By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey and Hobart Rowland
Soaring gas prices may make you think twice about a major vacation this autumn. As luck would have it, we have a world-class destination right in our backyard. Here’s some help in planning the perfect weekend getaway to Philadelphia.
Just steps from City Hall, this distinctive ’20-era government building is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Original marble floors and brass moldings celebrate the past, while contemporary décor and amenities keep guests firmly rooted in the present. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the Notary features unusually spacious rooms, plush beds and marble bathrooms. Amenities include a fitness center, a coffee bar and the Spanish-inspired Sabroso+Sorbo eatery.
RATES: Starting at $254.
21 N. Juniper St., (888) 887-8130, thenotaryhotel.com
The Notary’s iconic structure was built in 1926 and served as the City Hall Annex building for 70 years.
Befitting its posh setting in an 1885 Washington Square mansion, the Guild House prides itself on its “invisible” 24-hour service. Guests have plenty of peace and privacy as they enjoy amenities like daily turn-down service (upon request) and luxury products created by a diverse roster of entrepreneurs. The hotel’s cozy lounge hosts an intriguing slate of speakers at its “fireside chats.” Check the website for details.
Rates: Starting at $275.
1307 Locust St., (855) GUILDED, guildhousehotel.com
This National Historic Landmark was once the headquarters of the New Century Guild, one of the oldest and most prominent women’s organizations in the country.
For 150 years, generations of the Morris family inhabited the 1787 Georgian beauty, which was recently added to the prestigious Historic Hotels of America program. Located in the city’s historic district, the 17-room boutique hotel remains true to its heritage in both design and décor. Not just for honeymooners, the wedding suite is a beautiful room with a spiral staircase leading to a loft bedroom. Guests enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon tea.
RATES: Starting at $229.
225 S. 8th St., (215) 922-2446, morrishousehotel.com
Morris House is the former home of Robert Morris, a financier of the American Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation.
It’s not a museum. But with over 1,800 curated works of art throughout the property, the Logan could well qualify as one. This National Historic Landmark housed the Four Seasons before Hilton’s Curio Collection took over in 2015. After a fire forced a temporary closure in 2018, the Logan reopened in all its glory earlier this year. The hotel even offers a museum-like mobile app for art lovers to download. There’s an indoor pool and four onsite bars and restaurants, including the Assembly, with its killer rooftop view. Indulge in a head-to-toe treatment at Underground Spa & Wellness—and be sure to request a room facing historic Logan Square.
RATES: Starting at $242.
One Logan Square, (215) 963-1500, theloganhotel.com
The Logan’s namesake, James Logan, was elected Philadelphia’s 14th mayor in 1722. He was also chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a bibliophile with a personal library of over 3,000 volumes, said to have been the largest and best collection of classical writings in America at the time.
Located in Center City’s historic PSFS building, Loews completed an extensive renovation in 2019, updating its 581 guestrooms and adding a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment. Almost all of the bank’s striking historical features remain, including the vaults, Cartier clocks, office furniture, marble and granite finishes from 32 different countries, and the iconic PSFS sign. For a breathtaking view of the city, request a corner room on an upper floor.
RATES: Starting at $229.
1200 Market St., (215) 627-1200, loewshotels.com/Philadelphia
Built in 1932 for what was then a stunning $8 million at the height of the Depression, the 36-floor PSFS Building was the second skyscraper in world to have central air conditioning. The public was fearful of the new technology, believing it was a health hazard. An engineer lived for a week straight in the new structure to prove otherwise.
