Welcome to the “City of Brotherly Love”—the glorious Philadelphia. Often called the “Birthplace of America,” Philadelphia holds stature as one the most historic cities in the United States. Besides being the location where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed and the place where the city’s most famous resident, Benjamin Franklin, called home—Philadelphia is a representation of freedom and originality. Known for its arts and culture and for more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city—Philadelphia is not just the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania, but a visual paradigm that is appealing to the both the businessman and the artist.
Whether one wants to pound the urban concrete of the South Street strip and put their hard earned money to good use, or just wants to wrap their hands around the infamous “Philly Cheese Steak” and dig in—Philadelphia greets you with open arms and beckons you to make yourself right at home. Save 44% by getting a combination pass to 5 popular attractions with the Philadelphia CityPASS. Philadelphia is conveniently located just under a 2 hour drive from NYC (94 miles), a 2 hour drive from Baltimore (100 miles), a 3 hour drive from Washington, DC (138 miles), and an hour and 13 minutes from Atlantic City (60 miles).
Top 14 Attractions
1. The Liberty Bell is the pentacle of American history. With an inscription that conveys a message of liberty that goes beyond the meaning of the words themselves, this iconic symbol continues to represent the sentiment of freedom for the American people. Crafted in 1753 by local craftsmen John Pass and John Stow, this emblem weighs in at about 2000 pounds and is made from 70% copper. After many trips and evolutions, the bell made its final journey from around the world and came home to Philadelphia in 1915. The Liberty Bell Center is located on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets and is open year around. Tickets are not required to visit at any time. Open daily from 9am to 5pm.
2. Independence Hall echoes the expression “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”. This building is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and the one the most recognizable historical landmarks in the entire nation. The hall is the highlight of 45- acre Independence National Historic Park and houses 20 buildings of historical significance. This place is the Holy Grail for history buffs or for those that just want to show a little American patriotism. Tickets are free from March to December (limited time).
3. Philadelphia Museum of Art – As one of the largest museums in the United States, this 1920s architectural masterpiece stimulates your visual senses before you even walk through the door. Located at the top on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, visitors can expect an impressive view of the Schuylkill River. This ancient Greece inspired structure is arranged historically and highlights paintings mixed in with period rooms and embellished art. Feast your eyes upon the collection of pieces ranging from Jerry Pinkney to the All Dressed Up fashion exhibition. Whether you’re searching for a moment of reflection or you want to explore a new collection, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a place that offers you both peace of mind and artistic history lessons. Admission is $20 for adults and $14 for children.
4. Sesame Place – Anyone with kids will want to be sure to make the 30-minute drive out to Langhorne, PA (it’s 90 minutes from NYC) to visit Sesame Place, which is a theme park owned by SeaWorld. With more than 60 physical play stations and water rides, the kiddos will never reach the state of boredom here at the nation’s only theme park based on the Sesame Street TV show. It’s recommended for any family with 3- to 15-year-olds, as older teens will find it a little too cheezy and won’t appreciate the lack of mega-thrill rides. Climb through three stories of sloping, swaying fun on the Nets and Climbs, splashing in the water, and enjoy the daily interactive musical parade starring Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie, and the rest of the gang. Count’s Splash Castle is a fun multilevel interactive water-play attraction, features 90 play elements. The popular Elmo’s World features three fun rides and up-close dining with one of your child’s favorite characters. Bring swimsuits for 10 age-safe water rides including Sky Splash, the six-story water adventure; Rubber Duckie Pond; Slimey’s Chutes; and Big Bird’s Rambling River. Older kids will love Vapor Trail, the park’s roller coaster. All of the best-loved Sesame Street characters perform in shows at Big Bird Theater and are available for photo opportunities at 1-2-3 Smile with Me. Admission is $53.
5. Arden Theatre of Art had a mission of creating an environment where the intriguing stories of great storytellers could be brought to life on stage and shared with the community, and thus far—this mission has followed through. The Arden Theatre of Art began its journey of storytelling in 1988 through founders Terrence J. Nolen, Amy Murphy and Aaron Posner. Productions were set in motion at this 70-seat Walnut Street Theatre Studio and instantly became an anticipated addition the Philadelphia Theatre community. Audiences can expect a variety of styles—from classic and contemporary to fiction and nonfiction—and can even sign their children up for one the educational programs to peek their curiosity and creativity. Considered a gem to locals, Arden Theatre has earned its reputation of being the masters of its craft. General admission ranges from $36-$48 for adults and $16-$20 for children.
