Founded on October 27, 1682, Philadelphia quickly became one of the most important cities in American history. Besides being the city where the United States of America was founded, the City of Brotherly is also known for its love of sports, food and the arts. Today, Philly is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and, because of its diverse population and historic roots, there is no shortage of activities to be found.
With that in mind, here are the best things to do in Philly.
Explore The Birthplace of America
This city was instrumental in shaping the country – which is why U.S. News Travel honored Philly with the second spot in its list of “Best Historic Destinations in the USA.”
The city is so rich with history that on almost every corner, you’ll come across a site that has a significant historical purpose. For example, there are the spots where American freedom and democracy were established, such as Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Center, the Betsy Ross House, Declaration House, Carpenter’s Hall and Christ Church.
Some other amazing historical landmarks can be found at Rittenhouse Square (a one-time grazing area for livestock); the oldest continually inhabited street in the nation at Elfreth’s Alley; the eerie, castle-like Eastern State Penitentary; and Ft. Miffin on Mud Island. You can also venture across the Delaware to Camden, NJ and explore one of the most decorated ships in the Navy’s history – the USS New Jersey.
Finally, make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to visit the National Constitution Center – which is located at Independence Mall. It’s such an important center, that former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stated: “The Constitution Center and Independence Hall, together with the Liberty Bell, form a place that every American should visit. It will contribute each and every day to the reinforcement of the basic principles that bind us together as a nation and a people.”
Let Freedom Ring
Of course, the city that founded America’s freedom is home to some top-notch events and attractions that are completely free. In fact, many of the historical attractions are free of charge, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. You can also visit, at no-cost, the United States Mint, the Edgar Allen Poe House, the Masonic Temple and the five original squares (Logan Circle, Centre, Rittenhouse, Washington and Franklin Square).
There are also a number of free museums located in the city that include the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum; Fireman’s Hall Museum; the Institute of Contemporary Art; and the TUSPM Shoe Museum. Take note: every Wednesday evening after 5pm and the first Sunday of every month, you can name your own price for admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, running up the steps and taking your picture with Rocky is free.
Besides the endless amounts of free historical attractions and museums throughout the city, Penn’s Landing has more than enough free events throughout the year to keep you occupied. There are cultural festivals, movie nights under the stars and concerts. For an events list, visit the Delaware Waterfront website.
Don’t forget that during the 4th of July, the Ben Franklin Parkway is home to largest free concert in America. And, if you can’t attend, there will be fireworks galore on top of the weeklong events planned during the Wawa Welcome America festival.
Become a Phanatic
The City of Brotherly Love has earned a reputation as having a rude, unruly fanbase who hates Santa. But don’t let a couple of rotten apples spoil the bunch! The fact is, Philly is full of dedicated and passionate sports fans – which is why Travel and Leisure named Philly as the most sports-crazed city in America. Join the crazed atmosphere of Citizens Bank Park during a Phillies game! Or head to Lincoln Financial Field to bleed green for the Eagles; the Wells Fargo Center for a Flyers, Sixers, Soul or Wings lacrosse game. And, you haven’t experienced a rowdy crowd until you’re seen the Sons of Ben at a Union game in PPL Park!
Eat More Than Cheesesteaks
Philly may be known for cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels and Chickie & Pete’s Crab Fries, but it’s also developed a reputation as one of the top food destinations in the country. There are the 100 vendors at the historic Reading Terminal Market – home of the incredible roast pork and broccoli rabe at DiNic’s; the endless amount of restaurants, bakeries and shops at the Italian Market; and the 10 restaurants owned by the one and only Stephen Starr. You should bring your appetite and view the selections from visitphilly.com.
For Kids (Of All Ages)
Parents.com included Philly in its “10 Best Cities for Families to Visit,” mainly for the historical attractions. However, it also mentioned some other great family-friendly locations, such as the Please Touch Museum (yes, children are encouraged to touch the exhibits); the Philadelphia Zoo (America’s first zoo); and the Franklin Institute, for older children.
If you’re looking for amusement parks, then you’re in luck. There’s nearby Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA, as well as Hershey Park, Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, Six Flags Great Adventure, Dutch Wonderland or Storybook Land.
And, if you need to get away from the children, the Philly area is home to plenty of casinos and resorts that offer more grown-up entertainment. There’s Harrah’s in Chester, Parx Casino, SugarHouse, Sands Bethlehem, Valley Forge Casino Resort, or make a weekend trip to Atlantic City, NJ.
Get Out of the City
Looking to get a bit further from the city? Then head up to the Poconos. During the winter, you can go skiing or snowboarding at Jack Frost or Big Boulder or do some camping, fishing, hiking, biking or whitewater rafting in the summer. Also, New Jersey has a lot to offer its Philadelphia neighbors. There’s Cowtown Rodeo, the numerous wineries, the Pine Barrens, fresh produce like the iconic Jersey Tomato and of course, the iconic Jersey Shore.
Have you been to Philly? Let ForRent.com know what your favorite attraction was!