The Italian Market in Philadelphia has evolved into a mix...

The Italian Market in Philadelphia has evolved into a mix of both Italian vendors and Asian and Mexican ones, too. But traditional offerings such as cannolis, homemade sausages, imported meats and cheeses, luscious cappuccino, specialty cookware and fresh pastas make the market a favorite for visitors and residents alike. Credit: R. Kennedy for GPTMC

The City of Brotherly Love is more than cheese-steaks and the Liberty Bell. From hipster havens packed with trendy galleries and downtown shopping to distinctive communities that retain the city's classic traditions (Mummers, anyone?), Philadelphia has a neighborhood for every taste.

While it's smaller than New York City, Philadelphia is long on the elements that make a city great: Shopping for the fashionista, eclectic restaurants for the foodie, iconic landmarks for the history buff and arts for the culture vulture.

Even better, in every neighborhood you'll find the classic Philly flavor that makes the city so unusual, from brightly colored murals to, yes, even cheesesteaks.

OLD CITY

WHY GO? To explore the city's hippest galleries within walking distance of some of the nation's most important historic sites.

DETAILS Tourists flock to Old City for its history, which includes nearby Independence Hall. But locals love the neighborhood's edgy galleries, quirky shops and tasty restaurants. While exploring this vibrant 'hood, take a break at quiet Elfreth's Alley, the country's oldest continuously occupied street (off N. Second Street between Quarry and Arch streets).

ART Galleries line Second and Third streets in Old City. A favorite is The Clay Studio, a nonprofit gallery dedicated to ceramics that celebrated its 35th year last month (139 N. Second St., 215-925-3453, theclaystudio.org). Shop the gallery's store stocked with quirky finds, including colorful tiles featuring nostalgic images such as Italian espresso makers and old-style school desks ($27). The nearby Artists' House gallery features monthly rotating exhibits by emerging artists from the tri-state area (57 N. Second St., 215-923-8440, artistshouse.com).

EAT Locals love Fork, a New American bistro featuring seasonal cuisine in a stylish setting (306 Market St., 215-625-9425, forkrestaurant.com). Its attached cafe, Fork: etc., serves up sandwiches, salads and other light fare. The gourmet grub, including an inventive roast beef sandwich with Vermont Cheddar and horseradish mayo ($8), is best enjoyed at the cafe's communal table.

For a tasty treat that takes you back in time, head over to The Franklin Fountain, where milkshakes and sundaes are served by old-fashioned soda jerks (116 Market St., 215-627-1899, franklinfountain.com).

NORTHERN LIBERTIES

WHY GO? To check out Philadelphia's hipster capital and the city's answer to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

DETAILS Once a gritty industrial wasteland, Northern Liberties is now considered one of Philly's trendiest sections. Old warehouses made way for artists' lofts and streets lined with chic shopping and exciting eateries.

ENJOY Stroll the Piazza at Schmidts, an 80,000-square-foot plaza bordered by galleries, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and snazzy apartment buildings. You'll find events on the Piazza just about daily, from Wednesday night bingo to Saturday morning runs. On Sundays during football season, locals clad in Eagles jerseys gather to watch their beloved birds on the plaza's JumboTron screen. Perhaps the best part - parking at the Piazza is free (North Second Street and Germantown Avenue, atthepiazza.com).

EAT With dishes including vegan mac 'n' cheese made with multigrain pasta ($5) and drinks served in Mason jars, A Full Plate offers hearty fare for the healthy eater (1009 N. Bodine St., 215-627-4068, afullplate.com). Standard Tap wins raves for its selection of local brews (North Second and Poplar streets, 215-238-0630, standardtap.com).

RITTENHOUSE SQUARE

WHY GO? In a word: Shopping.

DETAILS Anchored by one of the nation's oldest parks, Rittenhouse Square is considered a premier Philadelphia shopping destination. From high-end designers to independent boutiques, the blocks surrounding the park are the perfect locale to indulge in major retail therapy. With shopping bags in tow, take a break at one of the neighborhood's hip restaurants or stroll the streets for a peek at Philadelphia's classic town houses.

SHOP At Knit Wit, you'll find hip women's threads by designers including Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang (1718 Walnut St., 215-564-4760, knitwitonline.com). Lagos The Store is the flagship of this Philadelphia-based jewelry company, which specializes in sterling silver and 18-carat gold pieces (1735 Walnut St., 877-588-2401, lagos.com). If the weather forces you indoors, check out The Shops at Liberty Place (17th and Chestnut streets, 215-851-9055, shopsatliberty.com).

EAT You'll find a dizzying selection of imported cheeses, gourmet meats, salads and scrumptious pastries at Di Bruno Bros. (1730 Chestnut St., 215-665-9220, dibruno.com). The shop began as a small grocery in Philadelphia's Italian Market (more later on that South Philly staple) and led to this location's opening a few years ago.

SOUTH PHILLY

WHY GO? To experience classic Philly flavors at their finest.

DETAILS Though its history is heavily Italian (crooner Frankie Avalon is a native), ongoing immigration has made South Philly more diverse. Even as the neighborhood changes - you'll find Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine amid the Italian restaurants - it continues to exemplify classic Philadelphia.

ENJOY At the Mummer's Museum, you'll get a look inside the knockdown, blowout Philly New Year's parade that's months in the making, from the instruments to the elaborate costumes ($3.50 adults, 1100 S. Second St., 215-336-3050, mummersmuseum.com). On any day of the week, you'll find Ninth Street clogged with vendors selling fresh produce, homemade pasta, exotic spices, Italian coffee and meats ranging from elk steaks to buffalo at Philly's Italian Market (900 S. Ninth St., 9thstreetitalianmarket.com). Walk the quiet blocks around the raucous market and you'll find quaint cafes and some of the city's vibrant murals.

EAT Cap off your journey with a firsthand look at one of the most talked-about rivalries in Philadelphia lore. Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks stare each other down 24 hours a day, seven days a week across Ninth Street. Pat's claims to be the originator of the sandwich that makes Philly famous (1237 E. Passyunk Ave., 215- 468-1546, patskingofsteaks.com). Geno's touts its sandwich as the best (1219 S. Ninth St., 215-389-0659, genosteaks.com).

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