Boston and Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Historic Cities

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Boston Public Garden. Photo: Massachusetts Office of Tourism

What’s Your Pick: Boston or Philadelphia?

Independence Mall

Independence Hall by D. Cruz for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

 

While the distance between of Boston and Philadelphia are located about a three-hour drive or six-hour Amtrak trek apart, these major cities have one big thing in common. They’re sources of history. And the modern day scene in these respective cities is thriving too. Here’s what to see in each state.

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Boston Common in the fall. Photo credit: Tim Grafft/MOTT

History Is Happening!

Boston has many trails and locations connecting you to key figures linked to Beantown or in particular the start of the American Revolution.

Walk along the Freedom Trail, a self-guided, 2.5-route that will bring you past 16 historic sites. Pass by Boston Common, also known as America’s oldest park; The Paul Revere House – where the famous nightrider lived during the time of his legendary ride, to its end point, The Bunker Hill Monument, honoring soldiers in one of the earliest battles in the American Revolutionary War. The African American Trail will bring to you stops such as the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54 th Regiment Memorial, which commemorates the regiment that was made famous in the film, “Glory.”

Independence Hall

Independence Hall. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

In comparison, Philadelphia clearly has a stronghold on U.S. history – for starters, the Liberty Bell at the Liberty Bell Center. In April 2017, the Museum of the American Revolution opened its doors, to tell the story of why our nation went to being a British colony to a new country in a different light. It goes beyond the usual key players by highlighting other figures such as freed and enslaved blacks, native peoples, and women. Then there’s Independence Hall, where our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and later on delegates would work on our Constitution. Also, did you know that the first “White House” – as in one before the famous home in D.C. – was in Philadelphia. Called The President’s House, this venue is now an open-air museum where the first Executive Mansion in which Presidents Washington and John Adams stayed.

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Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Being Artsy and Scientific

The arts and sciences have their place in Boston and Philly. In Boston, you can spend a whole day at the Museum of Fine Arts. Its three levels house everything from Egyptian artifacts to Contemporary American art, with pieces from every corner of the globe. A short walk away, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reflects the look of a Venetian palace with a beautiful courtyard along with a collection owned by its namesake, a major collector and philanthropist. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum honors the legacy of our country’s 35th Commander in Chief. The Mary Baker Eddy Library contains the Mapparium, a three-story, stained glass globe that can be walked through, and the Museum of Science will teach you a thing or two with planetarium shows and live exhibits and experiences like its butterfly garden.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art / Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Philly can boast having the oldest museum in the country – the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It’s got some other fine ones too. Climbing up “The Rocky Steps” to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art feels like a workout, but you’ll encounter the statue of Philly icon, Rocky Balboa. Inside the museum, discover artistic and architectural finds from all over the world, with an over 240,000-piece collection!

The Rodin Museum has the most pieces by this sculptor outside of Paris and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a fun folk art/gallery space that’s covered in mosaics. If seeking science, The Franklin Institute is an educationally entertaining museum and research center with an IMAX theater and planetarium, while the Mütter Museum focuses on medical abnormalities with displays that might make you a bit squeamish.

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Boston Public Market. Photo by Massachusetts Office of Tourism

Good Eats

Getting hungry? Both Boston and Philly can fill you up at markets or in eateries. An indoor enclave, Boston Public Market sells New England sourced bounty from farmers, fishers, and food product vendors, or features demos and classes at The Kitchen, the market’s programming center. Inside this historic meeting hall, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is now more a mall setup with food stands and restaurants offering staples like pizza, ice cream and chowda. On Fridays and Saturdays, the outdoor Haymarket at Congress and Hanover streets sells fruits and veggies. Boston’s North End is its Little Italy, with pizzerias, cafes and ristorantes such as Giacomo’s Restaurant. As for other restaurants, a hot seafood spot is Neptune Oyster, being well-noted for its raw bar and lobster rolls, or Atlantic Fish Company, a Boston surf and turf institution.

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market. Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

As one of Philly’s major culinary attractions, the Reading Terminal Market is an interior food hall with a cornucopia of Amish specialties, seafood and produce stands, cookware stores, and bakeries and restaurants. Of course, you have to try a Philly cheesesteak, but note there are more places to choose from than the noted rivalry between Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. McNally’s puts theirs on a Kaiser roll, and Jimmy Fallon was seen digging Dalessandro’s Steaks. Have a hoagie at shops ranging from a tofu type at Fu Wah to the hearty stuffed at Cosmi’s Deli. Explore Chinatown and perhaps go for a late night meal at David’s Mai Lai Wah for their noodles and dumplings.

Get started on planning your visit by looking at these Trip.com recommended hotels in Boston or Philly.  Tell me which historic city would you head to first.

This post is part of Trip.com’s Underdog City campaign.

 

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