The city of Philadelphia is a fascinating hybrid of old and new.
Founded in 1682, the City of Brotherly Love certainly has its share of history. You already know you have to visit the sites that are key touch points of our country's founding, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (where the Constitution was signed).
But weaved into that history is a fresh sense of modernity, found in Philadelphia's public art exhibits, trendy rooftop bars and the shops that any designer lover would be remiss to leave out of a Philly tour.
"I think Philadelphia is really coming into its own on many levels," says Philadelphia-based interior designer . "It's a really great city to marry history and all of the contemporary things happening here, such as the food and design. It's a very accessible city for experiencing a lot in a short time."
Whether you're a frequent visitor to Philadelphia, or the city is on your travel bucket list, Mizell and editor Rebecca Warren revealed the must-see places that might not typically be on your travel itinerary.
Read on for their suggestions, and experience Philly like any design lover should.
What To Sightsee: Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
No, this isn't a local theme park you missed the memo on. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is the genius of Isaiah Zagar, an artist in the city who began "beautifying" South Street in the 1960s with mosaics murals made of tiles, ceramic chards, cement, bottles and other tidbits. Over time, despite legal battles along the way, the creation was named Philadelphia's Magic Gardens and was incorporated as a nonprofit to preserve the artwork at the site and throughout the South Street region.
"The folk-art and found-object artwork now occupies half a city block with an outdoor sculpture installation and indoor galleries," says Warren. General admission is $10 for adults.
1020 South Street, 215-733-0390, .
Where To Eat: Barbuzzo
Word of advice: When you visit Philadelphia, go Italiano.
"Philadelphia is known for its superb Italian food, and the salted caramel budino from Barbuzzo is one of the city's most iconic desserts," says Warren.
Think of it as an Italian custard: The dish has a dark chocolate crust, rich vanilla bean custard and salted caramel, layered in a glass jar. Barbuzzo also serves unique dishes such as sheeps milk ricotta, roasted marrow bone and wood-fired whole sardines.
110 South 13th Street, 215-546-9300,
Where To Drink: Assembly Rooftop Bar
One of the newest additions to Philadelphia's growing food and drink scene comes with a view. Visit Assembly, the new rooftop bar at The Logan Hotel, for a tasty drink with open-air lounge areas overlooking Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the city's art and museum district. The best part: It's open every night, albeit seasonally.
"Assembly is really buzzy right now," says Warren. "It has impeccable views across the city and a great selection of bubbles on the menu."
1840 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-783-4171,
Where To See Artwork: The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation was founded in 1922 to promote the appreciation of fine arts and horticulture, and now holds many fine collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings. Its museum in Philadelphia (it also has an in Merion, Pennsylvania), showcases more than 3,000 masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Van Gogh and Modigliani, alongside African sculptures, Native American ceramics, metalwork and Pennsylvania German furniture.
"It's the most incredible private collection, amassed by Albert Barnes," says Mizell. "It's small for a museum, but the amount of impressive work that is in this tiny, extremely accessible space is mind-blowing. The fact that Dr. Barnes hung these art pieces next to metalwork and African sculptures was really visionary, because no one had really coined the term eclectic at that time."
Admission is $25 for adults. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-278-7000,
Where To Shop: Rittenhouse Row
"Rittenhouse Row and Walnut Street are the places to go for high-end fashion in Philadelphia proper," says Warren. "Old City has the Third Street Corridor, which offers a variety of independent, eclectic boutiques."
For the design lover, Mizell recommends the American Street Showroom.
"It is a stunning exhibition place that features local artists' and designers' work, ranging from furniture and lighting to rugs and incredible custom shelving and wall systems," says Mizell. "Everything is very bespoke and the quality is superb."
And if you're antiquing? Stop by Liao Collection, suggests Mizell.
"The space and its interior is just magnificent," says Mizell. "It's a really wonderful collection of Chinese and Japanese furnishings and textiles. The owner has a beautiful way of displaying things and mixing them together."
Rittenhouse Row: 18th Street and Walnut Street, Stretching from Broad Street to 21st Street between Spruce and Market Streets,
American Street Showroom: 2201 North American Street, 215-535-3000, . By appointment only.
Liao Collection: 310 North 11th Street, 215-922-2229,
Where To Go For A Walk: Delancey Street
If your travel style involves strolling through a city at your own pace, make your way to Delancey Street. Standing out with its notably historic and gorgeous houses, it's Mizell's favorite street in the city, she says.
"It's a historically registered block, and the townhouses on that block are just unparalleled," she says. "They were built originally by people who could fill their homes with art and marble and wood floors of their choosing, and they have things like marble fireplaces, gorgeous soaring ceilings and breathtaking molding."
But simply walking along the street can offer an incredible design experience.
"The trees are soaring and mature, and the sidewalks are wide and cobblestoned," says Mizell. It's really just classic American architecture."