One thing that prominently features on our things-we-want-to-do-while-we-live-in-the-U.S.A list (that we didn't write down so you'll just have to trust me) is to attempt to visit all 50 states! Our only rule for a visit to count is to eat at least one meal in that state, which shouldn't be hard 'cause, well, we love to eat!
In June, we made our first trip out of New York state together since we moved here in November. And, as we are both still without U.S driving licences (must get on this!), we decided to start with the cities that do not require a car to get around. First to be ticked off - Philadelphia, PA! - which as well as being car-free friendly, is also a mere 1.5hrs by train from NYC - huzzah!
We arrived in Philadelphia just after 10am on a Saturday, and made a beeline for the 3 drink brunch at William Street Common (where I had 3 glasses of OJ - carazy!). As soon as I read "bottomless doughnuts" on this restaurant's brunch description I knew we had to go - and they were good doughnuts! After we'd eaten we made our way through Philly to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is home to the infamous Rocky Steps, and although we didn't get to go inside the museum on this visit, we did make sure to climb the steps (we didn't run, I don't really do running). It was amazing how many people were doing their best Rocky impressions at the top, as well as by the statue at the bottom!
Due to the grotty weather that Philly offered us on the Saturday we decided to spend the rest of the day indoors, so after the Rocky Steps we walked to The Barnes Foundation. I have to be brutally honest here and recommend only visiting if you buy tickets in advance for $25, as otherwise you'll get charged $35 (& it's really not worth the extra $10).
The Barnes Foundation is an art museum established in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The museum holds an extensive collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, including several works by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Cézanne, to name just a few! We finished our Saturday with dinner in Chinatown - nothing worth mentioning here I'm afraid!
After breakfast on the Sunday we headed to Elfreth's Alley, a cobbled street in the Old City 'hood of Philly. Dubbed "the nation's oldest residential street", it was founded in 1702 and consists of 32 Georgian and Federal-style houses built between 1728 and 1836. I adored the red-bricked Georgian townhouses, with brightly coloured shutters and doors and window boxes full of gorgeous florals - it's the dream!
Next we headed over to Independence Hall, the building that was originally built to be the Pennsylvania State House, and where both the United States Declaration of Independence (hence the name) and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. To go inside the hall you need a timed tour ticket, which are free on the day or can be reserved for $1.50 beforehand - I recommend reserving them to ensure you definitely get to go in - the tour is quick but informative!
As well as Independence Hall we also paid a visit to the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence that would be rung to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions, and to let people know that public meetings and proclamations were about to take place. The bell used to reside inside the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House but is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center just across the road from Independence Hall. Access to the center is free, however you will likely have to queue to get in - don't be put off by the long lines though as it moves pretty quickly!
On our way back to the train station we made a detour to Reading Terminal Market to get a Philly Cheese Steak (wouldn't have been a trip to Philadelphia without one!). There were two (clearly) more popular cheese steak vendors in here and both had pretty crazy queues, we opted for the lesser of the two evils and grabbed ours from Spataro's for the train home - they were delicious! We then walked back via JFK Plaza to see Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture before jumping on the train back to NYC!