30 Things to Do and See in Philadelphia

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Things to do and See in Philadelphia are not just limited to the list below, but its a good start for your next trip to the city of brotherly love - Visit Philly!

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Historical Sites & Attractions:

  1. While exploring the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, visitors can enjoy exhibitions that display artifacts from the ship’s past and play an interactive role. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is part of the guided tour. America’s most decorated battleship also hosts special events and overnight encampments. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
  2. The Betsy Ross House tells this story of a working-class Colonial woman and a new nation’s flag. Guests tour the home of the America’s most famous flagmaker—an upholsterer by trade—and enjoy interactive programs, storytelling and activities. 239 Arch Street, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  3. Modeled after the work of famed English church architect Christopher Wren, Christ Church once counted George Washington, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin among its worshippers. A few blocks away, Franklin and his wife are buried at Christ Church Burial Ground. Those passing by often throw pennies on the grave for good luck. Christ Church, 2nd Street above Market Street; Burial Ground, 5th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-1695, christchurchphila.org
  4. Eastern State Penitentiary introduced Americans to a new form of housing criminals: solitary confinement. Al Capone and Willie Sutton were among the 75,000 inmates who spent time here. Self-guided tours, a once-daily guided tour and a Halloween haunted house, along with exhibitions and special events, make the massive prison a favorite among those who dare to enter. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
  5. Historic Philadelphia, Inc. gives modern-day visitors the chance to experience Colonial times through immersive experiences that include period dinners, pub crawls and re-enactments. Storytellers recount lively tales at Once Upon A Nation benches throughout the historic district, and inside the Historic Philadelphia Center, the 15-minute Liberty 360 3D Show explores America’s symbols of freedom. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  6. Part of the nation’s most historic square mile, Independence National Historical Park tells the story of how American democracy came to be. Historic landmarks and attractions such as the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, The President’s House and Franklin Court take visitors back to the time of the nation’s Founding Fathers. (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  7. The National Constitution Center is the only institution in America where people of all perspectives can debate, celebrate and educate themselves about the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Visitors start their journeys by watching Freedom Rising, a live theatrical production, before viewing an original Bill of Rights. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
  8. Located on Independence Mall, the National Museum of American Jewish History* delves into the story and contributions of Jewish people in the U.S., from early settlers to history-makers such as Albert Einstein, industry giants like Esteé Lauder and artists and entertainers including Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg. Four floors of artifacts, memorabilia and artwork tell the narrative in chronological order. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
  9. No battles were fought in Valley Forge, but the time the Continental Army spent here went down as one of their most trying periods. Exhibits and artifacts in the Visitor Center, replicated huts and the original headquarters tell the story of the pivotal winter that George Washington and his troops endured. The 3,500-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park also includes trails and picnic areas. 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (610) 783-1000, nps.gov/vafo

Art Everywhere:

  1. Located on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation houses the most important collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern art in the world, with a jaw-dropping 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos, along with works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat and Modigliani. The captivating collection also includes American paintings and decorative arts, metalwork, African sculpture and Native American ceramics—all presented in Dr. Barnes’ distinctive arrangements in 24 intimate rooms. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
  2. The very settings that inspired much of the art on view in the galleries—rolling hills, verdant meadows and a flowing river—surround the Brandywine River Museum of Art*. For many, the landscape has become synonymous with Andrew Wyeth, whose work is exhibited here. Visitors can see an outstanding collection of American art, including works by N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. Guided tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House & Studio and Kuerner Farm offer a chance to discover the connection between art and life. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywinemuseum.org
  3. The James A. Michener Art Museum* pays homage to the beautiful Bucks County landscape—which has inspired countless artists—with its collection of impressionist works and its outdoor sculpture garden. In addition to showcasing important regional artists, the museum hosts internationally traveling exhibitions. Its glass-enclosed pavilion serves as the site for jazz nights and special events. 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-9800, michenerartmuseum.org
  4. The country’s oldest art museum and school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* (PAFA) presents special exhibitions, an outstanding permanent collection of American art and work by some of the nation’s most talented contemporary artists, including PAFA alumni. The museum boasts treasures by luminaries such as Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Nancy Spero, Elizabeth Murray and Kehinde Wiley. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
  5. The vast collections of Renaissance, American and impressionist masterpieces make the Philadelphia Museum of Art one of the most important art museums in the country. Its impressive holdings, acclaimed exhibitions, special programs and beautiful outdoor Sculpture Garden make it a cultural must-see. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org

Museums Of All Kinds:

