How to Visit Philly Like a Movie Star
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How to Visit Philly Like a Movie Star

Philadelphia Art Museum
Alamy Stock Photo

With the latest film in the Rocky series, Creed, generating awards buzz, Philadelphia is a hot spot for movie buffs and wannabe celebrities. Just in time for the Academy Awards, here is our guide to visiting Philly like a movie star.

Yo Adrian! The city memorialized in the Rocky series and now the award-winning Creed has been home to a wide variety of movie plots and filming locations, including Philadelphia (which opens with a montage of famous sites), Mannequin, Trading Places, Twelve Monkeys, and In Her Shoes. Remember, “I see dead people”? The Sixth Sense was set and filmed in the City of Brotherly Love. The scene in Silver Linings Playbook where Pat and Tiffany kiss in the street under twinkling holiday lights? That’s Jewelers’ Row. Just in time for the Academy Awards, here is our guide to visiting Philadelphia like a movie star. 

Where to stay

“Celebs don’t stay in hotels,” says Irene Levy Baker of Spotlight Public Relations. “They don’t cram themselves into tiny bedrooms where they’ll be ogled every time they walk through the lobby. They stay in upscale, contemporary apartments where they have the room to entertain their entourage and don’t have to worry about being photographed as they grab their morning coffee.”

Ur Home in Philly, for example, gives guests the star treatment with a private car pick-up at the airport and upscale apartments with city views for about the price of a hotel room. That’s why it’s hosted Tessa Thompson (Creed), producers of Twilight, NFL players, and the casts of the musicals The Lion King and Book of Mormon.

Of course, the city’s most luxurious standbys—the Rittenhouse Hotel, Ritz Carlton, and new Logan Hotel (which is getting attention for its art collection and on-site restaurant) often accommodate Hollywood guests.

Where to Play

It’s cheesy, it’s iconic, and it’s mandatory for all first-time visitors: run the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Queue up Gonna Fly Now and huff it up those 68 steps; then pose with the champ’s famous sculpture on the trip down.

It’s no surprise that more celebrity hot spots are in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood than anywhere else. It’s the city’s poshest, with fittingly chic dining, shopping, and people watching. The picturesque square itself is where Rocky and Adrian walked while talking about their impending parenthood in Rocky II.

Following in the footsteps of silver screen locales will take you through some of Philly’s best attractions. According to the Philadelphia Film Society, the climatic court scenes featuring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington unfold in a City Hall courtroom in the movie Philadelphia. Relive the movie by touring City Hall’s interior, tower, and observation deck in this architecturally impressive building.

Many of the eerie scenes in Twelve Monkeys featuring Bruce Willis were filmed at Eastern State Penitentiary—the now defunct prison that offers educational and creepy tours. As Nicholas Cage's character races to unravel the coded message on the back of the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure, it leads him to the birthplace of liberty: Philadelphia's Independence Hall. Practice your one-liners and make like Cage by heading to Independence Mall.

Of course, fitness is next to famousness. Stay in shape with a jog through the historic Italian Market (Rocky-style) or on the new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk (Creed-style).

Where to Eat

Philadelphia-area native Bradley Cooper has been spotted not once, but twice at SliCE Rittenhouse—and he’s brought friends Renée Zellweger and Jennifer Lawrence to try the popular pizzas. Madonna, Nikki Minaj (a fan of SliCE’s brownies), Boyz II Men, and Ed Sheeran have also eaten at the hot spot.

Celebs in town for a shoot often hit up the quaint Sabrina’s Café near the Italian Market. Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal are recent patrons, according to the Film Society. The food—like stuffed Challah French toast—is stick-to-your-ribs good.

What is it about French bistros that make us feel famous? Rittenhouse Square’s Parc and Rouge know: elegant cocktails, haute cuisine, and wine served in glowing interiors. That’s why Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx have dined at Parc, and Justin Timberlake and M. Night Shyamalan have eaten at Rouge, says the Film Society.

When Victor Café isn’t moonlighting as “Adrian’s” restaurant in Rocky Balboa and Creed, it delights diners nightly with operatic arias sung by its talented wait staff, who also serve classic Italian fare.

Where to Drink

Fishtown bar Johnny Brenda's contributes to Philly’s rich musical scene with a strong concert schedule—one so strong that it’s where Adonis Johnson falls for Bianca as she sings on stage Creed.

With soaring ceilings, city views from its intimate balconies and luxurious finishings, XIX Nineteen at the famed Bellevue hotel is just the spot for sipping cocktails and whispered conversations. The Hotel Monaco’s sleek Stratus Rooftop Lounge is a popular spot for production wrap parties, says the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

Sarah Maiellano is on the Philadelphia beat for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @SarahMaiellano.

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