Tour the First Pretzel Factory in America – Locals know that Philadelphia’s pretzel obsession goes way back, to the 1800s to be exact. And Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery played a big role, being the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, and located right here in Pennsylvania. You’ll tour their original pretzel bakery, receive a pretzel making tutorial, hand-twist their famous dough, and inevitably leave with a belly full of pretzels. (Learn more foods invented in Philadelphia on our blog.)
Reading Terminal Market Scavenger Hunt – Yeah, any Philadelphia foodie worth their weight has visited the famous Reading Terminal Market. But, for a fresh look, we recommend Watson Adventures: The Munch Around The Market Scavenger Hunt. It’s dining and dashing, the right way – and you’ll learn little known facts about the market and surrounding area. (And check out our list of Gluten-Free Foods in Reading Terminal Market for ideas of where to head after the hunt.)
Tour a Philadelphia-Founded Gin Maker – The award-winning Palmer Distilling Company is located in a seriously beautiful Manayunk building, where they produce Liberty Gin and Manayunk Moonshine. And get this – they’re not only a Philadelphia-founded company, but they also use many local ingredients – such as Pennsylvania corn and Eagles Peak spring water when crafting their beverages. You can learn more really cool info by visiting, (like exactly what they mean when they proudly state that their gin is “Distilled on a 18th Century style 800L Copper Pot Still”). Tours, tastings, and cocktails are offered weekly or by appointment, with hours listed on their website.
Create Your Own Flavor of Turkey Hill Ice Cream – For such a cool experience, this place doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Great for kids, or for those who want to feel like a kid again, you get to tour the location’s ice cream-themed attractions and most importantly, create your very own pint of ice cream to take home. In addition to the Turkey Hill Experience and Taste Lab, they’ve also got their Tea Discovery exhibit, where you’ll learn about tea origins from their experts while enjoying carefully-selected samples in this unique Philadelphia food experience.
Take an In-Home Cooking Class – Philadelphia is home to many cooking classes from professional and celebrity chefs, but the course we recommend is Philly Cooking Lessons. A quick glance through the bios of the chefs will convince you of their credibility – each has impressive accomplishments. After creating your reservation, they’ll take dietary restrictions and preferences into consideration, and then come to your home to teach your highly personalized cooking class. They’ve got a perfect 5 star rating on Yelp, with reviewers stating that the chefs are interesting, funny, and highly skilled.
Take a Philadelphia Food Tour – Haven’t yet been on a food tour? Expect plentiful tastings, learn secrets of Philly’s food culture, and get an insider’s look into the behind-the-scenes tales of the small, locally owned restaurants that have made Philly’s cuisine famous. Jamie Shanker’s Philly Food Adventures tours offer a guided stroll through the Chinatown neighborhood and its flavors, (and Billy Penn’s Danya Henninger named her one of 14 young ambassadors helping build Philly hype – pretty impressive). Another we recommend is Taste Kennett Food Tours, where you’ll taste exquisite dishes while learning the history of the Mushroom Capital of the World. And of course there’s Chew Philly Food Tours, which offers the Original Chestnut Hill Food Tour and Authentic Philly Food Tours in Manayunk. Read over 400 Philadelphia food experience reviews to learn more, and anticipate local tour guides serving up famous eats alongside little known history, with a portion of your Chew Philly purchase being donated to The Food Trust. (Psst…Philadelphia food tour gift certificates now 50% off.)
Tour & Taste A Dairy Farm – While there’s no shortage of farms in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey states, there’s just a few that allow you to meet the same dairy cows who provide the milk for their ice cream. Baily’s Dairy is one of those – you can tour the farm and meet the very cows that provided the milk for your ice cream, which is crafted on-site. Located near West Chester, they’re a bit of a drive for Philadelphians – but worth it. For those closer to Jersey or Delaware, Woodside Farm Creamery and Klein Farms offer similar experiences, also whipping up ice cream fresh from their cow’s milk.
Make Your Own Custom Gourmet Cutting Board – Philadelphia Woodworks offers woodworking classes for novices, with one of their specialties being their Custom Cutting Board class. They also offer sessions to create other culinary wood pieces like End Grain Butcher Blocks,, Hardwood Serving Trays, and Wood & Wine events.
Visit Philly’s Only Pizza Museum – Like many other free Philadelphia activities, entrance to this small, quirky and fun Philly pizza museum is no cost. But, you’ll want to bring some cash for the Pizza Brain Pizza Parlor, where their Zagat-rated pies are worth a bite.
Plan a Foodie Shore Day – Plan ahead for Cape May Food Tours, and receive a guided tour of one of the most beautiful and historic areas of the shore. If Delaware beaches are more your thing, Eating Rehoboth Food Tours combines the local tastes with the stories behind them, in a wonderfully beachy setting.
Get Thai Rolled Ice Cream – Also referred to as stir-fried ice cream, this fad has taken Philly, (and all of America), by storm. Which is why we recommend visiting one of the old school style makers – I CE NY Philly. They’ve been serving it up since 2011, originally starting in Thailand and opening 30 franchise locations in just their first 6 months before coming a staple Philadelphia food experience. How does it work? They take an extremely cold tray, (up to -30 degrees Fahrenheit), pour the ice cream ingredients on, and smash it up until it forms a thin coating of ice cream. The fun part is that it’s completely customizable, and you can choose one of their recommended flavors or create your own. The rolls are placed in a cup, and then topped with your preference of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or whatever else you can dream up. (Pro Tip: Reading Terminal Market is right around the corner, so you can combine two drool-worthy Philadelphia eating experiences if you’d like.)
Enjoy the Philadelphia Festival of Food & Drink – For local food fanatics, this Philadelphia food experience is a must. The Taste! Philadelphia Gourmet Show takes place annually, typically in October. You’ll meet local and global celebrities, view chef demos, and taste plenty of food, wine, and cocktail samples. Gourmet food shows are also hosted locally in Lancaster and Atlantic City.
Attend a Food Truck Festival – There’s no shortage of food truck tasting in Philadelphia, but we’ve got two festivals that never disappoint. Plan to attend a Night Market, and enjoy the best trucks in very cool settings. Next year’s locations are yet to be announced, but previous years have included Chinatown, West Philly, and Roxborough. Best of all, the proceeds benefit The Food Trust, one of our favorite organizations, which works to create accessibility to healthy food for all Philadelphians. Another favorite of ours is StrEAT Fest in Manayunk, (look for the festival in mid-late April). Right at the start of Food Truck Fest season, the best always come out. While you’re in the Yunk, we recommend setting aside some time to stroll the Manayunk Bridge or Manayunk Canal, or visiting some of the very unique retailers along Main St. After all, Manayunk has some very cool culture and history.
Go Strawberry Picking – What cuter Philadelphia food experience date than picking your own strawberries? Or blueberries. Or apples, figs, flowers, you name it. We love the Pennsylvania Pick Your Own site. Since many of our readers are from all over the state, you can peruse the list for the orchard or farm nearest you.
We hope that our list helped you to find the perfect Philadelphia food experience to include in your gift giving this season. Happy Holidays from all of us at Chew Philly Food Tours!