Most flights to and from Philadelphia use Philadelphia International Airport -- airport code PHL -- (tel. 215/937-6937; www.phl.org), at the southwest corner of the city. For up-to-the-minute information on airline arrival and departure times and gate assignments, call tel. 800/PHL-GATE (745-4283).
By air, Philadelphia is 2 1/2 hours from Miami or Chicago, and 6 hours from the West Coast. Some 30 carriers fly from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and 16 destinations abroad. US Airways is the "hub" tenant, and avails itself of four terminals. B and C are the main terminals; the end Terminal F serves commuters. Terminal A West (gates A14-A26) services international travelers. Terminal B is the place to catch taxis, buses, and hotel limousines. There is a shopping corridor between terminals B and C, where you can buy gifts such as books, electronic gadgets, and jewelry, and even browse at Gap.
Getting into Town from the Airport
Eight miles southwest of Center City, the Philadelphia International Airport is -- best-case scenario -- a 15-minute drive away. Usually, however, drivers can count on a good 30 minutes (more during rush hour) via either of the major thoroughfares, I-95 or I-76.
By Car -- At the airport exit, follow signs to I-95 N. and I-76. After 4/5 of a mile, take the right fork to I-76 W./Valley Forge. This route takes you approximately 1 mile via Penrose Avenue and the George C. Platt Memorial until you arrive at a traffic light (26th St.). Turn left. After less than 1 mile, this road becomes I-76 W. Continue on I-76 W. for 2 1/2 miles. Center City will be on your right. You may access the city via exits at South Street, Market Street, or 676 W. for Broad Street, 8th Street (for the Pennsylvania Convention Center), or 6th Street (for Independence Visitor Center, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall).
Alternate route: At the airport exit, follow signs to I-95 N. Continue on I-95 for 7 miles. Exit left for 676 W. Exits for Broad Street or the Ben Franklin Parkway will appear in less than 1 mile on the right.
By Train -- Trains arrive at Penn Station (30th St.) in West Philadelphia, just on the other side of the Schuylkill River from Center City, and about 15 blocks from City Hall. Take a taxi or SEPTA from the station to your hotel.
Each baggage claim connects to taxi, limousine, and shuttle services. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) provides train service from terminals A to E to Center City (30th St., Suburban, and Market East stations) via the R1 regional rail line. A one-way ticket costs $7. The train runs every 30 minutes from early morning until late night. For more information, visit www.septa.org.
Being a couple hours' drive from New York and a couple hours' more from Washington, D.C., makes Philadelphia a smart place to get to by bus. For years, intra-city bus travelers had one option: the beleaguered Greyhound terminal at 1001 Filbert St. (at 10th St. btw. Market and Arch sts.; tel. 215/931-4075). That station is still there, a convenient hub for nation-reaching Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) and New Jersey Transit (tel. 973/275-5555; www.njtransit.com), which has service throughout the Garden State, including Atlantic City and other shore points.
Recent years have seen the addition of station-free bus lines, whose competitive rates and convenient Wi-Fi access have brought a slightly classier, if not quite stable, feel to the mode. At press time, these lines departed across the street from one another, at 30th Street at J.F.K. Boulevard, on the west side of 30th Street Station. Bolt Bus (tel. 877/BOLT-BUS [265-8287]; www.boltbus.com) offers regular, reliable service to downtown and midtown New York City. Look for the bright orange bus. Its main competitor is the bright blue MegaBus (tel. 877/GO2-MEGA [462-6342]; www.megabus.com), an often double-decker vehicle that serves New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Buffalo, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and more. Both bus lines advertise $1 fares, and offer them to the first passenger to book a ticket on a line, with most tickets to New York costing about $12 each way.
It's not surprising that two-thirds of all visitors arrive by car: Philadelphia is some 300 miles (6 hr. or so) from Boston; 100 miles (2 hr.) from New York City; 135 miles (3 hr.) from Washington, D.C.; and 450 miles (9 hr.) from Montreal.
Philadelphia is easily accessible via a series of interstate highways that circle or pass through the city. I-95 (not to be confused with the New Jersey Tpk., which goes by the same name) runs along the city's eastern edge, running north and south. The six-lane I-276 (the original Pennsylvania Tpk.) comes in from the north/northeast, connecting to the New Jersey Turnpike. The oft-congested I-76 (aka the Schuylkill Expwy.) runs east and west, snaking along the Schuylkill River into town, connecting into the heart of Center City via I-676 (aka the Vine St. Expwy.) and reconnecting I-76 to Camden, New Jersey, via the Ben Franklin Bridge over the Delaware. (Confused yet?) Connecting all of the above is I-476, "the Blue Route," which edges along western suburbs, about 15 miles west of town, linking up I-276 and I-76 at its northern end with I-95 to the south.
A few things drivers ought to know about driving in the city of Philadelphia: Most Center City streets are one-way. Most streets are paved with asphalt, but a few -- Dock Street, for example -- remain cobblestone or brick. Pedestrians abound, and always have the right of way. Philadelphia parking laws are no joke: Allow a parking meter to expire or leave your car in a no-parking zone, and you just might find yourself on the next episode of Parking Wars.
Philadelphia is a major Amtrak stop (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com). Amtrak terminal 30th Street Station, 30th and Market streets (tel. 215/349-3196; www.amtrak.com), is on the Boston-Washington, D.C., northeast corridor, which has extensions south to Florida, west to Pittsburgh and Chicago, and east to Atlantic City. This station also connects via SEPTA regional rail and subway (www.septa.com) to Suburban Station (16th St. and J.F.K. Blvd.) and Market East Station (12th and Filbert sts.). Suburban and Market East are located near most Center City hotels, while 30th Street Station is closest to the hotels of University City.
From New York's Penn Station, Philadelphia is a 73- to 96-minute ride away. Regular rail service -- called "Regional" or "Keystone" -- is 7 to 23 minutes longer than Acela Express (73-min.) service, but the cheaper price is often worth the extra time. Fares for the Regional and Keystone trains run from $48 to $93 weekdays; Acela trains cost from $117 to $146. (Amtrak does not offer discounts for booking round-trip travel.) Washington, D.C., is 1 1/2 to 2 hours away (fares run $47-$165). The ride to/from Boston is 5 to 7 hours ($85-$211); from Chicago, it's about an 18-hour ride, with fares from $134 to $165. Rates are as of press time.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.