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3 Days in Philadelphia

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From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the Capital of the United States. It is a city deeply linked to some of the most pivotal events in early U.S. history, but it's also got a great modern vibe. This three-day itinerary covers many of the main points of interest and introduces a few off-the-beaten path attractions.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Foodie
  • Like a Local

16 Places

7 City Tips

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16 Places

Day 1

Liberty Bell Center

Monuments & Statues, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Independence Hall

Historic Sites, Government Buildings, Architectural Buildings, History Museums

National Constitution Center

History Museums, Speciality Museums

United States Mint

Government Buildings, Sightseeing Tours

Betsy Ross House

Historic Sites

Elfreth's Alley

Historic Sites

Reading Terminal Market

Flea & Street Markets

Day 2

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Art Museums

Eastern State Penitentiary

History Museums

The Franklin Institute

Science Museums

Parc Brasserie

Restaurants

Day 3

Independence Seaport Museum

History Museums, Speciality Museums

South Street

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Jim's Steaks South Street

Restaurants

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Art Galleries

Love Park

Parks

Stephen C's City Tips

  • Philly is a fantastic walking city, and best experienced on foot.
  • Philly streets are based on a grid design, making it easy to find your way around.
  • The Phlash shuttle bus runs between Penn's Landing and the Philadelphia Museum of Art every 15 minutes. Single-ride and all-day tickets are available.
  • Bus, subway, and trolley all require tokens or exact change.
  • It is standard to tip 15-20% at Philadelphia restaurants.
  • Many restaurants in Philly are BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage). Check ahead, and then stop by a liquor store to pick out wine or beer to enjoy with dinner!
  • In the 17th century, William Penn planned the city around five public squares. City Hall, Franklin, Logan, Rittenhouse, and Washington Squares are great gathering places.
    Day 1
  • Save
    Liberty Bell Center
    Monuments & Statues, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Commissioned in 1751 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania's constitution (or the Charter of Privileges), this 2,080-pound bell is now an icon of Philadelphia. It used to hang in Independence Hall, ringing on important occasions — including the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Throughout the centuries, the bell's inscription — 'Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof' — has been inspiration, and even a rallying cry, to social activists from Abolitionists to Suffragettes to the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The bell's famous "crack" is actually an attempt to repair a much smaller split. Look carefully to see the drill bit marks!
    • The Liberty Bell Center is free to enter, but the lines can be long. Try to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
    • The Liberty Bell Center includes a number of interesting exhibits about the bell's history and significance. Take the time to look at them before heading up to the main attraction.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #37 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • It's a big bell! 31/08/2015
    • An Iconic Symbol of American Independance ! 31/08/2015
    • Liberty Bell Center
    Address:
    6th Street
    Between Market and Chestnut Streets
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215 965 2305
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Independence Hall
    Historic Sites, Government Buildings, Architectural Buildings, History Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    One of the most important United States landmarks, this iconic red brick building is the birthplace of America. Formally known as the 'Pennsylvania State House,' it was renamed Independence Hall for the historic events that took place here. It was here that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and here that George Washington was named commander of the Continental Army. Some years later, delegates of the newly formed states met in this same hall to write and ratify the U.S. Constitution. During your visit, you can see the assembly room where the Constitutional Convention was held, and even view an original draft of the Constitution and the first printing of the Declaration of Independence!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Independence Hall is open daily from 9am-5pm. It's open until 7pm from mid-May through early September.
    • Admission is by tour only. You can pick up free walk-up tickets from the Independence Visitor Center starting at 8:30am daily.
    • Tickets often run out, so go to the Visitor Center early, or reserve online for a small fee.
    • Plan to arrive approximately 30 minutes before your tour is set to begin. Note that there is a security screening prior to entering the building.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Go early as you can , take the additional free Congress Hall tour 30/08/2015
    • Free and Worth the Visit 30/08/2015
    • Independence Hall
    Address:
    Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th Streets
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215 965 2305
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    National Constitution Center
    History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    From rare artifacts like the judicial robe of Sandra Day O'Connor (the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court) to a surround-sound multimedia presentation of constitutional history, the National Constitution Center allows you to take a deep dive into the living document at the heart of the American government. Here you'll learn about the history of the document, the people who were integral in changing it, and the many amendments that have caused a stir. There are also myriad interactive exhibits, from voting booths to a 'Supreme Court' where you can weigh in on famous cases.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum often offers special programming on civic holidays, such as Flag Day and Earth Day. Check the website to see if anything is happening during your visit.
    • The museum offers daily programs, such as gallery talks and a presidential trivia "game show." Check the visitor guide upon arrival to see what's happening during your visit.
    • The audio tours are a good way to enhance your visit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #33 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Cool place 29/08/2015
    • From signing the Constitution to visiting Camelot 28/08/2015
    • National Constitution Center
    Address:
    525 Arch Street
    Independence Mall
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215-409-6600
    Other:
  • Save
    United States Mint
    Government Buildings, Sightseeing Tours
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Question: Why is the United States Mint in Philadelphia? Answer: Because it was established here back in 1792, when Philly was the American capital. At least half of all circulating U.S. coins are still made here. On the self-guided tour, you can see the first coining press, and view actual coining operations.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • Be sure to check out the gift shop, which has its own display of rare coins.
    • The Mint is free to tour, and is open Monday through Friday (also open on Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day).
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 164 Sights & Landmarks in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Unexpected Fun, Informative, FREE Attraction 31/08/2015
    • The Making of Money 30/08/2015
    • United States Mint
    Address:
    151 N. Independence Mall East
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215-408-0114
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    9:00 - 6:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Betsy Ross House
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    One of the most famous women of colonial history, Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first American flag, whose 13 stars and 13 stripes represented the 13 original colonies. The 1740 house where she is said to have lived and worked as an upholsterer is now a fun, interactive museum, where you can view a variety of 18th-century artifacts and even meet 'Betsy herself.'

