Yes, Philadelphia is the home of authentic cheesesteaks and yes, those of us from Philadelphia are very critical of any foreign attempts to replicate a true cheesesteak, but we also grow tired of every national telecast of a major event giving the impression that all we do in Philly is eat cheesesteaks all day. It’s taken eleven years since I joined the HARDI staff until a HARDI event is taking place in my hometown and it’s my mission to have as many HARDI members as possible leaving that event as excited about Philadelphia as I am and planning their return for a family vacation or getaway weekend with friends.
Unfortunately the weekend our Marketing & Sales Focus Conference kicks off in The City of Brotherly Love coincides with an Eagles away game or else you would have been treated to a special piece of Philly culture that is an Eagles tailgating party. You will now just have to make due at Chickie’s & Pete’s, the Xfinity Live center, or countless other fantastic venues for watching sports on NFL Sundays, or maybe take in a Phillies game at the phenomenal Citizens Bank Park. One way or another, just make sure you get yourself some Crab Fries!!
For decades, Philadelphia has boasted/suffered the designation as one of the top-five US cities in terms of obesity rates and for good reason. My town is home to some of the finest dining you will find anywhere from all ethnicities and cultures. Peggy and I make it a priority every time we return home to enjoy a fine Italian meal in any one of the family restaurants sprinkled throughout South Philly; which is also home to the Italian Market made famous by Rocky’s many training runs. On the off-chance you can’t find what you want there, go cross-town to the fantastic Reading Terminal next to the Convention Center. One of the largest indoor food markets in the country, the Reading Terminal has absolutely any delicacy you could want under one roof, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest ending your tour there with a stop at the Amish Bakery for your dessert.
For quick bites while on the go, hit just about any corner shop with a name ending in a vowel for a “steak and a slice”, or my favorite order at Tony Luke’s of a small cheesesteak and a small pork and cheese which gives you the best of both worlds. Pizza will be round, with a nice crust, and not cut into squares unless you specifically seek out the thicker, square Sicilian style. If on the go there is only one place to fuel up your vehicle and yourself and that is Wawa. Don’t talk to me about Sheetz or any other imposter. There is only one and its name is Wawa…24/7…365. It’s a hoagie, not a sub or grinder, and they also have soft pretzels, Tastykakes, coffee suicides, and Peggy’s favorite Herr’s Hot Cheese Curls.
Philadelphia is the true birthplace of America and so rich in history of America’s founding. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Penn’s Landing (and the Tall Ships), Betsy Ross’s, and the many brick and cobblestone streets throughout Old City combine for a great tour of America’s past which you can discuss and debate over growlers of ale and whole turkey legs by candlelight in the recreated colonial experience of The City Tavern, which in its original form hosted our Founders after Continental Congress and Constitution drafting debates. History surrounds Philadelphia too at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Brandywine, and the complete time-warp of Amish Lancaster. After you do the obligatory Rocky run up the Art Museum steps after posing with his statue at the base, be sure to actually enter the Art Museum and be amazed at its scale, architecture, and sheer volume of art; and just few blocks from there every kid should go to the Franklin Institute and the Please Touch Museum.
Please join me in my hometown this September and see why I think you’ll want to come back to Philadelphia with your family or just for fun. It is a culture all its own and really is The City of Brotherly Love…unless you foolishly decide to stroll the streets in Dallas Cowboys apparel. Finally, I know the question is inevitable despite the title of this article and the answer is “Neither”. Pat’s nor Geno’s are as good as Tony Luke’s, Jim’s on South Street, or most other corner steak shops, but they are great for a picture and check-off on the Philly tourist must-do list.