Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is rich in history, culture, and diversity. Having lived here for several years, I’ve had the opportunity to explore its many hidden gems and iconic attractions. In this travel guide, I’ll share my recommendations for things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to make the most of your visit.
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What to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1. Visit Independence Hall
Start your journey in the heart of historic Philadelphia at Independence Hall. This iconic building is where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. Take a guided tour to learn about the nation’s founding history.
2. Explore the Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell Center is just a short walk from Independence Hall. Marvel at this symbol of freedom, which cracked on its first test ring, and learn about its role in American history through interactive exhibits.
3. Stroll through Old City
Wander the charming streets of Old City, where cobblestone pathways and historic buildings transport you back in time. Don’t miss Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in the United States.
4. Artistic Delights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Channel your inner Rocky Balboa with a run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, famous from the movie. Inside, explore a vast collection of art, from classical to contemporary, including works by Picasso and Van Gogh.
5. Discover the Magic of Reading Terminal Market
For a culinary adventure, head to Reading Terminal Market. Sample diverse cuisine from Amish pretzels to Philly cheesesteaks. It’s a food lover’s paradise.
6. Experience History at the National Constitution Center
Learn about the U.S. Constitution’s significance and impact on American democracy through engaging exhibits and multimedia displays.
7. Wander Through the Magic Gardens
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a unique outdoor art space featuring intricate mosaics created by artist Isaiah Zagar. It’s a surreal and visually stunning experience.
8. Explore the Philadelphia Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo is America’s first zoo, with over 1,300 animals worldwide. It’s a fantastic destination for families and animal lovers.
9. Step Back in Time at Eastern State Penitentiary
Delve into the eerie history of this former prison, once home to Al Capone. The prison offers a haunting yet fascinating tour.
10. Enjoy a Scenic Cruise on the Delaware River
Take a relaxing cruise along the Delaware River to admire the city’s skyline and enjoy breathtaking views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
11. Discover the Vibrant Mural Arts Program
Philadelphia is renowned for its murals. Join a Mural Arts Tour to explore these colorful outdoor artworks and learn about their cultural significance.
12. Relax at Fairmount Park
Escape the city’s hustle and bustle in Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban park systems in the United States. It’s perfect for picnics, hiking, or simply unwinding in nature.
13. Dive into History at the Museum of the American Revolution
Explore the dramatic story of the American Revolution through interactive exhibits and immersive experiences.
14. Taste Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks
Every visit to Philadelphia is complete with savoring a classic Philly cheesesteak. Local favorites like Pat’s and Geno’s are iconic spots to try one.
15. Wander South Street
South Street offers a mix of quirky shops, vibrant street art, and eclectic dining options. It’s a hip and bohemian neighborhood worth exploring.
16. Embrace the Arts at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Catch a world-class performance at the Kimmel Center, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra and other renowned artists.
17. Reflect at the African American Museum
Learn about the African American experience and contributions to American history and culture through thought-provoking exhibits.
18. Enjoy the Philadelphia Flower Show
If you visit in March, don’t miss the Philadelphia Flower Show, the world’s largest indoor flower exhibition, featuring stunning floral displays and gardens.
19. Discover the Betsy Ross House
Visit the historic home of Betsy Ross, credited with sewing the first American flag. Learn about her life and the flag’s creation.
20. Take a Day Trip to Valley Forge National Historical Park
Just a short drive from Philadelphia, Valley Forge offers a glimpse into the harsh conditions faced by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Philadelphia is a city that celebrates its rich history while embracing modernity. Whether you’re interested in history, art, cuisine, or simply enjoying the city’s vibrant atmosphere, you’ll find an array of things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that will leave you with lasting memories. Enjoy your visit to the City of Brotherly Love!
21. Delve into Science at The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a science museum that offers a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Explore hands-on exhibits, participate in interactive demonstrations, and be amazed by the planetarium shows. It’s a fantastic place for families and anyone with a curious mind.
22. Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront
Philadelphia’s waterfront along the Delaware River has been revitalized recently, offering a mix of dining, entertainment, and stunning views. Visit Spruce Street Harbor Park in the summer, an urban beach with hammocks and food vendors, or explore the seasonal roller skating rink and winter wonderland at Blue Cross RiverRink.
23. The Barnes Foundation
Home to an incredible collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the Barnes Foundation is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Dr. Albert C. Barnes, a collector with a unique eye for art, assembled this remarkable collection, which includes works by Renoir, Cézanne, and Matisse.
24. Enjoy a Philly Beer Tour
Philadelphia has a thriving craft beer scene; you can explore it through brewery tours and tastings. Some notable breweries include Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia Brewing Company, and Victory Brewing Company.
25. Take a Haunting Ghost Tour
For those who enjoy a bit of spooky history, Philadelphia offers a variety of ghost tours. Walk through cobblestone streets while hearing chilling tales of the city’s past. One popular option is the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour.
26. Visit the Rodin Museum
Home to the most extensive collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures outside of France, the Rodin Museum is a peaceful oasis in the city. Stroll through the sculpture garden and admire iconic works like “The Thinker.”
27. Explore the Italian Market
The Italian Market is lively and historic in South Philadelphia. It’s a food lover’s paradise, with vendors offering fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and a wide variety of international foods. Try a famous Philly roast pork sandwich here!
28. Franklin Square
Franklin Square is one of Philadelphia’s original squares and an excellent place for families. It features a beautifully restored carousel, a mini-golf course with a Philadelphia twist, and a large playground.
29. Learn at the Wagner Free Institute of Science
The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a hidden gem. Founded in 1855, it houses an extensive collection of natural history specimens, fossils, and more. Admission is free and a fascinating place for those interested in science and history.
30. Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum
For a unique and somewhat macabre experience, visit the Mütter Museum, which displays a collection of medical oddities, anatomical specimens, and historical medical equipment. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s an intriguing glimpse into the world of medicine.
31. Explore the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Once a significant naval shipyard, the Navy Yard has been transformed into a vibrant business and industrial campus. Take a guided tour to learn about its history and witness the sustainable and innovative development in the area.
32. Boathouse Row
Located along the Schuylkill River, Boathouse Row is a picturesque row of historic boathouses. The boathouses are beautifully illuminated in the evenings, creating a stunning scene along the river.
33. Philadelphia’s Food Scene
Philadelphia is a foodie’s paradise, and it’s not just about cheesesteaks. Explore the city’s diverse culinary offerings, from upscale restaurants to food trucks serving international cuisine. Don’t forget to try a soft pretzel, a local favorite!
34. Catch a Game
If you’re a sports fan, catch a game in Philadelphia. The city is passionate about its sports teams, including the Eagles (football), Phillies (baseball), 76ers (basketball), and Flyers (hockey). The energy in the stadiums is electric.