As one of the most historically significant cities in the United States, Philadelphia naturally attracts many visitors. In addition to its many iconic American landmarks, the City of Brotherly Love has a delicious restaurant scene and several impressive art museums.
But with many tourists come many travel mistakes. We asked Philadelphians to share some of the common missteps they’ve observed, and they eagerly agreed.
From going to the wrong place for cheesesteaks to choosing to drive to areas known for walking, here are 12 common mistakes tourists make when visiting Philadelphia — and some tips to avoid these errors during your travels.
Not enjoying the walk
“Philadelphia is an extremely walkable city. If you are willing to walk a bit, many major sites are within walking distance. Most of the time, you may not have to rely on carpooling or public transit. ― Camille M. Mola, blogger at positive publicity
“As a self-proclaimed shoe junkie, they matter. Philly is extremely walkable and the right shoes are important. unprepared. TomikaTalks, creator of Life in the pumps
Go to the wrong place for cheesesteaks
“The most common mistake is knowing where to buy a cheesesteak. I always say ask a local or read a blog that covers local things. If you see the line is full of tourists, run. Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno Steaks and Jim’s steaks (recently burnt) are great for nostalgic photos, but the best steaks are found at Ishkabibble’s (I prefer chicken to spinach), At Dalessandro’s (Cash only), Leo’s Steak Shop Where Delco Steaks (both in the department). Truth be told, you can find one in different neighborhoods, just ask a local. » ― TomikaTalks
Waiting too long to book your hotel
“Book your hotel early! The best hotels in the best locations book up very quickly. Here are the best ones I would recommend: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia in Old Town, Lokal Hotel (an invisible service hotel with stunning decor) in Old Town, W Philadelphia in Downtown, The Logan Philadelphia Hotel on the Parkway, The Notary Hotel at City Hall and of course at the Four Seasons Hotel. ― Jenny Meassick, creator of Old town love
“Choose a hotel over an Airbnb to stop playing with the local real estate market crisis and avoid having to be your own housekeeper on vacation.” ― Jessa Jordanmodel and artist
Underestimate all there is to do
“I think one of the biggest mistakes tourists make when visiting Philadelphia is underestimating all there is to do and see in the city. Yes, Philly thrives on the mentality” downtrodden,” but we’ve partly had to be constantly underestimated by visitors. Tourists come to Philadelphia and think we’re all about cheesesteaks and Rocky’s and Liberty Bell. We’re those things and so much more. .
There’s culture, nightlife, a huge restaurant scene, and tons of hidden gems. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see everything from Old Town to Rittenhouse, Broad Street, South Street, NoLibs, Fishtown, Passyunk Square, UCity and everything in between. Don’t limit yourself to climbing the Rocky Steps or Pat’s/Geno steaks… plus Dalessandro in Roxborough is way better! ― Mimi Wong, blogger at What’s on Mimi’s head
Not being prepared for your transport
“If you’re driving, avoid parking on the street – the PPA (Philadelphia Parking Authority) is ruthless and will get you.” ― Mola
“The bus and carriage tours are cute, but just get a SEPTA Key card and do it yourself. You can get to all the same stops around the city and learn more if you wander around the places at your leisure. ― Jordan
Priority at the Liberty Bell
“I think a mistake is lining up for the Liberty Bell. While a glimpse of the Liberty Bell is still on Philadelphia’s bucket list, I recommend checking out these other places if you’re looking for some history such as Betsy Ross’ house, Benjamin Franklin’s grave or one of the four national parks in Philadelphia. ― Meassik
Thinking you gotta go to New York for the theater
“Don’t think you have to go to New York for a Broadway piece. I love the fact that I can see just about any show here in the city. Kimmel Cultural Campus has amazing shows, many of which I said were better than Broadway. I also like small theater houses like Peoples’ Light or Arden Theater. There is certainly something for everyone. ― TomikaTalks
Do not patronize local businesses
“Tourists often make the mistake of not buying from local businesses or eating at local restaurants. Instead, I see tourists wandering around Rittenhouse Square and shopping at bigger chain stores like Anthropologie instead of heading to Kindred Collective. And instead of eating at amazing restaurants like The Love, they head to the Hard Rock Cafe. ― Iesha Vincent, blogger at living lesh
Stick to the most popular areas
“When tourists visit Philadelphia, one of the biggest mistakes I often see them make is that they only plan their itinerary to visit historic Philadelphia sites such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or the Constitution Center, but there is so much more to Philadelphia and its culture. I generally advise people to venture to certain places such as Reading Terminal Market, Dilworth Park, Chinatown and The Magical Gardens of Philadelphia.” ― vincent
“One mistake I often see tourists make is to go to the most popular areas. I know there is a big draw to seeing things like the Rocky Steps and the Liberty Bell, but there are so many hidden niche neighborhoods with so much to offer some of my favorite things to do would be shopping in Passyunk Square and heading to Fishtown for dinner at Suraya (amazing Lebanese food). ― Catherine Seigelblogger and TikTok influencer
“Don’t make the Rocky statue the cultural cornerstone of your visit here. There are so many other beautiful and equally iconic destinations to discover. My favorites include the Magic Gardens, All Town Wall Art Murals (as well as the Lil Nas X Mural) and The Japanese House and the Shofuso Tea Garden.” ― Jordan
Missing the food scene
“One mistake is to only eat cheesesteaks from Philadelphia’s crazy food scene. I’ve lost count of how many James Beard Award-winning (and down-to-earth!) chefs we have in Philadelphia. I’ve lived in several major cities, and Philadelphia’s food scene is certainly a rival to so much food culture represented.― Meassik
“Philadelphia is famous for its cheesesteaks, but there’s so much more to the Philadelphia food scene! Head toward Reading terminals market for a variety of foods (but be sure to get a roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s for sure).” ― Mola
Don’t stay vigilant
“The crime rate, unfortunately, has increased in the city, but you can still take advantage of it, but you have to be careful. Keep your eyes on the phone and be aware of your surroundings. ― TomikaTalks
Overdoing “Always Sunny” references
“Please stop dropping ‘It’s Always Sunny’ references into anything you do or say here – it’s also very annoying and most locals don’t care about this show like the locals do. people out of town! It’s almost like setting a target and saying, ‘I don’t really live here!’ » ― Jordan
Quotes have been slightly edited and condensed.
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