Top 25 Things To Do in Philadelphia

From revolutionary history to cutting-edge art, cheesesteaks to haute cuisine, this vibrant city offers an unmatched blend of past and present.

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, is a city where every cobblestone tells a story. As you wander through its historic streets, you'll find yourself transported through time, from the hallowed halls where the Founding Fathers debated independence to the vibrant murals that showcase the city's modern artistic spirit. But Philly isn't just about looking back—it's a forward-thinking metropolis where cutting-edge museums rub shoulders with centuries-old landmarks, and where culinary traditions are both honored and reinvented daily.

Begin your journey in the heart of Old City, where the echoes of the American Revolution still resonate through the centuries-old buildings. Then, let your taste buds lead you on a culinary adventure, from the iconic cheesesteaks of South Philly to the gourmet delights of Rittenhouse Square. As you explore, you'll discover a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor and character. From the bohemian vibe of Fishtown to the scholarly atmosphere of University City, Philadelphia is a patchwork quilt of experiences waiting to be unraveled.

Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or simply someone who loves to soak in the energy of a great American city, Philadelphia has something special in store for you. So lace up your walking shoes, bring your appetite (for both food and knowledge), and get ready to fall in love with the City of Brotherly Love.

Step Back in Time at Independence Hall

Tourists gathering outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, iconic birthplace of American democracy
Standing where the Founding Fathers debated independence. The history here is palpable!

Prepare to be awestruck as you enter the birthplace of American democracy. Independence Hall isn't just a building; it's a living piece of history where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and signed. As you walk through the Assembly Room, you can almost hear the impassioned voices of Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams echoing off the walls. The guided tour brings the past to life, with knowledgeable rangers sharing fascinating tales of the nation's founders. Don't miss the chance to see the original "rising sun" chair where George Washington sat during the Constitutional Convention—it's a powerful symbol of the Republic's birth.

  • Location: 520 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • Hours: Open daily 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Free (timed tickets required March-December)

Why Visit: Stand in the exact spot where the United States was born and feel the weight of history around you.

Insider Tip: Book your free tickets online in advance, especially during peak summer months, to guarantee entry at your preferred time.

Embrace Freedom at the Liberty Bell Center

Close-up of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, showing its famous crack and historical significance
Finally saw the Liberty Bell up close. That crack is way bigger than I expected!

No visit to Philadelphia is complete without laying eyes on its most iconic symbol of freedom. The Liberty Bell, with its famous crack, has become a powerful emblem of American independence. As you approach the glass chamber housing this 2,080-pound piece of history, take a moment to reflect on its journey and the many causes it has come to represent. The center offers a wealth of exhibits that tell the bell's story, from its creation to its role in the abolitionist movement and beyond. The bell's inscription, "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof," continues to inspire visitors from around the world.

  • Location: 526 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • Hours: Open daily 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Witness one of America's most enduring symbols of liberty and learn about its impact on civil rights movements throughout history.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the largest crowds and get a more intimate experience with this powerful symbol.

Savor the Flavors at Reading Terminal Market

Bustling food stalls in Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia's historic indoor farmer's market
Sensory overload at Reading Terminal Market! So many amazing smells and flavors to try.

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure at one of America's largest and oldest public markets. Reading Terminal Market is a food lover's paradise, offering an intoxicating mix of aromas, flavors, and local specialties. Wander through the bustling aisles and you'll find everything from Pennsylvania Dutch apple dumplings to authentic Philly cheesesteaks. Don't miss the chance to try a whoopie pie or dig into a roast pork sandwich from DiNic's, once named the best sandwich in America. The market is also a great place to pick up local produce, artisanal cheeses, and unique food souvenirs to take home.

  • Location: 51 N 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Hours: Open daily 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Admission: Free (pay for what you eat)

Why Visit: Experience the heart of Philadelphia's food scene and indulge in a diverse array of local and international cuisines all under one roof.

Insider Tip: Come hungry and visit on a weekday if possible to avoid the weekend crowds. Be sure to try the famous Beiler's Donuts—they're worth the wait!

Run the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Visitors running up the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, recreating the famous movie scene
Couldn't resist doing the Rocky run! Those steps are tougher than they look in the movie.

