What Is Philly Known for? 14 Things Philadelphians Love About Themselves

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA skyline from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
© Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Jennifer Geer

Published: March 11, 2024

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The City of Brotherly Love is a thriving and diverse place with a unique culture, rich history, beautiful parks, and an out-of-this-world food scene. It’s also the largest city in Pennsylvania. If you’re visiting Philadelphia for the first time, you should check out some of the things locals love the most about their city. Read on for 14 things Philly is known for.

1. Philly Cheesesteaks

Pat's King of Steaks, South Philly

Pat’s King of Steaks has been a staple of Philadelphia since 1930 when brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri reportedly invented the cheesesteak.

©David Saddler / CC BY 2.0 DEED - Original / License

Locals know, the key to this world-famous Philly-born sandwich is in the bread. Although the popularity of a Philly cheesesteak has spread, and you can get one just about anywhere in the country, only Philadelphia has the perfect hoagie roll. A proper hoagie roll from Philly is sturdy enough to hold the messy ingredients of a cheesesteak but still manages to maintain a light and fluffy interior texture. A Philly cheesesteak just isn’t a cheesesteak on any old deli roll.

Whether you want it with or without onions and topped with provolone, American cheese, or Cheez Whiz, there are many spots in Philly to pick up this delicious steak sandwich. Locals love arguing over where to get the best cheesesteaks as much as they love eating them.

2. Beautiful City Parks

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden . The traditional-style Japanese house and nationally ranked garden reflect the history of Japanese culture in the city, Philadealphia

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is home to beautiful gardens, a koi pond, and a traditional Japanese house.

©Zachary Chung Pun/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians love the access they have to green space. From dog parks to Asian gardens, there are numerous interesting and pretty parks throughout the city. Rittenhouse Square is an expensive neighborhood with a lush park in the center. Dilworth Park is a city park with a Great Lawn, and an interactive fountain, and is host to many community events. 

Additionally, Wissahickon Valley Park is a nature lover’s paradise with hiking trails, natural areas, and Wissahickon Creek. Another popular park is the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a traditional 17th-century style Japanese garden.

3. Rocky Steps

Rocky Steps in Philly

People love to run up the same 72 steps that Rocky conquered during the 1976 movie.

©Rolando Ybarra/Shutterstock.com

The 72 stone steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art have become a symbol of the city. In the well-known 1976 movie, “Rocky,” an underdog boxer from South Philly ran up those stairs during an iconic training montage. Rocky’s run up the steps became a symbol of determined underdogs everywhere. Philadelphians embrace the metaphor of running the steps and its meaning that hard work and determination will bring success. Tourists also love to run the steps and view the Rocky Statue.

4. Philly is the Birthplace of America

The Liberty Bell Center is open every day of the year and no tickets are required to view the Liberty Bell.

©Songquan Deng/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians are proud of the role their city played in the founding of America. Many notable events happened here, including the First Continental Congress, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Philadelphia is also home to the famous symbol of freedom, the Liberty Bell.

5. Sports Teams

rce Eagles fans celebrate the win in the stands at Super Bowl 2018, Minneapolis MN

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018.

©ibutiLorie Shaull from Washington, United States / CC BY-SA 2.0 - Original / License

Philadelphia is home to multiple major sports teams, and its fans are known around the country for their extreme passion and fierce loyalty. Major teams include:

  • Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL)
  • Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB)
  • Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA)
  • Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL)
  • Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS)

Most of the pro teams play in the city, either at the Wells Fargo Center or the Center City, although the soccer team plays at Subaru Park in the suburbs.

6. Soft Pretzels

Philly Soft Pretzel with Spicy Brown Mustard

A Philly soft pretzel is shaped differently than your typical pretzel.

©Nick Tropiano/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians love their soft pretzels. Although soft pretzels are not only found in Philly, the city is known for having a surplus of pretzel companies. It’s amazingly easy to get a large pretzel with a chewy, soft inside and a salty tough exterior. Whether you eat it plain or dip it in mustard, soft pretzels in Philly are a delicacy. Unlike the typical heart-shaped pretzel, Philadelphia makes theirs into a unique figure eight shape.

