Travel – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – known for its U.S. history, the steps that Rocky Balboa made famous in the movies, and the Philly Cheesesteak. This was my next stop on my 50-state tour.

This was part of my New York trip so I took the Amtrak train from Penn Station in Manhattan directly to Philadelphia. The trip took a little over an hour and upon arrival I took a cab to where I was staying…

Travel Tips

  • Philadelphia is divided into quadrants so depending on what you’re planning to do and see, check to see which area is the best to stay in.
  • Most of the tourist spots are close to each other, walking may take a while though so I recommend just spending a few dollars to grab an Uber to save time.
  • Make room for food. There are plenty of good spots to eat in Philly so be prepared to eat!
  • There is a public transportation system that runs throughout the city but I didn’t utilize it on this trip. Might be worth looking into.
  • The city is rich in history and culture. Be sure to check out of the museums and historical landmarks.
  • Philly can get cold depending on what time of the year you go. Be sure to pack appropriately.

Places to Visit as a Tourist

So what are the famous tourist spots in Philadelphia?

  • Independence Hall
  • Liberty Bell
  • Philadelphia Museum of Arts
  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Rocky Steps
  • Reading Terminal Market
  • Love Park
  • Mutter Museum
  • Franklin Square
  • Chinatown
  • City Hall
  • South Street

Mat Surfing

  • Tip for “Mat Surfing” is to always call or contact the school ahead of time to see if you are even allowed to take a drop-in class or come by for an open mat session.

On this trip, I visited Root Athletics, an academy located only 5 minutes from where I staying.


The academy is owned by Levi LaLonde, an instructor that is both detailed and passionate when it comes to martial arts. Upon entering the academy, I was greeted by Professor Levi at the front desk. Of the schools I’ve visited so far, I would have to say Root Athletics is one of the most beautifully designed schools I’ve seen.

Roots Athletics Entrance

When you walk in, you get a sense of peace and relaxation even though it’s an academy for martial arts. The color scheme makes it look nice and bright while the added wooden design and plants gives the place a warm home-like feeling.

Training Area

After signing the waiver, I was given a tour of the facility. There was a storefront area where you can purchase several different fitness and BJJ related products, the area for weights and other fitness equipment, and the bathrooms that included showers for all students to use.

Store Front

We started the class with a series of warm ups that utilizes the whole body. Most of these exercises are similar to Ginastica Natural if you’ve ever been exposed to those. After everyone was stretched out, we partnered up to go over the first technique.

My partner for the day was Mike who was really friendly and we had a few good laughs during our chats. The technique was a half-guard sweep that transitioned into a triangle. What I liked about Professor Levi’s teaching is that even though it was a technique I’ve seen before, he was extra detailed about each movement. I picked up details that I would have never seen before.

Drilling with my partner Mike

For BJJ practitioners reading this, I never thought about using your own hamstring to raise and opponent’s knee just by simply adding pressure on their ankle. Also, to always be on the balls of your feet when you’re on the bottom to maximize your lift when bridging.

After techniques, I got in two quick rounds with Mike and also Kyle, a purple belt that also works at the academy.

Me and Kyle

After class, I had some great conversations with Professor Levi about his academy, martial arts philosophy, and travel. Kyle, the purple belt that I rolled with and his girlfriend Morgan who runs a FIT class at Roots Athletics also gave me tons of advice regarding photography, vlogging (which I need to look into), and local foodie spots.

Professor Levi

Morgan runs an awesome YouTube channel that you can check out here:

Thank you Professor Levi, Kyle, Morgan, John, and Mike for a great time. Also, thank you for the gifts! I’ll see you at Worlds when you come to California in 2017!

Gifts from Professor


A couple more shots of my trip —

Early morning walk exploring the city
Reading Terminal Dutch Food
Luke’s Lobsters
Philly Cheesesteak
City Hall
Rocky Steps

The Food

Where do you go eat? Here are some of my favorite spots that I visited:

  • Pat’s King of Steaks
  • Geno’s Steaks
  • Café Nhan
  • Luke’s Lobster Rittenhouse
  • Reading Terminal Market (Try Amish/Dutch Food)
  • Wawa (Local Convenience Store Chain)
  • Fairmount Pizza
  • Franklin Fountain Ice Cream
  • Good Dog Bar
  • Lorenzo Pizza
  • Monk’s
  • Eulogy


I really enjoyed my time here in Philly. The weather was great, the food was good, and the people I met were very friendly. I’m sure I’ll revisit again someday but for now onto the next state!

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – November 2016

– BJJBug

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