Channel your inner Rocky Balboa as you sprint up the 72 stone steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This iconic staircase, immortalized in the "Rocky" films, offers a fun photo op and a quick cardio burst. Once you've caught your breath, step inside one of the country's largest art museums. From ancient Asian artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum's vast collection spans 2,000 years of human creativity. Don't miss the impressive Impressionist galleries, featuring works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir. The museum's East Terrace also offers one of the best panoramic views of the Philadelphia skyline.

  • Location: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
  • Hours: Thursday-Monday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Friday 10:00 AM - 8:45 PM
  • Admission: Adults $25, Seniors $23, Students and Youth (18 and under) Free

Why Visit: Combine pop culture, stunning art, and breathtaking city views in one unforgettable experience.

Insider Tip: Visit on the first Sunday of the month or every Friday night for pay-what-you-wish admission. And don't forget to snap a photo with the Rocky statue at the bottom of the steps!

Explore American History at the Museum of the American Revolution

Interactive Revolutionary War exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia
This place brings the American Revolution to life. The interactive exhibits are so well done!

Dive deep into the dramatic story of America's founding at this state-of-the-art museum. The Museum of the American Revolution brings the war for independence to life through immersive exhibits, powerful theater experiences, and a vast collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, documents, and works of art. Stand in awe before General Washington's original headquarters tent, a true national treasure. Interactive displays allow you to experience the harsh reality of life as a Revolutionary soldier, and thought-provoking exhibits challenge you to consider the perspectives of loyalists, women, and enslaved individuals during this tumultuous period.

  • Location: 101 S 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • Hours: Open daily 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $21, Youth (6-17) $13, Children (5 and under) Free

Why Visit: Gain a deeper understanding of the complex and inspiring story behind America's birth through engaging, interactive exhibits.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the panoramic theater experience "Revolution," which provides an excellent overview of the war's key events and sets the stage for your museum journey.

Wander Through the Magic Gardens

Vibrant mosaic art installations at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, showcasing unique urban creativity
Lost in a maze of mosaics at Magic Gardens. It's like stepping into a kaleidoscope!

Step into a kaleidoscopic wonderland at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, a one-of-a-kind art environment created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. This immersive space spans half a block, featuring indoor galleries and a sprawling outdoor labyrinth. Every surface is adorned with a mesmerizing mix of colorful tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, and folk art, creating a whimsical, ever-changing landscape. As you wander through the glittering pathways, you'll discover hidden nooks, unexpected sculptures, and thought-provoking phrases embedded in the mosaics. It's a place that sparks joy and creativity, inviting visitors of all ages to lose themselves in its intricate beauty.

  • Location: 1020 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $15, Students/Seniors $12, Children (6-12) $8

Why Visit: Experience a truly unique, visually stunning art installation that captures the creative spirit of Philadelphia.

Insider Tip: Book tickets online in advance, especially on weekends. Visit on a weekday afternoon for a quieter, more contemplative experience.

Indulge in a Philly Cheesesteak Showdown

Person holding a classic Philly cheesesteak sandwich outside Pat's King of Steaks in Philadelphia
First authentic Philly cheesesteak! The debate between Pat's and Geno's is real.

No trip to Philadelphia is complete without sinking your teeth into its most famous culinary creation—the Philly cheesesteak. But where to get the best one? That's a debate that's raged for decades. Head to South Philly for the ultimate taste test at the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, where rivals Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks face off 24/7. These two iconic shops have been slinging "wiz wit" (cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and onions) since the 1960s. Order from both and decide for yourself which reigns supreme. Remember, ordering like a local is key: specify your cheese choice and whether you want onions before anything else!

  • Location: Pat's - 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Geno's - 1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Price Range: $10-$15 per cheesesteak

Why Visit: Participate in a time-honored Philly tradition and settle the great cheesesteak debate for yourself.

Insider Tip: Avoid peak lunch and dinner hours for shorter lines. And don't overlook other great cheesesteak spots like Jim's on South Street or John's Roast Pork for equally delicious alternatives.

Stroll Through Historic Elfreth's Alley

Charming historic row houses on Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continuously inhabited residential street
Strolling down Elfreth's Alley feels like time travel. These houses have seen so much history!

