Philadelphia: Always Something New to See
Think you know Philadelphia? Guest blogger Angela Shepherd takes you on a walking tour of America’s birthplace and points out the best places to see and be seen while you’re attending the SLA 2016 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO.
Conferences make for great sightseeing opportunities between sessions and after hours, and the SLA 2016 Annual Conference will offer plenty of them. Whether this is your first visit or you’ve been here before, there’s always something new to see in Philadelphia. In fact, with its combination of historic attractions and contemporary culture, Philadelphia was recently named the best place to visit in the United States by the travel site Lonely Planet.
I grew up an hour outside Philadelphia but have been working here for about 10 years, mostly in the city. The area around the Convention Center is very walkable, and the nearby neighborhoods are very accessible. For those who’d rather not walk, the subway and bus systems are easy to navigate, and the Philly Phlash has stops for many of the city’s popular sites.
Across the street from the Convention Center, you’ll find the Reading Terminal Market, which is America’s oldest farmers’ market and now home to an indoor food paradise with many dining options. From there, you can stroll across Market Street and visit Macy’s to listen to the famous Wanamaker Grand Organ or see the Wanamaker Eagle, or you can head east on Arch Street to Chinatown to sample the many restaurants and visit the China Gate at 10th and Arch Streets.
If you head west a few blocks to City Hall, you can visit Dilworth Park, which is now the temporary home of the famous LOVE statue while Love Park undergoes a renovation. The park is also home to a fountain and green space as well as the Rosa Blanca Cafe if you are looking for a bite to eat.
From City Hall, if you head West on Market Street to Liberty Place, you can enjoy one of the best views of the city at the One Liberty Observation Deck. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the deck is on the 57th floor and provides views of the entire city. If you’d rather stay “grounded,” catch the Shops at Liberty Place instead.
From Liberty Place, head northwest to the Ben Franklin Parkway to see the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the “Rocky” statue (from the movie of the same name) or visit one of the many other museums in the area. Or head southwest toward 18th Street and you’ll be in Rittenhouse Square, where you can take a break to people watch, dine at one of the many restaurants, or head east on Walnut Street for shopping and more restaurants. Parc Restaurant on 18th Street across from the square is a great place to grab dinner or a drink and sit at an outside table.
Heading east on Walnut, you can visit Midtown Village, which is home to many great restaurants and bars as well as shopping opportunities. One of my favorite restaurants, El Vez, is here. If you visit, be sure to stop by the photo booth in the restaurant for a fun picture!
Heading east between 5th and Front Street and Race to Walnut Street, visit Old City, which is home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, and many other historic attractions. You can also visit art galleries, many are located on 2nd and 3rd Streets. This is my old neighborhood, and it’s a great place to wander around and enjoy the history of the city.
Walking south a few blocks from Old City, you can visit South Street, one of Philadelphia’s most famous streets, for a mix of restaurants, bars, and shops. From here, take the pedestrian bridge and stroll over to Penn’s Landing to visit the Independence Seaport Museum or the Spruce Street Harbor Park, which features a pop-up park and beer garden. This is one of my favorite spots in the city, where you can grab a hammock and take a break to relax.
Lonely Planet was right—Philadelphia is the place to visit in 2016. I and my fellow SLA Philadelphia Chapter members look forward to seeing you in June!
Angela Shepherd is research librarian at Cozen O’Connor, a law firm based in the Center City District of Philadelphia.