Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

WRITTEN BY: Bonnie O Neil

Long known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is also known as the city of firsts, thanks in part to the enormous influence Ben Franklin had on this city.

Philadelphia is home to these and many other “firsts”: our nation’s capital, hospital, insurance company, public library, national bank, stock exchange, daily newspaper, World’s Fair, steamboat and national flag. Philadelphia continues to be a first-rate city, as our nation’s young people will attest. It’s now home to more 20 to 34-year-olds than any other major U.S. city. Bordered by the Delaware River to the east, and split in two by the Schulykill River, Philly is broken into smaller “cities” such as Center City, University City, Old City and South Philly.


The most historic square mile in America, Philadelphia’s Old City is a living, breathing history book. The city that gave us the iconic Liberty Bell, the American flag and the Declaration of Independence has so much more to inspire the history lover in all of us. Begin at the Visitor’s Center and take your own walking tour of Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, Christ Church and the Betsy Ross House. Stop for lunch or a drink at the 18th century City Tavern where our founding fathers used to meet to hatch their plans for liberty! 

Step back into modern Philadelphia and wander over to the Ben Franklin Parkway, home to many of Philly’s wonderful museums. From the beating Heart that young and old can walk and climb inside of at the Franklin Institute to the masterpieces on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia’s museums do not disappoint!


Philly has become quite the foodie’s paradise in recent years. Nationally recognized restauranteur Stephen Starr, who got his start with his first restaurant in Old City, is arguably the key reason for Philly’s revitalized culinary scene. All of his restaurants are worth the experience; you can choose one for yourself HERE

“Top Chef” winners Kevin Sbraga and Nicholas Elmi have given Philly two of its hottest restaurants, Sbraga and the other Laurela BYOB restaurant. Another of the city’s hottest restaurants is Fork, located in Old City. If dining there, please be sure to thank them for their support of the 2015 JDRF Gala! Advance reservations are needed at all of these restaurants.

And because this is Philadelphia, you must taste an authentic Philly cheesesteak, and a real Philly soft pretzel! Pat’s and Geno’s, across the street from one another in South Philly, argue about who created the first Philly cheesesteak. Go taste them both and you can decide which is best! Be forewarned: both the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel will cause blood sugar spikes; be prepared to walk off those carbs!


The Schuylkill River Trail is a 60-mile long trail for walking, running, biking and rollerblading that extends from South Street in University City out across five neighboring counties. The trail was named the nation’s top urban trail in a 2015 poll of USA Today readers. The picturesque trail runs for 10 miles through the heart of Philadelphia. A walk along the trail affords you beautiful views of the city, including the famed Boathouse Row, the site of the Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in the US. (PS – you know you’re becoming a native when you know how to pronounce and spell Schuylkill!)

For the slightly more adventuresome, a day spent hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park is sure to drive down a post-cheesesteak high blood sugar! Located in Northwest Philadelphia, the 1,800 acres of Wissahickon Valley Park are part of Philadelphia’s 10,500-acre park system, one of the largest urban park systems in the world. The Park is criss-crossed by more than 50 miles of trails.


With such an exciting city at your fingertips, you don’t want to miss a minute slowing down, right? After a day of touring, throw yourself into the sensory pleasure of beholding the world’s largest privately held collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art at the famed Barnes FoundationThere are more works by Renoir at the Barnes than in any other museum in the world. If you go on a First Friday, the Barnes is open until 9:00 p.m., and there is entertainment and food is available for purchase as well. The Barnes is also open on select Saturday evenings. When visiting, please be sure to go to Room 17 to see the exquisite collection of 44 paintings (mostly watercolors) by American artist Charles Demuth. Demuth was diagnosed with T1D at age 37 in the year 1920. Dr. Barnes was instrumental in ensuring that Demuth was one of the first people in the world to begin insulin shot therapy in 1922. 

After a full day, tuck in with one of our “Phamous Philly Philms” (we love to use “Ph” for “f” whenever possible in Philly!) like: Rocky, Silver Linings Playbook, National Treasure and Trading Places

And for the ultimate in T1D pampering, book some time for a diabetes tune-up with Gary Scheiner at Integrated Diabetes ServicesWith a practice whose clientele spans the globe, Gary was named AADE’s 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year. Located a few miles outside the city limits, a visit to IDS is well worth the trip.IMMERSE-100-height-px

You don’t have to be in Philly long to notice that it is a city that loves its murals! There are larger than life murals splashed across brick walls, quiet murals that oversee a neighborhood garden below, mosaic murals made of tile or glass, and an entire mosaic garden located in the heart of South Street. Book a Mural Arts Tour and learn how these murals have transformed their neighborhoods. 

Over in University City, stop into the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to visit the world’s third largest collection of mummies. They are spectacular!


For pediatric emergencies, the world renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, located at 34th and Civic Center Boulevard is the place to go. 1-800-879-2467

For adult emergencies, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, or HUP, located just next to CHOP at 34th and Spruce Street is the place to go. 215-662-4000

There are many 24-hour pharmacies in Philly, including three CVS Pharmacies located at 18th and Chestnut, 21st and South, and 10th and Market.


DIABETES HELPERS by HelpAround is a smart phone app (download HERE) that connects you with other users who either have diabetes or are a parent of a child with diabetes.  Working with your location on your phone’s GPS, you will be instantly connected to someone in the trusted diabetes community, who can help when you are short on supplies or if you need recommendations, advice or have an emergency.

Bonnie O Neil

Growing up with an older sister who was diagnosed with T1D at age 16, and knowing that before her birth she had a brother who did not survive a T1D diagnosis, diabetes has marked some of Bonnie’s earliest childhood memories. Since Bonnie’s son, Austin, was diagnosed with T1D at age 5, she has worked tirelessly with JDRF to raise funds for research and awareness for the disease. She has just completed a 2-year term as Chapter President for JDRF. Bonnie loves to travel and has lived in both Paris and London. She also writes spiritual reflections in her blog, This is the Day, which can be found at