Photos by United Artists, iStock, and Alamy. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
You can’t keep a good fighter down. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible, Rocky Balboa is returning to the big screen once again in “Creed,” premiering this week.
As a Philadelphia native I’ve been a fan of the “Rocky” franchise by default since I learned how to watch VHS video tapes. It wasn’t so much the boxing, or the love story, or the dubious Cold War undertones that hooked me. It was the fact that the movies were, in their own ways, a love letter to the city of Brotherly Love.
This is how to have the perfect “Rocky” fans weekend in my hometown.
The Irish Pub is the perfect place to start the night with a few pints. (Photo: Irish Pub Philly/Facebook)
Don’t waste any time at your hotel. Head straight over to the Irish Pub in Rittenhouse Square for their delightful Happy Hour. The pub is a favorite hangout for Rocky’s son in the sixth installment of the movie franchise, “Rocky Balboa.”
Rittenhouse also happens to be the park that Rocky and Adrian stroll through in “Rocky II” right after they learn they are about to have a baby. If you want a quick bite to eat, pop into the Parc restaurant (you can even sit outside) for a wee slice of Paris in the middle of Philadelphia.
Catch some live music later that night at the Electric Factory or the indie darling Johnny Brenda’s in Northern Liberties. Bianca, Adonis Johnson’s love interest in “Creed,” performs at both spots. Make sure to order something local like a Philadelphia Brewing Company beer—one of the brews Rocky serves at his restaurant Adrian’s.
Fire up “Eye of the Tiger” on your iPod and go for a jog by Penn’s Landing for a workout Rocky would approve of. (Photo: Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis)
Recreate one of Rocky’s training runs with a jog along the waterfront at Penn’s Landing. Continue up Chestnut Street to Independence Hall, where Rocky deftly leaps across one of the park benches in the sequel. While you’re there take in some history at the Constitution Center and make a visit to the Betsy Ross house where the world’s most famous seamstress once lived.
Hit up Rocky’s original training ground for some breakfast in the Italian Market.
Sylvester Stallone’s morning run through the market was featured in both “Rocky” and “Rocky II.”
During the low-budget shooting on the original film the crew actually ran alongside Stallone, weaving their way through the crowds, since they didn’t have permits to shoot in the neighborhood.
If you get down here early enough you might just snag a table at Sabrina’s Café, where the stuffed french toast will KO you for a couple of hours.
Treat yourself to one of Isgro’s famous fresh cannoli in the Italian Market. (Photo: Isgro Pasticceria)
Next up, head on over to the Philadelphia Zoo, the oldest zoo in the country and the scene of Rocky and Adrian’s engagement in “Rocky II” in front of the Carnivore House. The Philly zoo is home to more than 1,600 animals. Make sure to visit the brand new Gorilla Treeway, part of the zoo’s system where animals travel on trails throughout the zoo right above visitor’s heads.
Dine on some delicious Italian food at Victor Cafe, featured in both Rocky Balboa and Creed. (Photo: Lexie D./Yelp)
Make a reservation at the Victor Cafe at the corner of Dickinson and 13th Streets, the real life version of Adrian’s Restaurant which makes an appearance in “Rocky Balboa” and “Creed.” Please allow the staff to delight you as you indulge in the delicious food. They are classically trained singers who will serenade you with opera throughout dinner.
Fuel up with a smoothie from the Garces Trading Company Kiosk. (Photo: JG Domestic/Facebook)
Head to the Cira Centre where Rocky’s son works in “Rocky Balboa.” Fuel up at celebrity chef’s Jose Garces’ Garces Trading Company Kiosk with a freshly squeezed juice.
You got this! Time to make like Rocky and conquer those steps! (Photo: Norman Maddeaux/Flickr)
Now it’s time to conquer those iconic steps and take the Instagram photo you have been waiting all weekend for. Jog down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to reach the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Before making your dash to the top, snap a photo with the Rocky statue to the right of the steps.
Make sure to do your best Rocky fist pump when you reach the top! (Photo: Giphy)
When you get to the top, pump your fists in the air and take in the view. Don’t waste the trip. Go into the art museum to enjoy one of the world’s premiere art collections. On the first Sunday of every month the admission is “pay what you wish.”
While you’re in this part of town make sure to visit the Barnes, a one of a kind treat for art lovers of all varieties. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the collection contains some of the most venerated Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings in the world. Hook up with one of their specially trained docents to get the full experience.
Related: 18 Things You Have to Do in Philly
Next up hop on one of Philadelphia’s bike share bikes and cruise down the Schuylkill River past the iconic Boathouse Row and the railway bridge just South of West Girard Avenue that was featured in Rocky’s training montage.
Indego (get it? Independence) now has bike stations located from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia on the city’s east-west axis, and from the Navy Yard to North Philadelphia on its north-south axis.
As you wind your way along Kelly Drive, you’ll come to historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, site of one of the series’ most tear-jerking moments—when Rocky sits in a folding chair and talks to Adrian at her gravesite.
On your way back, keep following the path all the way to the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, where Adonis trains in “Creed.”
Round out your Philly weekend with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. You’ve earned it. (Photo: Yuri Long/Flickr)
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to have a calorie-bomb. Pat’s Cheesesteaks is where Tony Gazzo brought Rocky to grab a bite to eat in the original film. The cheesesteak mecca still has a plaque on the cement which reads “On this spot stood Sylvester Stallone filming the great motion picture Rocky. Nov. 21, 1975.”