Make Friends in The City of Brotherly Love
Early to bed, early to rise as Benjamin Franklin advised? Not in Philadelphia. Native son W.C. Fields once joked, “Last week, I went to Philadelphia, but it was closed.” Now Philly boasts more than a place in American history. It's hip. It's open all hours. It’s a travel destination with fun things to do with friends. Stroll along myriad streets and discover upscale galleries and fine boutiques, elegant haute-cuisine restaurants and gritty fast-food joints—Philly cheesesteak, anyone? In warm weather, dance in open-air clubs to river lights and a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. This Colonial enclave has transformed itself into a city so happening that even old Ben would stay up past his bedtime.
Come Face to Face With History
But don't forget history. Philadelphia is the “Cradle of the American Revolution,” after all. No dry civics lesson here—this is where Independence Hall stands, where the Liberty Bell rang out (and cracked), where the Declaration of Independence was signed and our war for freedom began. Walk down Market Street, or use one of the city's Indego bike share bicycles to get around, and you're following in the steps of the founding fathers.
The neighborhoods in the City of Brotherly Love have their own stories to tell, too. In South Philly's Italian Market, Main Line socialites bicker over the price of basil, while commuters and families wait in line to order famous hoagies. On South Street, musicians play on the sidewalks and hipsters buy the latest fashions in trendy stores. All over town, bleary-eyed students sip lattes after late-night clubbing on Delaware Avenue. There's so much to do in Philly, both Ben and W.C. would be amused—early in the morning or late at night.
By CarI-95 is the major route from the northeast and south, connecting the city with Philadelphia International Airport. From New Jersey on the east, I-676 joins US 30 and traverses the north side of downtown as the Vine Street Expressway (I-676). From the northwest, I-76 leaves the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Valley Forge and enters Philadelphia at the Schuylkill Expressway. Follow either I-95 or I-76 to I-676 to the city center; enter the business district at 15th Street.
US 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard) traverses northeast Philadelphia, but both the north and south entrances into town are heavily commercialized and rather slow. From the east both the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295, which run north-south in New Jersey, provide ready access to either US 30, which enters the city center via the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and I-676, or to New Jersey SR 42 (North-South Freeway or Atlantic City Expressway), which approaches the Walt Whitman Bridge and south Philadelphia. When crossing either bridge from New Jersey, there is a $5 toll for passenger vehicles.
Street SystemIt would be wise to leave your automobile behind when going downtown because the old streets, though arrow straight, are very narrow. Unless you must have your car, allow a bus or cab driver to negotiate the congested, often two-lane, streets.
Most north-south streets, beginning with Front Street west of the Delaware River, are numbered; east-west streets are named. Broad Street, the major north-south artery, is the equivalent of 14th Street. All downtown north-south streets are alternate one-way with the exception of Broad, which has two lanes in each direction. Market Street is one-way eastbound between 20th and 15th streets. Westbound motorists should use JFK Boulevard at this point. Chestnut Street is closed to all traffic except buses between 8th and 18th streets from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Since Market Street is the principal east-west artery, north and south numbering begins at this street. Westward numbering begins at Front Street.
Right turns on red are permitted after a full stop, unless otherwise posted. Rush hours in general are 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. The speed limit on most streets is 25 mph, or as posted.
ParkingThough chances of getting on-street parking on the clogged streets are virtually zero, some metered parking is permitted on side streets and less traveled avenues: Parking meter rates in Center City are $2.50 per hour. Rates in the numerous lots and garages range from about $4-$6 for 30 minutes; $9-$24 for 2 hours; $18-$26 for 12 hours and $22-$28 for 24 hours.
Public TransportationA SEPTA Independence Pass provides unlimited rides on all SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways for one day; the pass is $13 for individuals and $30 for a family of five (one person, but no more than two people, must be age 18+). For information about schedules, routes and locations where day pass and tokens may be purchased, phone (215) 580-7800, or TTY (215) 580-7853.
The Speedline, operated by Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO), connects with SEPTA's subway with three stops on Locust St. between 9th and 16th sts. and one at 8th and Market sts. One-way fare between any Philadelphia station $1.40; free (ages 0-5). One-way fare from Philadelphia into New Jersey $2.25-$3. Phone (215) 922-4600 or (856) 772-6900.
PHLASH, the downtown visitor shuttle, services 22 key locations, including attractions, hotels, shopping, cultural sites and historic districts. Passengers may board at any stop. Buses run daily 10-6, May 1-early Sept. and late Nov.-Dec. 31; Fri.-Sun., 10-6, mid-Mar. through Apr. 30 and early Sept.-late Nov. Fare (single-trip) $2; free (ages 0-4 and 65+). All-day pass $5; phone (484) 881-3574 to confirm information.
RiverLink Ferry offers ferry service from Penn's Landing to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J.. Weather permitting, the ferry departs Penn's Landing daily on the hour 10-6 (also Sat.-Sun. at 7) and departs Camden daily on the half-hour 9:30-5:30 (also Sat.-Sun. at 6:30), Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours may vary during special events; phone ahead. The ferry also runs on weekends early May-day before Memorial Day and day after Labor Day-late Sept. and during concerts and special events; phone for schedule. Tickets may be purchased at either terminal or at the Independence Visitor Center. Fare $9; $7 (ages 3-12 and 65+). Phone (215) 928-8804.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Pennsylvania's statewide sales tax is 6 percent. An additional 2 percent is collected by Philadelphia County, as is an 8.5 percent hotel tax.
Aria Health (Torresdale Campus), (215) 612-4000; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, (215) 662-4000; Methodist Hospital, (215) 952-9000; Pennsylvania Hospital, (215) 829-3000; Roxborough Memorial Hospital, (215) 483-9900; Temple University Hospital, (215) 707-2000.
Philadelphia International Airport
Hertz, at the Philadelphia International Airport, (215) 492-7205 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
Amtrak trains pull into both the main 30th Street Station terminal at 30th and Market streets and the North Philadelphia Station at N. Broad Street and W. Glenwood Avenue. If your destination is mid-city, disembark at 30th Street Station. Phone (800) 872-7245, or TTY (800) 523-6590.
The major bus terminal is Greyhound Lines Inc., (215) 931-4075, at 10th and Filbert streets. Peter Pan Bus Lines, (800) 343-9999, also serves the city. New Jersey Transit buses, (973) 275-5555, depart for southern New Jersey and shore points.
Yellow Cab Co., (215) 333-8294, charges a $2.70 base rate plus $2.30 per mile. A fuel surcharge also may be added. One-way fares between the airport and central Philadelphia locations are a flat $49 fee.
A system of buses, trolleys, subways and regional rails serves Philadelphia. Operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), buses, trolleys and subways charge $2.50, plus $1 for a transfer; exact change is required. Senior citizens ride free with a valid Senior Fare Card. Regional rail fares vary by zone; phone (215) 580-7800 for fare information. RiverLink Ferry offers ferry service from Penn's Landing to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J.