The great thing about Philadelphia is that it's close enough for a day trip from NYC, but there are plenty of spots to explore to fill a full weekend (and more)! Alan was out of town, so Sally and I did a quick girls trip with our friends Lizzy and Daniella.
We first did the regular spots of Independence Hall and peeked in at the Liberty Bell. Quite honestly, lower your expectations of the Liberty Bell. I had envisioned it being HUGE and displayed outside. Turns out it's small and inside a museum. I'm sure the historic aspect is impressive, but I went into sulky teenager mode when I saw it through the window and decided I didn't want to be bothered to wait in line to get a better look. The neighborhood of Society Hill (which is right near there) has the charming historic cobblestone streets to wander with plenty of pubs to head into for food.
The main activity we did was visit the Eastern State Penitentiary. This was very cool and it's right smack in the middle of the city. The ruins are hauntingly beautiful and you can wander around at your own pace with an audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi (there are also guided tours available). In its heyday, this was a world renowned prison and its architecture has gone on to influence many prisons all over the globe. Al Capone was a short term resident there and his cell is preserved, which is quite fancier than your average inmate's. Just a heads up, if you go in the winter, it's COLD! I thought this was an inside thing, but it somehow felt colder in there than the regular outside air (poor prisoners!). There is a "recharging room" that is heated with couches if you need a little break. I'd definitely recommend this unique stop off in Philly and it's an easy walk from the Museum of Art, the sight of the famous Rocky Steps, which you can check off your sightseeing list. For my next trip to Philadelphia, I want to hit up the Mutter Museum, a old timey 19th century "cabinet museum" of medical history and mystery! Turns out, I'm really into these arrested decay vibes lately!