Boston vs. Philadelphia

Boston vs. Philadelphia - one of the most heated clashes in the United States. Both have rich Revolutionary War backgrounds, diverse neighborhoods, and tantalizing cuisines. But when you compare the two cities, which one really comes out on top? There's only one way to find out...
Boston vs. Philadelphia

Table of Contents

Boston is made for people who prefer to keep things low-key and find solace in quiet places. It’s a spot well-known for its beautiful landmarks, including its many trails that served witness to American freedom. Here, the streets themselves are historic, so what can you expect from the city’s iconic museums? And, of course, don’t forget Beantown’s seafood scene and gastronomy – they’re some of the best you’ll ever have!

On the other hand, Philadelphia is the perfect vacation venue for those who hold art dear in their hearts. The city takes pride in its many street art and murals, masterpieces that are fluid and can change daily. It’s also one of the best American cities to go to if you’re eager for an ice-cold beer or a steaming cup of coffee to sober you up.

At the end of the day, when it comes to Boston vs. Philadelphia, there’s no clear winner. They’re both fun East Coast cities fit for the vacation of your dreams, so why not check out both? You’d savor every moment of it!


Make way for Boston, the City of Three Firsts! It’s home to the first public park in America, the first American lighthouse, and the first subway system in the United States. Impressive, right? But that’s just scratching the surface. Because when it comes to all-around awesomeness, Beantown is something special!

It’s known by many as the Heart of New England, filled to the brim with culture, history, and all things amazing. There’s its amazing gastronomy, capable of bringing even the toughest gourmets to their knees. The city’s many museums can get you back in time; even a simple stroll in Boston is as good as stepping into a time machine!

The possibilities are endless in this American destination. You won’t be disappointed, so why not come and explore this wonderful city by the sea?

What Makes Boston Unique?

Seafood and All Things Good

When it comes to featuring the flavors of the ocean, no city does it like Boston! It’s known for having some of the freshest seafood ever, thanks to being right next door to the Atlantic Ocean. This makes the city a premier destination for those who love the fruits of the sea, as well as people determined to have a taste.

From succulent lobsters and clams to decadent scallops and oysters, this spot is a true seafood paradise! You won’t have to explore exotic shops or drop by hidden places in the bay to partake in these dishes. Fresh catches can be found at bustling docks, traditional restaurants, and fancy eateries.

Ready to set sail on a culinary voyage around Boston’s seafood scene? Check out some remarkable stops below for the best encounters:

  • Red’s Best. It’s no secret that some of the best restaurants in Boston get their supplies from Red’s, which proves that it’s a level entirely on its own. Here, you can find the freshest seafood and hauls that come straight from local fishermen’s nets. Look forward to eating its Dayboat Sea Scallop Roll or buying a brunch box you can devour on the go!
  • Select Oyster Bar. If you’re looking for a divine seafood experience, nothing beats this spot. It’s where you can eat dishes with a classic European touch, including sautéed petit clams, salmon crudo, and Spanish octopus. The best thing is you get to pair these legends with wines of the finest caliber, so don’t be scared of asking for recommendations.

These are only some of Boston’s must-visit seafood spots, so thoroughly explore the city. Remember to sample all the dishes you can put your hands on, like the classic New England clam chowder and beer-battered haddock. They’re sure to introduce you to a whole new world, so don your captain’s hat and prepare for an epic adventure!

History in Even the Smallest Details

Boston is dubbed the greatest sports city on the planet, known for producing some of the best teams in every game. It’s also a hub for the freshest, most divine seafood dishes to ever exist. However, these are not the only aces hidden in this A-list American destination. It’s also one of the oldest cities in the country, steeped with history down to its smallest details!

This makes Beantown an irresistible vacation venue for history buffs out there. Even those looking for a good time have the city on their bucket lists due to its many stunning historic landmarks. Can you expect less from this place which has been dubbed the Birthplace of the American Revolution? So much of the nation’s past can be found here, so take in all the sites and sounds you’ll experience here.

