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Located on the eastern seaboard, adjacent to Washington, D.C., and Boston, and just a few hours’ drive from New York City is Philadelphia. Philadelphia, also known as Philly or the “City of Brotherly Love” [coined by William Penn combining two Greek words; love (phileo) and brother (adelphos)] is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After New York City, it is the second-largest city in both the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast megalopolis.
One of the most historically significant cities, Philadelphia also served as the nation’s capital until 1800. Based on the 2020 census, Philadelphia was ranked the sixth-largest city. It is also one of the seventh-largest metropolitan areas in the US. Philadelphia is renowned for its significant historical contribution to America, notably the American Revolution, along with its contemporary influence on business, culture, industry, sports and music. It is also a city where the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were drafted.
1. The City of Brotherly Love
The “City of Brotherly Love”, a fusion of cuisine, art, film, and history has been enticing travelers for decades. It welcomes over 40 million eager visitors each year who are all longing to indulge themselves in Philly’s unique culture. The city offers plenty of entertainment and thrills, from the famous Liberty Bell to the renowned Rocky Steps, to the hopping South Street nightlife and ardent sports culture.
Philadelphia thrives in its strong link to the past, stretching all the way back to the time of the founding fathers, and is home to numerous National Heritage Sites and Landmarks. It is a vibrant city that comes alive during the day with its great dining establishments, fascinating museums, and zoos, and comes alive at night with its glittering parks, eateries, and markets.
2. Something for Everyone
Wherever you are, you’ll find a thrilling new experience awaiting you around every corner in unique passageways surrounded by beautiful surroundings and well-preserved artifacts from the past.
There are enough things to do in Philadelphia to persuade you to return time and time again, such as discovering the city’s extensive history, unwinding in the parks, eating your way through the neighborhoods, and visiting world-class museums.
Therefore compiled below are list of things to do in Philadelphia.
3. 10 Things to Do in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is home to the vibrant Rittenhouse Square Park and the gorgeous Fairmount Park. The eccentric Mutter Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which houses a magnificent collection of impressionist artwork, are noteworthy museums. Consider taking a guided tour if you only have a limited amount of time in the “City of Brotherly Love” and wish to see all the main sights.
Cited below are 10 of the best tourist attractions and eccentric things to do in Philadelphia.
3.1 Turn the Pages of History While Visiting the Philadelphia Museums
If you are a head-over-heels lover of history, whether its historic buildings and architecture or houses offering you grand and mind-boggling historical facts and figures then Philadelphia museums might be your safe haven. Ranging from the renowned Philadelphia museum of art to the well-known Barnes Foundation which houses famous artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh and everything in between, you will have it all while visiting the Philadelphia Museum.
3.1.1 Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
Location: 101 S Independence Mall E
Founded in 1976, Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History encourages individuals from every walk of life to appreciate the richness of the Jewish experience and helps Jews stay connected to their ancestry.
Housing more than 30,000 artifacts, the museum reflects immigrant, religious, laborious, social, and familial life.
The “Only in America” display located on the first floor of the of the museum highlights achievements of 18 prominent Jewish Americans along with the decisions, obstacles, and possibilities that Jewish Americans faced as they pursued great success.
The remaining three additional floors of Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History present Jewish history dating back to 1654.
3.1.2 Philadelphia Museum of Art
Location: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Known as Philadelphia’s “cultural center” Philadelphia Museum of Art allows you to immerse yourself in American, Asian, and European art.
With over 240,000 exhibits, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a historical site that showcases some of the oldest and most profound works of art in the city, including pieces from the ancient world, medieval times, the Renaissance, the Impressionist movement, and collections of modern-day objects.
As you explore various historical periods you’ll be able to witness works of famous artists like Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso.
In the Philadelphia Museum of Art one will also witness structures from across the world among which are a 16th-century Indian temple hall, a 17th-century Chinese palace hall, and a 16th-century Japanese tea house.