Take a walk through time on Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continuously inhabited residential street. This charming cobblestone lane, dating back to 1702, offers a perfectly preserved glimpse into early American life. The 32 Federal and Georgian-style homes, with their brightly painted shutters and flower boxes, seem frozen in time. As you stroll down the narrow street, imagine the daily lives of the colonial artisans and tradespeople who once called this place home. Don't miss the chance to visit the Elfreth's Alley Museum, housed in a pair of 18th-century homes, which offers fascinating insights into the alley's 300-year history.

  • Location: 124-126 Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • Hours: Alley open 24/7, Museum hours vary by season
  • Admission: Alley free to walk, Museum adults $3, Children $2

Why Visit: Experience a living piece of American history and capture Instagram-worthy photos of this picturesque colonial street.

Insider Tip: Visit during one of the alley's special events, like "Fête Day" in June, when residents open their private homes to the public.

Discover Scientific Wonders at The Franklin Institute

Visitors exploring the giant walk-through heart exhibit at The Franklin Institute science museum in Philadelphia
Walking through a giant heart at The Franklin Institute. Science made fun for all ages!

Unleash your inner scientist at The Franklin Institute, one of the oldest and most beloved science museums in the country. Named after Benjamin Franklin, this hands-on museum offers a wealth of interactive exhibits that make learning a thrilling adventure for visitors of all ages. Walk through a giant human heart, soar in a flight simulator, or stargaze in the Fels Planetarium. The museum's exhibits cover a vast range of scientific disciplines, from physics and biology to space exploration and technology. Don't miss the opportunity to see a show in the IMAX theater or explore the rooftop Joel N. Bloom Observatory for stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline.

  • Location: 222 N 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • Hours: Daily 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $23, Children (3-11) $19 (special exhibits may have additional fees)

Why Visit: Engage with science in fun, interactive ways and spark curiosity about the world around us.

Insider Tip: Purchase tickets online in advance to skip the line. If you're visiting with kids, plan to spend at least half a day here—there's so much to see and do!

Admire World-Class Art at the Barnes Foundation

Impressive collection of Impressionist paintings on display at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia
Blown away by the Impressionist collection at the Barnes. So many Renoirs and Cézannes in one place!

Prepare for a unique and intimate art experience at the Barnes Foundation. This extraordinary museum houses one of the world's finest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings. What sets the Barnes apart is its distinctive presentation style—paintings are grouped together based on visual similarities rather than chronology or artist, creating surprising and thought-provoking juxtapositions. Marvel at masterpieces by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso, displayed alongside African sculptures, Pennsylvania Dutch furniture, and Native American ceramics. The museum's striking modern building, with its light-filled galleries, provides a perfect backdrop for this unparalleled collection.

  • Location: 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
  • Hours: Thursday-Monday 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Friday 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $25, Seniors $23, Students/Youth (13-18) $5, Children (12 and under) Free

Why Visit: Experience one of the world's greatest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in a uniquely intimate setting.

Insider Tip: Book a guided tour for insights into Dr. Barnes' innovative collection philosophy. Visit on the first Sunday of the month for free admission.

Relax in Rittenhouse Square

Locals and visitors enjoying a sunny day in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia's popular urban park
Perfect spot for people-watching and soaking up the Philly vibe. Rittenhouse Square is the place to be!

Spend a leisurely afternoon in Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia's most beloved public spaces. This leafy oasis in the heart of the city has been a gathering place for Philadelphians since the early 18th century. Today, it's surrounded by high-end shops, restaurants, and some of the city's most desirable real estate. Grab a bench and watch the world go by, or spread out a blanket for a picnic on the manicured lawns. The square hosts frequent events, from farmers' markets to outdoor art shows. As evening falls, the twinkling lights in the trees create a magical atmosphere, perfect for a romantic stroll.

  • Location: 210 W Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Experience the heart of Philadelphia's most fashionable neighborhood and enjoy a moment of tranquility in the bustling city.

Insider Tip: Visit on a Saturday morning for the popular farmers' market, or time your visit for the annual Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in June.

Explore the Quirky Mütter Museum

Intriguing display of preserved medical specimens at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia
Fascinating and slightly creepy visit to the Mütter Museum. Not for the faint of heart!

