Philadelphia is a popular city for business and leisure travel all year round, but it becomes particularly crowded in the summertime. Hotel prices rocket up around the fourth of July when concerts and fireworks illuminate the city. There is also a surge in conventions during the summer which can drive up hotel prices in the downtown business area.
For the best hotel deals, consider visiting during the Fall or Spring, when the weather is still pleasant but the prices are more manageable. Do keep in mind that during the spring, school groups flood many of the tourist attractions. Winter is probably the easiest time to find cheap hotels near Philadelphia's downtown, but the frigid temperatures and icy precipitation make visiting during this period less than ideal.
The airport is only six miles from the city center. Taxis run from the airport to downtown for a flat rate of $28.50, but there are cheaper public transportation options. The subway system, SEPTA, runs a dedicated train line to and from the airport until midnight. The train stops at each terminal, as well as the AMTRAK Station and several stops downtown. Tickets are $8, cash only. There is also a public bus that costs $2.75.
While there are many beautiful hotels in the city center, visitors on a budget may want to consider staying near the airport, even if they aren't arriving via plane.. Room prices are much lower here, but visitors are still just 15 minutes away from most of the tourist attractions. Downtown is easily accessible via car, public transportation, or hotel shuttle. In addition, airport hotels often offer cheaper parking deals and sometimes include free breakfast. The downside is that there isn't a lot of atmosphere or many dining options.
There are over a dozen hotels near the airport, of varying quality. Some of the best cheap hotels near Philadelphia Airport are the Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Airport, the Comfort Inn Philadelphia Airport, and Aloft Philadelphia Airport.
There are so many free and low-cost things to see and do in Philadelphia. Many of them center around the city's vibrant history. Most prominently, all the museums and exhibits that make up the Independence National Historic Park are free of charge, although some require reservations. This includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, The President's House (where the nation's first two presidents lived), and Carpenter's Hall. Other museums like the Edgar Allen Poe House and the Institute of Contemporary Art have free entry as well.
There are many city-wide events that also celebrate the city's culture and history. The most prominent of these is the previously mentioned Fourth of July Celebration, which is free for the entire city. There is also AwesomeFest, a series of free outdoor movie screenings, as well as First Friday, a monthly event where many art galleries around the city are open to the public. Public event spaces like Penn's Landing have entertainment and family friendly activities all year-long.
Philadelphia has some absolutely stunning luxury hotels, many of which are in re-purposed historical buildings. Le Meridien Philadelphia is a Georgian-revival building with a 75 foot atrium and bold decor, while Loews Philadelphia Hotel is inside the world's first art-deco skyscraper. Other hotels offer a different kind of luxury: The Rittenhouse 1715 is a cozy bed and breakfast that pampers guests with marble bathrooms and fluffy bedding. The Palomar Philadelphia is a Kimpton Hotel that offers in-room spa services and a complimentary nightly happy hour.
To find a good luxury hotel deal in Philadelphia, some flexibility and planning are necessary. Try to schedule your visit during the late fall, early spring, or winter, when tourism numbers are down. Avoid major convention and holiday dates. Oftentimes during these lulls luxury hotels will offer very low-cost last-minute deals.
Hostels are a great option for travelers on a tight budget and many offer private rooms in addition to dormitories. Philadelphia has three established hostels, all of good quality.
The Philadelphia House Hostel receives the best reviews and has the best location, within blocks of the Liberty Bell. Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is also centrally located and offers lots of extras like reading lights, hair dryers, and a game room. The last hostel, Hostelling International - Chamounix Mansion, has the lowest nightly rates but is less central, in a historic mansion in Fairmount Park.
If you are traveling as a family, or staying for several nights, an apartment rental on a site like AirBNB might save you money. Even during high season there are many entire apartments available downtown for much less per night than a hotel. Apartments in the Historic District, University City or Rittenhouse Square are available for under $150 a night.
Apartment Rentals also save you money in other ways. They can house more people comfortably than a hotel room, making them ideal for family travel. With a full apartment at your disposal it is easier to cook meals and save money on food. Many apartments also offer washing machines and other extras.
Philadelphia is a huge city with a lot to do, so it is worth doing some research before you arrive. The Philadelphia Tourism Board has an incredibly informative and detailed website that gives visitors all the information they might need for their visit, including event listings, city and subway maps, and potential itineraries. Their sister site, Philly 360, is a guide to the city's music, nightlife, and food scenes.
Other resources you can use when visiting Philadelphia include Uber, the private taxi service and SEPTA's iTransit Buddy, a smart phone app that helps you navigate the city's public transportation system. Chef's Feed is another app that gives you advice on where to eat from local chefs.
Visitors who want to truly immerse themselves in the heart of Philadelphia should choose a hotel near the historic district,where you will find most of the city's main tourist attractions. There are many hotels in this area,and while they can get quite expensive in the high season, deals are still possible.
Some hotels, like the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, the Penn's View Hotel, and Omni at Independence Park, are typically quite pricey but can sometimes be secured on the cheap via last-minute internet deals. Others, like the Best Western Independence Park, and the Holiday Inn Express Penn's Landing, have more reasonable prices regularly.
If you plan to stay downtown, keep in mind that parking prices in this area are exorbitant, sometimes up to $50 a day! If you are bringing a car with you, it is cheaper to stay further away from the city center, maybe near the airport, and take public transportation for sightseeing.
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© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.