Go back to
Home » My Kolkata » Places » Globe trotter's next target must be Philadelphia, from history lessons to tax-free shopping this place has lot to offer


Globe trotter's next target must be Philadelphia, from history lessons to tax-free shopping this place has lot to offer

This city offers a multitude of compelling reasons to visit. From its iconic historical sites to its diverse culinary scene, the thriving arts community, and tax-free shopping, the city has something for every traveller

Mathures Paul | Published 23.10.23, 10:31 AM
Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection spans over 2,000 years

Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection spans over 2,000 years

Pictures: Kyle Huff

When talking about touring the US, we often end up focusing on New York and Los Angeles. Think about Philadelphia, especially if you like to shop or if you are interested in art, architecture and food. Located in the East Coast, this city offers a multitude of compelling reasons to visit. From its iconic historical sites to its diverse culinary scene, the thriving arts community, and tax-free shopping, the city has something for every traveller.

A gateway to the East Coast


Philadelphia is considered one of the best entry points for those travelling to the East Coast because of its accessibility. As a transatlantic gateway, Philadelphia International Airport offers plenty of direct and connecting flights to international destinations, including India. Once you land, Center City is a quick 20-minute drive or 25-minute train ride. Major US cities, such as New York and Washington DC, are a short drive or train ride away for those on a multi-destination trip.

Home to history

For visitors curious about American history, there is no better place than “America’s most historic square mile”. We mean that. There are plenty of museums dedicated to the subject and in the Old City historical district, walk the same streets and enter the same buildings as America’s founding fathers. At Carpenters’ Hall, visitors can enter the First Continental Congress site, where the founding fathers met to discuss independence. Nearby is Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. Needless to say, see the iconic Liberty Bell, an international symbol of freedom.

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

There’s plenty of art

Everywhere you see, there are art galleries and graffiti art is taken seriously here. The city is known for its iconic LOVE and Rocky statues, but visitors can discover much more. Philadelphia’s affection for art is visible on the streets, where visitors can find an incredible outdoor art gallery and over 4,400 murals. Lose yourself in a maze of mosaics at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens along South Street. Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar crafted the mixed media art environment. He uses handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, and international folk-art techniques to chronicle his life and influences in the space.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

In Philadelphia, art doesn’t just reside in galleries and museums. It fills neighbourhoods in the way of murals. After all, Philadelphia is the ‘mural capital of the world’. What started as an anti-graffiti programme in the mid-1980s is today a visual delight.
The artists work with the communities while people from the community decide upon the theme and they are invited to help paint. Once an image is created, every colour is numbered, so anyone can paint. The themes are always socially relevant though not political. From issues such as homelessness to water conservation, everything that’s relevant gets represented. Mural Arts Philadelphia is unique and it helps capture a neighbourhood’s identity through art.

Rodin Museum

Rodin Museum

Museums will keep you busy

Modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway is home to some of the city’s iconic art museums. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection spans over 2,000 years, from the Renaissance to contemporary pieces. Just blocks away, the Rodin Museum stores one of the largest collections of famed sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work outside of Paris. Next door, the Barnes Foundation houses one of the world’s finest private collections of early French-Modern, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist paintings.

The Barnes collection was created by just one man, a self-made man, who was born into a working-class family in Philadelphia in 1872. After working (he found support by playing semi-professional baseball) his way through medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, he developed Argyrol, a silver nitrate antiseptic which was used to treat ophthalmic infections among babies. Success followed and so did money. He could have practised as a physician but decided to follow a different path after completing his medical internship. He had the good luck to sell this company out to a big pharmaceutical firm in July-August 1929, just a couple of months before the big stock exchange crash. He reportedly walked away with several million back then.

Philadelphia is also home to world-class science and history museums. Founded in honour of America’s famed scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute promotes science education with interactive exhibits. Kids and adults alike can marvel at the stars in the Fels Planetarium or explore the iconic Giant Heart. For those interested in history, the Penn Museum invites visitors to explore 10,000 years of human existence through artefacts, such as the largest Sphinx in the Western hemisphere.

Explore the culinary scene

If anything is new happening on the culinary scene, Philadelphia has it. The city has an exceptional dining scene. With restaurants helmed by James Beard Award winners such as Michael Solomonov, Greg Vernick, Marc Vetri, and Ellen Yin, among others, you can savour unforgettable meals. Or, immerse yourself in the taste of Philadelphia at the historic Reading Terminal Market, which hosts over 80 local vendors. Keep aside half a day to explore the place.

Rocky Steps

Rocky Steps

Performing arts

Considered a top theatre city in the US, Philadelphia boasts a rich community of esteemed performing arts organisations. The Kimmel Cultural Campus is home to many legendary ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Ballet, and Opera Philadelphia. The historic Walnut Street Theatre is the oldest operating theatre in America.

The great outdoors

Philadelphia is a city that’s meant to be explored on foot. But you can also spend time outdoors. Philadelphia’s park system spans over 10,000 acres and has over 270 miles of recreational trails, offering numerous outdoor adventures. Nature lovers can hike through Fairmount Park or Wissahickon Valley Park. For those who prefer a water view, the Delaware River Trail offers access to several piers and pop-up parks.

Tax-free shopping

Clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free in Philadelphia, making it a prime place to go shopping. Yes, you read that right. Visitors will find international brands and locally-owned boutiques in neighbourhoods. For one-stop shopping, head to the Fashion District Philadelphia in Centre City. For more shopping, make your way to the countryside, where over 400 retailers await at the King of Prussia Mall. Once you are there, you will need the entire day to finish your shopping spree.

Nuggets of history

Pierre du Pont is a name that suggests business acumen, especially when one considers the history of General Motors and, of course, DuPont, the chemical giant. There was another side to the man — horticulture and landscape architecture. He knew that wandering through a lush garden can be therapeutic, a message that is not lost on the people visiting Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. At one of the world’s best known botanical gardens the healing powers of nature and gardens rushes through 1,077 acres and it is also home to memorable illuminated fountain performances. Longwood Gardens combines magnificent outdoor plantings with a huge glass house full of impressive displays and it holds a lesson to other gardens around the world.

Mathures Paul

Last updated on 23.10.23, 10:31 AM

More from My Kolkata