Prepare for a fascinating, if slightly macabre, journey into the world of medical history at the Mütter Museum. This unique institution, part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, houses an unparalleled collection of medical oddities, anatomical specimens, and antique medical equipment. From the skeleton of the tallest man in North America to a collection of 2,000 objects removed from people's throats, the Mütter offers a thought-provoking look at the human body and the history of diagnosis and treatment. The museum's goal is to help visitors understand the mysteries and beauty of the human form while appreciating the history of medicine.

  • Location: 19 S 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • Hours: Daily 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $20, Seniors/Military/Students $18, Youth (6-17) $15

Why Visit: Gain a unique perspective on medical history and the human body through an extraordinary collection of specimens and artifacts.

Insider Tip: This museum isn't for the faint of heart—some exhibits can be quite graphic. Visit on Monday afternoons for a quieter experience.

Cheer on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park

Exciting Phillies baseball game in progress at Citizens Bank Park stadium in Philadelphia
First Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park! The energy here is electric.

Experience the passion of Philadelphia sports fans at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Even if you're not a die-hard baseball fan, the electric atmosphere of a Phillies game is something to behold. The state-of-the-art ballpark offers great views from every seat, and the food options go way beyond typical stadium fare—try the famous Chickie's & Pete's crab fries or a roast pork sandwich from Tony Luke's. Between innings, watch for the Phillie Phanatic, one of sport's most beloved (and outrageous) mascots, as he entertains the crowd with his antics.

  • Location: 1 Citizens Bank Way, Philadelphia, PA 19148
  • Hours: Varies by game schedule
  • Admission: Ticket prices vary, starting around $20

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in Philadelphia's sports culture and enjoy America's pastime in a modern, fan-friendly ballpark.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to watch batting practice and explore Ashburn Alley, a fun concourse area with games, Philadelphia baseball history, and great city views.

Unwind in Fairmount Park

Cyclists enjoying the scenic trails of Fairmount Park, Philadelphia's expansive urban green space
Escaping the city without leaving it in Fairmount Park. So much green space right in Philly!

Escape the urban bustle in Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban park systems in the country. Spanning over 2,000 acres, this sprawling green space offers a wealth of recreational opportunities, from hiking and biking trails to historic mansions and public art installations. Rent a bike and cruise along the Schuylkill River Trail, or pack a picnic and find a scenic spot overlooking the water. Don't miss the chance to visit the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden nestled within the park.

  • Location: Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119
  • Hours: Open daily, dawn to dusk
  • Admission: Free (some attractions within the park may have fees)

Why Visit: Experience Philadelphia's natural beauty and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities just minutes from downtown.

Insider Tip: Visit during the fall to see the park's trees burst into vibrant autumn colors, or in spring when cherry blossoms bloom around the Horticultural Center.

Shop and Dine on Trendy East Passyunk Avenue

Diners enjoying outdoor seating at a popular restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia
Discovered the foodie heaven of East Passyunk Avenue. So many great restaurants to try!

For a taste of Philadelphia's hippest neighborhood, head to East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. This diagonal street, pronounced "Pash-yunk" by locals, has transformed from a traditional Italian-American enclave to a hotbed of cutting-edge cuisine and cool boutiques. Stroll along the avenue and pop into unique shops selling everything from vintage clothing to handmade chocolates. When hunger strikes, you're spoiled for choice with options ranging from old-school Italian restaurants to modern gastropubs and trendy vegan eateries.

  • Location: East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Hours: Vary by business
  • Price Range: Varies by shop/restaurant

Why Visit: Experience Philadelphia's evolving food scene and shop at unique local businesses in one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods.

Insider Tip: Visit during one of the avenue's seasonal festivals, like Flavors on the Avenue in spring or Fall Fest and Spooky Saturday in autumn, for special deals and lively street fairs.

Dive into Pop Culture at the Philadelphia Zoo

Gorilla in its naturalistic habitat at the Philadelphia Zoo, America's first zoo
Face-to-face with a gorilla at the Philly Zoo. Those Zoo360 trails make for amazing animal viewing!

Embark on a wild adventure at America's first zoo, a 42-acre Victorian garden home to more than 1,300 animals. The Philadelphia Zoo isn't just about seeing animals—it's about experiencing them in innovative ways. The Zoo360 animal exploration trail system, a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails, allows animals like big cats and primates to roam above and around you. Don't miss the KidZooU, where little ones can have up-close encounters with goats, sheep, and chickens. The zoo's commitment to conservation is evident throughout, with numerous educational programs and exhibits focused on protecting endangered species.

