Home to high-end shops and fancy French restaurants, this district may be ritzy but it’s far from pretentious. Visitors can enjoy alfresco people-watching from heated sidewalk cafes well into the early winter if not year-round.
1. Get the flavor of country-style French cuisine while enjoying a panoramic view of Philadelphia’s own Left Bank at Bistro St. Tropez.
2. Philadelphia is the birthplace of American medicine and home of the country’s finest collection of medical artifacts housed at The Mütter Museum. Not for the squeamish, the museum features anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments displayed in a Victorian “cabinet museum” setting.
3. Hidden on a side street, The Rosenbach Museum holds the private collection of the Rosenbach brothers, noted rare book dealers. Among the treasures inside: the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin’s ﬁrst Poor Richard’s Almanack; the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses; the papers of poet Marianne Moore; Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula; and, for your wild things (aka kids), original drawings by Maurice Sendak.
4. Rittenhouse Square, with its European-style plaza and fountains, is the perfect place to hang out and sip a latte in peace. The Curtis Institute, located on the park, is one of the most respected music schools in the U.S. and offers free concerts by students.
5. Walnut Street is home to many chic boutiques. Take advantage of tax-free purchasing power on shoes and clothing or simply peruse the many architecturally stunning shops, such as Philadelphia-based women’s clothiers Anthropologie (housed in the historic Fell-Van Rensselaer mansion) or the elegant marble staircases at Boyds, which also stocks top brands such as Armani, Burberry and Cole Haan.
6. The section of Broad Street running south from City Hall is known locally as The Avenue of the Arts. Take in a show at the Academy of Music or the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.