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • With its narrow staircases, this house is not accessible to people with disabilities.
    • Consider springing for the informative audio tour!
    • Stop by Ben Franklin's grave site on the way here.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #77 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    • A Silly Sham 30/08/2015
    • Quick and interesting 29/08/2015
    • Betsy Ross House
    Address:
    239 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215-629-4026
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Elfreth's Alley
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    The oldest residential street in America is more than 300 years old! It was here that 18th-century butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers (as well as other artisans) lived and worked, often operating businesses on the first floors and living above. Appropriately designated a National Historic Landmark, Elfreth's Alley is a fascinating place to go for a walk. With their flower boxes and colorful shutters, the well-preserved row houses are lovely, and the museum provides a glimpse inside the homes, and into colonial life on the alley.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Take a stroll down the alley in the evening hours to see the old lamps light up.
    • Residents open their doors to the public twice a year: in June for Fete Day and in December for Deck the Alley.
    • The museum operates Friday through Sunday from noon until 5pm. It is open April through September only. The last tour departs 20 minutes prior to closing.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #65 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Hard to believe people lived in such cramped quarters 28/08/2015
    • Nice little detour 26/08/2015
    • Elfreth's Alley
    Address:
    126 Elfreth's Alley
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    215-574-0560
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 - 7:00
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Reading Terminal Market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Established in 1892, Reading Terminal Market is the oldest continually operated farmers market in the U.S. With stalls and shops hawking everything from produce or exotic meats to kitchenware or fresh-cut flowers, the always-bustling market is an assault on the senses in the best of ways. Here you can sidle up to a counter to enjoy raw oysters, or pick up a soft pretzel to munch as you explore.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Try the award-winning roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich at DiNic’s.
    • Don't leave without picking up a sticky bun (or several!) from Beiler's Bakery.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Locals love it 31/08/2015
    • Foodies Delight at the Reading Terminal Market 31/08/2015
    • Reading Terminal Market
    Address:
    12th and Arch
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    Phone:
    215 922 2317
    Hours:
    Sun
    9:00 - 7:00
    Mon - Sat
    8:00 - 8:00
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    The third-largest art museum in the country is an imposing building that holds an impressive collection of Renaissance, American, Impressionist and modern art. Film buff fun fact: These steps are seen in the 'Rocky' movie!