First, don’t miss out on walking the path of Revolutionary heroes – the Freedom Trail! It’s a 4 km (2.5 mi) route that leads you down the same road revolutionaries and patriots follow. The trail shows you sixteen iconic landmarks relevant to American Freedom, such as the Paul Revere House.

It was built around the 1680s, making it the oldest surviving building in downtown Boston. As you have guessed, it’s home to the revolutionary hero Paul Revere! He’s the midnight rider who warned the colonial militia of an impending British invasion, thus, saving the lives of many.

Another landmark you’ll encounter on the Freedom Trail is the USS Constitution. It’s dubbed the “Old Ironsides” due to its sturdy oak hull, able to withstand even the enemy’s flying cannonballs! There’s also the Granary Burying Ground; it’s a must-visit if you want to thank the heroes who gave you the freedom you have today. You can pay respects and give flowers to the graves of Paul Revere, James Otis, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence.

You can also marvel at the many wonderful historic sights outside the Freedom Trail! These include the Vilna Shul, a synagogue that’s almost a hundred years old! It’s home to many Jewish artifacts, including a velvet-lined barrel that used to contain Toral scrolls. Don’t forget the Massachusetts Waterworks Museum, Fort Warren, African Meeting House, and many more!

Places to Search for Beauty, Truth, and Meaning

Maira Kalman once said that a visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning. This couldn’t be more true, especially since these places hold genuine records about times long gone. And, of course, what better spot to erect museums than Boston, a city overflowing with history, culture, and art?

It’s an American destination considered an artifact on its own, so expect only an amazing collection of museums. Whether you’re an art connoisseur, a history buff, or looking to spice up your life, Boston’s galleries won’t let you down. And if you don’t think museums are your thing, you’re in for a surprise. The city has some of the most interesting activities and exhibits that will spark your curiosity!

Start your exploration with a bang by visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, the 14th largest art museum on the planet. It’s home to over 100 galleries containing more than 450,000 relics from across the globe. Here, you can admire delicate Korean works of art, ancient exhibits of US coins, and Egyptian treasures that never lose their glow.

And for those interred in local history, the Boston Tea Party Museum is waiting for you! It’s a replica of 18th-century fishing vessels, filled with exhibits of famous Revolutionary events. You can reenact some of the events in the museum, thanks to the wonderful actors in period costumes acting them out. Tip: don’t miss out on tasting the five teas thrown overboard, a major act of defiance by patriots against the British oppressors.

And, of course, there’s the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s a marvelous place made thanks to the founder’s thirst for adventure – and all things beautiful. She collected many fine masterpieces, including the works of Botticelli, Titian, and Raphael. The museum itself is iconic, with Venetian-styled palazzo and delicate sculptures.

Other noteworthy museums to stop by in Beantown include:

  • Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • Institute of Contemporary Art
  • Sports Museum of New England

The Paradise of Emotions

Boston is a great place to become an artist and an even greater spot to be a lover of performance arts. Why? Because the city is home to some of the best-performing arts in the world! From beloved Broadway shows to modern dance performances, Beantown will deliver, no matter your tastes.

And that’s not even the best thing of all. You see, this American destination celebrates the performing arts, so the scene is constantly evolving. There are plenty of new venues and performances popping out every time, showcasing some of the most talented acts in the world. They will ignite something in your bones and elicit emotions you’ve never felt before!

In this city, maybe you can find the next actor, dancer, or musician to support and admire. Or, who knows, you may even find yourself taking center stage and showing the audience what you got! No matter what, get ready to be in awe and dive deep into Boston’s performing arts scene. You can wing it and uncover the many spots in Beantown where artists thrive, or check out this list to get a clue on where to go:

  • Boston Opera House. If you love the classics, no doubt this gem will be on your bucket list. It’s where you can watch the best portrayal of The Nutcracker, a holiday performance sure to give you goosebumps. Here, you can also enjoy iconic ballet shows and, if lucky, get a glimpse of renowned musical artists!
  • Shubert Theater. This theater is not only a hub for some of the best performers around; it’s also recognized as a place of architectural significance. It has a beautiful Neoclassical theme, with intricate lobby and marble entrances. It’s where you go if you want to listen to various concerts or watch iconic comedy shows that will make you laugh until you can’t anymore.
  • Paramount Center. Want to uncover the blossoming of Boston’s hidden talents? You can never go wrong with this spot, which serves as a stage for many outstanding student performances. You can also watch many US premieres and international film festival entrees!

