If you’re one of the 50,000 people visiting Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, don’t rely on outside sources as a guide. (Trust us — just don’t.)
Instead, listen to the true pros: Philly’s top hotel concierges. These folks spend their entire careers helping tourists find the best places to go and the best ways to get there. Not only do they have huge stores of inside info and tips, they’re also acutely aware of the special deals and special traffic restrictions in place for the convention, since most rooms in the city are fully booked with DNC guests.
Here’s the 411 (complete with Google Maps links to each suggested venue).
Getting to the Wells Fargo Center
Evening events will take place in — and speeches will be broadcast from — the Flyers/Sixers stadium, which is all the way down at the edge of South Philly.
From Center City, the good money is on taking the Broad Street Line subway (aka the Orange Line) — six out of seven concierges we spoke with recommended this method. It runs every 10 minutes and visitors can buy a $12 Independence Pass for unlimited rides, notes Ashlye Hardrick of the Hilton Inn at Penn. She also suggests downloading the SEPTA app to see schedules plus real-time delays. The other bonus of the BSL, per the Warwick’s Dan Bove? Taking it is “a communal activity,” so you can get some networking in as you ride.
If you’re a credentialed DNC badge-holder, the Ritz-Carlton’s James Portner suggests hopping on one of the 100-plus shuttle buses the host committee hired just for this purpose. Throughout the week, motor coaches will be making regular rounds, stopping at most major hotels and then looping down to the stadium.
Ride-sharing is the other big suggestion. UberX will get you there from Center City in around 15 minutes for under $10, says William Kline of the Sofitel. Or, per Kim Masterson at the Loews, Lyft is offering up to $50 credit with code PHLDNC2016.
Quick breakfast before a day of meetings
Although most concierges note that in-hotel breakfasts are often the fastest/best choice, there are some great morning eats to be found around the city.
The most popular recommendation is Reading Terminal Market, which is right by the Pa. Convention Center and is opening early at 7 a.m. specially for the DNC. Hilton Inn’s Hardick says to be sure not to miss RTM’s Amish food stands and bakeries (Dutch Eating Place, holla!).
Hit up a local diner. The Warwick’s Bove suggests Little Pete’s (a spot so beloved that plans to demolish it inspired a massive “Save Little Pete’s” social media campaign), and Diane Schaffer of the Sheraton Society Hill is one of several to shout out the pancake and egg platters at Green Eggs Cafe.
Parc, Stephen Starr’s giant brasserie on Rittenhouse Square, is a top choice from Ritz-Carlton’s Portner, who notes that it starts serving at 7:30 a.m. And if you’re okay starting the day with a sugar rush, Federal Donuts gets hat-tips from more than one concierge on our panel.
Best bets to grab coffee
Unlike many cities, Philly doesn’t really have a Starbucks on every corner, and there are fewer-than-usual Dunkin’ Donuts locations here. If you’re looking for a quick corporate-brewed buzz, you’ll be able to find it, but if you want something better, check below.
Jules Neiditch of The Franklin at Independence Park is one of several to drop La Colombe, aka Philadelphia’s homegrown chain gone big. There are now outposts in NYC, DC and Chicago with more on the way, but this is where the company started more than 20 years ago, and there’s a handful around town, including one right next to City Hall.
Both Neiditch and Masterson (Loews) also throw out Old City Coffee as a winner — it has locations in Old City (duh) and Reading Terminal Market, where you’ll find a local version of that old-school, dark-roast jolt.
Also worth seeking out, according to our experts, are hip third-wave spots like Elixr, Double Knot, Capogiro, Bodhi and Menagerie. Sofitel’s William Kline makes special mention of Gran Caffe L’Aquila, which has four different espresso roasts, all done in house.
Top neighborhood for post-convention drinks
Official convention business doesn’t finish up until 11 p.m., so lots of Philly bars will be slinging late-night, alongside the regular dives and haunts.
Common sense says to get your boozing in close to your hotel, if not inside it — the bar at the Hilton Inn at Penn will serve through 4 a.m., per Hardick. However, several concierges agree that Midtown Village offers good a ton of good options. The Warwick’s Bove says specifically that you gotta try the watermelon sangria at Valanni, but there’s also great beer (Bru, Fergie’s, McGillin’s), good wine (Vintage, Tredici, Barbuzzo), funky dives (Bar, Franky Bradley’s) and even Tiki.
Rittenhouse gets a nod for its cocktail-savvy ‘tenders, including the ones at a.bar, 1 Tippling Place, Continental Mid-Town and the speakeasy-vibed Franklin Bar (just be forewarned that your drink might not show up until 20 minutes after its ordered).
If you’re “under 40 or young at heart,” Fishtown is the place to go, according to Neiditch of the Franklin at Independence Park. Old City and South Street also get props from multiple concierges for having a good variety of drankin’ spots (like Khyber Pass Pub in the former and the Twisted Tail in the latter).