6. Eastern State Penitentiary takes visitors off the beaten path and onto an historic site that was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. This massive structure opened in 1829 and unlike the prison system today—it was created for the purpose of genuinely rehabilitating and inspiring true regret in the hearts of convicts. Although Eastern State was reveled for its extraordinary architecture and fierce discipline, it now stands in deterioration—a haunted coven of decaying cellblocks and vacant guard towers. Visitors can tour the cells of infamous inmates Al Capone, Victor “Babe” Andreoli, or Freda Frost—whom was the last the female inmates until 1923. General admission is $14 for adults and $10 for children.
7. Citizens Bank Park truly embraces the phrase “Take me out to the ball game”. For 33 years, Citizens Bank Park has been making authentic history through the capturing of a World Series championship title, five consecutive NL East Titles, and innumerable records that have been broken on and off the field. Home to the Phillies, this ball park doesn’t strike out when it comes to remarkable views of the Philadelphia skyline and open-air concourses that offer visitors a continuous, nonstop view of the field—giving them the
option to enjoy the game from their seat, suite, or a club lounge. Kids can also make a time of it through various activities offered specifically for their enjoyment like Phanatic Attic, which features an 8-foot fiberglass clubhouse, or Sunday Starting Line—which randomly selects kids 14 and under,who are wearing Phillies colors, to stand on the field with the nine Phillies starters during the National Anthem. Come be a part of the crowd and cheer on the Phillies at this long standing stadium. The competitive energy is sure to be contagious! Season schedule and seating chart can be viewed online, as well as ticket purchases.
8. Kimmel Center for Performing Arts took form in 1996 when the Philadelphia Orchestra had an idea build a new venue for itself and then-Mayor Edward G. Rendell wanted to provide an environment where people could experience the most prominent performing arts companies and touring presentations. Dedication and sheer brilliance made these two ideas a reality, and is now providing a state-of-the-art facility, world-class performances, art education, and artistic programming of the highest quality to the community. Get carried away by the whimsical notes of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, or see stand-up comedian, Anthony Jeselnik, live and laugh till it hurts. Visitors can also experience the Kimmel Center’s themed tours which include the history of the Kimmel Center, architectural and construction highlights, and visits to Commonwealth Plaza, Perelman Theater, Verizon Hall, Merck Arts Education Center and the Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden. Tours are led by knowledgeable volunteer guides and are free of charge. Kimmel provides a variety of free shows, and tickets can be purchased onsite and online.
9. Morris Arboretum truly magnifies the beauty of nature and brings out Philadelphia’s more gentle and introspective side. 92-acres of lush gardens—bursting with an extravagant color palette—are what make the Arboretum a visual delight for nature lovers. Locals and visitors alike come to frolic around the grounds of this paradise-like wonderland and observe every detail of their favorite garden space, and an array of unique sculptures. If the 12,000 labeled plants, trees, and flowers aren’t enough to exercise your brain, sign up for one of the 100 classes, educational tours, and lectures offered and see Mother Nature from a whole new perspective by the end of your visit. Open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults and $7 for children.
10. Longwood Gardens – Located about an hours drive outside of Philadelphia, this 1,077 acre garden is best known for it’s gorgeous 4.5-acre conservatory, which is the largest conservatory in the country. They also take a special interest in plant exploration, research and environmental stewardship, with projects including a 10-acre solar field. Take note of their special 10,010 organ that is often played by their organist-in-residence, as it can be heard throughout the massive conservatory. Be sure not to miss the conservatory’s orchid collection of more than 9,000 plants. Philadelphia happens to be home to over 30 other regional public gardens, therefore the area has been given the title of “Garden Capital of the U.S. We consider it to be the 4th best botanical garden in all of America. Admission is $18 for adults and $8 for children.
11. Please Touch Museum – With exhibitions are 100% hands-on, this museum is every child’s fantasy. Everything is made to be jumped upon, entered in, bent, splashed, ridden, and otherwise played with. It’s located in the historic Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park and grand total of $88 million went into the restoration of this grand structure. Kids will enjoy potentially getting soaked while playing with plastic boats floating around waist-high pools in the River Adventures, climbing into a mini-SEPTA bus, fake shopping at a low-shelved supermarket, or play-working on a construction zone. We rank it at #5 on our list of the 10 Best Children’s Museums In America. Admission is $16 for both children and adults.
