conveniently located in Old Town, pretty close to where we started the One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary at Independence Hall
Normally at Fork you order a four course pre fixe. You can choose from several options for each course. As I always say, the more courses, the merrier!
There was a theme for this evening, and it was vegetables. My Amuse bouche was cucumber with beets and caviar on top and a radish with butter. I don’t know sometimes why restaurants bother cooking foods. I could be happy with radish and butter all the time. Plus you get to feel French and chic.
24 Hour Treat: Heirloom Tomato Soup
This was served with fresh corn, which only added to the seasonality of the heirloom tomatoes. I know heirloom tomatoes sound pretentious, but they’re really just wild and wacky. Nothing like the pale tomatoes at my neighborhood Morton Williams that taste like water. (Yes, I’m hating on my local Morton Williams. Its produce sucks and it needs to know about it.)
Maybe we could come up with an unpretentious name for heirloom tomatoes. Rodeo tomatoes? NASCAR tomatoes? I feel like I’m starting to get condescending here. Tom Hanks tomatoes? Everybody likes Tom Hanks.
The second course got a little heavier with house-made bucatini. It was served with only lemon, black pepper, and shad roe bottarga. This reminded me of simple pasta dishes I’ve had in Italy like cacio e pepe. There are really only four ingredients in this dish so the handmade pasta can shine through.
And the hole in the middle of the bucatini lets the pasta really soak up the flavors. The shad roe bottarga is also a more complex way of adding saltiness than old Morton’s table salt. (Not hating on Morton’s though.)
24 Hour treat: green circle chicken
I only ordered the green circle chicken because I didn’t know exactly what it was. I was hoping it would be green and circular, like if the Wicked Witch of the West were a chicken. But no. Green Circle chickens are special chickens fed on a diet of table scraps from four star restaurants on an cozy Amish farm.
But then those same restaurants get to serve these magically-fed, humanely raised chickens to their customers. It is win-win for everyone. Even for the chicken (temporarily).
I have to admit, this chicken was not overhyped. It was the most tender and flavorful chicken I can recall having. I actually looked forward to eating every bite. If this is what a chicken who dines on gourmet food tastes like, sign me up! And it’s better than throwing those leftovers in the trash.
My dessert was an August day in an ice cream sandwich. (I was eating it in September, but close enough.) This treat was a sweet corn ice cream sandwich filled with blackberry corn custard and sprinkled with pecan popcorn crunch. It’s corn three different ways! I love it! You always see meat prepared different ways in the same dish, but not necessarily corn.
And I also like that there was corn in both my appetizer and my dessert. Vegetables are so versatile. It was the perfect end to our one day in Philadelphia itinerary.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
What to Pack?
- A cell charger so you can keep your cell phone charged for the entire day
- My favorite guide book to Philadelphia
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of Philly’s finest cheesesteak. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your one day in Philadelphia itinerary.
But I can tell you that you can use a lovely airplane to get from many cities to the Philadelphia airport, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Philadelphia at the best time of day.
However, if you live in a closer city like Washington DC or NYC, it would be best to take a bus! You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to your one day in Philadelphia itinerary ASAP.
That’s a Perfect One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary!
What would you do on a one day in Philadelphia itinerary? What is more patriotic, an inkwell or a squirrel? And if the Wicked Witch of the West were a chicken, do you think she’d be delicious? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a One Day in Philadelphia Itinerary. If you have another one day in Philadelphia itinerary, add this itinerary!