  1. At 203 years old, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America’s oldest natural history museum. Visitors of all ages can wander through a tropical garden filled with live butterflies, meet live animals, see three continents of wildlife in their natural habitats and get face to face with towering dinosaurs. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
  2. The Franklin Institute demonstrates the science involved in disciplines ranging from sports to space. In addition to nationally traveling shows, the museum includes hands-on exhibitions, such as the highly interactive Your Brain; the Fels Planetarium; the Tuttleman IMAX Theater; and the Joel N. Bloom Observatory. The Giant Heart, a walk-through human corpuscle that would belong to someone 220 feet tall, was one of its first attractions and remains one of the most popular. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
  3. Independence Seaport Museum* focuses on the importance of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers to Philadelphia over the years. Along with displays that chronicle the city’s contributions to naval and commercial maritime history and several interactive activities, the museum offers visitors the rare opportunity to board and explore two historic naval ships, the cruiser Olympia and the submarine Becuna. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
  4. The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is one of America’s finest museums of medical history. Its “disturbingly informative” displays and special events help the public understand the mysteries of the human body and to appreciate the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The 20,000-item collection includes Albert Einstein’s brain, The Soap Lady, a medicinal plant garden and an examination of Civil War medicine. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 563-3737, muttermuseum.org
  5. Through imaginative and interactive exhibits, the National Liberty Museum* invites visitors to see what it means to “Live Like a Hero.” Incredible stories of heroism and artwork encourage guests to find their place in the story of liberty. It’s a gem located just steps from America’s most treasured symbols of freedom. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org
  6. At the Penn Museum, a 15-ton Egyptian sphinx is the star of the collection, which features more than one million objects. Other artifacts include Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets (some of the world’s oldest writing), Egyptian mummies, a crystal ball owned by China’s Dowager Empress, monumental stone sculptures from the ancient Maya and 4,500-year-old jewelry from the Royal Cemetery at Ur. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
  7. Created exclusively for kids up to age 7 to learn through play, Please Touch Museum® in Fairmount Park gives its young guests free reign. Eight interactive exhibitions, a 25,000-toy collection, art programs and music and dance performances keep them busy all day long. Guided tours of Memorial Hall, the National Historic Landmark that houses the museum, are available for grown-ups. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org

Parks, Gardens & Animals:

  1. Started in 1924, the Elmwood Park Zoo features animals from around the globe, including American bison, red pandas, jaguars, bald eagles and river otters. Visitors love the interactive Treetop Adventures feature, which includes more than 70 zip lines and challenging games high in the trees. 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, (610) 277-3825, elmwoodparkzoo.org
  2. Franklin Square delights both the young and not-so-young with its old-fashioned carousel, Philadelphia-themed mini-golf course and two playgrounds. When hunger strikes, visitors turn to SquareBurger for sustenance (think burgers, French fries or a Cake Shake, made with Philadelphia’s own Tastykakes). 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  3. Longwood Gardens attracts visitors from around the globe to its 1,077 acres filled with 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, 11,000 different types of plants, spectacular fountains and picturesque meadows and woodlands. The horticultural haven also hosts 400 events each year, including flower shows, gardening demonstrations, educational programs, children’s activities, concerts and musical theater. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
  4. Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, a 92-acre garden in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill section, offers an ever-changing landscape complete with winding paths, open vistas and beautiful fountains. Its nationally award-winning exhibit Out on a Limb takes visitors 50 feet up into the treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing. An outdoor Garden Railway features model trains on a quarter-mile track in the garden in the summer and during the holidays. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777, morrisarboretum.org
  5. Situated on 42 acres of lush gardens and home to 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo offers a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration system called Zoo360. It gives the most majestic creatures—monkeys, lemurs, lions, tigers, jaguars and others—more room to roam utilizing a campus-wide network of see-through trails and overhead walkways. Other wild highlights of America’s first zoo: First Niagara Big Cat Falls, McNeil Avian Center, PECO Primate Reserve, the Rare Animal Conservation Center and KidZooU. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org

More Fun:

  1. One of Philadelphia’s favorite watering holes, McGillin’s Olde Ale House predates even the construction of City Hall. The popular Irish pub has been open since 1860, making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in the city. Good food, reasonable prices, an impressive selection of local and regional beers on tap and some Philadelphia hospitality keep patrons coming back. 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562, mcgillins.com
  2. With festivals for every season, stores for every type of shopper and the just-for-kids Giggleberry Fair, Buck’s County’s Peddler’s Village packs a surprising number of activities in its bucolic, Colonial-style landscape. The Golden Plough Inn invites people to keep the fun going for multiple days. Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska, (215) 794-4000, peddlersvillage.com
  3. Since 1892, the historic and always-packed Reading Terminal Market houses more than 80 vendors selling farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, herbs and ready-to-eat meals—from cheesesteaks to Amish baked goods to Greek fare. Tours are available. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-2317, readingterminalmarket.org
  4. SugarHouse Casino is one of Philadelphia’s premier entertainment destinations, serving
    3.6 million guests annually. The casino features 1,606 slots and 83 table games, as well as a waterfront deck with riverside seating and unmatched views of the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge. 1001 N. Delaware Avenue, (877) 477-3715, sugarhousecasino.com

* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2015. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.

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