Looking for a one-of-a-kind hotel stay? Then check into the custom "uwishunu" room at the Westin Philadelphia (99 S. 17th Street, (215) 563-1600), transformed into a work of art by more than a dozen Philly artists and designers. This oddly enchanting room, featuring an eerily angelic mural above the Westin's signature Heavenly Bed and quirky details throughout – including a gold hand soap holder and a light fixture made of old bottles, a metal mailbox and assorted vintage scraps. (Uwushunu Westin photo credit to John Carluccio)
"With this special room, we are able to tell the story of our amazing city on the inside, which is so visible on the outside… the Philadelphia and the Philadelphians you wish you knew," says local designer RJ Thornburg, the mastermind behind the room makeover with art curator Eileen Tognini.
Visitors celebrating the July 4 holiday can take advantage of the Philly Overnight Hotel Package, including a two-night stay, free parking and a Philly's More Fun teddy bear. The package is available at more than 30 hotels, including the Westin, and is bookable online at www.gophila.com.
Philadelphia is extremely easy to cover on foot. The Westin and other Center City hotels are within walking distance of hip boutiques – notably Buffalo Exchange (1713 Chestnut Street), a consignment shop with outlets in New York City and Los Angeles specializing in vintage and contemporary clothing for men and women. Tourists can also visit art galleries and eateries in the tony Rittenhouse Square and quaint Antique Row neighborhoods or take a short bus or car ride to the historic sights and trendy restaurants in Old City.
For fine dining, try the two-course gourmet Sunday brunch at Nineteen Restaurant (Broad and Walnut Streets), an elegant American brasserie on the 19th floor of the historic Park Hyatt at the Bellevue with dazzling décor that revolves around giant pearls dripping from the dining room ceiling. In addition to traditional breakfast fare, Nineteen's delectable brunch offers an assortment of unexpected treats such as handmade sushi and dim sum steamer baskets of shrimp Shumai and crab and vegetable spring rolls.
At dinner time, make reservations for a Mediterranean feast at Old City's Tangerine (232 Market Street), a grand, seductive space with an array of long tables, richly colored drapes and dimly lit Moroccan sconces and lamps. For starters, try the signature Tangerine cocktail (vanilla vodka, tangerine puree, splash of club soda) and the chickpea crepes appetizer. Seafood lovers will savor the grilled fish al limone entrée served with Sicilian olive oil, asparagus, roasted peppers, falafel, and fresh lemon. But leave room for dessert – the devilish Chocolat, Ciocolatte, Chocolate trio of a chocolate torta, milk chocolate napoleon, and manjari tower is a chocolate lovers' dream.
What better place to celebrate America's birthday than in its birthplace, Philadelphia. The city of brotherly love hosts Sunoco Welcome America!, a nine-day celebration with free events the whole family will enjoy including outdoor concerts featuring R&B stars John Legend (July 4) and Boyz II Men (July 5), patriotic ceremonies, exciting fireworks, and more.
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