35 Best Things to Do in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

We can all agree that deciding where to book your next trip can be stressful.

Every traveler has their preferred place to visit, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania might not be their first option.

Rest assured, however, that visiting this stunning city ticks every box, as it teems with rich history, modern architecture, divine food, and breathtaking art, among others.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 35 best things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Visit Independence National Historical Park

A memorial at Independence National Park
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Both historically and architecturally pleasing, Independence National Historical Park is one of the most visited tourist spots in the city.

It is a Georgian-style building crafted in red bricks.

It bears historical significance as the Declaration of Independence.

People at Independence National Historical Park
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Here is where the Constitution was signed, hence the park's name.

You can still find the few copies stored carefully and displayed for the public.

The Independence Hall is open to visitors from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Art pieces at Independence National Historical Park
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Check Out the Displays at Rodin Museum

Exterior of Rodin Museum
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Among Philadelphia's most recognizable landmarks, the Rodin Museum is home to one of the biggest public collections of Rodin's artwork outside of Paris.

The first Auguste Rodin exhibition in the United States took place in Philadelphia.

Admire some of the most well-known sculptural works in the world in a lush, private environment at the Rodin Museum.

Entrance doors of Rodin Museum
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The collection of the Rodin Museum has around 150 items, all of which provide rich and unique views of Auguste Rodin's remarkable career.

Discover Auguste Rodin's life and significant body of work, how this exceptional museum came to be housed in Philadelphia, and take in the collection's innovative displays.

The grounds of Rodin Museum
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Take Pictures of the Liberty Bell

Close view of the Liberty Bell
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Remember how Ted Mosby and Barney Stinson share their tales of the Liberty Bell in the initial episodes of How I met Your Mother?

Well, the Liberty Bell is a 2,080-pound bell used to mark significant events in the past.

Daytime view of Liberty Bell
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However, due to cracks and irreparable damage to the bell, it can no longer be chimed and thus rests in a vast glass gazebo opposite the Independence Hall.

The bell is a big tourist attraction for its great historical significance to the city.

Exterior of Liberty Bell's building
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Tour the Philadelphia City Hall

Exterior of the City Hall
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Philadelphia City Hall is an absolute delight to the eyes and is an architectural masterpiece offering a panoramic view of the city to visitors.

The tower is more than 500 feet tall and offers elevator facilities to take you to the top for the most breathtaking view of the city.

The tower's observation deck is below the statue of Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn.

Front view of the Philadelphia City Hall
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The deck offers a spectacular view of the Franklin Parkway, right across the Delaware River, and unforgettable views of the city skylines.

The critical architectural fact about the tall tower is that it has no single steel frame to hold the structure.

Clock tower of Philadelphia City Hall
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View the Live Collection at Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

Conservatory at Morris Arboretum
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum encourages an awareness of the connection between people, places, and plants via horticultural exhibition, research, and education.

The live collection at the arboretum consists of about 11,000 accessioned plants from over 2,500 species.

The arboretum's collection of noteworthy plant species includes maples, native azaleas, roses, hollies, conifers, and more.

Trail lined with flora at Morris Arboretum
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wetlands, meadows, and the Wissahickon Creek forests make up the Morris Arboretum's natural areas.

Year-round, these places offer a fantastic home for many animals and birds.

Furthermore, there are many entertaining activities available at Morris Arboretum for adults, children, and families!

Water fountain at Morris Arboretum
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wander around Rittenhouse Square

A trail at Rittenhouse Square
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Rittenhouse Square is your go-to place for the best restaurants in town, fantastic nightlife spots, exquisite shops, and everything glamorous.

It is located southeast of the Mutter Museum and offers the city the best shopping, dining, and party experiences.

The place also offers a wave of fresh air, away from the city life.

The grounds of Rittenhouse Square
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Explore the Reading Terminal Market

Interior of the Reading Terminal Market
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Reading Terminal Market offers homemade crafts and jewelry for those searching for souvenirs.

This market is the best local market offering the most authentic experience to travelers.

It is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, allowing plenty of time for you to browse its finery.

Fresh produce at Reading Terminal Market
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Dine at Urban Village Brewing Company

Established by Dave Goldman and Tom Revelli, the Urban Village Brewing Company is a brewery with a Philadelphia headquarters in the Northern Liberties district.

Co-Owner Dave Goldman has mastered the brewing process at Urban Village Brewing Company thanks to his experience with home brewing and a certification from the University of the Sciences' Brewing program.

Urban Village is happy to work in partnership with the neighborhood and supports it.

