The Ultimate Guide To Philadelphia
Philadelphia, one of the most historically significant cities in the US!
Philadelphia, an amalgam of rich history, several cultures, eclectic neighborhoods, world-class scenes of arts, a multitude of museums, and various modern-day recreational opportunities!
Philadelphia, the capital of the Nation before Washington D.C., played a significant role during the American Revolution. The city has witnessed several key events during the Revolution War, including a couple of key battles and pivotal meetings that laid the foundation of the United States. Philadelphia is where the Founding Fathers of the US signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the US Constitution in 1787. The city of Philadelphia is home to some of the most significant historical sites in the US and is the Nation’s first World Heritage City!
The industrial growth in Philadelphia attracted several immigrants from all over the globe, making it one of the most populous and culturally diverse cities in the US! Philadelphia continues to flourish as a cosmopolitan city with a unique blend of rich historical sites, distinct neighborhoods, museums, bustling downtown with several skyscrapers, and several modern-day recreational activities. Philadelphia’s cultural and ethnic diversity is also very prominent in the eclectic culinary experiences offered in the city!
Step back in time & learn about America’s history, marvel at fabulous artworks, and experience modern-day Philadelphia using one of many guided tour options in the city!
Located in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia has several nicknames, including Philly, The Birthplace of America, The City of Brotherly Love, The Cradle of Liberty, and a few more! No matter what you call the city, a trip to Philadelphia is very enriching and enlightening as it lets you step back in time and tells the tale of the making of America! The city’s historical heritage, museums, artworks, and food scenes are globally acclaimed, and it’s one of the most sorted after city destinations in the US!
Here is my ultimate guide to Philadelphia, featuring essential trip-planning information, major Philadelphia attractions, Philadelphia attractions map, tours, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in Philadelphia!
Planning Your Trip To Philadelphia
Avoid winter months, directly fly into Philadelphia international airport, and stay close to the Center City to get the most out of your trip to Philadelphia!
Best Time To Visit Philadelphia: Summer with warm temperatures is ideal for visiting Philadelphia, but it’s also the busiest season in Philadelphia and often packed with tourists. If you don’t mind slightly cooler temperatures, spring and fall are a great choice to beat the crowds at Philadelphia. Winters can get really cold and snowy, and it’s not the best time for sightseeing and outdoor activities in Philadelphia.
Time Required At Philadelphia: With the several things to do in Philadelphia, I recommend spending a minimum of two days to see the city’s major highlights, including the several historic sites, a few museums, and famous landmarks. However, if you have more time, you could spend an entire week exploring every museum and neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Getting To Philadelphia: The best and most comfortable way to get to Philadelphia is by flying into Philadelphia International Airport, located very close to Center City, downtown Philadelphia. Alternatively, you could also take an Amtrak train or a Greyhound bus to Philadelphia.
- Flight: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles from Center City, is the closest major international airport to Philadelphia and is serviced by several airlines. The next best option is to fly into Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey, located approximately 50 miles from Philadelphia.
- Train: The Philadelphia Amtrak train station located inside the 30th Street Station, pretty close to Center City in downtown Philadelphia, is serviced by several Amtrak train services connecting Philadelphia to other parts of the Nation.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Philadelphia, with the closest Greyhound bus stop located in Filbert St, right next to Center City, Philadelphia.
Parking & Transportation In Philadelphia: Though most hotels and attractions in Philadelphia offer paid parking, you really don’t need to rent a car if you’re flying into Philadelphia and are staying close to the Center City. Most of the attractions in Philadelphia are located in Center City and Old City, where finding parking can be a big hassle, especially during the peak season. I highly recommend using a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or the Philly PHLASH, a tourist-friendly downtown bus service.
Tours & Multi-Attraction Passes In Philadelphia: If you’re visiting Philadelphia or any other city in the US for the first time, I highly recommend using a hop-on-hop-off tour service and buying a discounted multi-attraction pass from CityPASS or Go City. There’re a couple of local tour companies that offer guided hop-on-hop-off bus tours in Philadelphia – Big Bus Tours and City Sightseeing Tours.
Lodging & Dining In Philadelphia: Philadelphia has several lodging options ranging from luxury boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts located close to Center City, offering easy access to several attractions. The dining options in Philadelphia can be overwhelming, with several different cuisines and restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual dining. I have reviewed the lodging and dining options in Philadelphia in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In Philadelphia
Philadelphia Attractions Map
Most of the attractions in Philadelphia are located in City Center and Old City, with some being within walking distance and others accessible via cabs and tour busses. So you don’t need to rent a car if you’re planning to stay within the city. Even if you’re renting a car, you could park at one of the public or private parking lots in downtown Philadelphia and walk to the attractions, or even better, use a hop-on-hop-off bus service to get to all the attractions.
