It's a little-known fact that Philadelphia - the City of Brotherly Love, the Liberty Bell and a host of historical landmarks - is also a city of style. Downtown Philly, where hip young urbanites hang out, has become home to trendy boutiques and stylish retail chains over the past few years. What's more, most of them can be found on one major thoroughfare: Walnut Street.
Call it Philadelphia's answer to San Francisco's Post Street or Chicago's Michigan Avenue - a string of shops that offer something for everyone. Strolling down Walnut Street between South 18th Street and South Broad Street, you'll find everything from funky fashion to haute couture.
There's no better place to begin your spree than Anthropologie (1801 Walnut St., 215-568- 2114), the flagship of the chain store that specializes in one-of-a-kind items. The spacious, four-level location just off Rittenhouse Square is filled from top to bottom with chic, funky women's apparel, colorful housewares, furniture, gardening accessories and gift items. Often called Urban Outfitters' upscale sister store, Anthropologie's mix includes beaded throw pillows, embroidered skirts, bohemian earrings and hand-painted china - most of it hard to resist.
Across the street from Anthropologie is Kiehl's (1737 Walnut St., 215-636-9936), the natural cosmetics store. Treat yourself to a few items such as Lip Balm No. 1 (one of the brand's most popular products) or a moisturizing face lotion. They might be pricey and modestly packaged, but products by Kiehl's (a 150-year-old company) are consistently rated among the best by beauty magazine editors.
Next stop? Try Zara (1715 Walnut St., 215-557-0911), the Spanish retailer that offers runway looks for men and women at reasonable prices. The all-white, bi-level store sells suits for as little as $250 and printed T-shirts for less than $15. Although Zara designs are knock-offs of high-fashion trends, they are well-made and nicely tailored.
Halfway down the block you'll find Coach (1703 Walnut St., 215-564-4558), the luxury leather goods store, and Ann Taylor (1713 Walnut St., 215-977-9336), the chain retail store that sells women's fashion. But if you want to go beyond the basics, stop into Knit Wit (1718 Walnut St., 215-464-2393), a stylish boutique filled with all the latest trends. Knit Wit is always stocked with the blue jeans-of-the-moment and is a destination for T-shirts made by Three Dot and Petit Bateau. The store also carries delicate Jimmy Choo heels and the latest from designers including Marc Jacobs, Anna Molinari, Miu Miu and Paul Smith.
If you're not weighed down by bags, it's worth a peek into Burberry (1705 Walnut St., 215-557- 7400) for the latest in the trademark plaid from the British high-end label. For the sportier shopper, there's Puma(1505 Walnut St., 215-569- 4785), which features an entire wall filled with sneakers.
To end your shopping trip, visit the staple for classic, stylish apparel: Banana Republic (1401 Walnut St., 215-751-0292). This Center City location is spacious - housed in an old banker's club - and carries men's and women's clothing, shoes and accessories.
Other shops along the way include Bebe (1423 Walnut St., 215-569-2118), Arden B. (1716 Walnut St., 215-545-6333), Kenneth Cole (1422 Walnut St., 21570-1690) and Lucky Brand Dungarees (1634 Walnut St., 215-732-8933).
Where to eat
If you need to refuel, stop in Cosi Sandwich Bar (1128 Walnut St., 215-413-1608) for quick, delicious lunch. For about $7, you can order a sandwich made from steaming bread pulled right out of a wood-burning oven. Cosi also offers salads, soups and specialty coffees.
For a sit-down lunch and a larger selection, try Brasserie Perrier (1619 Walnut St., 215-567-1000). Open for lunch from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., this relaxed, upscale spot is the second Philadelphia restaurant for chef Georgess Perrier (of Le Bec-Fin). Offering modern French cuisine with Italian and Asian influences, the brasserie has a wide-ranging menu that includes homemade pomme frites and a grilled tuna nicoise sandwich.
Where to park
Parking can be a challenge, especially if it is a warm weekend. Side streets have spaces available, but you have to keep an eye out. Meters are available, but the easiest option is to park in one of the small pay lots.
From Baltimore, take Interstate 95 North toward New York. Merge onto I-495 North via Exit 5D toward Philadelphia. Merge back onto I-95 North. Take the Route 611 North exit (Exit 17) onto South Broad Street toward Pattison Avenue. Turn left onto Walnut Street.