Baltimore Sun reporter

Go here: Philadelphia is known for its charming neighborhoods, its cheesy steak sandwiches, its breweries and food markets, and of course, its links to the birth of our nation. Ben Franklin lived there; so did Betsy Ross. It's where the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence and debated the Constitution. If that all seems too much in the past, contemporary parts of the city are just as appealing. The lobby of the new Comcast Center, the city's tallest building, features a 2,000-square-foot high-definition screen with flashing images and nature scenes. Rittenhouse Row is home to exclusive shops and boutiques offering the latest in fashion, jewelry and furnishings. Even though the city isn't all powdered wigs and wooden teeth, it's still the historic landmarks that draw the crowds to this City of Brotherly Love.

Stay here: The Alexander Inn, 12th and Spruce streets, is a small hotel (48 rooms) in downtown Philadelphia, just off the entertainment and shopping areas. It's only minutes from the Avenue of the Arts, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Antique Row and the Historic Independence Hall area. It offers a breakfast buffet, 24-hour fitness room and wireless Internet. Rates start at about $120 a night. 877-253-9466;

Eat here: The Reading Terminal Market, established in 1892 at 12th and Arch streets, offers a range of dining options. Pick up a soft pretzel or a famous Philly cheesesteak, try scrapple from an Amish stand or go ethnic with sushi or gyros. Delilah's at the Terminal boasts Oprah Winfrey's favorite macaroni and cheese.

Don't miss this: Independence Mall, a stretch of several blocks featuring Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the new National Constitution Center. Free, walk-up tickets for same-day admission to Independence Hall are available at the Independence Visitor Center, Fifth and Chestnut streets, starting at 8:30 a.m. Go early, because in the busy season tickets are often gone by 1 p.m. No tickets are needed for admission to the Liberty Bell Center at Sixth and Market streets, although visitors must go through security screening. The National Constitution Center is an interactive history museum with more than 100 multimedia exhibits. Tickets are $12.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. You'll find impressive collection of more than 300,000 pieces including Renaissance, American, Impressionist and modern art. Outside, the steps made famous in the movie Rocky are tempting to try. The backside of the museum offers a breathtaking view of the Schuylkill River and its colorful boathouses. Admission $10-$14.

Get here: Philadelphia is about two hours from Baltimore. Take Interstate 95 North to Interstate 76 West.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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