Top Recommended Layover Activities:
1. Independence Hall
Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3341 · 215-597-8974
Independence Hall is where Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and their rebellious compatriots approved and announced the Declaration of Independence. As if that event were not noteworthy enough, many returned some 11 years later to pen the U.S. Constitution. Consistent with the freedom that the building represents, admission is free. There are two ways to get tickets. Same-day tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center, or, If you prefer to reserve in advance, call Spherix Corporation at 1-800-967-2283.
2. Liberty Bell Center
6th and Chestnut Streets, Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA 19106
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 Films, historical documents, and visual displays enlighten visitors on its history and why it has become the symbol of freedom for many.
3. Rittenhouse Square
This site is considered to be one of the prettiest of all the squares in Philadelphia. Local residents come here to relax and forget about the hustle and bustle of the city. Visit the Curtis Institute of Music and the Rosenbach Museum and Library while at the square.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Philadelphia Zoo
34th and Girard Sts, Philadelphia, PA 19104-1139 · 215-243-1100
In addition to more than 1600 animals, including orangutans, lorikeets, snow leopards, red pandas, giraffes, and giant bearded pigs, the very first zoo in the United States has some great animal-related attractions. Treehouse is perhaps the most famous; it’s a fantastic interactive exhibit where you can experience what it’s like to hatch from an egg, be a bee, or ride a caterpillar. The first children’s zoo in the world is here, as are the first giant otters exhibited in the US. Fun for all!
2. Fairmount Park
Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA · 685-0000
Noted for being the largest city park in the world (8000 acres), Fairmount attracts more visitors each year than all of Philly’s other attractions combined. Virtually every outdoor activity you can imagine is enjoyed here, from soccer and baseball to ultimate Frisbee and fishing. There’s also a golf course, several playgrounds, a public pool, and bike paths. Attractions within the park include the zoo, museums, and many restored Colonial homes.
3.Historic Bartram's Garden
54th St and Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143 · 215-729-5281
In addition to the oldest surviving botanical gardens in the country, this 45-acre site also features the original 1728 farmhouse (a National Historic Landmark), a 1775 stone barn, and several outbuildings. The grounds include an herb garden, wetlands area, wildflower meadow, butterfly and hummingbird garden, and a winding river trail. Perhaps the most well known botanical discovery by John and William Bartram is the Franklinia alatamaha tree, last seen in the wild in 1803; only because the Bartrams propagated it in the late 1700s is the tree still found in private gardens.
4. Independence National Historical Park
Over 40 buildings situated on 45 acres and featuring the famed Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and a Visitors Center. This area, 50 years ago, was overgrown with warehouses, office buildings, and rooming houses. The Park Service along with Society Hill stepped in to make this park a highly successful example of revitalization. You must get a free same-day ticket to tour Independance Hall (tour lasts 20 minutes, but only 85 people can be in at one time - expect long lines on weekends). Visitors may access Liberty Bell Pavilion through security entrances located along the west side of 5th Street, between Chestnut and Market Streets; Independence Hall, Old City Hall, and Congress Hall are accessed through security entrances along the west side of 5th Street south of Chestnut Street.
5. Penn's Landing
Running along Philly’s waterfront, Penn’s Landing is the site of numerous events all year long, including cultural festivals, concerts (many of them free!), children’s programs, and a host of other fun stuff. Attractions in the area include an international sculpture garden, Independence Seaport Museum, ships to tour, and an ice rink. A ferry links Philadelphia with Camden, where you can visit the New Jersey State Aquarium, Tweeter Center Amphitheater, and the South Jersey Performing Arts Center.
6. Declaration House
7th & Market St, Philadelphia, PA · 215-597-8974
Also known as the Graff House, this is a faithful 1975 recreation of the original, which was demolished in 1883. Thomas Jefferson rented two rooms in the home, and wrote the Declaration of Independence there over a three-week period in June 1776. A must-see for history buffs.
7. Elfreth's Alley
Between Front & 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106-2006 · 215-574-0560
Still a residential street, Elfreth’s Alley was constructed in 1702 and is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the US. Two houses on the cobblestone street are open to the public – the Museum House and the Chairmakers House. You‘ll get a close-up look at the interiors, and learn about the architecture and history of the homes. During the summer, you’ll enjoy historic reenactments and demonstrations, plus special events and festivals. In December, the “Deck the Alley” celebration features tours of some of the private residences.
8. Franklin Court
314-322 Market St, Philadelphia, PA · 215-597-2760
The house where Benjamin Franklin once lived was demolished in the early 1800s, but a steel replica has been erected in its place, and underground is an informative museum. There are five other buildings on the site, including an operating post office, postal museum, and an 18th century printing shop. Located between 3rd & 4th Streets.
9. Betsy Ross House
239 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106-1915 · 215-686-1252
Built in the mid 1700s, this Georgian-style house was owned by the Widow Lithgow, who rented rooms in it to Betsy Ross and her husband, from 1773-1786. They ran an upholstery business out of this house, and in 1776, Betsy sewed the first US flag here. Fully restored in the 1930s, today the house is one of Philadelphia’s most visited attractions. Betsy Ross is buried in the adjacent courtyard. The gift shop offers Betsy memorabilia and flag souvenirs, books, and toys.
10. Carpenters' Hall
320 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 · 215-925-0167
Most people recognize Carpenters’ Hall as the site of the first Continental Congress, but this early 1700s building has a lot more history. It housed Ben Franklin’s Library Company and his American Philosophical Company, as well as banks, an auction house, a music school, and the Franklin institute. The first US bank robbery happened at Carpenters' Hall in 1798, and it was the first privately owned building to be opened to the public as a historical monument. Very interesting exhibits explore the entire history of the building and the Carpenters’ Company.
11. Christ Church
20 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19106-4592 · 215-922-1695
You can stroll through Franklin Court to get to the Christ Church, which was the place of worship for George Washington, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin. Still in use today, the late 1700s building is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the country. Services offered each Sunday; historical talks and tours of the church and burial ground are available.
12. Christ Church Burial Ground
5th and Arch Sts, Philadelphia, PA
This cemetery is a veritable who’s who of early America. Benjamin Franklin is buried here, along with four other signers or the Declaration of Independence. Wander through the cemetery, and you’ll also spot markers for historic leaders in the fields of medicine, politics, and academics. The tradition of tossing a penny through the formerly locked gates to honor Franklin continues, and informative walking tours of the site are offered daily.