7. Philadelphia is a Walkable City

October 19, 2012 City Center area of Philidelphia

Philadelphia is known as a walking town.

©LifetimeStock/Shutterstock.com

Unlike many American towns, Philadelphia was designed to be easy to get around by walking. Founder William Penn chose a grid street plan for the city blocks to make it easier to navigate than other early American cities. Many attractions in the city are close to each other, making it easy to get around by walking. Furthermore, in 2023, USA Today rated Philadelphia as the “most walkable city in America.”

8. Museums

Philadelphia Art Museum and Fairmount Water Works at Dusk

The Philadelphia Art Museum is a must-see attraction.

©Gary Whitton/Shutterstock.com

Philly is known for its world-class museums. From history museums, like the Museum of the American Revolution, to one of the country’s top five art museums (Philadelphia Museum of Art), there are plenty of museums to explore. Some other notable museums include:

  • The African American Museum
  • The Rosenbach
  • The Franklin Institute
  • Science History Institute
  • The Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Barnes Foundation
  • Rodin Museum
  • Please Touch Museum (Children’s Museum)

9. Affordability

colorful row house facades with curved gables, Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is one of the few big cities where it’s cheaper to own a home than to rent.

©Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians love that they live in an affordable city that is within two to three hours of travel time to nearby cities, such as New York City and Washington D.C. They can own a home or rent in the more affordable Philadelphia, but still be close enough to spend the day in New York City. In fact, Philadelphia’s cost of housing is so affordable that recent studies have shown it’s one of four cities in the nation where it makes more sense to own a home than to rent.

10. World-Class Philadelphia Orchestra

Cinematic Close Up Shot of Professional Symphony Orchestra Violin Player Playing on Classic Theatre with Curtain Stage during Music Concert. Performers Playing Music for Audience

The Philadelphia Orchestra plays at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

©Kitreel/Shutterstock.com

There is more to the city than soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. Philadelphia is the home to the world-famous and highly renowned Philadelphia Orchestra. One of the country’s top orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra was founded in 1900 and plays often at Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra has made some notable achievements, including being the first orchestra to be recorded, the first to play the soundtrack in a movie, and the first to appear on television.

11. An Amazing Healthcare System

Philadelphia is home to highly rated hospitals.

©pirke/Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvania is rated as having one of the top healthcare systems in the country by a Commonwealth Fund analysis. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian in Philadelphia is ranked the 11th best hospital in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2023 list. Also, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked fourth on the Report’s “Best Children’s Honor Roll.

12. Proximity to the Poconos Mountains

Shohola Falls in the Poconos, PA, looks amazing with beautiful fall foliage and lots of graceful cascades

The Poconos have been a top vacation destination for Americans for many years.

©Rabbitti/Shutterstock.com

It’s only around 100 miles from Philadelphia to the Poconos Mountains. In under two hours, Philadelphians can find themselves amid the forested mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. One popular destination is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is about a three-hour drive from the city. Here, the Delaware River flows through two mountain ridges. Another fun destination is the Shawnee Mountain Ski Area, which offers 125 acres of skiable slopes. 

The Poconos is also home to a variety of wildlife, including common loons, great blue herons, white-tail deer, black bears, red foxes, Appalachian cottontails, porcupines, Virginia opossums, and six different species of shrew.

13. Neighborhoods

Fish town sunset

Fishtown originated as a neighborhood full of fisherman, but today it boasts a vibrant cultural scene.

©Abad Rosa/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphia neighborhoods are unique. Each place has its own culture and charm. Fishtown is known for its vibrant art and music scene, along with trendy dining. Center City, the heart of downtown, is a bustling place with a mix of business and historic sites. Rittenhouse Square offers boutique shopping, alfresco dining, small art galleries, and luxury real estate.

14. Music Scene

The audience of the live house

Philadelphia has a vibrant music scene.

©ikuyan/Shutterstock.com

Philadelphia’s music scene has something for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of jazz, classical music, opera, R&B, or rock, you can find a live venue for it in Philly. Numerous famous musicians came from Philadelphia, including The Roots, Boyz II Men, Chubby Checker, Will Smith, and Mac Miller, just to name a few.


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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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