For over a century, the Army-Navy football game has been a historic and heated college football rivalry. Philadelphia has hosted 86 of the 117 Army-Navy matchups, and will continue that tradition this year. Cadets from West Point and Midshipmen from Annapolis will converge at Lincoln Financial Field for another battle on Saturday, December 9th.

If you’re coming to Philadelphia for the game, we’ve got your quick weekend guide to the whole city. Where to eat, what to do, how to get around—we’ve got you covered.

FOOTBALL FEVER

The Army-Navy game is set apart from other competitions in college football because most of its players won’t go on to fame and fortune in the NFL; many will begin their military duties as soon as they graduate. Instead, there is their fierce devotion to the game and to their academies, and rivalry and camaraderie are played out on the gridiron in the pursuit of a small (but prodigious) glory.

The weekend brings tens of thousands of Midshipmen and Cadets to Philadelphia for a weekend of spirited activities. Pep rallies, tailgates, and the Patriot Games create an atmosphere of celebration and friendly competition. There are a bevy of entertaining football happenings, and if you want to get in the Army-Navy spirit you should check them out.

PATRIOT GAMES – The Patriot Games is a two-day competition between the academies that feature a variety of challenges around Philly. On Friday, December 8th and Saturday, December 9th, the teams vie to win the Patriot Games trophy, which is presented on the field during the Army-Navy game. Points are awarded across five different events, which include a relay up the Rocky Steps, a leadership course with mental and physical obstacles, a pull-up challenge, tug-of-war challenge, and a stadium obstacle relay during the big game. For more information on times, locations, and which events are open to the public, click here.

PRE-GAME TAILGATE – If you want to go old-school and brave the cold, head to the regular tailgating outside of Citizen’s Bank Park before the game. If you want to stay warm and still get in the spirit before the game, get tickets to the pre-game tailgate in the Hall of Fame Club inside the park. Ticket-holders can indulge in two hours of all-you-can-eat tailgating with cheesesteaks, hot dogs, hoagies, beer, wine, and soda. Music and face painters round out the family friendly fun. Get your tickets here!

ARMY-NAVY PEP RALLY – The Academy Pep bands, cheerleaders, and fans get ready for the game at the official Army-Navy pep rally. On Friday at noon, the Shops at Liberty Place (16th and Chestnut Streets) come to life with lively fans and music. Stop buy to grab some Army-Navy merch before the game, too.

BE A TOURIST

Philadelphia is known for its spectacular collections of museums, parks, and monuments. There’s a lot going on here that makes Philly special. If you’re looking to explore the City oF Brotherly Love during your football weekend stay, we’ve got some of the top attractions around Philadelphia lined up for you.

ADVENTURES IN ART – For all of the best paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and photography, head to our favorite museums in the city. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is your go-to for Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern art, whereas the Institute for Contemporary Art offers more experimental selections. Or, stroll the streets and try to spot some of our favorite murals around town.  

HISTORY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS – Philadelphia is home to some of the most important sites in early American history. Explore historic Philadelphia and see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the National Constitution Center. For a complete look at all of Philly’s history sites, check out our guide.

QUINTESSENTIAL PHILLY – There are a few other must-see spots in Philadelphia that you shouldn’t miss your opportunity to enjoy. Head to Reading Terminal Market to explore the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market, engage with science and technology at the Franklin Institute, or ice skate next to Philly’s spectacular City Hall, and get a look at the city from above at the One Liberty Place observation deck.

KEEPING FUELED

There’s not enough space to write about all the great restaurants in Philly. But there are definitely a few places that you need to check out while you’re in town. Here’s where you can eat around Philly, broken down by a few categories.

FOR BREAKFAST OR BRUNCH, whether it’s before the pep rally or before the tailgate, hit Green Eggs Cafe. They’ve got a variety of locations around the city, including one that’s a half a block from the Independent Hotel, and a decadent selection of french toasts and pancakes. For other brunch ideas, check out our list of the best spots around town.

FOR CHEESESTEAK OR A SANDWICH, check Jim’s Steaks, South Philly’s Paesano’s, or Campo’s in Old City. For a roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone, Tommy DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market has the best in the nation. You won’t be disappointed with these quintessential Philly haunts.

FOR DINNER, head to Italian favorites like Little Nonna’s (right in the Independent Hotel), Vetri, or Osteria. Jamaican Jerk Hut is a Caribbean favorite, Cheu Noodle Bar is great for Ramen near the Independent Hotel, and Vedge is an elevated vegetarian experience.

FOR A SWEET TREAT, hit up the Franklin Fountain for ice cream and shakes, Beiler’s Doughnuts in Reading Terminal Market, or Capogiro for top-notch gelato.

GETTING AROUND

Staying at the Independent Hotel offers convenience and access to all the happenings of Army-Navy weekend. Guests will have all the amenities of Center City, such as world-class restaurants, theaters, museums, and landmarks; in addition, the nearby Broad Street Line offers easy subway access to site of the big game, Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. The Independent Hotel is a 5 minute walk to the Walnut-Locust Station of the Broad Street Line, and a ten-minute ride takes you right to the stadium stop.