Fashioned after the temples of the ancient Greeks, visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is going to be one of the things to do in Philadelphia.
3.1.3 Museum of American Revolution
Location: 101 S 3rd St
Opened to the public on April 19, 2017, The “Museum of the American Revolution” provides an original look at the occasions and personalities that contributed to America’s birth along with its continuous struggle for liberty, equality, and self-governance.
The museum also presents an in-depth perspective on one of the nation’s most significant periods.
The museum provides visitors with a narrative journey of how America came to be, starting with the conflict’s origins in the 1760s and culminating with the war’s last years. The historical events are visualized through thousands of artifacts, weapons, and original documents.
The most stunning artifact in the museum George Washington’s original headquarters tent is displayed in a special theater.
Visitors may access a wealth of artwork, relics, and interactive displays to learn about the Boston Tea Party, important battles, the historical drafting of the Constitution, and more.
3.1.4 Franklin Institute
Location: 222 N 20th St.
One of the finest science institutions in the nation, the “Franklin Institute” is a significant educational and cultural hub for Philadelphia.
One can learn everything from physics to astronomy with the aid of interactive displays.
You wouldn’t want to miss the SportsZone while you’re at the Franklin Institute, which uses simulators to illustrate the science behind activities like surfing and rock climbing.
You can also visit the “Fels Planetarium” where you can explore space all without even leaving the planet.
Also, you may enjoy a movie at the IMAX Theater or put your wits to the test in the museum’s escape rooms.
History Aficionados must take the opportunity to visit the “Benjamin Franklin National Monument”, which features a 30-ton statue of Franklin and a collection of his personal effects.
All in all, visiting the Franklin Institute would provide you with a wholesome experience in the field of science as well as culture native to Philadelphia.
3.1.5 Penn Museum
Location: 3260 South St
Over the Schuylkill River near Center City in University City you’ll find the “Penn Museum”.
Open since 1887, this finest anthropology and archeology museum- the Penn Museum displays artifacts from all over the world (including artifacts from ancient Egypt, Asia, Mesopotamia, the Americas, Greece, and Italy) offering an in-depth history spanning more than 10,000 years.
The museum traces the tales and accomplishments of humanity through a plethora of artifacts, such as stone tools, furniture, and unique artwork.
The main attraction however remains a spectacular 3000 years old Egyptian “Sphinx of Ramses II” that weighs 25,000 pounds.
Hence, doesn’t visiting this place make it all the more interesting?
3.2 Visit the Independence National Historical Park
Location: 143 S. 3rd Street
Established in 1948, the “Independence National Historical Park” covers more than 51-acres in downtown Philadelphia.
The Independence National Historical Park was designed to safeguard the historical sites linked to the birth of the American republic which serves as global symbols of freedom and democratic ideals.
The rich heritage from the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Federal eras of the United States of America is preserved and presented here in the Independence National Historical Park.
Independence National Historical Park features “Independence Hall”, where the Founding Fathers/city leaders signed the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum, which tells the story of America’s first Postmaster General.
Whilst in the Independence National Historical Park, one can take a stroll around Washington Square Park, go to the 18th-century rose and magnolia gardens, the Bishop White House, Dolley Todd House, and the Declaration House, and can marvel at the mind-boggling American architecture.
Therefore, the Independence National Historical Park becomes an iconic area for all history lovers and also makes it one of the most necessary things to do in Philadelphia.
3.3 Liberty Bell Center
Location: N 6th Street & Market Street
Opened in 1753, the “Liberty Bell Center“ is situated in Independence National Historical Park across the Independence Hall.
The Liberty Bell (2,080-pound)-previously known as the State House Bell; now housed in a giant glass gazebo, was formerly mounted atop the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall.
The Liberty Bell, although cracked, serves as an iconic emblem for the city and people of Philadelphia as well as a universally envisioned sign of independence.