Many more performing arts venues in Beantown are worth your time, so be sure to visit as many as possible. Some offer student and senior citizen discounts, so you and your family can enjoy these great shows without spending too much. And if you feel like getting involved in the arts yourself, Boston also has organizations to help you out!


When you think of Philadelphia, the first thing that may come to mind is the iconic Liberty Bell and its role in American history. But that’s just scratching the surface of everything this wonderful spot has up its sleeves! The city has so much more to offer besides its distinctive culture and records of the past.

There’s its booming culinary scene, filled with mouthwatering cheesesteaks and fine-dining cuisine. Here, expect your tastebuds to experience only the highest luxury regarding food and drinks. Your eyes would definitely rejoice, too, especially once you witness all the art scattered throughout the city. The city also takes pride in its performing arts – truly a destination that will tickle your senses and emotions!

What Makes Philadelphia Unique?

Don’t Worry, Beer Happy!

As if bagging the title ‘Birthplace of America’ and being the first-ever capital of the country isn’t cool enough. Philadelphia just had to have an unparalleled craft beer scene, too! This makes it such an irresistible city, particularly for tourists looking to enjoy it in more ways than one.

Imagine strolling through many historic landmarks, taking countless steps to make the most of your trip in the City of Brotherly Love. Then, boom! You have an ice-cold beer on hand, raising a toast to countless others, then downing the drink in one big gulp. Sounds like a dream, right?

Well, you’ve got this right under your fingertips (and more) once you set foot into Philadelphia! From regional craft brewers to independent operations, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to sampling the best suds in the city. Whether a casual beer drinker or a connoisseur looking for the next big thing, you’ll be quaffing delicious brews here.

First, you can head to the Yards Brewing Company, one of the oldest breweries in the country. Its Brawler English Mild Ale is something you shouldn’t miss, but so is their signature Philly Standard Beer!

Up next is the Evil Genius Beer Company, known for its “tastefully twisted” brews. This unique brewery features bold flavors and even bolder beer names, so this definitely should be part of your travel plans!

Stick to their classics, Stacy’s Mom and Purple Monkey’s Dishwasher, which is available all year round. You can also opt for their seasonal beer, like Is Butter a Carb or #SorryNotSorry!

And if you’re a fan of hard liquor, the City of Brotherly Love is no slouch, either. It’s home to some of the hottest craft distilleries in the region, like the Thistle Finch Distillery. You can grab many award-winning spirits, including the brand’s gin, absinthe, aquavit, and whiskey.

Don’t rule out Philadelphia’s cocktail scene, too! There’s the Sazerac de Philly, a unique concoction made from rye whiskey, sugar, and absinthe. Plus, you can visit The Continental Mid-Town for their signature “Olde City” cocktails served up with a side of karaoke!

So next time you’re in Philadelphia, don’t forget to raise a glass (or two!) to the City of Brotherly Love. From craft beer, wine, and spirits to trendy bars and distilleries, something here will catch your eye!

The Whole World Is a Canvas

Philadelphia’s street art is more than just random doodles and scribbles – it’s their way of life. You’d rarely find a bland wall in this city; instead, they’re filled with awe-inspiring pieces from skilled local artists! From North to South, each neighborhood has something unique and special to offer regarding outdoor art.

Exploring the city and going on an art hunt is the best way to make the most of these masterpieces. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to get out into nature, enjoy each mural’s beauty, and learn about its history. These works are often bold, vibrant, and thought-provoking, perfect for an Instagram photo op!