  • Location: 3400 W Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Hours: Daily 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (hours may vary seasonally)
  • Admission: Adults $24, Children (2-11) $19

Why Visit: Experience innovative animal exhibits and learn about wildlife conservation at the nation's first zoo.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see the animals at their most active. The zoo can get crowded on weekends, so a weekday visit is ideal if possible.

Uncover History at Eastern State Penitentiary

Haunting view of a decaying cellblock in the historic Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia
Exploring the eerie halls of Eastern State Penitentiary. The audio tour is a must!

Step behind the imposing walls of Eastern State Penitentiary and explore one of the most famous and influential prisons in the world. This massive fortress, operational from 1829 to 1971, once held notorious criminals like Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. Today, it stands as a haunting ruin, offering visitors a glimpse into nearly 150 years of American prison history. Take the award-winning audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, which guides you through the cellblocks and shares stories of the prison's past. The penitentiary also hosts thought-provoking exhibits on criminal justice reform and mass incarceration in America.

  • Location: 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
  • Hours: Daily 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $17, Seniors $15, Students/Kids $13

Why Visit: Explore a landmark in prison architecture and gain insights into the evolution of the American penal system.

Insider Tip: For a spooky experience, visit during the fall for "Terror Behind the Walls," one of the country's top-ranked haunted attractions.

Cruise Down the Delaware River

Stunning view of Philadelphia's skyline from a sightseeing boat on the Delaware River
Seeing Philly from the water gives a whole new perspective. The skyline looks amazing at sunset!

Gain a new perspective on Philadelphia's skyline and waterfront with a cruise on the Delaware River. Whether you opt for a leisurely sightseeing tour or a romantic dinner cruise, you'll enjoy stunning views of the city and landmarks like the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Learn about the city's maritime history and the river's role in Philadelphia's development as a major port city. Many cruises also venture south to the Navy Yard, offering a glimpse of retired military ships.

  • Location: Various departure points along Penn's Landing
  • Hours: Vary by cruise operator
  • Price Range: $25-$100+ depending on cruise type

Why Visit: See Philadelphia from a unique vantage point and enjoy a relaxing break from city exploration.

Insider Tip: Time your cruise for sunset for spectacular views of the city as it lights up for the evening.

Discover Philadelphia's Brewing Legacy

Colorful beer flight sampler at Yards Brewing Company, showcasing Philadelphia's craft beer scene
Tasting Philly's brewing history at Yards. Their Ales of the Revolution series is fascinating!

Raise a glass to Philadelphia's rich brewing history with a tour of Yards Brewing Company, one of the city's oldest and most beloved craft breweries. Learn about the brewing process, from grain to glass, and sample a variety of beers, including their "Ales of the Revolution" series, inspired by the favorite brews of the Founding Fathers. After your tour, relax in the taproom with a pint and some pub fare. For a deeper dive into Philly's beer scene, consider joining a guided brewery tour that takes you to multiple locations across the city.

  • Location: 500 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 AM - 10:00 PM, Friday-Saturday 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM, Sunday 11:30 AM - 9:00 PM
  • Price Range: Tours $10, beers $5-$8

Why Visit: Sample locally crafted beers and learn about Philadelphia's long-standing brewing traditions.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekday afternoon for a more intimate tour experience and shorter wait times in the taproom.

Explore the Italian Market

Vibrant outdoor produce stands at the historic Italian Market in South Philadelphia
The sights and smells at the Italian Market are incredible. Feels like stepping into old-world Philly!

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of America's oldest outdoor market at the Italian Market. Stretching along several blocks of South 9th Street, this historic market has been a hub of culinary activity for over a century. While it retains strong Italian-American roots, today the market reflects Philadelphia's diverse population with Mexican, Asian, and Middle Eastern vendors alongside traditional Italian shops. Stroll past colorful produce stands, sample artisanal cheeses, and pick up some fresh pasta to take home. Don't miss the chance to try a cannoli from Isgro Pastries or a spicy taco from one of the street-side grills.

  • Location: 919 S 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Hours: Outdoor market open daily, individual store hours vary
  • Admission: Free (pay for what you buy)

Why Visit: Experience a vibrant slice of Philadelphia's culinary heritage and score some amazing food finds.

