Visiting Philadelphia: Center City District

A few weeks ago I went on a 3-day work trip to Philadelphia (for the first time!) and had such an amazing experience! Needless to say I’m already planning a trip back because there’s just too much to do in this city! Plus, it’s only a 1.5 hour train ride from NYC via Amtrak – crazy fact: it’s a shorter train ride to Philly than it is for me to take NJ Transit back to hometown in NJ.

If you’re planning a trip to Philly in the near future, then here’s a quick trip guide that highlights everything we did on our 3-day visit in Center City District; from shopping to dining, experiences, and accommodations.


I had an amazing 2-night stay at the Sonesta Philadelphia Hotel, located right off Market Street in the heart of Center City District & only 7 minutes (walking) from the 30th street train station. The service was impeccable, room was spacious & clean, and the bed was HEAVEN!

Amenities include: rooftop pool, attached parking garage, (2) in-house restaurants – Ruth’s Chris Steak House & The Art Bar, 24-hour business & fitness centers, complimentary access to Philadelphia Sports Club, & option of feather/fragrance-free rooms upon request.

Click here to see it on a map.


We had a full day of shopping the local boutiques in Center City District. Each offered something entirely unique & are definitely worth checking out when in the area. Here are the ones we visited during our stay, all within walking distance of each other & our hotel:

BOYDS: This posh landmark store is one of the higher-end places we perused. The history junkie in me was obsessed with the building it’s located in; an old theater with impressive columns and beams still intact within the space.
DFTI BOUTIQUE: Right down the street from Boyds is this trendy store with an assortment of cool fashion finds. I got a great pair of statement earrings here & wish I could go back for more!
ELLELAURI: This boutique might have been my favorite to visit, offering brands such as  Wildfox, Rails, & Soludos. I got an adorable black jumpsuit (seen in first & last pictures) that I wore on our last night in Philly, made exclusively by the designer behind Ellelauri herself! Pieces from her own collection are also available in-store.
ENDEAVOR ATHLETIC: Okay, this might be the BEST fitness apparel brand discovery I’ve witnessed yet! This pop-up shop was scheduled to be open only for a few months but ended up extending its stay due to popularity. I found the perfect workout set that seems like it’s practically custom-designed for my HIIT classes – sweat resistant with a non-slip, extra high-waistband, & in the dreamiest soft burgundy color combo.

JOAN SHEPP: Across the street from Boyds is this luxury clothing store with a very cool, eclectic vibe. What looks like a one-room store actually extends outward & onward, with various designer labels in each room, nook & cranny. Brands sold include Golden Goose, Commes Des Garcons, & Isabel Marant, to name a few.
L.PRIORI JEWELRY: This beautiful, by-appointment only jeweler is hands down THE PLACE to go if you’re in the “I’m about to be engaged department.” We sat down with Lauren Priori herself to see how she goes about choosing the perfect ring that tailors to both the man & woman, something incredibly unique and personal that most mass-jewelers don’t offer as voluntarily. Not that I’m anywhere close to getting engaged, but I definitely know where to go when the time comes; in the meantime, I’ll just send referrals to my friends.

RIKUMO: This home goods store is EVERYTHING I need, love, & adore when it comes to interior decor and design. I felt like it was a store made for my apartment’s aesthetic; minimalist, sleek, and items offered in more than 50 shades of grey. The best part is that they’re planning on hosting a pop-up in NYC this November/December, which I’m SO excited about!
TOWNHOME JEWELRY: This small, intimate jewelry boutique has a beautiful selection of on-trend pieces. Definitely a great place to shop for presents gifted towards those in your close inner-circle.


If I could go back in time & enjoy one of the incredible meals we had during our stay, it would be almost impossible to choose! We ate like royalty & can probably all agree our dining experience was the highlight of our trip(s).

For Breakfast
FEDERAL DONUTS: Popular counter-serve outpost specializing in Korean-style fried chicken, creative donuts, & coffee.
PARC: Traditional bistro fare in a venue inspired by the bustling beauty of a Paris cafe. Menu Suggestion(s) –  French Toast, Egg White Omelette, Nutella Babka.
For Lunch
VEDA: Modern Indian bistro in an upbeat, space with chandeliers & a buzzy bar scene. Vegan and Gluten Free Options. Menu Suggestion(s) – Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Crispy Spinach Chaat, Tandoori Chicken.
ZAMA: Sleek, upscale creative sushi spot. If you like rolls with a kick, then I highly suggest the Spicy Chirashi – tuna, yellowtail, and salmon over spicy rice.

For Dinner
SAMPAN: Slick spot offering Pan-Asian small & large plates with an eclectic back patio bar space open year-round for cocktails &/or night caps. Menu Suggestion(s) – Hot Chicken Bao Bun, Tuna Rice Crackers, Swordfish Satay.
SPICE FINCHModern Mediterranean dining experience offering unique plates made-to-share. Menu Suggestion(s) – Blistered Shishito Peppers, Charred Carrot Hummus, Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli Tabbouleh.


Although we didn’t have as much time to explore the historic sites of Philly, at least I definitely have a reason to make a return trip! Here are some landmark & Insta-worthy spots to check out nearby Center City District: