Center City, Philadelphia
...don't get suckered into visiting Pat's Steaks or Geno's for cheesesteaks. They are located (across the street from each other) in a somewhat depressed region of South Philly, and the clientele and 'cruisers' can create a threatening atmosphere after dark. Besides, the cheesesteaks I have had there generally contain large streaks of fat - on the plus side, they're not minute steaks, but they're hard to eat without pulling the whole steak out of the bread periodically.
South Street is a bit more tourist-friendly, and Jim's steaks will give you the "cheesesteak experience", if you desire a cholesterol bolus.
Every year people are killed in crosswalks because drivers are.....well, drivers. This is the city, don't cross against the lights, don't step out into the street to hail a cab, pay attention when you cross the street & you will be fine. These aren't civilized drivers, they are Philly drivers people, pay attention.
Even though I was only in Philly for four full days, I can tell you that I KNOW that I still would not be able to see everything in seven full days! That wonderful city is FULL of many treasures so if you are able to afford it, stay more than a week.
I read many folks say how safe Center City is so long as you use normal precautions. I walked through many streets in that city alone during daylight hours and definitely felt safe. I did not venture north of Race St., south of Christian St., or west of 16th St. (I think). Around Christian St., I noticed that the neighbourhoods and some of the folks were looking a little rough so I turned myself around and started back northbound. I did not feel too unsafe but I would not want to be there after dark. The main part of Center City was very comfortable, even when I had to go out after dark for my dinner, I felt safe because of all the people who were still walking around. I just didn't go out too late and only walked on the streets with plenty of pedestrian and car traffic.
Actually, I really didn't think Center City _traffic_ was bad or difficult at all - but I've heard that the parking situation is terrible. Certainly, if you come to central Philadelphia and want to park your car, be prepared to pay for a garage. If you do attempt to park on the street, be sure to really the parking signs very carefully!
i live just outside of the city and commute at least 2 or 3 times a week into the city - if not more - to shop, or go out to museums, galleries, happy hour with friends, etc etc
I take the train to save me from the aggravation of parking and paying $30 for a garage...
Just as a warning... If you're taking the train at night, I've had several bad experiences at Suburban Station - if you can, take the train out from 30th street or Market East if its dark...
the thing about surbuban is that its DARK and its underground and your cell phone wont get reception at all - plus there's never a soul there late at night...
i've been harrassed, spit on, followed, and had some guy flash me... so i warn you... stay away from suburban station at night if you're alone :)
It's best to stay within the center city area of Philadelphia if your not familliar with the city. Center City starts on the east side along the Delaware River, south to South Street north to around Sring Garden and west to the Schuylkill river.
Be very careful in the center city area concerning parking in the evening. Many small parking lots in center city don't have attendants in the evening hours. They have automated machines that you have to deposit your money in or use a credit card. There have been many cases of FAKE attendants (usually homeless) showing up in front of these lots making pretend that they work there. He'll guide you to a spot and play the part of an attendant like an Oscar winner. He'll demand $20 and tell you he'll personally be there very late to watch your car. As soon as you walk away, he's gone with your $20! If that's not bad enough, you will then have to return to the lot(if you're lucky enough to discover he was a faker) and pay an additional $20 to the automated machine or you will be towed away! This happened to a friend of mine on Arch Street. If someone asks you for money at an automated lot, (look for the signs, they are there, but you might not notice them because this faker has distracted you) call the police immediately. They know of the scam and will be helpful.
Be sure to watch where you park when in Philly. The handicap spaces are not always obvious and the fine of $301.00 is painful. Read all signs carefully. If you find a space, check it out.