Philadelphia, commonly referred to as Philly, is the city from where some of the major ideas, and subsequent actions, gave birth to the American Revolution and American independence, making it a centerpiece of early American history. This city has the World’s largest municipal park, the best collection of public art in the country, the biggest variety of urban architecture in the U.S and some of the best educational institutions in the country. Also called “the city of Brotherly Love”, today Philadelphia draws tourists mainly for its historical wealth, centred around Independence National Historical Park, regarded as the most significant historic square mile in America where the United States was conceived, declared and ratified.
The best ways to get around Center City (Philadelphia’s downtown) are by foot, taxi or public transportation. If you plan on visiting the surrounding countryside, regional rail is the best option.
By Foot – Philadelphia is rated as one of the best walking cities in the country with its compact city layout following a grid-like design.
Public Transportation – Philadelphia also boasts of an excellent transit system and is called as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) – a network of bus/subway/commuter-rail. It has an all-day pass for unlimited use on SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways.
Taxis – Taxis can be found all over town and are great ways to get to various destinations throughout the city if you’re in a hurry.
Water – The Freedom Ferry provides a ferry service between Penn’s Landing, Walnut Street and Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia, and the New Jersey State Aquarium, Federal Street and Riverside Drive in Camden, during the summer
(May-Sep). Crossings take 12 minutes and leave every 40 minutes, daily.
For Fun – Phlash, the purple touring-bus-turned-trolley, whisks visitors around to major attractions in Center City from May through November. For only $2, the Phlash will take you through a 20-stop Center City loop, running daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Independence National Historical Park – The park includes many attractions of historical significance right from the time of the American Revolution and includes the Old City Hall – early home of the US Supreme Court, Carpenter’s Hall – site of the First Continental Congress and the Second Bank of the U.S – a Greek Building that now houses a portrait gallery. Most of the sightseeings are free and the Visitor Centre gives a brief introduction to the sights with video presentations.
Liberty Bell – The Liberty Bell Center is a Philadelphia must-see. Visitors can not only view the famous Liberty Bell, one of the most recognized symbols of American freedom, but also learn its history. Films, historical documents, and visual displays enlighten visitors on its history and why it has become the symbol of freedom for many.
Independence Hall – This is the birthplace of the American nation and this is where the Liberty Bell rang in 1776 summoning citizens to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Franklin Court – This is the site of Benjamin Franklin’s last home. While the house has been demolished, there is striking steel ‘ghost house’ that outlines the structure. There is an Underground Museum here that gives an insight into this famous personality. Ben Franklin himself, from time to time, makes appearances at Franklin Court regaling visitors with stories about his life and times.
Lights of Liberty Show – This wonderful sound and light presentation travels through the entire park and lets visitors embark on a journey through the American Revolution as images are projected onto historic buildings where key events actually took place during this era.
Philadelphia Museum of Art – This museum has one of the most important collections of art in the country. With over 500,000 paintings, sculptures and artifacts from all over the world; some over 2000 years old, the museum built on top of a hill is a must visit.
Franklin Institute Science Museum – Philadelphia’s most visited museum, the Franklin Institute on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is recognised for its innovative and imaginative exhibits that demonstrate the influence of science in our lives.
City Hall – Philadelphia boasts the largest and most elaborate city hall in America. It took 30 years to build and was one of the tallest buildings in the city for quite some time.
Penn’s Landing – Located along the Delaware River, this waterfront commemorates the spot where the city’s founder, William Penn, set foot ashore in 1682. This is also the location for many of the major music and cultural festivals as well as the Fourth of July fireworks.
Betsy Ross House – She is the famous lady who sewed the first American flag. Her house has now been turned into a museum that showcases the lives of working-class people in the colonial era as well the history of the stars and stripes banner.
Christ Church – Built as the first Protestant Episcopal Church in the country, this elegant Georgina building with its massive arched windows is a must visit. Frequented by personalities like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others, the church was funded by renting out its pews!
Theatre and Music
- Walnut Street Theatre, America’s oldest theatre.
- The Philadelphia Orchestra that performs at Verizon Hall.
- The Mask and Wig Club that has been presenting comedy, music and dance for a long time.
- Some of the biggest names in the music and show-business come to perform at the Tower Theatre
- Kimmel Centre, Academy of Music
Others: Eastern State Penitentiary – Americas most historic prison, Fairmount Park – the largest urban park in the country, LOVE Park , Once Upon a Nation Tour, Spirts of ’76 Ghost Tour, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Please Touch Museum, Public Art, National Liberty Museum, National Constitution Center, Elfreth’s Alley, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Zoo