Recently there’s been a backlash against the word “tourist.” It’s like the scarlet word of travel. But tourist doesn’t have to mean fanny packs, family photos, and unreadable maps. I’m all for experiencing the essence of a place, avoiding crowds, and hanging with the locals, but let’s face it, there are some things that will always be determined touristy. Rather than change where we go, let’s change how we act when we get there. And now, in honor of Philly Week, the Chef Diesel Tourist Shit Guide: Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
By all means, GO. It’s an excellent museum with classic works of art. The Medieval armor and sword section is very cool. They have Picasso’s and Homer’s and plenty of other artists you’ll recognize. Now, if you want to look like a fool and brand yourself as an out-of-towner, go a head and run up the front steps like a the famous scene in Rocky and pose for a picture with your hands over your head. There will be plenty of other losers next to you. To maintain dignity, walk up the steps, look back, enjoy the view and laugh at the others who are now out of breathe after an all-out sprint.
Philadelphia has an outstanding dining scene. There’s way more than just cheesesteaks in the city. It’s a necessity to go to Pat’s and Geno’s but treat yourself at any one of the Stephen Starr restaurants that range from Chinese to Cuban to casual. Looking to do it on the cheap? Go to Wholefoods and grab and quick meal to go and eat it in one of the cities many hip parks like Rittenhouse Square. There is no reason to eat at the same place twice and you’ll be rewarded for going outside your culinary comfort zone.
Yeungling is the oldest brewery in the United States and it’s a great drinking lager. It’s also cheap. You can also go the craft route at one of the cities’ many gastro-pubs. Triumph Brewery has a great bar with several brews on tap. Nodding Head Brewery has a killer IPA and Monk Cafe was so crowded, I couldn’t even get in.
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall
If you asked me right now what the story or importance of the Liberty Bell was, I couldn’t tell you. But I know it’s important to our nation’s history and is worth at least looking at through the window for thirty seconds. There are many historical and educational opportunities in Philadelphia, but unless you’re a major American history buff, do not plan a whole day around the typical Ben Franklin tour. Instead, go off the path and take in cobblestone streets, row house architecture, and read a book in one of the many local parks.
This waterfront park and entertainment area is hit or miss. Expect crowds, but enjoy the breeze and happenings. Free concerts, food vendors, old ships. Again, it’s a nice walk but I wouldn’t call it a must see. Avoid the Dave and Buster’s at all costs. Instead, check out Franklin Park, spend thirty seconds taking a picture of the famous sculpture at Love Park, admire City Hall and walk with the locals on the Schuylkill River Trail.