The Barnes Foundation is well-known for its extensive collection of impressionist and early modern art. // © 2016 The Barnes Foundation/Tom Crane
Feature image (above): Philadelphia celebrates its history but keeps offerings on-trend for visitors and locals alike. // © 2016 iStock
Philadelphia is a city that blends old with new — celebrating its history while embracing the reinvention of everything from its architecture and design to its diverse food offerings. Walkable and easy to navigate, Center City Philadelphia is abundant with hip cafes, award-winning restaurants, stylish boutiques and world-class museums.
For travelers who appreciate the multitude of historical elements of the country’s first capital, yet remain enthusiastic about the city’s modern experiences, there are plenty of unique opportunities to eat, sleep and play in reinvented hotels, restaurants and museums.
Chef and restaurateur Michael Schulson is hitting his culinary stride with several successful restaurants that have enhanced Philadelphia’s dynamic dining scene. His eateries are known for their exceptional quality and feature inventive menus that blend elements of traditional and modern cuisine.
Sampan, for example, is a chic neighborhood mainstay that showcases a menu of Asian-fusion items such as Korean barbecue beef and a crab wonton taco with avocado, pickled shallot and cilantro. Schulson’s latest concept, Double Knot, situated adjacent to Sampan, has earned accolades for its design in addition to its innovative culinary offerings.
To enhance its ambiance, Schulson says he personally curated the restaurant’s authentic vintage antiques from estate sales around the East Coast. The dining destination is several eateries rolled into one: It functions as a coffee shop in the morning, a casual lunchtime spot in the afternoon and a bustling bar with craft cocktails during happy hour. Considered one of city’s top restaurants, Double Knot features Japanese-inspired bites served artfully in a downstairs dining room with an open kitchen.
With the recent completion of a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia has been restored to a radiant landmark hotel. Constructed in 1908 as a reproduction of the iconic Roman Pantheon, this neoclassical property is located across the street from Philadelphia City Hall and originally opened as The Girard Trust Company. The majestic domed lobby overflows with natural light and is adorned with 16 marble columns.
The space also features acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval’s Latin-influenced Aqimero restaurant, an adjacent lounge and a raw bar. The lobby has a seating area with a vantage point that overlooks the ballroom below, which formerly housed a bank vault.
The luxury hotel’s 299 renovated guestrooms reflect a neutral green and bronze color palette, including the multiroom Ritz-Carlton Suite situated on the 31st floor. The hotel also features the intimate and award-winning Richel D’Ambra spa and salon. Upstairs, the stylish Club Lounge features original French walnut paneling and a selection of food and beverage offerings throughout the day.
Art lovers should check out The Barnes Foundation, which exquisitely displays world-famous paintings in a new, contemporary museum located on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.Established in 1922 by scientist Albert Barnes, the museum holds what is considered one of the most extensive collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings.
The museum features masterful works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne and other notable artists, as well as various sculptures, textiles, ceramics and more. The multibillion-dollar collection draws visitors from across the world, who can stroll through the galleries and admire the displays of art.