They take pleasure in changing things up seasonally and providing customers with various tasting opportunities all year long.

In-house brewed specialty beers, brick-oven pizzas, and artisan bread specialties are all available.

Enjoy Nature at Wissahickon Valley Park

Waterfall at Wissahickon Valley Park
Aleksei Velizhanin / Shutterstock.com

This is the perfect option for travelers looking for places more focal.

The park offers various activities, like mountain biking, hiking, bird-watching, fishing, and horseback riding.

It is located 5 miles northwest of downtown and is a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Trail at Wissahickon Valley Park
timeEd32 / Shutterstock.com

The park is free for tourist visits and requires a permit for fishing, hiking, and other activities.

It is highly recommended that you take a stroll along the Forbidden Drive Trail for one of the best picturesque views and breathtaking insights into nature.

Visit Franklin Square

Water fountain at Franklin Square
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According to the original plan laid down by William Penn, Franklin Square was one of the five public squares in Philadelphia.

It provides the public with a modern green area that also doubles up as a place of refreshment and rejuvenation.

Signage of Franklin Square
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

It also provides one of the best BBQs featuring many delicacies, such as pulled pork, burgers, fries, cheesesteaks, mac, and cheese, as well as the famous Cake Shake blended with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets.

You can find a miniature golf course, live music, lawn games, and open space for a lazy family afternoon at Franklin Square.

Chinese lanterns at Franklin Square
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Explore around Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Exterior of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, established in 1805, provides fine arts, cutting-edge exhibits of historic and current American art, and a top-notch collection of American artwork.

PAFA honors the transforming potential of art and art-making as the country's premiere art school and museum.

With state-of-the-art studio and classroom resources, private studios, a collection of antique casts, and the chance for students to exhibit at a top-tier museum, the school enjoys a role of national significance.

Interior of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
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PAFA museum frequently produces rich and satisfying shows to elevate various creative voices.

The organization's publications, educational initiatives, conservation efforts, and archives advance scholarly research and community engagement.

A sculpture in Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
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Take Instagram-Worthy Pictures at Love Park

Signage at LOVE Park
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You’ve most likely spotted the bright red letter statute designed by Robert Indiana on endless Instagram posts.

Located at the John F. Kennedy Plaza, Love Park is one of the city's best photo opportunities.

If you happen to visit the place around Christmas, you can shop your heart out in Philly's Annual Village Market for all things Christmassy.

Water fountain at Love Park
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You can also visit the city's Holocaust memorial adjacent to the Plaza.

It is recommended to visit the statue during dawn, as the place is less crowded and offers a beautiful sunrise view.

This park continues to remain one of the most famous tourist destinations and also serves as the entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

People at Love Park
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Experience Halloween at Eastern State Penitentiary

Exterior of Eastern State Penitentiary
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Eastern State Penitentiary is historically renowned for its different ways of reformation of prisoners through isolation and reflection instead of capital punishment and physical abuse.

Though the state no longer uses the prison, it has transformed into a Halloween haunted house with various attractions.

Interior of Eastern State Penitentiary
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Offering a frightening and adrenaline-rushing experience, this is the perfect option for those who love to be spooked.

They also offer guided tours retelling prisoners' stories and other events on the premises.

Capone's cell in Eastern State Penitentiary
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Unwind at Bank & Bourbon

Bank & Bourbon offers a cutting-edge barrel-aging program for its house-aged bourbons and inventive cocktails.

In a cozy, laid-back atmosphere, their knowledgeable Bourbon Masters and Chef Joe Thomas' American-inspired menu provide unique, seasonally-inspired takes on traditional meals.

The structural and interior design aspects of the Bank & Bourbon private dining rooms welcome visitors and are easily adapted to your needs.

Bourbon at Bank & Bourbon is aged in barrels made of charred American oak wood, allowing visitors to taste the spirit as it matures.

Guests can use their own barrel-aging locker membership program to age their bourbon in barrels.

Enjoy the Beautiful Artwork at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art
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Philadelphia Museum of Art is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular pieces of art and is considered the third-largest museum in the country.

You can find artworks by renowned artists from across the globe, including American and modern art painters, as well as exquisite pieces from the Renaissance.

Interior view of Philadelphia Museum of Art
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The museum also displays something one of a kind, a mixture of distant societies through 80 different rooms, portraying cultures ranging from the Indian domes to the medieval cloisters.

Interior view of Philadelphia Museum of Art
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Eat Philly Cheesesteaks

Philly Cheesesteaks
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When in Philadelphia, you must try cheesesteaks.

It is a well-crusted roll with a delicious filling of beef cooked to perfection, with cheese drooling from the sides, and topped with caramelized onions.

Cheesesteaks are a part of the city’s food tradition.

People waiting in a line to get Cheesesteaks at Philadelphia
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Visit Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park
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A small scientific experiment's success has developed its roots in Washington Square Park in the form of a clone tree known as the Moon tree.

Washington Square Park is a block south of Independence Hall and is the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.

Walkway at Washington Square Park
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An interesting fact behind this tree is that it sprung from seeds that went to the Moon for an experiment and came back on Apollo 14 Moon mission with Astronaut Stuart Roosa.

NASA and the US Forest Service planted one of the first Bicentennial Moon Trees in this park.

The Moon Tree is located inside the entrance at 6th & Walnut.

Garden at Washington Square Park
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Explore the Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo
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Philadelphia Zoo has a fascinating history of ‘firsts’, including being the first zoo for children to exhibit lions and bring chimpanzees and orangutan birds under the circle.

A prideful peacock at Philadelphia Zoo
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It is set on 42 acres in the Victoria garden featuring iron cages for animals and walls lined with trees.

It is a must-visit if you are traveling with kids, as it offers climbing ramps and separate zones each with a wide variety of animal species and activities.

Lions at Philadelphia Zoo
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Check Out Sesame Place

Sesame Place
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Sesame Place is the place to visit if you are after a dose of nostalgia.

No matter what age, the theme park brings out the child residing in each one of our hearts.

Rides at Sesame Place
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It offers a variety of both water-based and dry-based rides, including Bert & Ernie’s Slip & Slide, Big Bird’s Rambling River, The Count’s Splash Castle, Sky Splash, Ernie’s Waterworks, Elmo’s World, Vapor Trail, and Cookie Monster’s land.

A person dressed like Sesame interacting with the kids at Sesame Place
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Take a Tour of the Betsy Ross House

 Betsy Ross House
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Betsy Ross House is most famous for making the first American Flag.

Her house has become a popular tourist attraction where you can hear about her life as you venture first-hand through the small house she rented in 1740.

Dining area at Betsy Ross House
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The audio tour appears to be in what is possibly Betsy’s voice explaining about life in the bygone days and reasons as to why and how she sew the flag in the upholstery shop.  

It is a fun and educational activity for all.

Betsy Ross House Museum Shop
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Visit Penn's Landing and Delaware River Waterfront

Penn’s Landing and Delaware Waterfront
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Penn's Landing and Delaware River Waterfront encompasses parts of the Old City, Queen Village, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Pennsport, and in the center of all of it is Penn’s landing.

Pier at Penn's Landing
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You will generally find some fun activities in the open outdoor area, like concerts, flea markets, free movies, ice skating, and festivals, amongst others.

It is home to some of the city's most visited parks, including Harbor Park and Spruce Street, which offer a fantastic view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Parade of Sails at Penn's Landing and Delaware River Waterfront
Aneese / Shutterstock.com

See the Sunset at the Boathouse Row

Boathouse Row
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Offering a spectacular lit view of the city, lining the Schuylkill River around the west of the Museum of Art are the 19th-century boathouses, rightly named the Boathouse Row.

Boathouse Row during dusk
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The highlight of the place is the rowing competitions that take place, where rowers of all ages come together and display their skills.

You can watch the sunrise and enjoy a peaceful morning ride by the river or spend the sunset gazing at the reflections of the changing hues of the sky in the calm waters.

Boathouse Row decorated with colorful lights
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Pose Beside the Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps

Rocky Statue
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Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps is a real-life monument of fictional Rocky Balboa of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies created for the shoot of the scene in Rocky III and boasts itself of being one of the most visited public places in the town.

The statue is located at the bottom of the stairs at the Museum of Art and is often known as the “Italian Stallion”.

Rocky steps at Philadelphia
Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

For many, there is no need for instruction at all, it is second nature to run up the steps, arms raised high in victory to salute for that one perfect picture recreating the legendary movie scene.

This is one that should be on every travellers list.

Visitors posing infront of the Rocky Statue
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Play at the Rivers Casino Philadelphia

Located on the picturesque Delaware River Waterfront, Rivers Casino Philadelphia boasts itself to be the first of its kind in the city.

The casino offers as many as 1,891 slot machines, 103 table games, and a 28-table poker room, open to the public seven days a week, any time of the day.

It offers excitement of its kind and provides guests: with restaurants, table games, VIP lounges, eateries, conference lounges, and other accommodations.

Experience the Japanese Culture at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Jorge Moro / Shutterstock.com

Located within the western section of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden offers peace and serenity to rejuvenate the soul.

It is a reflection of the Japanese culture valuing and offering the visitors a tour inside the house, which is located amidst a beautiful landscape, complemented by a 75-year-old cherry tree and a pond.

View of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Visit The Dream Garden

View of Dream Garden
Maxfield Parrish , CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Based on a Maxfield Parrish landscape, The Dream Garden is made of 100,000 pieces of over 260 color-toned hand-blown glass.

The mural designed by Louis C. Tiffany is one of its kind and offers a gazing pool, thus giving it its name, the Dream Garden.

Front view of the Dream Garden
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

A visit to Philly is never complete unless you witness the beauty of this glass mural, beautifully crafted in myriads of tile, texture, and color, offering a view that only seems true in the rarest of dreams.

A walk through the labyrinth will leave you spellbound.

Explore the Maritime History at the Independence Seaport Museum

Independence Seaport Museum
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Dedicated to the history of the Delaware River, the Independence Seaport Museum presents to the public local small crafts as well as exhibits.

Interior view of the Independence Seaport Museum
Nick Couckuyt / Shutterstock.com

You can find the classic Second World War submachine BECUNA and the oldest steel warship of the country OLYMPIA.

The museum offers experiences, including watching artisans craft and restore boats.

View of Independence Seaport Museum
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See Masonic Temple's Stunning Architecture

Masonic Temple
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Pleasing to the eye is this iconic Masonic Temple which was constructed in the late 19th century.

The temple is an architectural masterpiece with seven separate meeting rooms, each dedicated to a different form of architecture, from the Gothic to Oriental, Ionic, Egyptian, Renaissance, Corinthian, and Norman.

Staircase at Masonic Temple
Belikova Oksana / Shutterstock.com

The temple unveils mysteries in its own form. It is advised to hire a well-informed guide for a better experience of the visit to the temple.

Interior view of Masonic Temple
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Shop at Italian Market

Italian Market
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Italian Market is the right destination for all food lovers offering open food stalls, fresh vegetables, spices and cut meat, and adds a beautiful character to the otherwise mundane, traditional mealtime.

Street view of Italian Market
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It features a chain of food vendors selling gourmet food including fresh cheese, homemade chocolates, raw meat and fish, authentic spices, and imported goods.

You can also dine in some of the best restaurants in the city which offer all types of cuisines.

People buying fresh fruits at Italian Market
Adam Yesner / Shutterstock.com

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Harbor Park
Helen89 / Shutterstock.com

Located right on the Delaware River, Spruce Street Harbor Park offers a multitude of activities and features floating gardens.

It is a delight to the eyes, especially during the nighttime when the trees light up and the park comes to life.

View of Spruce Street Harbor Park
Helen89 / Shutterstock.com

Pay a Visit to Penn Museum

Exterior view of Penn Museum
Mefman00, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia is indeed home to the finest of anthropological museums and archaeological sites.

Fountain at Penn Museum
Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945), sculptorBoringHistoryGuy, photographer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of them is the Penn Museum which is home to arts and objects from all parts of the globe, ranging from rare art, household tools, and objects associated with different civilizations of different ages, all under one roof.

Exhibit at Penn Museum
CallMeBarcode, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Battleship New Jersey

Battleship New Jersey
Alexey Smolyanyy / Shutterstock.com

Battleship New Jersey is a 45,000-ton ship that formed a part of the naval history of America.

It is an 887 feet steel-plated masterpiece which was decommissioned for the last time in 1991 and is now made available to the general public for tours.

Top view of Battleship New Jersey
James Nesterwitz / Shutterstock.com

Traveling through the different zones and areas of the battleship, one can expect to feel how life onboard truly is.

From the 4D flight simulator Seahawk program re-creating the Second World War- to the dimly lit corridors, the ship is but a representation of the bygone era.

Cannons at Battleship New Jersey
Beast Master / Shutterstock.com

Visit the Adventure Aquarium

 Adventure Aquarium
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Exhibiting 8,500 aquatic species, the Adventure Aquarium offers an experience closer to nature.

It is an absolute delight for kids and adults alike to witness the hippos turtles, penguins, stingrays, genny, and 8500 other aquatic species.

Fishes at Adventure Aquarium
Oleg Kovtun Hydrobio / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, should definitely be on your list of weekend travel destinations in the United States.

The city has world-class art institutions, stunning parks, and top-notch dining establishments ideal for creating enduring memories with loved ones.

Visit Philadelphia and take in its history, culture, and arts!

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