However, note that Philadelphia’s street art constantly evolves, so knowing where to look is the key! You may be unable to visit every single one of these murals, too, so it’s best to prioritize what you want to see. From daring and provocative to whimsical and beautiful, here are some of the city’s street art that’s sure to delight:

  • How to Turn Anything Into Something Else (207 North Broad Street). This masterpiece is iconic, showcasing whimsical strokes and paintings from children’s imagination. It’s made by the famous art collective Miss Rockaway Armada and 31 art education students, making it all the more special.
  • Pride and Progress (1315 Spruce Street). If you’re a huge supporter of the rainbow flag, you’d be pumped to see this extensive mural. It shows a wholesome scene of the Pride Parade, wherein people celebrate their identity at local landmarks.
  • Common Threads (Broad and Spring Garden Streets). This mural depicts replicas of antique figurines, which give off a vintage vibe. However, once you look closely, you’ll find two high school students mirroring their poses. It has a significant meaning – there are common threads that link people across cultures and different periods.

These are just a few of the amazing murals in Philadelphia. Whether you’re looking for a pop of color on an otherwise dreary day or just want to take in some creative works, there’s plenty more to explore here!

Partake in the Ultimate Foodie Luxury

If there’s one thing you should know about Philadelphia, it’s a city that knows its way around a delicious meal. You can go as far as calling it the ultimate cornucopia for foodies, able to provide whatever your palate desires. Whether you’re looking for a casual bite or an upscale dining experience, this place has it all!

For those who want a truly luxurious encounter, head over to Barclay Prime. Your mouth will water at its dry-aged steaks, paired with foie grass and truffled cheese whiz. Their oysters are also magnificent, especially when ordered with vintage or blanc de blancs champagne.

You can also drop by the Royal Sushi and Izakaya, but only if you book weeks in advance! Scheduling is well worth it since meals are made by chef Jesse Ito, a James Beard award finalist. Here, you can savor a 17-piece omakase or opt for seared king-salmon belly, and other seafood meals fit for royalty.

If you want to keep it a bit more low-key (and budget-friendly!), Philadelphia also has classic meals that will impress you! There’s the signature Philly cheesesteak, the ultimate dish no man can ever resist in the city. It’s made of thinly sliced steak piled high on a long roll and topped with melted cheese and your choice of toppings!

Another signature favorite in the City of Brotherly Love is the hoagie. It combines deli meats, cheese, tomatoes, and seasonings piled high onto a fresh Italian roll. It’s sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate and is a great choice for lunch and dinner due to being a heavy meal.

And if you’re craving something cold and sweet, Philadelphia’s water ice is there to save the day! It’s a fruity dessert made with a combination of fruit or syrup, with flavors ranging from strawberry to white grape and many more. It’s also the best treat after walking through the city nonstop since you can find it almost everywhere.

No matter what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, you’ll find something to love in the City of Brotherly Love. From classic comfort food to unique fine-dining dishes, the city has something that will tickle your taste buds!

Blessed and Coffee Obsessed

The City of Brotherly Love is no stranger to great coffee; it’s practically science here! This American destination loves its caffeine as much as its craft beers, so no wonder they have some of the best cafes around. From hipster java shops to classic neighborhood ones, you’ll find something for your caffeine fix in Philadelphia.

Each is an ideal spot to hang around, particularly if you need a boost during your city exploration. You can even settle for a cozy one to soothe your hangover after a night of cocktails and wine. Who knows, you may even meet your new favorite cup of joe during your hunt for the best café in town!

Here are some of the top coffee shops in Philadelphia, sure to satisfy your cravings for a pleasant caffeine dose:

  • ReAnimator Coffee Roasters. A top-of-the-line artisanal roaster, this spot uses only the best ethically-sourced beans. They offer cups of joe so divine you won’t ever forget them in your lifetime. Plus, the shop itself is cozy and inviting, with free Wi-Fi to update the followers of your wonderful espresso order!
  • Rival Bros Coffee Bar. The powerful chef and coffee roaster duo made this espresso bar a haven for java lovers. Here, you can taste high-class java cups and the shop’s original cold and delicious nitro coffee. There’s also The Derringer, a riff on cortado made with lots of milk for added creamy flavor.