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Every Friday, the museum hosts Art After 5 (5-8:45pm), featuring live music in the Great Stair Hall and guided tours throughout the evening. Drinks and snacks are available.
    • Admission prices include admission to the Perelman Building, Rodin Museum, and historic houses Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove.
    • The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is "pay what you wish" every Wednesday after 5pm and on the first Sunday of every month.
    • You can catch a good view of the city skyline from the museum's steps.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Impressionist Exhibit ROCKS!!! 31/08/2015
    • A must when in Philly 31/08/2015
    • Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Address:
    2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
    Perelman Building
    Philadelphia, PA 19130
    Phone:
    215-763-8100
    Hours:
    Tue
    10:00 - 7:00
    Wed
    10:00 - 10:45
    Thu
    10:00 - 7:00
    Fri
    10:00 - 10:45
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Eastern State Penitentiary
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Built in 1829, the Quaker-inspired Eastern State Penitentiary was the world's first 'penitentiary,' a prison with the lofty goal of rehabilitating its convicts. For years it was known for its strict system of solitary confinement, until overcrowding changed the circumstances. When the prison reopened as a museum in 1994 — after 20-plus years of being abandoned — the conscious decision was made to restore only for safety but to otherwise leave the building in its state of decay. The result is awesomely eerie, and truly fascinating.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, the audio guide is an excellent way to get a feel for the prison, complete with creaking doors and a prison riot.
    • Famous for being haunted, ESP runs a popular haunted house experience, Terror Behind the Walls, every October. Book ahead — if you dare.
    • Museum staff conducts hands-on activities throughout the day. Ask when you're buying tickets about what's on.
    • ESP's most famous resident was Al "Scarface" Capone, and there is a replica of his snazzy, souped-up cell.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Well worth a visit 31/08/2015
    • Interesting and disconcerting 31/08/2015
    • Eastern State Penitentiary
    Address:
    2124 Fairmount Avenue
    Philadelphia, PA 19130
    Phone:
    215 236 3300
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    The Franklin Institute
    Science Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    This hands-on science and innovation museum is very popular with kids. It's named after — you guessed it — Benjamin Franklin, and contains the official national memorial to this important scientist. Interactive exhibits include simulated surfing, electricity experiments, and even a giant human heart to walk through.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • There are additional fees for some special exhibits and attractions.
    • Tickets to special exhibits are limited, with scheduled times. It is wise to purchase these tickets in advance online to guarantee your preferred date and time.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Enjoyable day 30/08/2015
    • Great place for children! 30/08/2015
    • The Franklin Institute
    Address:
    222 N. 20th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Phone:
    215-448-1200
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:30 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Parc Brasserie
    Restaurants (French, Bistro)
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    A French bistro from Philadelphia restaurant royal Stephen Starr, Parc is lively and fun, serving up Paris from champagne to steak frites. The interior is tres chic, but in the warmer months, you want to be on the sidewalk facing Rittenhouse Square.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • During the day, it shouldn't be too hard to get a table, but if you go for dinner, reservations are recommended.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 2,275 restaurants in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • My love affair with French water! ;) 31/08/2015
    • Great location and food 28/08/2015
    • Parc Brasserie
    Address:
    277 S 18th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Phone:
    215-545-2262
    Price range:
    30 $ - 30 $
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 - 12:00
    Mon - Thu
    7:30 - 13:00
    Fri
    7:30 - 14:00
    Sat
    10:00 - 14:00
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Independence Seaport Museum
    History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    The Independence Seaport Museum is dedicated to Philadelphia's history as an important port. Kids especially will love wandering around an actual ship and submarine.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • The museum is closed on Sundays.
