Hey, we’re a little biased, being from Pennsylvania and having lived in Philadelphia for many years. But there’s much more to see than just the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall (or our crazy sports fans – GO BIRDS). So as one of our first travel blogs, we decided to share the many things to do in Philadelphia, where America got its start.
While often overshadowed by New York and D.C, Philadelphia is important to American history. Philadelphia was the center of the American Colonies because it served as the first U.S. capital city under the Constitution.
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The city of Philadelphia is a significant metropolitan center, with numerous sites and activities for people to engage in. The city certainly has a little bit of everything that a traveler could want.
It is within relatively easy driving distance of several important historical sites, including Valley Forge and Washington’s Crossing (both in Pennsylvania) and Ford’s Theatre and Arlington National Cemetery (both in Washington, D.C.). Philadelphia also contains several historical sites, including the Declaration House and Christ Church — and many, many more.
When’s the weather best in Philadelphia to visit?
Philadelphia is a beautiful city to visit any time of year, but the best weather for exploring all that the city has to offer is from late spring through early fall. During this time, the temperatures are mild and comfortable, making it easy to walk around and enjoy the many historical sites and museums.
Philadelphia is host to many festivals and events during the spring and summer months, making it an ideal time to visit. Whether you’re looking to soak up some history or just enjoy the outdoors, Philadelphia is an ideal destination during the late spring and early fall.
Things to do in Philadelphia: Historical Sites
One reason to visit Philadelphia is to engage in the city’s rich history. The Liberty Bell is arguably the most famous symbol of America and can be found at Independence National Historical Park. On display at the same location is the red sandstone step where George Washington was inaugurated as president.
Starting from the east by the Delaware River, several historically significant places throughout the city should be on your list of places to visit. The most popular of these is Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was first signed. Nearby in Old City, Christ Church is an Episcopal church that was attended by many historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
Edgar Allan Poe’s former home and grave can be found to the west of Independence Hall. For movie buffs, much further west is the “Rocky Steps,” located at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in West Philadelphia at the end of JFK Boulevard. Sylvester Stallone ran up the 72 stone steps when he was filming the 1976 film “Rocky.” The museum’s exterior, and bronze sculpture of Rocky himself, are also worth seeing and snapping a selfie even if you don’t go inside.
Things to Do in Philadelphia: Culture and Entertainment
Boathouse Row is a row of historic boathouses on the Schuylkill River. Visitors can rent a boat and row past them on the river near these structures. In addition, two of the five boathouses have restaurants that serve good food and offer good views of the river from their second-story windows. Visitors can also enjoy a scenic drive or walk along Kelly Drive, a scenic, multipurpose parkway along the river (Philly folk will tell you to walk — Kelly Drive is a bit, well, intimidating for newbies).
Lincoln Financial Field is just south of Boathouse Row and serves as the home for the Philadelphia Eagles. Because of its location on the Delaware River waterfront, it has a view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to Camden and views of New Jersey from some sections within the stadium. In addition, the Xfinity Live! entertainment center is adjacent to the stadium. This includes numerous bars and restaurants in addition to a 28-screen movie theater. Back up by Independence Hall is the National Museum of American Jewish History, which documents the history of the Jewish people in America.
Just west of City Hall at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, visitors can find Philadelphia’s famous LOVE sculpture. This sculpture is an iconic part of the city and sits in a beautiful fountain with colorful lights that add to its beauty at night. Also west of City Hall sits Dilworth Park. The park has a large area for gatherings, events, and festivals.
Things to Do in Philadelphia for Kids (and Adults)
Northwest of City Hall sits The Franklin Institute, a science museum that is a must-see for people of all ages. To t south is The Kimmel Center. This center has operas, ballet, and dance performances as well as concerts from famous artists from around the world. It also hosts exhibits from traveling art galleries from time to time and is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Rittenhouse Square is a top-rated park just west of The Franklin Institute. It is surrounded by bars and restaurants that are busy at night. However, one can also relax in this beautiful green space with friends or family members at any time of day.
Pennsylvania Dutch Country
If you don’t mind driving a bit, an hour to the west sits “Pennsylvania Dutch Country,” home to the largest concentration of Amish in the United States. The Amish have a unique lifestyle, leaving technology (and cars) behind in favor of a simpler (and “plainer” as they say) lifestyle.
The city of Lancaster has seen a rebirth in recent years, as it is far more affordable than either Philadelphia or New York. The Amtrak station in town can get you to either city quickly without having to make the drive. During the summer, First Fridays (the first Friday of the month) are a great time to enjoy typically comfortable weather and visit many shops and boutiques throughout Lancaster’s downtown.
Visit Reading, PA, and See a Pagoda (Really)
One of the most exciting sites in Berks County is the Pagoda. While the interior of the building is unfortunately closed, visitors can appreciate its unique architecture and get great views of the Reading area from the overlook, which sits on the top of Mount Penn.
This is only a small portion of what you can see on a trip to Philadelphia. The history of the region, especially when it comes to our nation’s founding, is unparalleled. But compared to many other cities, staying in Philadelphia is surprisingly affordable — and easy access to both New York City and Washington, D.C., too.