Less than two hours away by car or train, Philadelphia is often overlooked when searching for new places to go for the day or for the weekend. The City of Brotherly Love has so much to offer for families of all ages. Most notably, Philadelphia is where the Founding Fathers formed the framework of our country. This rich history has been painstakingly preserved in a multitude of historic attractions. Philly is also a foodie town, with world-renowned restaurants, ethnic markets and, of course, cheesesteak! There is not nearly enough space to write about all the great things to do in Philly, so I have tried to narrow it down to a top-ten list of things to do on your first visit to Philadelphia.
- The Liberty Bell – Originally used to call meetings of the Pennsylvania Assembly, it was later adopted by abolitionists, suffragists and civil rights leaders, becoming an international symbol of freedom. The Liberty Bell is surrounded by glass walls, overlooking Independence Hall.
- Independence Hall – The centerpiece of Independence National Historic Park, a square mile of historic buildings, homes, museums, churches and cemeteries that tell the story of our nation’s birth. This is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were drafted and signed.
- Old City and Society Hill – home to the Betsy Ross House where the first American flag was created, the Second Bank of the United States, Carpenter’s Hall (the meeting place of the First Continental Congress), Christ Church and Cemetery, where George Washington, Betsy Ross Ben Franklin (who is buried here) and John Adams worshipped, Elfreth’s Alley (America’s oldest, continuously inhabited street, lined with charming brick row houses) and the Museum of the American Revolution.
- Run the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At the bottom, don’t forget to snap a photo with the bronze statue of Rocky.
- Museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – Notably the aforementioned Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Museum (an eclectic and amazing personal art collection), The Rodin Museum, The Franklin Institute (one of the best museums of learning for grade school children) and The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
- Boathouse Row – Ten historic boathouses lining the Schuykill River. In the early mornings, you may even catch the crew teams from UPenn, Temple, Drexel, St. Joe’s and other Philly Universities out on the river.
- City Hall – the largest municipal building in the US and an architectural masterpiece of the second Empire style, with lavish and ornate interior rooms throughout. The exterior sculptures were designed by Alexander Calder, including the 27-ton statue of William Penn that stands on top of the tower.
- Reading Terminal Market – this indoor market, with more than 80 vendors, is a foodie’s paradise, offering a wide variety of prepared food, choice ingredients and goods for sale.
- South Street Italian Market – the nation’s oldest continuous outdoor market, dating back to the 1880s. Stands selling vegetables, cheese, meat, breads, desserts and specialty foods are run by fourth and fifth generation merchants. While it began with only Italian immigrants, today’s vendors are from many cultures around the world. South Street’s eclectic shops and restaurants and the waterfront attractions and parks, including beautiful views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, are especially lively in the warmer months.
- Philly Cheesesteak – it’s an experience to try the authentic signature food of this city. Whether you favor Geno’s or Pat’s, you just gotta try one!
There are so many more cultural, historic and beautiful places to see while in Philadelphia, and we are lucky enough to live close enough to come back and explore all that this city has to offer.