The bell was used to commemorate significant historical events, the most prominent event being the Declaration of Independence’s first public reading.
The Liberty Bell Center imparts educational video presentations that describe the history of the bell.
Visit this historic site and read the bell’s iconic inscription which narrates a story from centuries ago.
3.4 Independence Hall
Location: 520 Chestnut St.
Located in Independence National Historical Park, this red-brick Georgian-style edifice is nothing but one of the phenomenal historic attractions, especially for history aficionados, which served as the sporadic meeting place for the Second Continental Congress from 1775 until 1783.
The “Independence Hall“, with its fascinating past dating back to 1776, commemorates the narrative of 56 brave men who came together at the Pennsylvania State House and opposed the King of England, creating the foundation of the current U.S. constitution.
Most significantly, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was debated, drafted and signed by the forefathers.
One can also explore the Assembly Room, where George Washington was chosen to lead the Continental Army.
The Great Essential Exhibit in the West Wing of the Independence Hall also showcases surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Articles of Confederation.
One can also visit “Washington Square Park” which is just a block away from the hall.
Therefore, visiting Independence Hall is one of the top things to do in Philadelphia.
3.5 Make a Stop at John F. Kennedy Plaza (LOVE Park)
Location: 1599 John F Kennedy Blvd
John F. Kennedy Plaza also known as “LOVE Park” is one of Philadelphia’s most iconic landmarks and a representation of the city.
The LOVE Park provides an unparalleled view along the “Benjamin Franklin Parkway“ toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This plaza designed by city architect Edmond Bacon, is where you’ll find the famous LOVE monument curated by Robert Indiana.
LOVE Park, in recent years, has unveiled new amenities, such as a water feature, a welcome center, and a green area which makes it all the more alluring.
There are markets, pop-ups, and many other events held here all year long, including the city Christmas market.
Hence, the LOVE Park is a must-see whether you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy photo or just want to rest your feet between attractions.
3.6 Visit the Spruce Street Harbor Park for a Romantic Getaway
Location: 301 S Christopher Columbus Blvd
Located in Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, this urban park known as the “Spruce Street Harbor Park” features a boardwalk along the Delaware River and a coastal ambiance.
Open during summer, Spruce Street Harbor Park is situated atop numerous floating barges featuring a bunch of spots to lounge and dine.
There are floating gardens and nets that allow you to hang out above the Delaware River in the park at Penn’s Landing’s Marina.
Spruce Street Harbor Park, therefore, is one of the most iconic Philadelphia sites to visit in the spring and summer and is excellent for date nights as it features vibrant hammocks, floating gardens, the Delaware River waterfront, and a wide variety of dining options.
3.7 Get Lost in the Reading Terminal Market
Location: 51 N 12th St.
Opened in 1893, the Reading Terminal Market is one of the largest and oldest public markets.
Reading Terminal Market is Philly’s top destination for locally produced flowers, linens, baked products, cheese, meat, seafood, sweet treats……the list never ends!
Located below the Reading Railroad’s 1891 railway station (a National Historic Landmark) in Center City Philadelphia, the Reading Terminal Market houses more than 80 different merchants.
All the connoisseurs of food could relish cuisine from all over the world, including Greek, Thai, Mexican, and Indian dishes whilst browsing the handmade crafts and jewelry.
Thus, it’s safe to say that The Reading Terminal Market has everything you require. So, wouldn’t you go and visit this haven for yourself?
3.8 Spend a Day at the Philadelphia Zoo
Location: 3400 W Girard Ave
Open since 1874, the “Philadelphia Zoo” situated on the west bank of the Schuylkill River, is renowned historically as the country’s first-ever zoo.
Nestled peacefully in a picturesque 42-acre Victorian park with tree-lined paths and formal landscaping and housing over 1,300 animals, there’s enough to keep you and your kids entertained throughout the day.
