Philadelphia: From the Liberty Bell to cheesesteaks and even a touch of ‘Scotland’ golf

Philadelphia: From the Liberty Bell to cheesesteaks and even a touch of ‘Scotland’ golf


The busiest travel hubs in the United States are surrounded by plenty of great golf. Here are 5 great courses, 4 signature holes, 3 tourism highlights, 2 great lodging bases and 1 dining hotspot in (or within 60 miles of an International Airport in) Philadelphia. Fly in. Stay and play. Fly out.

Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love (and Eagles Fans), an eclectic and passionate melting pot of proud patriots, meat lovers and centuries of historical significance. Wedged perfectly between New York City and Washington D.C., that and all the above factors contribute to it being the 18th-busiest travel hub in the United States.

AIRPORTS: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

5 Great Golf Courses

  1. The Golf Course at Glen Mills (18.3 miles from PHL). It is difficult (challenging), and yet not difficult to believe, that many locals claim this Bobby Weed design the best area public course, especially intrigued by the turbulent topography and play around a quarry.
  2. Wyncote Golf Club (41.0 miles from PHL). Brian Ault’s 1993 design has stoutly stood the test of time. It was recognized as Pennyslvania’s No. 1 Course on in 2017. Links-style and very challenging, even a B- game can enjoy this bring-your-A-game course.
  3. Atlantic City Country Club (60.7 miles from PHL). Recently renovated by Tom Doak, nearly everyone considers this the best public course in New Jersey. Legend has it this is also where Abner Smith minted the term “birdie.”
  4. Scotland Run (24.3 miles from PHL). Some locals were reluctant to acknowledge Stephen Key’s (1999) Scotland Run as being “theirs” but no one denies its greatness.
  5. Heron Glen (55.7 miles from PHL). Is it fair that most of my favorite “Philly Golf Courses” aren’t even in Pennsylvania? Fair or not, these are the places I’ll play and Dan Schlegel’s (2002) Heron Glen is one VERY interesting round. Golf photographer extraordinaire Brian Oar tells me he couldn’t possibly shoot enough pictures there.

4 Signature Golf Holes

  1. No. 4 at Atlantic City Country Club: Hard to pick a favorite from here, but this hole introduces Lakes Bay and on a clear day provides a pretty sweet Atlantic City backdrop.
  2. No. 6 at Inniscrone: The first solo project (or one of the first) for Tom Doak protégé Gil Hanse, this course has many demanding and memorable holes like this split-fairway par 4 where luck is as good as skill.
  3. No. 18 at Bella Vista Golf Club: Many might prefer the par-3 “Island Green” 14th, but I’ll take the downhill closer (even though it’s a par 3).
  4. No. 6 at Heron Glen: This Par 4 requires TWO wetland carries and has some other peculiarly cool elements. Love No. 8 as well.

3 Family Tourism Highlights

  1. Independence National Historical Park: Who knows why Trip Advisor lists Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, Independence National Historical Park and the Independence Visitor Center separately? They’re all in the same place, and one FREE ticket at the Visitor’s Center gets you through them all -- in less than 2 hours most days. Independence National Historical Park is the must-visit for anyone who has never been to Philadelphia. Take the brief tour of Independence Hall and stand in the same room, mere feet from, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were adopted.
  2. Philly Cheesesteaks: We might as well get the famous Philly cheesesteak battle out of the way. The cheese-covered bread-and-beef war is essentially between Pat’s and Geno’s, which are located right across the street from each other. You’ll see the lines. As we understand it, Pat invented the steak sandwich and Joe Vento (of Geno’s) added the cheese, and the two shops have been in a friendly supremacy battle ever since. Sound like a local by simply saying “One Whiz with” at the counter. (Sandwich with Cheez Whiz and onions.) There are plenty of other contenders in town, including John’s Roast Pork and Tony Luke’s, and if you really want to upset the cart (but please your palette) try the Schmitter at McNally’s Tavern.
  3. Philadelphia Museum of Art: If you haven’t seen the film “Rocky” this museum won’t have the same sentimental value for you as it does the rest of us. We go to Philly and absolutely have to run up the iconic steps -- while singing “Eye of the Tiger” -- and we have to throw our hands up in the air at the top. The art in the museum is great, but it’s that triumphant summit moment that takes the cake. And reminds us how old we are to even know what we’re imitating.

2 Great Lodging Bases

  1. Loews Philadelphia: I love staying downtown in historic cities, close to all the sights and restaurants. I particularly love when the hotel has amazing views from the rooms and offers golf packages with one of my favorite area courses as Loews Philadelphia does with Scotland Run.
  2. Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club: It is 61.0 miles away, but worth that extra mile outside the Philly search radius for all the golf (and views of Reed’s Bay it provides). The Bay Course is the most scenic, The Pines the most historic, and the Turtle Course is a putting course with bent grass greens.

1 Dining Hotspot

  1. Reading Terminal Market: After a couple hours at Independence National Historical Park you’ll likely be famished but unlikely to have everyone in your group craving the same thing. Reading Terminal Market (pronounced red-ing) might not have been built for that specific purpose, but it solves that very problem. Just six blocks west (on Arch Street) from the Visitor’s Center, over 100 vendors feed the thousands by the hour under one roof. Open every day of the week (Mon-Sat: 8-6 and Sun: 9-5), rain or shine, you can have a famous donut from Beiler’s, a famous crepe from Profi’s Creperie, a famous pork sandwich from DiNic’s and ice cream at the oldest ice cream shop in America—Bassett’s. Don’t just “can.” Do!

About the author

Eric N. Hart

Eric Hart (aka MobileGolfer) is an award-winning travel and leisure writer for Golf News Net and the owner of Stays + Plays Travel Agency in the Midwest. Eric has stayed at 250-plus resorts and hotels around the world and played 500-plus golf courses. He has worked with 16 tourism agencies and written more than 1,100 articles for 14 regional, national and international golf, family and travel publications since he began in 2007. With a passion for promoting both golf and family travel, Eric routinely hits the road with his son and/or the full family (wife and four kids).

Reach Eric by email at info[at]