    • Seafarin' Saturdays, held 11am-1pm every Saturday, offer fun, hands-on activities for little sailors. The theme varies each week.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #64 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Submarine and battleship WWI 17/08/2015
    • Average museum, Olympia and Becuna definitely worth the visit 15/08/2015
    • Independence Seaport Museum
    Address:
    211 S Columbus Blvd.
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    +1 215-413-8655
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 7:00
    Other:
  • Save
    South Street
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    This famous Philly street is packed with restaurants, galleries, shops, and nightlife destinations. The most popular stretch is between Front Street and 10th Street.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Come hungry! You can snack and nibble your way down South Street.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #121 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    • FUN! 30/08/2015
    • Seen Better Days 23/08/2015
    • South Street
    Phone:
    215-413-3713
    Other:
  • Save
    Jim's Steaks South Street
    Restaurants (American, Steakhouse, Sandwiches, Delicatessen)
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Ask Philadelphians where to get the best Philly Cheesesteak and you're all but guaranteed to get a different answer from every person. Everyone has his or her own favorite, but there's one thing all agree on: The cheesesteak is an essential Philly experience. The scent of fried onions wafts down the street before you even reach Jim's, and the walls are papered with photos of the celebs who love this joint. The cheeseteaks? Well, there's a reason Jim's has been popular for more than 70 years.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • When ordering, tell the cashier what kind of cheese you want, and whether you want onions. Cheese whiz is usually the cheese of choice, but you can opt for American or provolone.
    • If you feel like doing a taste test of your own, Pat's, where the cheesesteak originated, and Geno's are right across the street from one another, not far away.
    • The line at Jim's often stretches down the street, but it's worth the wait.
    • Jim's is open late night on weekends, in case you need a fix after a big night out.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #61 of 2,275 restaurants in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Excellent 31/08/2015
    • Salivating just thinking about it 30/08/2015
    • Jim's Steaks South Street
    Address:
    400 South St
    Philadelphia, PA 19147-1521
    Phone:
    (215) 928-1911
    Price range:
    1 $ - 20 $
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 - 15:00
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 - 15:00
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Artist Isaiah Zagar and his wife Julia started beautifying the South Street neighborhood in the 1960s, but it wasn't until 1994 that he started his 'magnum opus,' filling a vacation lot mosaics and found objects. By the time that the lot's absentee landlord decided to sell the lot in 2002, Zagar's psychedelic labyrinth of tiles, wine bottles, bicycle wheels, and other 'garbage' was so beloved by the community that an outpouring of support led to the creation of a nonprofit that now maintains and promotes Zagar's work.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • The outside area sometimes closes in inclement weather, but on such days, the staff offer "mini-tours" every hour on the half-hour.
    • The museum is open daily, but sometimes has early closings or late openings. Check the website to verify hours.
    • To see more of the Isaiah Zagar's work, join a neighborhood walking tour, April-October.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fine for a short while 30/08/2015
    • great if you like depravity 30/08/2015
    • Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
    Address:
    1020 South St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19147
    Phone:
    215-733-0390
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    11:00 - 7:00
    Fri - Sat
    11:00 - 10:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Love Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    This is where you'll find Robert Indiana's iconic 'LOVE' statue! Love Park (officially JFK Plaza) is popular among couples, skateboarders, and photographers alike.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • This is a major photo spot, so try and visit during off-peak hours.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #101 of 346 things to do in Philadelphia
    • LOVE Park 25/08/2015
    • Beautiful 24/08/2015
    • Love Park
    Address:
    John F. Kennedy Blvd and North 15th St
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    Phone:
    215 636 1666
    Other:
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