It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Yes, the popular FX comedy series may have already brought sunshine to the minds of Philadelphia onlookers, but after spending three days in the city of brotherly love, I realized that it really does give visitors the warmth one wouldn’t necessarily expect from an East Coast destination. Not only do the members of the hospitality community act like a family amongst themselves, they make those visiting feel every bit a part of it.

At the Meeting Metropolis event last week, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority Ahmeenah Young even referred to the 200 attendees as cousins that the city wanted to invite back again and again and again. And the fact that they’re ending the 8% labor tax at the convention center as early as June—an announcement that made event professionals throughout the room eager to go on the tour the next day—may just be the start of a growing kinship.

The three-day event highlighted just a couple of the hundreds of ways a planner could utilize the space. The opening-night entertainment, for example, set the bar high, with two Cirque du Soleil-type performers that were lowered from the fourth floor to spin above the audience standing in the atrium below. The Terrace Ballroom, used for both evening events, was another smart use of the space, elegantly blocked off by iridescent curtains that featured colorful images and made the space feel more intimate for networking opportunities.

After the event concluded, I spent a day exploring the city’s never-ending attractions: museum after museum in Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (where Rocky did his famous run up the steps), Hotel Palomar Philadelphia (where Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Airlines, had eaten the night before) and The Inn at Penn (located basically on the University of Pennsylvania’s college campus). And I don’t think I could have made it throughout the day without a quick bite at Reading Terminal Market. Philly cheesesteaks, pretzels and even Amish apple butter were a mere sampling of all the food options at this convenient market close to the convention center.

With all the stops I made, I was surprised that I could do most of it by foot—a testament to the city’s extreme walkability—and I was even starting to get to know my way around. I could have spent at least a week visiting all the other Philly hot spots, so hopefully there will be another time for me to return. Luckily, I know I’m invited back…we are family after all.

For more on this ever-shining city, make sure to read the upcoming Philadelphia story in our June issue.

—Jessie Fetterling

Image: Philadelphia Museum of Art