12. Mutter Museum – Since first opening in 1858, this museum–dubbed as “America’s finest museum of medical history”–contains oddities, anatomical and pathological specimen, wax models, and strange equipment. Famous exhibits include the Hyrtl Skull collection, a skeleton belonging to a 7’6″ giant man, and the brain of the guy who assassinated President Garfield. See jars filled with floating creatures that are supposed to be human but look more alien, alongside photos of victims of the most unusual and unpleasant diseases and deformities. Also view the nine-foot-long human colon which was packed with over 40 pounds of fecal matter when it was removed from its owner. It’s ranked #4 on our list of the 27 Coolest Museums In America! Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children, and $13 for seniors.
13. The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a great place to get acquainted with the Japanese culture inside West Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This particular garden is nationally-ranked and acts as both a historic site of Japanese influence in the US and also as a live museum for those who wish to see traditional Japanese architecture in America. Shofuso was actually built in Japan during the 1950s using original materials and techniques of a 17th Century architect. It was brought to The Museum of Modern Art in New York City to be displayed in the courtyard. Eventually, Shofuso found its way to Philadelphia in 1958 where it remains today—a tribute to Japanese cultural influence. It now holds the site of previous Japanese-style structures and an even earlier Japanese Garden that has occupied this part of the park since the 1876 Centennial Exposition. We rank it at #2 on our list of the 15 Best Japanese gardens In America. Now visitors can view the koi pond, stroll about the courtyard and relax in the tea garden at $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, students and children.
14. Consider visiting Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor and Outdoor Water Park. It’s located just about 30 minutes outside the heart of the city. Single day admission to the park is about $20-$30 per person (buy your tickets from their website to save)!
Philadelphia is home to some of the most unique and delicious culinary delights, and no trip is complete until you bite into Philly’s infamous cheesesteak—a greasy mass of grilled shaved beef and cheese on a fresh roll that is undeniably yummy.
Vetri – Named by Zagat as one of the top 40 restaurants in the US. Alan Richman, a popular food writer for GQ Magazine, considers it to probably be the best Italian restaurant in America. Popular review sites give it 4.7 out of 5 stars. Food Channel chef Michael Symon considers Vetri to be the best restaurant in America, mainly for it’s “unreal food, incredibly charming & perfect unpretentious service.” The owner/chef was classically trained in Northern Italy and his dishes range from antelope Fiorentina or baby goat to classic pasta and seafood. They feature a $155 nightly prix fixe.
Pat’s King of Steaks – Birthplace of the illustrious Philly Cheesesteak. Located in the heart of South Philly.
Yards Brewing Company – The city’s smallest full-scale brewing company. Great place to meet friends for a night of cheap beers and a bowl of bison chili.
Philadelphia Chocolate Tours – Provides public and private guided walking and tasting tours of unique Philadelphia chocolate shops and cafes. Let you taste buds savor the forbidden flavor of some of most delectable chocolates while looking at some great scenery!
Copabanana – Located in the heart of Copabanana University City, this campus eatery serves the best of margaritas, gourmet burgers, and Spanish fries at prices geared especially towards the student and tourist budget.
Talulas Garden – Organic delights and combinations rarely found in such an edible way. Not only is the food beautifully presented, but the décor is visually stimulating as well!
Victor Cafe – Dating back to 1918, this refined Italian eatery features signing waiters and waitresses who sing Opera to their diners, offering a refreshing mixup from the traditional dining experience. It is considered one of the best restaurants in all of Philadelphia and it is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.
City Tavern – This historical restaurant features costumed waitstaff in an environment that harkens back to the 1700s. This tavern hosted the first July 4th celebration back in 1773. Paul Revere stopped here on his midnight ride. It was called the “most genteel tavern in America” by John Adams and it was the favorite meeting place of many of the Founding Fathers and of many members of the First Continental Congress. It was partially destroyed by fire on March 22, 1834 and the structure was demolished in 1854, but the entire building was reconstructed in the 1970s and re-opened in 1976 for the Bicentennial as a functioning tavern and restaurant.
Vedge – Husband-and-wife chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby prefer it that way, eschewing vegan stereotypes to call their celebrated 2011 opening a “vegetable restaurant” instead. A veggie charcuterie bar features a variety of house-made pickles, while Landau (who grew up a carnivore) imparts meaty satisfaction to entrées like smoked eggplant braciole. Try the Grilled Seitan for $16, featuring swiss chard, whipped tahini, pickled turnips, and za’atar! It’s featured on our list of America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants.
Hard Rock Cafe – In the city where freedom rings, you’re free to rock at the Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia! Located in the historic Reading terminal train station, this popular downtown nightspot is just blocks away from the birthplace of America: Independence Hall. Take in the sights, shop nearby at the largest urban enclosed mall, then celebrate your independence and this great nation where rock ‘n’ roll was born.
