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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

March 2011 - Philadelphia, PA

In this issue:

Welcome to the March issue of USATourist News Magazine. This month we're visiting the eastern city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Known as the City of Brotherly Love (philos-love and adelphos-brother), the city is ideal for tourists with its wide traffic lanes, charming brick sidewalks and many prominent landmarks and sites including the most historic square mile in the U.S.A.

The Top Philadelphia Landmarks

Philadelphia is named for William Penn, an English Quaker who founded the city in 1682. The land was granted to him by King Charles II and included 1,280 acres between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Over time the city was designed in a grid pattern with wide streets and several green public spaces, which are still in existence today: Washington, Franklin, Rittenhouse and Logan squares. City Hall stands on the site of Center Square at Broad and Market streets. Today, Philadelphia has 66 National Historic Landmarks in the city, some more well-known than others. Two of the most famous are Carpenters' Hall and Independence Hall, the original home of the Liberty Bell.

When you get there, visit Independence Visitor Center found in Philadelphia's historic district. The center provides visitors with information on more than 4,000 local attractions, events and venues throughout the region. Make your next stop the nearby Independence National Historical Park. This is the nation's most historic square mile and the location of many significant events including the issuing of Declaration of Independence and signing of the Constitution.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is an icon of America's battle for Independence.
© Beth Blair

Also in the area is the Betsy Ross House, also known as home of America's most famous flagmaker - Betsy Ross made the first American flag - and is found at 239 Arch Street, a few blocks from Independence Hall. Admission is only a few dollars per person. Concessions, including hotdogs, are offered in the courtyard on the weekends starting in the spring then daily through the summer.

More Free in Philly

In addition to historically significant buildings and bells there are many other structures, statues and free things to do throughout Philly. The Philadelphia-based movie Rocky staring Sylvester Stallone has inspired tourists to "follow in the steps of Rocky Balboa" by sprinting up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sundays, the museum doesn't have admission; instead visitors may offer a donation of their choice.

Another interesting museum is Fireman's Hall filled with firefighting memorabilia and fire-safety information.

Reading Terminal Market is a full-fledged farmers market with over 80 merchants selling every imaginable variety of fresh-farm produce and prepared foods, including Pennsylvania Dutch fare and Philadelphia cheese steaks.

LOVE Park is located in the downtown plaza and is where the LOVE sculpture is erected. A skateboarding park is also found here.

The U.S Mint is where United States currency is made. There are six locations in the United States but only two sites offer free tours to the public. One is in Denver and the other is in Philadelphia.

US Hot Air Balloon

Pennsylvania also has beautiful, lush countryside. One experience not to be missed is a hot air balloon ride over the Philadelphia countryside. No matter the season, you'll enjoy breath-taking views of lakes, horse farms, and vineyards as you float effortlessly across the sky in a hot air balloon. Visit US Hot Air Balloon for a list of all their flights and special discount pricing.

Pretty Places

Bartram's Garden sits on the banks of the Schuylkill River and was America's first botanic garden. Visitors learn about gardening, history, science and the environment. Tours are offered of the Bartram collection of North American plants and the National Historic Landmark Bartram family home.

The Academy of Natural Sciences was established in 1812 and is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas. The Academy possesses a collection of over 17 million cataloged natural history specimens and artifacts. One of the academy's highlights is the Butterflies! exhibit featuring live butterflies from Central and South America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia in a lush, tropical setting. The butterfly population ranges between 60 and 150 butterflies from 20 to 40 different species. Adult butterflies usually live for one to two weeks but the program receives new butterflies weekly from around the world.

Geno's Cheesesteak

The most famous food in Philadelphia is the Cheesesteak. And one of the best places to try one is Geno's!
© Beth Blair

Famous Fare: The Philly Cheese Steak

Every region is known for something edible and in Philadelphia it's the Philly cheese steak. The popular sandwich is traditionally made with thinly sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese in a long roll. Diners can also opt for onions or peppers. There are numerous places to stop in and enjoy a cheese steak. However, the two most popular restaurants are fierce competitors and located right across the street from one another on 9th Street: Pat's - King of Steaks, "The First and The Originator of the Philly Steak" and Geno's, which opened in 1966. Both restaurants have walk-up counters and outdoor picnic table style seating. It's not uncommon for tourists to try both steaks for a taste comparison or do what my family did and visit both but on different days.


Philadelphia is considered the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) capital of North America. Due to its Quaker roots, the region has strict alcohol licensing laws which can make it difficult for smaller restaurants to offer their guests alcohol. However, there are over 200 BYOB restaurants and caf├ęs in the city. While it may be inconvenient to bring your own wine or beer, this option can save you quite a bit of money during your stay.

The Junk Food Tour

Like any city, Philadelphia has its own unique tours one of which is called The Junk Food Tour which celebrates Philadelphia's past, present and the ever-growing upscale re-birth of the city. Guests travel in a first-class coach and visit the most entertaining and interesting cultural attractions and neighborhoods including original landmark locations of Philadelphia's world famous cuisine locally known as spectacular junk food.

My Favorite Place

"The Four Corners"

By Mike Leco, Board President and Co-Founder

Mike's hike destination in Utah is this spectacular waterfall, just one of the amazing natural formations found in this area.
© Anne Leco

One of my favorite vacation destinations in the USA is the Colorado Plateau of the Southwest. The fascinating geological formation is spread across northern Arizona, southern Utah, western Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. This vast area is often called the "Four Corners" region as it straddles the rectilinear junction of these four states.

Eons ago, a two-mile (three-km) thick sedimentary bottom of an ancient sea was thrust up several thousand meters to form a large intermountain plateau. Since then, erosion has been carving deep canyons, ravines and defiles into the plateau, and exposing its multi-hued rock strata. The remains are left standing as cliffs, buttes, pinnacles, needles and hoodoos are some of the most spectacular geological features to be found anywhere on this planet. Some people call this area, "the color country".

Its most renowned attraction is the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River has carved over a mile (1.5 km) deep through the colorful rock strata to form a fantastic maze of canyons, buttes and cliffs over 100 miles (15 km) long and up to 20 miles (30 km) wide.

The Colorado Plateau contains the largest concentration of National Parks in the USA. It features: massive buttes rising above the plains in Monument Valley; a myriad of wind-carved stone arches and water-carved natural bridges; multihued cliffs, escarpments and rock formations; slot canyons just a few meters wide but hundreds of meters deep; a plethora of colorful hoodoos in Bryce Canyon that defies description; and strange geological features too numerous to mention.

This is a great location for camping or backpacking. You can hike into parts of this wilderness and see no signs of another human for days or even weeks. Just touring in your car allows you to see a great variety of the spectacular scenery. The roads lead through cowboy towns and Indian reservations. You find less commercial tourist attractions and far more honest "Wild West" culture than in many other parts of the USA.

This is the last of our Favorite Place series. We hope you enjoyed learning more about the USATourist Team as much as we enjoyed sharing our favorite destinations with you! What's your favorite place to travel in the U.S.A.? You can tell us either on our News Magazine Forum or our Facebook Page.

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Philadelphia Tour and Attraction Discount Tickets

Take $25 Off a Last Second Deal to Philadelphia! Use Promo Code PHILLY25 (min. 2 passengers)

Philadelphia & Amish Country Day Trip From New York City

We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of USATourist News Magazine. See you next month!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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