Although it may seem like a little sibling to NYC, which is less than 90 miles away, Philadelphia is more representative of what East Coast city living is like. And in the minds of many, it offers every upside of urban life – burgeoning food, music and art scenes, neighborhoods with distinct personalities, copious parkland and maybe equally importantly, relatively affordable real estate. The older, preserved buildings in historic Philadelphia provide a picture of what colonial American cities once looked like – based on a grid with wide streets and public squares.
For a time the second-largest city in the British Empire (after London), Philadelphia became a center for opposition to British colonial policy. It was the new nation's capital at the start of the Revolutionary War and again after the war until 1790, when Washington, DC, took over. By the 19th century, New York City had superseded Philadelphia as the nation's cultural, commercial and industrial center. Though urban renewal has been going on for decades, some parts of the city formerly populated by industrial workers are blighted and worlds away from the carefully manicured lawns and park-service-glutted historic district around the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
Best places to stay in Philadelphia
5 family-friendly destinations you might not have thought about
Everyone knows travel changes once kids come into the picture. Suddenly you have to plan around naps, easily accessible rescue centers for soiled-underpants and whining backseat drivers. What they don’t tell you is how much fun it can be, and that it doesn’t have to be limited to timeshares on beaches and mega-amusement parks.
Philadelphia destination guides
Top 10 US travel destinations for 2013
Every year our US-based editors team up with Lonely Planet’s expert authors to compile a list of US destinations that are prime for the next year.
Philadelphia and Amish Country Day Trip from New York
Explore the countryside outside New York on a day trip to Philadelphia and Lancaster County, home of the Amish people. You'll drive through the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside, tour Philadelphia and its famous Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and take an ride in an authentic Amish buggy.
2-Day Washington DC, Philadelphia and Amish Country Tour from New York
While in New York, take a trip the City of Brotherly Love and the nation’s capital on this 2-day tour through Philadelphia, Washington DC and Amish country. Explore these two significant American cities aboard a luxury, air-conditioned coach or van.
How to party like it's the 4th of July (on the 4th of July)
Ever wonder why July 4 is so often called 'the 4th of July' around the USA? And not just ol' 'July 4'? No other date regularly gets that days-of-old construction. And for a day steeped in national independence, it gets it wrong.