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Getting the lay of the land in Philly

By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Mural tours provide a modern view of the historical city of Philadelphia.
Mural tours provide a modern view of the historical city of Philadelphia.
  • Mural walking and elevated train tours showcase the city's public art
  • In June, Philly Beer Week will showcase the city's brewing culture
  • Try Adsum restaurant for great neighborhood bistro fare

CNN's Insider Trip Tips taps staffers around the globe for a local's look at places where they work and live. Sarah Hoye, a CNN all-platform journalist, recently moved to Philadelphia. Share your tips in the comments area below.

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Philadelphia is steeped in history with a labyrinth of neighborhoods, each with its own flavor. Whether you're on a layover or staying for the long haul, the birthplace of America has you covered.

I recently moved to Philadelphia and shared these tips with about what I've discovered so far, from mandatory (and interesting) historical sites to the summer's Philly Beer Week.

We the people

You can't avoid American history in Philly, so you might as well start at the beginning. Get your lesson in at Independence National Historic Park, where you will find the Liberty Bell and Declaration of Independence. You might just learn something -- like that the Army, Navy and Marine Corps were founded at Independence Hall during the American Revolution. See? Go impress your folks. Warning: Tickets are free, but are required.

Find love

Take your Twitpic at Love Park (also known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, where the City of Brotherly Love's famous Robert Indiana "Love" sculpture is located) and then hop on the SEPTA train for an overview of the city. It's argued that Philly, in addition to being the birthplace of America, is also the birthplace of graffiti. In 1984, the city's Mural Arts Program started, growing out of an anti-graffiti movement. Since then Mural Arts has produced more than 3,000 works of wall art around the city. Hop aboard the Love Letter Train Tour to view 50 romantic murals from the elevated train line and platforms on this subway tour.

Walk it out

Philly is one of the nation's oldest cities, which means you can walk a lot of places. The majority of the time, walking is the best bet, considering parking can be a nightmare. Pay your meter, otherwise get a ticket or towed. (There's even a reality show about the Parking Authority, and they mean business.) Check out the art on the walls with a walking tour of the Mural Mile to get a distinctive look at the city's charm.

Beer, here

Drink up. The city of Philadelphia has been brewing beer for more than 300 years. Hitting Philly in summer? Celebrate its sudsy roots in summer at Philly Beer Week, a 10-day celebration of beer. Missed it? No worries. Here's a tip, you can't buy beer at the grocery store, so don't ask. You can purchase your spirits at specialty stores. Interestingly, because of the complete racket of getting a liquor license, many restaurants are BYOB -- bring your own bottle. And pretty darn tasty, too. At the contemporary Mexican restaurant Lolita, you can bring your own bottle of tequila (or pick one up a block away) for margaritas mixed at your table.


Philly is a foodie's paradise. Get schooled on the scene with City Food Tours, which offers themed excursions through the streets of Philadelphia. Looking for that local flavor? Head over to Tony Luke's in South Philly for a roast pork sandwich or a tasty cheesesteak. Keep things friendly at Sabrina's Café & Spencer's Too, serving up comfort food after you make it to the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art just up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Be sure to stop by Adsum bar and restaurant for the perfect neighborhood bistro fare and other shenanigans. Want that perfectly crazy burger? Hit up PYT in Northern Liberties -- catch a cab or ride the train for a taste of the Krispy Kreme burger or the cheesesteak pretzel roll burger.

What do you think? Share your recommendations for Philadelphia visitors in the comments section below. What should visitors do with one day in Philadelphia?