Insider Tip: Come hungry and visit on a weekday morning for the freshest produce and fewer crowds. Bring cash, as some vendors don't accept cards.

Marvel at the Masonic Temple

Stunning architectural details in one of the ornate halls of the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia
The Masonic Temple is a hidden architectural gem. Each room is more impressive than the last!

Step into a world of architectural wonder at the Masonic Temple, a National Historic Landmark often referred to as one of the great "wonders" of the Masonic world. This elaborate Romanesque-style building, completed in 1873, is adorned with some of the finest artifacts of Freemasonry. Take a guided tour to explore the temple's seven ornate lodge rooms, each decorated in a different architectural style, including Gothic, Egyptian, and Oriental. The tour also delves into the history and symbolism of the Freemasons, offering a fascinating glimpse into this centuries-old fraternal organization.

  • Location: 1 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM (Guided tours on the hour)
  • Admission: Adults $15, Seniors $12, Students/Military $10

Why Visit: Admire stunning architecture and learn about the mysterious world of Freemasonry.

Insider Tip: Photography is allowed inside, so bring your camera to capture the incredible architectural details.

Journey Through Time at Penn Museum

Impressive display of ancient Egyptian artifacts at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia
Face-to-face with pharaohs at the Penn Museum. The Egyptian collection here is world-class!

Embark on a global adventure at the Penn Museum, home to one of the finest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts in the world. With a history spanning more than 130 years, the museum houses over a million objects from across human history. Marvel at the 25,000-pound Sphinx of Ramesses II, explore the golden treasures of the ancient Egyptians, or learn about the diverse cultures of Africa and the Americas. The museum's immersive galleries and interactive exhibits make ancient history come alive for visitors of all ages.

  • Location: 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $18, Seniors $16, Youth (6-17) $13, Children (5 and under) Free

Why Visit: Travel through time and across continents as you explore one of the world's great archaeology and anthropology museums.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the "Iraq's Ancient Past" exhibit, which features artifacts from the Royal Tombs of Ur, some of the most spectacular discoveries in the history of archaeology.

Catch a Show at the Kimmel Center

Elegant interior of the main concert hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia
Caught a Philadelphia Orchestra performance at the Kimmel Center. The acoustics are incredible!

Experience the best of Philadelphia's performing arts scene at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. This stunning glass-vaulted complex is home to eight resident companies, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Ballet, and Opera Philadelphia. Whether you're in the mood for classical music, jazz, Broadway shows, or cutting-edge performances, the Kimmel Center offers a diverse program of events throughout the year. The center's crown jewel is Verizon Hall, a cello-shaped concert hall renowned for its superb acoustics.

  • Location: 300 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
  • Hours: Box office open daily 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Performance times vary
  • Price Range: Varies by performance, some free events available

Why Visit: Enjoy world-class performances in a stunning architectural setting.

Insider Tip: Check the Kimmel Center's website for free events, including some lunchtime concerts and open house days.

Explore Fishtown's Vibrant Arts Scene

Vibrant street art mural in the trendy Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia
Loving the artsy vibe in Fishtown. So many cool murals and hip spots to check out!

Dive into Philadelphia's coolest neighborhood with a visit to Fishtown. Once a working-class area, Fishtown has transformed into a hub of creativity, with colorful street art, independent galleries, and live music venues. Start your exploration at the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor, where you'll find an eclectic mix of boutiques, cafes, and art spaces. Don't miss Philadelphia Distilling, makers of Bluecoat Gin, where you can tour the distillery and enjoy craft cocktails. As night falls, catch a show at the Fillmore Philadelphia or Johnny Brenda's, two of the city's best live music venues.

  • Location: Frankford Avenue and surrounding streets, Philadelphia, PA 19125
  • Hours: Vary by business
  • Price Range: Varies by activity

Why Visit: Experience Philadelphia's thriving contemporary arts scene and hipster culture.

Insider Tip: Visit during the First Friday art crawl, when galleries and shops stay open late and the streets come alive with pop-up events and performances.

Paddle on the Schuylkill River

Kayakers enjoying the Schuylkill River with Philadelphia's skyline visible in the background
Paddling the Schuylkill with the Philly skyline as a backdrop. What a unique way to see the city!