From his home base in Philadelphia, Stephen Starr is riding the K-Wave (as in all things South Korean) currently sweeping the world. Kpod is the newest addition to the University City dining scene. The extensive menu features authentic Korean mandu (dumplings), noodle dishes, rice cakes and ssam (meat and other proteins wrapped in leafy vegetables). Entrees include kimchi-butter shrimp, pork belly with roasted garlic and maple glaze, and grilled bone-in short rib marinated in soy, Asian pear and garlic. 3636 Sansom St., (215) 387-1803, kpodrestaurant.com
Sept. 8-Oct. 2, Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods will come alive for the Fringe Festival. Expect more than 1,000 experimental national and international performances spanning theater, dance, comedy, spoken word, the visual arts and more. The works are produced by hundreds of national and international independent artists. Various venues, (215) 413-1318, fringearts.com
An unassuming little spot in the Italian Market, South Philly Barbacoa makes the best Mexican barbacoa tacos you’ll ever taste. Named this year’s James Beard winner for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic, Cristina Martinez kicked off her venture on a high note with her wildly successful food truck. The menu also includes quesadillas, tamales and more. 1140 S. 9th St., (215) 694-3797, barbacoasouthphilly.com
Bring the whole family to have some fun and get some exercise during Philadelphia Marathon Weekend Nov. 19–20. Rated one of the top 10 marathons in the country, this event features a race for every age and skill level, from a full and half marathon to an 8K and a Kids Fun Run. Nearly 30,000 are expected to participate in the three main races. Visit philadelphiamarathon.com
Though you’re actually in Old City, you’ll feel like you’re down South at Amina, thanks to a menu that includes comfort favorites like fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, gumbo and banana pudding, along with catfish hush puppies, cheesesteak beignets, lobster pomme mousse and other intriguing twists. 104 Chestnut St., (267) 324-3745, aminaphilly.com
Eastern State Penitentiary is a spooky place any time of year. But Sept. 23-Nov. 12, the frights come faster and more furiously than any other time of year. For its Halloween Nights, you can experience four haunted houses, an immersive walk-through experience, three interactive performances, four themed bars and lounges, and three opportunities to explore the cellblocks. Roast s’mores, listen to ghost stories told by apparitions, and watch the Skeleton Crew dance group perform in the Gargoyle Gardens. 2027 Fairmount Ave., (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
At Fishtown’s Suraya, you can raise a glass of arak and tuck into a meal filled with specialties from Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Go all-out with the four-course “Taste of Syria” prix fixe dinner, with choices ranging from meat or fish kebabs and prawns to branzino filet and grilled spiced mushrooms. Be sure to visit the market, where you’ll find man’oushe (Arabic flatbread), sandwiches, house-made grab-and-go items, local and imported pantry items, and home goods. 1528 Frankford Ave., (215) 302-1900, surayaphilly.com
The story of Philadelphia’s favorite hometown hero is coming our way from Broadway. Inspired by a book co-authored by Sylvester Stallone and based on the mega-hit movie, Rocky, The Musical is coming to the Walnut Street Theatre Oct. 4-Nov. 6. It includes songs from the film, along with new musical numbers. 825 Walnut St., (215) 574-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org
There’s a reason why Bank & Bourbon is a marquee restaurant in the Loews Hotels chain. Though the modern American menu is on the small side, the kitchen execution is impeccable, the vibe casual and welcoming, and the service attentive. Highlights include the burrata with charred sourdough, a grilled octopus accented with chorizo-mussel broth and mint, and the Duroc pork chop over Swiss chard with cranberry-cherry relish and apple-parsnip puree. And don’t leave without trying the signature strawberry hand pies with strawberry-crumble ice cream. The eatery celebrates its sixth annual Bourdon Bash on Sept. 7. Call or go online for more info. 1200 Market St., Philadelphia, (215) 231-7300, bankandbourbon.com
If opera is your passion, you won’t want to miss Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O22 Sept. 21-Oct. 2, a 12-day celebration of classic and new works, feature-length and short films, and recitals by nationally acclaimed and newer artists. Among the productions: the rarely performed Otello by Gioachino Rossini and the world premiere of David T. Little’s Black Lodge, which combines film, live performance, opera and rock. Various venues, (215) 732-8400, operaphila.org.
With a soaring score by Sergei Prokofiev and ethereal performances by dancers from the Philadelphia Ballet, Cinderella comes to life at the Academy of Music Oct. 13–23. 240 S. Broad St., (215) 893-1999, philadelphiaballet.org.
In Hebrew culture, a restaurant with a charcoal grill is called a shipudiya—or skewer house. In Philly, the Israeli concept is impressively showcased at Laser Wolf, where executive chef Andrew Henshaw offers chicken, tuna, sirloin or beef barbecue shashlik, lamb and beef koobideh (Persian kebabs), whole trout, and shawarma-spiced cauliflower. 1301 N. Howard St., (267) 499-4660, laserwolfphilly.com
Modern art aficionados won’t want to miss the Modigliani Up Close exhibition at the Barnes Foundation Oct. 16-Jan. 29, 2023. This deep dive into the creative mind explores the inspiration for the early-20th-century Italian artist’s iconic paintings and sculptures. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., (215) 278-7000, barnesfoundation.org
Philadelphia Museum of Art mounts its much-anticipated Matisse in the 1930s exhibition Oct. 20-Jan. 29, 2023. During this period, this leader of the Fauvist movement was prolific, turning out a diverse collection of works ranging from paintings and drawings to prints, sculpture and even an illustrated book. He also painted the career-changing mural “The Dance” for the Barnes Foundation. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
Alert to movie buffs: Oct. 20-30, the 31st annual Philadelphia Film Festival will be showcasing an array of genres, from Oscar contenders to outstanding local films, at various locations throughout the city. filmadelphia.org
Delaware County mainstay Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon is pulling out all the stops at its new Center City location in the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. The centerpiece is its Turkish Bath, an ornately tiled, heated room with a subtle light show designed to elevate your mood and a night sky full of twinkling Swarovski crystals. The Aqua Experience kicks off with an aromatic foot soak, followed by a full-body soap cleanse, exfoliating polish and aromatherapy massage. Throughout the hour-long treatment, hot and cold water from overhead and handheld showers rinses and refreshes the body. 1200 Market St., Fifth Floor, Philadelphia, (215) 231-7350, josephanthony.com