Philadelphia is a truly fascinating city. With both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution having been signed there by the country’s founding fathers, the city is first and foremost incredibly rich in history and important landmarks. But it’s become quite the modern city too, with an active arts, sports, and culture scene to rival that of most any metropolis in the United States.
Whether you like to spend your travels exploring museum exhibits or cheering on the local sports team, we can guarantee you’ll find something to enjoy in the “City of Brotherly Love.” In the meantime, read on for our short list of some of the best activities in Philadelphia – perfect for first-time visitors or anyone looking to hit all the city’s highlights.
Perhaps the most popular aspect of Philadelphia tourism is the collection of historical landmarks. For instance, you can’t leave the city without seeing the Liberty Bell, which is located in its very own park downtown. You probably won’t hear it rung (it’s really only put to use for very special occasions), but it still makes for a great photo-op to commemorate your trip. The Bell was commissioned in the 1750s, and rung to commemorate American independence just days after the Declaration was signed in 1776.
Just around the corner from the Bell is Independence Hall, where the Declaration and Constitution entered into U.S. history. The Hall is managed by the US National Park Service, and you can tour it with the purchase of a pass, just like any other national park. It’s a humbling experience, for anyone with the slightest appreciation of American history, just to be in this building.
Finally, if you’re the sort of tourist who enjoys the eerie feeling that comes with touring historic prisons, you’ll want to check our the Eastern State Penitentiary. If you visit during the fall you’ll have the option of touring the prison at night, it’s turned into a historic haunted house. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s another dimension of historical tourism in Philly.
Once you’re ready to come back to the present after a long day of historical immersion, you may want to catch a live sporting event. It’s a very active pro sports town, such that no matter when you visit, one of the Philly teams will be in the midst of its season. You can see the Phillies playing baseball in the spring and summer, catch the beloved Eagles playing football in the fall, and head for 76ers basketball or Flyers hockey games through the winter and into thee spring. For that matter, those who like soccer will also enjoy the MLS’s Philadelphia Union, and college sports fans might enjoy witnessing the excellent Villanova University men’s basketball team.
Some American tourists may also particularly enjoy the Philly sports scene because of its brand new tie to legal betting. As one of just a few sports to have recently legalized such activity, Pennsylvania has online sportsbooks that allow Vegas-style wagering on most any sporting event. It’s not for everyone, but it is another new aspect of the Philly sports scene that’s somewhat unique.
Arts & Culture
Our last recommendation for what to do while in Philadelphia is to take a peek into the city’s ever-evolving arts and culture scene. The land bordering the Delaware River in particular has seen quite the revitalization as of late, and is now filled with awesome places to eat, shop, browse artwork, or just hang out and absorb the pleasant views.
One of our favorite places on the water in this area is the Spruce Street Harbor Park, which is said to be one of the world’s best urban beaches. When the weather is nice the city puts on a lot of programs in this area, like markets and live music performances. But it’s fun to hang out there even if there’s nothing specific going on, and while there are of course plenty of other fun little pockets of the city to explore, this is quite possibly the most unique.
Hopefully this has helped to get you even more exciting about visiting Philadelphia. Or, if you weren’t considering such a trip before, we hope you’ll give this fun, one-of-a-kind city a closer look!