The Philadelphia International Airport (800/745-4283, www.phl.org) is approximately seven miles from Center City and offers frequent service for more than 25 major airlines and several discount airlines. It is a major hub city for US Airways (www.usairways.com), and discount carrier Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) offers daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia to numerous cities including Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Providence, and Tampa.
Millions of dollars in renovation projects in the past decade have resulted in a much more pleasant airport experience. The Marketplace now consists of more than 150 national and local shops offering food, beverages, and merchandise, so there is plenty to do while you wait for your flight—which you often will, as delays occur frequently.
Getting to and from the airport on public transportation is easy on SEPTA’s R1 regional rail line, which directly links the airport to Center City and 30th Street Station for $7 one way. It runs every 30 minutes daily 5:25 a.m.–11:25 p.m., and connects with other rail lines that can get you practically anywhere within the city and nearby suburbs. Taxis charge a flat rate of $26.25 for travel to and from Center City from the airport and are waiting just outside the baggage claim area.
Alternative airports include Newark International (Newark, NJ, 85 miles), Baltimore-Washington International (Baltimore, MD, 109 miles), JFK International (Jamaica, NY, 105 miles), and La Guardia (Flushing, NY, 105 miles). You’ll often find the best fares directly to Philadelphia, especially once you factor in time and money spent traveling from the other airports, but it is worth investigating airfares from these nearby cities, especially if you’re planning a multi-city visit in the area.
Since the early days of rail transport in the United States, Philadelphia has been a hub for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Railroad. Today, Philadelphia is a hub of the semi-nationalized Amtrak (30th and Market Sts., 800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com). The station is a primary stop on the Washington–Boston Northeast Corridor route and the Keystone Corridor, which connects to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. It also offers either direct or connecting service to Atlantic City, Chicago, and many other cities in the United States and Canada. All trains traveling outside the city depart and arrive at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. The train is the most pleasant, but also the most expensive, method of public transportation to nearby cities like New York and D.C., although you can check the website for fare specials, and ask about discounts for seniors or people with disabilities.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA (215/580-7800, www.septa.org), has regional lines serving the suburbs of Philadelphia. It also connects to New Jersey Transit in Trenton via the R6 line, which continues to Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. Regional Rail also extends south of the city to Wilmington, Delaware.
The Greyhound Bus Terminal (10th and Filbert Sts., 215/931-4075 or 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) offers direct and connecting service all over the country. NJ Transit (800/772-2222, www.njtransit.com) buses travel between Philadelphia and South Jersey, including the Jersey shore as far as Cape May at the southernmost tip. SEPTA, in addition to providing extensive local service, also offers service to some parts of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia is easily accessible by car, connected to several major highways including the PA Turnpike (I-276), I-76, I-476, I-95, U.S. 1, and the New Jersey Turnpike. I-676 is the section of I-76 that runs through Center City and continues across the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. The Walt Whitman Bridge and the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge also connect Philadelphia to New Jersey. The usual car rental agencies can be found at the airport or in Center City, including Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition