30 Best Things to do in Philadelphia
We can all agree that deciding on where to book your next trip, can be stressful. Every traveller has their own preference, from soaking up the sun on sandy beaches- to getting lost in the middle of a bustling city, it is vital every holiday- maker picks the right destination for them. One place that might not first spring to mind is Philadelphia, however rest assured Philadelphia ticks every box: rich history, modernist architecture, divine food and breathtaking art, nothing goes amiss in Pennsylvania’s most notable city. Below includes a list of the best places to visit during your stay in Philadelphia:
Visit Independence National Park
Both Historically and architecturally pleasing, this 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 and the Constitution was signed here thus giving the park its name i.e. the Independence National Park. 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.
Ring the “bell” at Liberty Bell
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 2080 pound bell which was used to mark significant events in the past. However, due to cracks and irreparable damage to the bell, it can no longer be chimed and thus rests in a huge glass gazebo opposite the Independence Hall. The bell is a big tourist attraction for the great historical significance it bears to the City.
Tour the City Hall
City Hall is an absolute delight to the eyes and is an architectural masterpiece offering a panoramic view of the city to the visitors through the open-air Observation deck. 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 observation deck of the tower is below the statue of Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn. The deck not only offers a spectacular view of the Franklin Parkway, right across the Delaware River, but also unforgettable views of the city skylines bearing the tall skyscrapers. The key architectural fact about the tall tower is that it has no single steel frame to hold the structure.
Rittenhouse Square is your go-to place for the best restaurants in town, the amazing nightlife spots, the exquisite shops, and everything glamourous. It is located southeast of the Mutter Museum and opens its arms to travelers to offer the best of shopping, dining and party experiences in the city. The place also offers a wave of fresh air, away from the city life, charming everyone who visits.
Explore the Reading Terminal Market
To travel best, is to travel like localities, and there is no better place for this experience than the Reading Terminal Market. From all aspects of delicious cuisine: small bakeries, coffee shops, and authentic food stalls (offering the renowned ‘cheesesteak’). The market also offers homemade crafts and jewelry, for those in search of souvenirs. This market is the best local market offering the most authentic experience to the travelers and is open from 8:00 am to 6:00pm, allowing plenty of time for you to browse it’s finery.
Enjoy in the lap of nature at Wissahickon Valley Park
For travelers looking for places more focal in nature, this is the perfect option. 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 the city life. The park is free for tourist visits with a requirement of 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 the Franklin Square
According to the original plan laid down by William Penn, Franklin Square was one of the five public squares in Philadelphia. It provides to the public a modern green area which also doubles up as a place of refreshment and rejuvenation along with sightseeing with the newly introduced Fountain Show. It also provides one of the best BBQ featuring many delicacies such as pulled pork, burgers, fries, cheesesteaks, mac, and cheese, and the famous Cake Shake blended with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. You can find a miniature golf course, live music, lawn games,
open space for a lazy family afternoon at Franklin Square.
Take Instagram-worthy pictures at John F. Kennedy Plaza, the LOVE Park
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, it is one of best photo opportunities the city has to offer. 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. 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.
Halloween at Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary is historically renowned for its different ways of reformation of prisoners by isolation and reflection instead of capital punishment and physical abuse. Though the prison is no longer used by the State, it transforms into a Halloween haunted house with various attractions. Offering a frightening and adrenaline rushing experience, this is the perfect option for those who love to be spooked. They also offer guided tour retelling stories of prisoners
and other events that happened within the premises.
Enjoy the beautiful artworks at Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Museum of Art is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular pieces of art and boasts of being the third-largest museum in the whole country. You can find artworks by renowned artists from across the globe including American and Modern Art Painters and exquisite pieces from the Renaissance. 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.
Eat Philly Cheesesteaks
When in Philadelphia, you must try the mouth-watering treat to your taste buds, the
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 to offer you a mouth watering delight. Cheesesteaks are a part of the city’s food tradition as an individual take to the regular hot dog and can be found easily across the wide variety of street food stalls.
Visit the Battleship New Jersey
Battleship New Jersey is a 45,000-ton ship which 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. 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.
Visit the Adventure Aquarium
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.
Visit Washington Square Park
A small scientific experiments 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 the Independence Hall and is the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. 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.
Explore the Philadelphia Zoo
The zoo has an interesting history of ‘firsts’ including being the first zoo for children, to exhibit lions, to bring under the circle chimpanzees and orangutan birds. It is set in 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, separate zones each with a wide variety of animal species and activities.
Check out Sesame Place
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. 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.
Take a tour of the Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross 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. 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.
Visit Penn’s Landing and Delaware Waterfront
The 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. You will generally find some fun activities going on in the open outdoor area like concerts, flea markets, free movies, ice-skating, and festivals amongst others. It is home to some of the most visited parks in the city including the Harbor Park and Spruce Street which offers an amazing view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Catch a sunset or sunrise at the Boathouse Row
Offering a spectacular lit view of the city, lining the Schuylkill River around the west of Museum of Art are the 19th-century boathouses, rightly named as the Boathouse Row. 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.
Pose at the Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps
The Rocky Statute 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”. 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.
Gamble your time at the Sugar House Casino
Located on the picturesque Delaware River Waterfront, the Casino 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, at any time of the day. It offers excitement of its own kind and provides for guests: restaurants, table games, VIP lounges, eateries, conference lounges, and other accommodations.
Witness the Japanese culture at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Located within the western section of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, this traditional Japanese house offers peace and serenity to rejuvenate the soul. It is a reflection of the Japanese culture valuing and offering the visitors with a tour inside the house, which is located amidst a beautiful landscape, complimented by a 75-year-old cherry tree and a pond.
Visit the spectacular Tiffany Glass Mural i.e. "The Dream Garden"
Based on a Maxfield Parrish landscape, the mural 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. 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 which only seems true in the rarest of dreams. A walk through the labyrinth will leave you spellbound.
Post pictures with the Giant Ants
On the South street in Philadelphia, alongside the classy and Porsche neighborhood, which offers the best of restaurants, bars and galleries, are these giant ants crawling on the wall. Well, they aren’t real-life ants, just a trendy and spooky addition to the clothing boutique occupying the building. You can also shop and dine in the neighborhood while you are ‘ant-spotting’. These sculptures march up the side of an iconic spot in punk rock lore.
Explore the Maritime history at the Independence Seaport Museum
Dedicated to the history of the Delaware River, this museum presents to the public local small crafts as well and exhibits. You can find the classic Second World War submachine BECUNA and the oldest steel warship of the country OLYMPIA. The museum offers an experiences including watching artisans craft and restore boats.
Witness the beauty of architecture at the Masonic Temple
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. 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.
Enjoy the smell of books at the Shakespeare Park
This place is for all the book lovers out there, the Shakespeare Park or the Free Library Bridge is open to the public in a bigger and better way than it was ever before. The place has been redecorated and features an amphitheater seating along with beautiful interiors and a large lawn. It is an abode for all readers.
Grab good food at the Italian Market
This is the right destination for all the food lovers offering open food stalls, fresh vegetables, and spices and cut meat, and adds a beautiful character to the otherwise mundane, traditional meal time. 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 offers all types of cuisines.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Located right on the Delaware River, this park offers a multitude of activities and features floating gardens. It is a delight to the eyes, especially during the night time when the trees light up and the park comes to life.
Philadelphia is indeed home to the finest of anthropological museums and archaeological sites. 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.
Best time to visit
One of Philadelphia’s most appealing qualities is it’s resistance to time. There is no point in the year that the activities in Philadelphia falter. Whether it’s Summer or Winter the city provides constant, high- quality entertainment to visitors no matter what season they chose to visit. However, if you are interested in the peak times to visit Philadelphia, many tourists opt for March to May, when the city blooms in cherry blossoms, adding another layer of Beauty to the landscape. The Same applies to day and night- As the Sun rises the city invites you to busk in it’s fascinating history via the museums and galleries, and by night, as darkness envelopes the sky, the cities vibrant nightlife makes itself known.