Here’re the must-see places in Philadelphia, listed south to north!
The Independence Hall, a historic building located in the Independence National Historical Park, is where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. The historic site is open to the public via guided tours, but only limited visitors are allowed each day. You must either arrive early or by booking tickets online at NPS Website.
The Liberty Bell, once hung in the Independence Hall / State House, is an iconic national historical artifact that was rung to mark the reading of the US Declaration of Independence. The Liberty Bell is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center in the Independence National Historical Park, which is open daily 9 AM – 5 PM and is wheelchair friendly.
Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is the birthplace of the American Flag and residence of Betsy Ross, a seamstress and a flag-maker who sewed the first American Flag. The Betsy Ross House is located in Old City, a mile northeast of Independence Hall, and offers tours of this historic house.
Philadelphia City Hall
The Philadelphia City Hall, located in the heart of the city, is the seat of the city’s municipal government and also the Nation’s largest municipal building and the world’s largest free-standing masonry structure without a steel frame. On the top of the building’s tower is a statue of William Penn and an observation deck that can be accessed via guided tours.
LOVE Park, located in Center City, is a public park with open green spaces, walkways, benches, food trucks, shops, and hosts several concerts & events. Love Park is actually the John F. Kennedy Plaza, but popularly known as LOVE Park for its iconic Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture.
One Liberty Observation Deck
One Liberty Observation Deck
The One Liberty Observation Deck, an observation deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place, one of the skyscrapers of Philadelphia, features spectacular panoramic views of the city. The One Liberty Place is a huge complex housing a two-story shopping mall, the Westin Hotel, office spaces, and the observation deck.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the world’s most sophisticated and expensive prisons of the 1820s, was in use until 1971 and housed several notorious criminals and gangsters, including Al Capone. The prison is now open to the public as a museum and features several tours that reflect on the prison life of the inmates and lets you explore different sections of the penitentiary.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, built in the year 1876 for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, features one of the largest collections of artworks and paintings in the US. The museum is home to some of the world’s finest artworks displayed in its several galleries and sculpture garden and also offers self-guided audio tours.
The Philadelphia Zoo, located on the banks of Schuylkill River, about 4 miles northwest of Center City, is the first zoo in the US! The Philadelphia Zoo features several animals from all over the globe, several shows, guided tours, kid-friendly rides, and numerous eateries, and is a fun place for all age groups!
Please Touch Museum
Please Touch Museum
The Please Touch Museum, just a mile from the Philadelphia Zoo in the Centennial District, is a children’s museum featuring a multitude of interactive life-size exhibits, including Please Touch Garden, Natures Pons, River Adventures, a Carousel, and several others. The Please Touch Museum offers a unique experience and a must-do for families with kids.
Lodging & Dining In Philadelphia
I recommend staying close to Center City or Old City for easy access to several attractions and an authentic Philadelphia experience!
Hotels In Philadelphia: Staying downtown Philadelphia, close to Center City or Old City, gives you easy access to several attractions and the liberty to enjoy the nightlife in Philadelphia without having to drive back to your hotel. There’re several hotels in Philadelphia, ranging from boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts. Here’re are my top picks for hotels in Philadelphia
- The Ritz-Carlton: Located in Center City, close to the Philadelphia City Hall, The Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel featuring elegant suites and rooms with excellent dining and guest services.
- The Notary Hotel: Ultimate luxury in a restored building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Notary Hotel in Center City, Philadelphia, is one of the best places to stay when visiting the city.
- The Bellevue Hotel: The Bellevue Hotel by Hyatt is another historic structure featuring luxurious rooms, an elegant lobby, extraordinary guest services, and access to several downtown attractions.
- Canopy by Hilton: Also located in Center City, Canopy by Hilton features contemporary decor, excellent guest service, and access to several downtown attractions.
- The Westin Philadelphia: Located in One Liberty Place, a skyscraper in Center City, The Westin Philadelphia is directly connected to The Shops at Liberty Place and offers easy access to several downtown attractions.
Restaurants In Philadelphia: There’re endless dining options in Philadelphia, ranging from fine dining to local eateries serving various cuisines. There’re so many eateries in every street, especially in Center City and Old City, it’s impossible to try them all or pick one over the other. However, here’re a few dishes and joints you must try when in Philadelphia – Cheesesteak at Jim’s South St. or Sonny’s Famous Steaks, Scrapple / Pan Rabbit in Reading Terminal Market, Water Ice / Italian Ice at John’s Water Ice or The Franklin Fountain, and soft pretzel in Center City Pretzel Company.
Other Pennsylvania Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Philadelphia, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Philadelphia. You can find other Pennsylvania attractions in my Pennsylvania Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
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