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Things to Do in Philadelphia

Get an up close look at American history in the City of Brotherly Love, an early capital of the United States. History lovers, foodies, and adventurers will all find plenty to explore in this bustling city: Book a private or group tour to experience Philly’s sights, sounds, and tastes. Start with a hop-on hop-off city sightseeing tour on a double-decker bus. You’ll get your bearings and stop wherever you like — and hop back on when you’re ready. Tour major historic sites such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Congress Hall, plus the Betsy Ross House, Constitution Center, and the immense City Hall topped with a statue of William Penn. Or get some exercise with a walking or bike tour around the city center. Culinary tours focus on Philly’s vibrant local brewery scene and regional specialties, such as soft pretzels, Philly cheesesteaks, and cuisines from around the world. (Try an Uzbekistan restaurant.) Peruse the outdoor Italian Market, one of the country’s oldest, for cannoli and fresh pasta. Then turn your focus to culture: Take a tour of public art, including sculptures and murals, and discuss what the artists intended with your guide. Head to the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Franklin Institute, and the 42-acre Philadelphia Zoo. And cap off your day with an evening bus tour through the city’s lights, a dinner cruise, or a pub crawl, for a great night’s sleep, before starting again in the morning.
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Liberty Bell Center
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87 Tours and Activities

Few places in the United States offer as much historical and cultural legacy as the Philadelphia Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Located across the street from one another, the two landmarks serve as the most potent symbols of the American revolution and the birth of the young nation.

Independence Historical National Park is the home to both Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. While the Bell was rung at several key moments of the American independence movement, today it is more famous for its symbolic message of universal liberty than its functional purpose.

In addition to the two main attractions, Independence National Historical Park is also the home of several other sites associated with the American Revolution. This 45-acre park comprises much of the historic downtown area of Philadelphia.

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Betsy Ross House
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This may or may not be where patriotic upholsterer Betsy Ross lived when she made the original Stars & Stripes, but it’s certainly one of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia. Set just a few blocks west of Independence Hall near Franklin Square, the house is the site of a local Flag Day celebration held each year on June 14.

Built in 1740 in the Pennsylvania Colonial Style, this humble home was rescued by a local radio personality in the late 1930s and both renovated and expanded, using Colonial-period materials. Self-guided and audio tours are available here ($5 and $7, respectively), and out in the added-on courtyard, a costumed Betsy Ross re-enactor tells stories with flag in hand.

Throughout the summer and early fall on Friday nights, movies are shown in the courtyard on a big outdoor screen; bring a blanket or chair, and the $5 fee includes a tour of the house. It’s open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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More Things to Do in Philadelphia

National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

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Christ Church

Christ Church

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Known as “America’s Church,” this 1744 city landmark was the first Protestant Episcopal congregation, the post-Revolution version of a Royalist, Anglican church founded in 1695. Early parishioners included George Washington and Betsy Ross, and its cemetery hosts the remains of several signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin.

One of the most-visited sites in Philadelphia, the church is chock full of historic objects, including communion silver commissioned by England’s Queen Anne and mahogany cabinetry by some of the city’s most renowned woodworkers. Topped by a 200-foot-tall steeple, it was once the tallest building in America.
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Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

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Once the most famous prison in the world, Eastern State was initially renowned for its Enlightenment-inspired efforts to reform inmates rather than merely punish them. Eventually, this system was abandoned in favor of solitary confinement and a Death Row block. But the once-genteel penitentiary allowed one of its most notorious inmates, Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone, to keep a private cell with fine antiques and oriental carpets.

When Eastern State’s unique wagon-wheel-shaped building was completed in 1829, it was the most expensive public structure ever built. It was a tourist attraction from the start, and remains so today. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and closed in 1971, the building and its many art installations are consistently being restored and preserved by a variety of architects and artists.

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Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall

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With 14 ½ acres of floor space, this is the largest municipal building in the United States. Built on one of five squares designated by founding father William Penn as Center Square, its Old City site once marked the geographic center of Philadelphia.

Begun in 1871, this imposing Second Empire masterpiece, with its 22-foot-thick exterior walls, granite floors, marble columns and 548-foot masonry clock tower, took 30 years to complete. Hired by architect John MacArthur, Jr., Scottish-born sculptor Alexander Milne Calder spent 20 years creating 250 bronze and marble sculptures for City Hall, the greatest achievement of his career.

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Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

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Rodin Museum

Rodin Museum

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The Franklin Institute Science Museum

The Franklin Institute Science Museum

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Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo

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Perfect for those with kids looking for a break from historical sites, the Philadelphia Zoo is a great and easy place to spend an afternoon. Over 1,300 different animals, many of them rare and endangered, call this zoo home. The Philadelphia Zoo is recognized world wide for successfully breeding animals that are difficult to breed in captivity.

Whether you take the kids to check out Carnivore Kingdom, The Reptile and Amphibian House, Big Cat Falls, or the Rare Animal Conservation Center, the Philadelphia Zoo offers you rare glimpses of animals you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else. And seeing as it is in Philadelphia, the zoo of course has some historical significance as well- it was the nation's first zoo.

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Love Park

Love Park

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United States Mint

United States Mint

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Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square

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Dating to the late 17th century as part of William Penn’s original five-square city plan, this gracefully manicured park was renamed in 1825 for local astronomer, inventor and surveyor David Rittenhouse. Long one of Philadelphia’s most desirable addresses, in our modern era it’s surrounded by luxury apartments and shops.

Well connected to buses, the SEPTA rail and the trolley, the surrounding neighborhood is full of historic architecture and cultural institutions. Attractions include the Mütter Museum and the treasure-filled Rosenbach Museum & Library, as well as the Curtis Institute of Music. Look for the ornate Victorian House set at the northwest corner, and various bronze sculptures of animals scattered throughout the park.

The park is managed and supported by the Friends of Rittenhouse Square, a non-profit group who, among other activities, stages a series of free concerts in the park during the summer.

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Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation

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Philadelphia Logan Circle

Philadelphia Logan Circle

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11 Tours and Activities
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