Other cafés worth noting include Saxby’s Coffee, Uncle Bobby’s Coffee & Books, and many more! Overall, Philadelphia is a nice spot for coffee enthusiasts and people with a much-needed caffeine boost! Whether you’re looking for classics or creative seasonal drinks, you won’t be disappointed.

Which City Is Better – Boston or Philadelphia?

It’s the classic East Coast debate: which is the better destination, Boston or Philadelphia? Both cities are equally amazing, so it’s no wonder it’s a tough decision to make. However, when it comes down to it, there’s only one way to determine the clear winner. It’s to take a closer look at each American spot and decide which one appeals to you the most!

Boston is where you go if you’re craving the freshest ingredients sourced from the ocean. It’s also the ideal place to expand your knowledge about America or go on a journey to uncover your roots. Don’t forget Beantown’s entry for performing arts; each show is a masterpiece you’ll keep in your heart forever.

Meanwhile, head to Philadelphia if you find the beauty in street art and murals. It’s the spot for you if you want to witness masterpieces, particularly those made by modern human hands. On top of these, you can’t miss out on the city’s craft beer and phenomenal fine dining scene!


Boston vs. Philadelphia Tourism

When it comes to the tourism scene, no doubt Boston takes the cake. It’s a city that bagged sixth place in YouGov America’s list of The Most Popular Cities in America, with a popularity grade of 57%. In comparison, Philadelphia ranked twenty-second, with a rating of 52%.

Philadelphia Roll vs. Boston Roll

There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing which has the superior sushi roll. Both are delicious and special, so the only way to decide between them is to consider your preferences.

The Philadelphia Roll is a unique combination of sushi rice, smoked salmon, nori seaweed, cucumber, and cream cheese. Other recipes even include imitation crab, scallion, avocado, and sesame seed. It’s a Western-type sushi roll that combines both Japanese and Jewish cuisine, fit for those with a unique palette. Don’t be put off when some people say that sushi and cream cheese don’t mix – you can’t judge the Philly Roll until you’ve tried it!

Meanwhile, the Boston roll is a popular variation of the classic California roll. It’s made of poached shrimp instead of crabs, with nori seaweed, sushi rice, and cucumber. It’s best for those with a love for seafood, especially of the cooked variety. Tip: double up on the shrimp if you want to savor this roll to the fullest.

Philadelphia vs. Boston Size

When it comes to geographical mass, Philadelphia beats Boston hands down. It spans about 367 sq. km (142 sq. mi), while Beantown is only 232.1 sq. km (89.6 sq. mi).
This is the same case in terms of population, with the City of Brotherly Love being home to 1,596,865 people. In comparison, Boston has only about 672,814 residents.

Is Boston or Philadelphia Bigger?

Philadelphia is bigger than Boston, be it in terms of land mass or population.

Boston vs. Philadelphia Population

If you’re going to compare Boston and Philadelphia based on population, the latter will win. The City of Brotherly Love ranked sixth in World Population Review’s list of Most Populated Cities in the United States. In comparison, Beantown bagged the twenty-third place.

To provide a bit more detail, Philadelphia has about 1,596,865 residents. Meanwhile, Boston only has an average of 672,814 locals. This shows that the City of Brotherly Love is over two times bigger than Beantown in terms of inhabitants.

Philadelphia to Boston Drive

The journey from Philadelphia to Boston via car spans 499 km (310 mi). This will take you about five hours to cross, but only if you’re not going to have any stopovers en route. However, if your goal is to have a leisurely road trip, then expect your journey to last for days or even weeks!

There’s no blaming you if this is the case; after all, the drive from Philadelphia to Boston will have you crossing five lovely US states. These are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.