The journey of American Independence concluded in the historic city of Philadelphia with the declaration of Independence in the city’s Independence Hall. It is here that the famous Liberty Bell was rung to call out the citizens for the first-ever public reading of the declaration. Over two hundred years down the line, the city has emerged as one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in the city. If you are planning to visit the city to get a taste of its rich history and vibrant present, we have a list of the best things to do in Philadelphia ready for you right here.
Outdoor activities in Philadelphia
1. Independence Hall
Few places in the entire country can claim to have a more significant history. The Independence Hall is where the journey of ‘The American Dream" began. It was inside this hall that the US Constitution was debated and finally adopted. Visit this place for all the goosebumps that you would have on hearing the historical stories. Open 365 days a year, and the day usually starts at 8.30 am. Also, you would need to pay 1.50 USD for an admission ticket. Do visit the place where it all started.
Though ‘Valley Forge’ is a famous name throughout the country, only a handful of people is aware of the events that transpired at this place. The continental army marched to this park in the winter of 1777-78, an event which became the stepping stone for the formation of a national army that would eventually take down the British. What was once a battleground has today been transformed into a perfect recreational venue with activities such as waterways, group tours and ‘hand feed a Bison’ available for the visitors. Visit this place to experience history meeting fun.
Valley Forge Private 4-Hour Tour from Philadelphia
Duration: 4 hour
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3. Northbrook Canoe Company
Are you in the mood for some kayaking? Head towards the Northbrook Canoe Company. Perfect for a group day out, this place offers exciting activities such as tubing, kayaking and canoeing along the picturesque Brandywine River. The trips offered range from one to six hours’ duration. The activity season is usually from May to September. Also, they don’t allow children under two years of age on the water, so plan carefully. Please note that the water in the Brandywine River is very slow and calm (Class 1 waterway), so you can leave all your apprehensions behind.
4. Chaddsford Winery
Wine tasting outings sessions are always in vogue. If you are in Philadelphia, do give a shot to the Chaddsford Winery. Extremely famous among the locals, this place offers five different chocolates, five small sips of wine and a tour of the winery for a 25 USD fee. An ideal location for a small group, the winery usually closes at 5 pm. They also hold regular events, so you might want to check their schedule before planning your visit. A country atmosphere awaits you at this 17th-century dairy barn!
5. South Spring Festival
One of the most awaited spring festivals in the country, the South Spring Festival has been a major crowd puller ever since its inception. Organized on the very first weekend of May, the South Spring Festival offers a chance to experience a variety of local delicacies, beverages and local art work. Multiple stages and live music lend a much needed appeal to this festival. Open from 11 am to 8 pm, the festival is spread from the front street to the 8th street. And yes, all this fun comes at a stupendous cost of ZERO!
6. Delaware Canal State Park
The Delaware Canal State Park is the one place in Philadelphia which is brimming with people all through the year. This 60-mile linear park is a hotspot for all the wildlife enthusiasts in the city. The park offers fishing, kayaking and canoeing facilities to all the visitors. The place closes at sunset. You would come across as many as 11 river islands during the boat ride in the park!
Best places to enjoy nightlife in Philadelphia
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Visitors describe this place as ‘awesome’! This has been Philadelphia’s ‘go to place’ for fun filled group activities, business and leadership building activities and much more. This unique place uses improvised comedy as a sport. The best part? The audience gets to decide the points awarded! Both the teams strive to entertain the audience and win them over. The show has a 90 minute run-time and has an 18 USD entry ticket for the adults.
8. SugarHouse casino
Philadelphia’s first casino, the SugarHouse is situated on the waterfront on Delaware River. Located near the Independence Hall, visitors usually make their way to the SugarHouse once their outing at the Independence Hall is over. Open 24/7; this place boasts of many table games, a VIP lounge and multiple slots. With 24 poker tables on offer, a maximum of 240 players can play simultaneously. Don’t forget to try the restaurant options to keep your tummy full while chancing your luck!
9. Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square
You don’t often get to see a 200-foot long Chinese dragon in the middle of a town, unless it is the Chinese lantern festival at the Franklin Square. Each night during the festival, the 6th and Race streets come to life with 25 illuminated lanterns and a 3-story high pagoda. All these artifacts are made by the Chinese artists. The famous Franklin Square also boasts of a famous carousel which is flooded by people during the festival. The entry ticket to the festival costs 17 USD for adults and 12 USD for under-17 visitors. Do catch up the nighttime performances which attract thousands every day!
For perfect family outings in Philadelphia
10. Philadelphia Zoo
One of the very first zoos in the country, the Philadelphia zoo was opened in 1874. Home to some endangered and rare species, the Philadelphia zoo also offers a number of recreational activities including a paddleboat, educational exhibits and carousel. It also provides an exclusive animal trail system consisting of 4 animal trails, viz. Gorilla, Big Cat, Great Ape and Treetop. It also houses a kids’ zoo which is open all throughout the year for the visitors. The opening hours are from 9.30 am to 5 pm.
11. Please Touch Museum
One of the top most children-friendly museums in the US, Please Touch Museum aims to educate children with the help of interactive exhibits. This place is ideally suited for kids aged seven and below. Some of the major attractions in the museum include the Alice in Wonderland play area, a space station, display cases of Star Wars toys, City Capers and a replica of Statue of Liberty’s torch and arm. Weekends are heavily crowded, and the museum opens at 11 am on Sundays instead of the usual opening time of 9 am for the weekdays.
12. Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
For all the skating lovers, the River Rink is an ideal place to let themselves loose. It is the latest addition to the already populated Delaware riverfront. An artificial beach, nice seating arrangements and a large variety of food items are some of the best attractions of the Summerfest. With a couple of TV projector screens, this can be an ideal spot to catch up on a sporting event along with a group of friends. Get down there and light up your summer now!
Meet Philadelphia’s most unique citizen – a mummy! The Lost Egypt at The Franklin Institute offers a chance to the history lovers to get an insight into Egypt’s ancient world. The Institute houses a real Egyptian mummy, multiple artifacts and a simulated dig site. There are four unique themes on offer which take the visitors through the ancient life of Egypt, the various archeological practices and the modern day Egypt. The museum also takes you through a journey of decoding the ancient Egyptian language.
The Franklin Institute Admission Ticket
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
14. Adventure aquarium
Do you spend time thinking about what lies under the vast ocean? If yes, then here is your chance to explore the unknown. Situated at the Camden waterfront, the adventure aquarium is home to over 8,500 aquatic species. It also holds the distinction of being home to the largest number of sharks on the East Coast. Additionally, this is the sole aquarium globally which exhibits hippos. And if that’s not reason enough to plan a visit to this place, how about meeting some turtles, penguins and stingrays, all of whom reside in this aquarium! Buying the tickets online would be highly recommended.
Top museums to visit in Philadelphia
15. The Betsy Ross House
Before you try and Google for Betsy Ross, let us answer it for you. Betsy Ross was the lady who first sewed the American flag! And the Betsy Ross House is widely regarded as the birthplace of the American pride – the US national flag. One of the most significant places in the country, the Betsy Ross House offers a glimpse into the famed American history. You are free to take a tour around the bedroom where she gave shape to the very first US flag. The House also preserves several other treasures including her Bible. An entry ticket for a self-guided tour to this place costs 5 USD for adults and 4 USD for children.
16. Mutter museum
Disclaimer: If you wish to avoid human skulls, skip this place! A well renowned medical museum in the country, the mutter museum has a large and never ending collection of various pathological specimens, antique medical equipments, max models and more. The museum also houses a number of ‘abnormal’ body parts, all preserved in suitable liquids. If you are a medical expert / student, this place is a mouth watering prospect for you!
17. One Liberty Observation Deck
Interested in witnessing how Philly looks from the top? Now you can! Opened in 2015, this is the city’s first full-fledged observation deck. It offers a bird’s eye view of the city like never before. At present, this is the highest standing attraction within the city. The entry ticket is 19 USD and 14 USD for adults and children respectively.
18. Eastern State Penitentiary
Ready to witness some Gothic architecture in the middle of a modern city? Eastern State Penitentiary is the place to be. Made to punish people through solitary confinement, the Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the most advanced buildings of its time. It soon became a model for prison architecture throughout the entire world! To attract kids to this National Historic Landmark, this Penitentiary offers a scavenger hunt activity.