Get a different perspective on Philadelphia by taking to the water. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and glide along the Schuylkill River, taking in views of the city skyline and Boathouse Row. Paddle past the Philadelphia Museum of Art and under the iconic bridges that span the river. It's a peaceful way to escape the city's hustle and bustle while still being in the heart of Philadelphia. Guided tours are available if you prefer a more structured experience, offering insights into the river's history and ecology.

  • Location: Schuylkill Banks by Walnut Street Bridge, Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • Hours: Seasonal (typically May-October), hours vary
  • Price Range: Rentals from $20/hour, guided tours from $40

Why Visit: Enjoy a unique outdoor adventure and see Philadelphia from a new angle.

Insider Tip: Go early in the morning for calmer waters and a chance to see river wildlife like herons and turtles.

Structuring Your Philadelphia Adventure: A 7-Day Itinerary

Philadelphia offers a wealth of experiences that can easily fill a week or more. Here's a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your visit:

Days 1-2: Historical Philadelphia

  • Start at the Independence Visitor Center for orientation
  • Visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center
  • Explore the Museum of the American Revolution
  • Stroll down Elfreth's Alley
  • Dine at City Tavern for an 18th-century culinary experience
  • Visit the Betsy Ross House and Christ Church
  • Take a Constitutional Walking Tour

Insider Tip: Purchase a Philadelphia Pass for free entry to many attractions and skip-the-line privileges.

Days 3-4: Art and Culture

  • Spend a morning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Visit the Barnes Foundation
  • Explore the Magic Gardens
  • Take in a show at the Kimmel Center
  • Wander through Rittenhouse Square and shop along Walnut Street
  • Visit the Rodin Museum
  • End the day with dinner in Chinatown

Insider Tip: Check out First Friday events in Old City for gallery openings and street performances.

Day 5: Science and Nature

  • Start early at the Franklin Institute
  • Head to the Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Spend the afternoon in Fairmount Park
  • Visit the Philadelphia Zoo
  • Enjoy dinner with a view at Lacroix in the Rittenhouse Hotel

Insider Tip: If visiting in spring, don't miss the Cherry Blossom Festival in Fairmount Park.

Day 6: South Philly and Food

  • Begin at the Italian Market
  • Take a cheesesteak tour (Pat's, Geno's, and Jim's)
  • Explore East Passyunk Avenue
  • Visit the Mütter Museum
  • End the day with a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park

Insider Tip: For a unique dining experience, try a chef's tasting menu at one of Philly's top restaurants.

Day 7: Off the Beaten Path

  • Start with a morning paddle on the Schuylkill River
  • Visit Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Explore Fishtown's art galleries and boutiques
  • Take a brewery tour at Yards Brewing Company
  • End your trip with a sunset cruise on the Delaware River

Insider Tip: If you have extra time, consider a day trip to nearby Longwood Gardens or Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Remember, this itinerary is just a suggestion. Feel free to mix and match activities based on your interests, energy levels, and the weather. Philadelphia's excellent public transportation system and walkable downtown make it easy to adjust plans on the fly.

The City of Brotherly Love Awaits

As your Philadelphia adventure comes to an end, you'll likely find yourself planning your next visit before you've even left. This city, with its perfect blend of historical significance and modern vibrancy, has a way of capturing hearts and inspiring return trips.

From the hallowed halls where democracy was born to the cutting-edge restaurants pushing culinary boundaries, Philadelphia offers a uniquely American experience. It's a city that honors its past while constantly reinventing itself, where you can walk in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers in the morning and explore avant-garde art installations in the afternoon.

But beyond the attractions and activities, what truly sets Philadelphia apart is its spirit. The city's nickname, "The City of Brotherly Love," isn't just a slogan—it's a way of life reflected in the warmth and pride of its residents. Whether you're chatting with a local at Reading Terminal Market or debating cheesesteak preferences with fellow visitors, you'll feel the genuine connection that makes Philadelphia special.

So as you leave, taking with you memories of cobblestone streets, world-class museums, and perhaps a few extra pounds from all the delicious food, remember that Philadelphia isn't just a destination—it's an experience. An experience that will stay with you long after you've returned home, beckoning you back to uncover more of its endless charms.

Until next time, Philadelphia. We know you'll be back.

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:49 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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