Albert Lee is a proud Philly native who loves to show off the best sides of his city on his Instagram feed, @urphillypal. For this week’s Instagram Spotlight, Albert is taking us on a tour to some of his favorite spots in the City of Brotherly Love!

No matter the season, the views from the Ben Franklin Bridge are nothing short of spectacular. Named after Philadelphia’s favorite Founding Father, it connects Philadelphia to Camden, New Jersey while showcasing our beautiful shared waterfront. I love coming here to take in the sunset!

Once home to the Reading Railroad (think Monopoly), the Reading Terminal Market is where culture and commerce meet. From hoagies to scrapple and every “Philly food” in-between, welcome to your breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think that the soft pretzels from Miller’s Twists and Famous 4th Street cookies are worth all the calories.

Welcome to the birthplace of Independence! Ask anyone who grew up in Philadelphia if they’ve been to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Chances are, they’ve either paid a visit during a 2nd grade field trip class or they’ve never seen it at all. I’ve probably been there …. a few hundred times. And no, you can’t lick the Liberty Bell. Don’t ask how I found that out.

A lot of activities happen in Philadelphia leading up to the 4th as well as Independence Day itself – A massive hoagie giveaway, a concert, and a parade. One thing we don’t have on Independence Mall? Fireworks! 

Philadelphia’s City Hall is an architectural gem. Designed in the French Second Empire style, it is the home of our city government with a 548-foot tower. The tower is the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame.  Standing at the top is William Penn, the famous Quaker whose mission to conduct his “holy experiment” in the New World led him to acquiring the city he later named Philadelphia. This is the spectacular view from the observation deck right underneath his feet.  

Dilworth Park  – when the mercury rises, Philadelphians have recreational pools all around the area to cool off. But what about visitors in the heart of the city?  Right outside City Hall is the fountain at Dilworth Park. These programmable three-foot-high spouts give people of all ages a safe place to cool off, and the busy 9-to-5ers (including yours truly) come here for some quick relief on their lunch break!

Boathouse Row – Philadelphians love to stay active on and off the water.  This city has a long celebrated history of rowers including being home to the Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in the nation. These 19th-century boathouses not only provide the best view for action on the water but one of the city’s most iconic views.  Come dusk, the lights on the boathouses sparkle late into the night. I love riding my bike here to take in this view.

Fancy a drink? Located in the heart of Chinatown is Hop Sing Laundromat. There’s no signage outside but rather a gated entrance with a doorbell. If you’re lucky enough to be invited inside (after meeting all the requirements:  no sneakers, shorts, talking on your phone or taking pictures) one sip from your crafted cocktail will make it all worth it.

Located in the Fairmount  section of Philadelphia stands Eastern State Penitentiary. Opened in 1829, it is considered to be the nation’s first true penitentiary. It also makes for a great haunted house every Halloween. It’s a photographer’s dream – and my absolute favorite historic site to take pictures.

This is Washington Square. William Penn’s grand plan for Philadelphia was to transform it into a green country town with streets named after trees, and five public green spaces built into the grid of the city.  Washington Square was originally known as the Southeast Square but was then renamed after our nation’s first president. It is considered a low key area to unwind and relax than it’s neighboring parks, but that’s just fine with me. That means a bigger picnic area to enjoy!

When it comes to hidden gems, look no further than the Masonic Temple. Located right next to our City Hall, it’s an architectural feast for the eyes.  The guided tours take you through a rich and colorful selection of architecture that ranges from Corinthian all the way to Renaissance. It’s my favorite cultural escape.

Happy Hour every day? Yes please. Located in the rear of Sampan, an Asian fusion restaurant in the city’s midtown village, this open air patio is decorated with custom street art and is the perfect setting to indulge in a daily happy hour from four p.m. – seven p.m. You can choose from a variety of satays, dumplings (get the edamame dumplings!) buns and sides like kimchi fried rice and short rib chow fun.  

One of my favorite things I love telling people about Philly is that it’s a biggest “small town” in the East Coast. We offer a wonderful blend of history, culture, entertainment, sports and dining options accessible by foot, bicycle and public transit. And speaking of “commuting” – the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is a scenic path that provides breathtaking views of the city skyline while you walk along  the Schuylkill river. Nothing beats catching a sunrise here!

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Albert Lee is a digital and content specialist for the City of Philadelphia. He doesn’t suffer from wanderlust but firmly believes that if you want to make your city better, you have to see how the other half lives. He loves community building, sunsets and dim sum. Follow him on Instagram @urphillypal where he proudly geeks out about his native home, Philadelphia!

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