Big Cat Crossing, Gorilla Treeway, Treetop Trail, Great Ape Trail, and Meerkat Maze are among the five trails that make up Zoo360, a first-of-its-kind animal trail system that allows animals to move through suspended and ground-level mesh structures around the zoo.
One can visit the PECO Primate Reserve to see the gorillas and orangutans or visit the KeyBank Big Cat Falls to get up close and personal with lions, tigers, and jaguars.
In 2018, the zoo inaugurated two new exhibits titled “Penguin Point” and “Water is Life”, where visitors can observe otters, red pandas, and other animals.
Other notable attractions include Bear Country, the African Plains, and the Tortoise Trail.
Be sure to visit the Philadelphia Zoo the next time you plan a trip to Philadelphia.
3.9 Get a Glimpse of the Philadelphia City Hall
Location: 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd
With more than 14.5 acres of floor space, “City Hall“ is an architectural treasure both inside and out.
The City Hall is the largest municipal structure in the United States that features residential chambers for the major governing bodies.
Adorned atop the City Hall is the famous figure of Philadelphia’s founder William Penn, a 548-foot tower, which is the tallest masonry construction in the world without a steel frame. It was also the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987.
Whilst in the Philadelphia City Hall, one can witness some of the most opulent spaces in the city that includes the City Council Chamber, the Mayor’s Reception Room, the Conversation Hall, and the Supreme Court Room.
Intricate sculptures portraying the seasons, and continents, as well as allegorical characters, heads, and masks are embellished over the building’s facade.
Therefore, isn’t visiting this remarkable site going to be a treat for the eyes?
3.10 Get Enchanted by the Mosaics of the Magic Garden
Location: 1020 South St.
Open to the public since 2008, the Magic Garden which was created from old tiles, glass bottles, bicycle tires, and mirrors of all varying shapes, has been attracting and astounding visitors from around the globe.
The “South Street Renaissance”, an attempt to enhance the area, ushered about the creation of this hypnotic area of the city in the 1960s. The creator Isaiah Zagar has contributed to the aesthetic enhancement of Philadelphia’s South Street district by creating this facility.
This museum of mixed media art has two indoor galleries in addition to a two-story outdoor sculpture garden. Every single one of the hand-made tiles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, bottles, and items of folk art woven into the space is a representation of Isaiah Zagar’s life.
Shimmering with imagination, urban renewal, and a dash of craziness, Philadelphia’s Magic Garden is a must-see, especially for those who appreciate offbeat attractions.
Listed above are the top 10 intriguing things to do in Philadelphia, the memories of which you will always be reminded.
Apart from the given above one can also engage in other activities like seeing the street art at Mural Arts Philadelphia, the country’s largest public art program or admiring the monuments at Laurel Hill Cemetery or grabbing a bite or two at the Italian Market located at South Philly.
One can also explore the shopping arrays and have some of the best dining experiences or just take a leisurely stroll in this tree-filled park of the Rittenhouse Square that is the heart of the Center City. It also hosts numerous events throughout the year the most prominent one being the Rittenhouse Square Spring Festival which welcomes the new season with all the grandeur one can ever dream of.
Laden with food and shopping stalls along with the best live entertainment, this festival is always attended by hundreds and thousands every year. Therefore, be sure to pay a visit to this fascinating site as you might just have the time of your life.
Or if you are a connoisseur of food, especially of pizza then you ought to go to the “Pizza Brain Museum”, where while waiting for a slice of your favorite pizza you might just take a casual stroll around this museum to learn about the historical creation of this seasoned bread which apparently has taken over almost all the restaurants and cafés all around the globe.
Or you might just drown yourself in the city’s rich performing arts activities or marvel at the melodious Philadelphia orchestra or just wander around this beauty of a place admiring the historic buildings such as the Christ Church, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul, Masonic Temple, or visit the famous Shofuso Japanese House which offers a sense of serenity both indoors as well as the outdoor and last but not the least, you might just witness the most beautiful sunset from the Philadelphia city skyline.