(4 Star) Silverstone Bed & Breakfast: (Avg. $90-$155 per night) Striking Victorian Gothic structure located in historic Chestnut Hill. Visitors flock to the cobblestone streets for the choice of antiques, art galleries and many restaurants. A peaceful getaway and a touch of old-fashioned luxury. Complimentary breakfast.
(4 Star) Hampton Inn Philadelphia Convention Center: (Rates vary, but expect spend about $109 per night) Located right in the heart of Philadelphia and within walking distance of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Museum of American Art. Variety of recreational activities, including an indoor pool, a spa tub, and a fitness facility. A complimentary hot/cold buffet breakfast is included.
(4 Star) Hotel Palomar Philadelphia-A Kimton Hotel: (Avg. from $169 per night) Luxury hotel located in the historic Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. A boutique hotel with eco-friendly design and genuine hospitality. Business Center, Fitness Center, and Free High-Speed Internet. Center of the city near shopping, dining, and culture.
(4 Star) Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia: (Avg. $135 per night) Classy hotel in Downtown, Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center, Independence Hall & Philadelphia Zoo are just steps away. Free internet access and outdoor swimming pool open in the summer months.
(4 Star) Loews Philadelphia Hotel: (Avg. $199 per night) Located in the first skyscraper ever built in the City of Brotherly Love. Hip, upscale environment with an exquisite culinary experience. Spectacular Philadelphia skyline view and a variety of amenities—from Spa services to a full service hair salon.
Philly is home to the King of Prussia Mall, which was built in 1963 and is the largest mall in the country in terms of leasable retail space, featuring over 400 stores including places as luxurious as Neiman Marcus to more affordable options like Sears. When ranked by attendance, it comes in at #2 on our list of America’s Largest Malls. This mall lets you get a quick bit to eat in at a selection of three enormous food courts or you can dine at places like Seasons 52, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Morton’s Steakhouse or the Cheesecake Factory. Also head to Chestnut Hill in search of some antique treasures or get a taste of the indie-rock scene on South Street—there are plenty of local shops and national chains to meet your shopping needs. Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (City Center East) 215 922 2317. Flea/Street Market. Farmers sell produce and a variety of other products that can be eaten on the spot. South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (City Center East). Philadelphia’s liveliest and funkiest strip. This street has more than 300 stores and restaurants—from tattoo shops to adult boutiques. http://southstreet.com/. Antique Row, Pine Street, Washington Square West …. 12th – 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (University City). Anyone who is a lover of something old, something new—Antique Row is the perfect destination. This eclectic area is home to a variety of vintage clothing shops and art stores that sell handmade jewelry and home designs. Rittenhouse Square,18th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (City Center West) 215-636-1666. Philadelphia’s Center City’s posh park sets quite a scene for upscale consumption. Great area to browse shops or take a walk in the park.
Philadelphia offers a pretty extensive list of travel options for jet setters—including bicycling, The Phlash Bus, and public transportation to get around the city if you are on a budget. Philly is considered one the best walking cities in the country and even has colorful signs to navigate you throughout Center City.
By plane: Philadelphia International Airport, Newark International Airport, and Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
Public Transit: Public transit in Philadelphia is provided by SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). Bus, subway and trolley fares are $2 per ride in cash, or you can buy tokens in packs of 2, 5, or 10 for $1.55 per token. Tokens can be purchased from clerks in booths in some EL and Subway stations or from machines (note that not every station sells tokens).
Taxis: Taxis are readily accessible throughout the city, and you can hail a cab on the street. Fares are comparable to those in other large American cities. For more information: http://www.philly-taxi.com/fares.htm Hop On, Hop Off Tours: Philadelphia also offers its tourists hop on-hop off trolley and double-decker bus tours which are very popular, and provide interesting commentaries along the way.
Hershey Park – Right under two hours away, you will find the incredible Hershey Park theme park in Hershey, PA. They have 11 thrilling roller coasters and over 65 rides, including 9 fun water rides at The Boardwalk At Hersheypark (bring a bathing suit), and attractions – including over 20 kiddie rides.
You may also want to stay overnight at one of their official resorts. Staying on property allows you to get the best price on Hersheypark tickets, 1-hour early access to select Hersheypark rides & attractions, Admission to Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story’s Museum Experience, an additional hour of Hersheypark Preview time, Memorial Day – Labor Day, with your ticket for the next day and much more. Their two more luxurious lodging options include The Hotel Hershey and The Hershey Lodge and those on more of a budget will want to stay at the Hersheypark Camping Resort.