19. Philadelphia’s magic gardens
The magic gardens in the city exemplify the amalgamation of creativity and anarchy. This out of the box place is designed by Isaiah Zagar using bicycle spokes, cement, ceramic shards, used bottles and similar stuff. After the awe-inspiring uplift given by Zagar, the owner of the place put it up for sale. But large public donations and support meant that the area was purchased by a not for profit organization, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which has been looking after it since then.
20. National Constitution Center
There is no better place to understand the American constitution than the National Constitution Center. The Kimmel Theater screens ‘Freedom Rising’ to tell the story behind the Constitution and much more. An original copy of the constitution is also on display at the center. The center plays host to many exciting events all throughout the year, and that keeps the audience coming in. Buy your tickets online to avoid any last minute hassles.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, featuring one of the most extensive art collections in the country, is housed in a majestic neoclassical building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The structure is famous for its sweeping staircase used in the 1982 movie, Rocky III and the courtyard’s Rocky Statue. Within, you will find over 240,000 artworks spanning two millennia, including modern, Impressionist, Renaissance, medieval, and ancient artworks. Appreciate the on-site 14th-century Buddhist temple, an outdoor sculpture garden, Picasso’s, Van Gogh’s, and Renoir’s works, and more. The displays change regularly to keep things interesting.
Philadelphia Museum of Art General Admission Ticket
Duration: 2 to 10 hours
22. Rittenhouse Square
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Rittenhouse Square is the name of a public park and its surrounding suburb called Rittenhouse in Center City. It is among the highest-income areas in America. However, we’ll only focus on the historic community park, a recreational destination built in the 17th century. The pedestals, placed on the entrances and throughout the parks, contain urns bearing ancient Greek relief figures. Beautiful sculptures grace the family-friendly location, and you can picnic on the well-maintained grassy spots or relax by the plaza’s sparkling pool.
Address: 210 W Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103, United States
Website: Rittenhouse Square
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
23. Elfreth's Alley
Before the industrial revolution in the 19th century, businesses were housed in residential areas—and Elfreth’s Alley was one of these locations. It was home to tailors, cabinet makers, shoemakers, and grocers who managed their business on the ground level of their home. The cobblestoned alley, containing 32 structures dating back more than 300 years, is a designated National Historic Landmark. The tradespeople and artisans that once called this place home are considered the pioneers of Colonial Philadelphia. Aside from the old architecture, don’t forget to check out the 18th-century buildings housing a gift shop and museum.
Address: 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106, United States
Website: Elfreth’s Alley
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
24. Declaration House
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Declaration House is a rebuilt 18th-century building, where Thomas Jefferson lived and wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Although demolished and reconstructed in 1975, the three-story, red-brick structure features original items used by the icon, and it’s open to the public for touring. On the first level, you can see a video on the drafting of the declaration. The second floor features a sitting area and a bed spot, arranged to mimic how the Founding Father is perceived to like it.
Address: 700 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, United States
Website: Declaration House
Opening hours: 12pm - 5pm (daily)
25. Rocky Statue
Rocky Statue, set in the courtyard of Philadelphia Museum of Art, is designed by Thomas Schomberg, a renowned athletic sculptor. The massive figure of a boxer, lifting his hands in triumph, tells a commoner story of success through determination and hard work. The sculpture was given in 1982 by Sylvester Stallone, the famous star actor in the movie, Rocky. Tourists and locals love visiting this venue to climb to the top of the renowned museum’s stairs to take photos with their hands, held high in victory, mimicking Rocky Statue.
Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, United States
Website: Rocky Statue
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
A journey to Philly is a journey back in time
There is no better city to understand America’s history and its ideals than Philadelphia. Its journey from the birthplace of the American Constitution to being one of the most advanced cities in the country have much in parallel to the American journey. A visit to all these places would make you understand why the founding fathers of the country chose this fabulous place as the birth place for the most important document of the country.
Pro Tip: To start a conversation with anyone in Philly, just tell them you loved the last game Eagles played!
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