Philly highlights: Rocky, cheesesteaks, street art and hidden temples

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Seeing historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall was cool, but I was eager to find the heart of Philadelphia, where the locals live and play.

Well, that and the Rocky statue. And cheesesteaks. And the Love sign. And street art. I can’t entirely give up my touristy leanings, after all.

First up: The cheesesteak! Food carts and food trucks are found in many busy neighborhoods. My steak was simple – beef with cheese whiz and peppers and onions. Very satisfying, but I wouldn’t order this everyday. It’s too filling.



The Rocky statue is a must-visit spot in Philadelphia. It sits outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rocky stole my signature pose!


You may be wondering if people actually run up and down the steps of the museum to work out, as Rocky did in the movie. The answer is yes. I could not get the Rocky theme out of my head as I watched.


Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, so you have to stop by the LOVE sign and fountain in Love Park.


You may notice the Israeli flag in the background of that photo. What’s that doing there? The Ben Franklin Parkway displays the flags of more than 100 nations. You can re-create your own Olympic opening ceremony by walking past all of them.



Just across the street from Love Park is a parklet with an art installation known as “Your Move” that features giant board game pieces, including dominos, bingo chips, chess pawns, and pieces from one of my favorites, the game of Sorry. I’m nearly unbeatable at Sorry, so beware, in case you ever see me at your local board game night.




South Street is one of the coolest places to hang out in Philly, with lots of edgy, exciting businesses and restaurants. It reminds me of the South Side in Pittsburgh and Wicker Park in Chicago.




I didn’t have a chance to go inside this bar, but based on the name, I’m sure that it’s completely amazing.


Harry’s is willing to cater to all your occult-related needs.


Remember Isaiah Zagar, the artist who creates amazing mosaics and artistic creations at Magic Gardens? In addition to the Magic Gardens site, he has a number of pieces all around the city, many of which are on homes and businesses near South Street. Some lucky folks have his work in their driveways!


Even the garbage cans on South Street are artsy. Each one is painted differently to resemble a goofy-looking animal.


More random city art: A giant paintbrush in Center City and a set of elevated Liberty Bells near the University of Pennsylvania.



Statues in Philly range from spitting frogs to an odd collection of bears, soldiers and naked men.

frog statue

bear statue

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take in the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown.


Early one morning I stopped by the Reading Terminal Market, an indoor mall of merchants who primarily sell food. The offerings ranged from a candy store to Amish baked goods to fresh fish to custom-made lunch sandwiches.


Horse carriages are always at your service, especially in Old City.

horse carriage

This was one of my favorite sights in the city: A Buddhist temple hidden on a random South Philly side street. Out of nowhere in a blue collar residential neighborhood came this splash of color and culture.


I think I could spend weeks in Philly and still discover awesome new sights.

What’s your impression of Philadelphia?

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16 Responses to Philly highlights: Rocky, cheesesteaks, street art and hidden temples

  1. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) November 20, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Love Philly! Looks like you hit up the classic spots. I’m a vegetarian but I love hitting up the food trucks for breakfast and some of the more international fare :)

    • Scott November 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      I would like to try the food trucks again next time to get more than cheesesteaks, that’s for sure1

  2. Scarlett November 21, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    I don’t blame you for not TOTALLY giving up the touristy stuff – when it comes to Philly Cheesesteaks, how could you not! Love the pictures. I have this idea that I’ll run up those steps just like Rocky when I visit… I should probably go to the gym mor than once a month then… xxx
    Scarlett recently posted..Tales of Muggery

    • Scott November 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Haha, I know what you mean when it comes to the gym. I would’ve gotten winded if I tried to run up those steps.

  3. John November 25, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    South Street in Philly is one of my favorite places to hang out, though I think Jim’s steaks on South Street is way overrated. Next time I want to try a steak from one of the food trucks.
    John recently posted..The Saguaro Cactus of Phoenix, Arizona in Photos

    • Scott November 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      I had a hard time sorting through the info about which cheesesteak places were supposed to be the best, but I’m not sure my palette is refined enough to tell the difference anyway.

  4. Ayelet - All Colores November 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    That’s my signature pose too, only mine is with open hands. Love all the flags – but especially love all the art everywhere. It looks like such a fun, quirky city to wander through.
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..Carmel National Park, Israel: What You See from the Top

    • Scott November 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      I have a thing for flags, nations, geography, history and art, so Philly was an awesome place to hang out.

  5. Tom @ Waegook Tom December 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Glad I came across your post here, Scott! I was wondering what there actually is to do in Philly, as me and the bf are planning a day or two there next year, and all we knew about before reading this was the cheesesteak.

    I think we may have to drop by Tattooed Mom for a drink as well.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Finding Peace in Buyeo

    • Scott December 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      Cool, are you going to Philly around TBEX? Definitely check out the Magic Gardens!

  6. Ayngelina December 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Philly is on my wish list for 2013, it looks like such a great place to just walk around…and eat of course.
    Ayngelina recently posted..In Search of the great Canadian red

    • Scott December 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Yep, there’s much more food to explore than just the cheesesteak!

  7. Lauren December 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Philly is my original hometown…loved the photos!! That cheese steak photo made me hungry :)
    Lauren recently posted..20 Hours in Istanbul – Part 1

    • Scott December 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      I’m glad I could show off your hometown!

  8. Liz Raddatz June 29, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    I’m going to PA in August and we are spending a whole day in Philly. Thanks for the ideas :)

    • Scott Shetler July 1, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      No problem, Liz. There’s so much to see and do in Philly!

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