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

banner philadelphia

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.

cheesesteak-truck

philly-cheese-steak

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

rocky-statue

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.

rocky-steps

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

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.

bahamas-flag

country-flags

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.

giant-dominos-philadelphia-

giant-sorry-game-piece

giant-bingo-chip

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.

south-street-philadelphia

south-street-montage

showcase-comics

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

tattooed-mom-philadelphia

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

harrys-occult-supplies

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!

isaiah-zagar-street-art

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

south-street-animal-garbage

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

paintbrush-center-city

liberty-bell-art

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.

chinatown-philadelphia

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.

reading-terminal-market

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.

buddhist-temple

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

What’s your impression of Philadelphia?

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

16 comments on “Philly highlights: Rocky, cheesesteaks, street art and hidden temples

  1. 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

    • 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.

  2. 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

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