Things to do in Philadelphia, USA

35 Things to Do in Philadelphia – Best Places to Visit in Philly

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If you are looking for things to do in Philadelphia, you’ve come to the right place, since I’ve been living in the largest city in Pennsylvania for over three years. Are you ready to discover the places to visit in Philadelphia that you shouldn’t miss?

One or two days are enough to see the most important sights in Philly (the first 20 places on the list). If you have more time, in 5 days you can visit the 35 tourist attractions of Philadelphia that I recommend in this article.

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the USA. The Declaration of Independence was signed there. In addition, it was the capital of the United States between 1790 and 1799. It’s an hour and a half from New York City and two and a half hours from D.C., right between the two cities. It’s undoubtedly one of the most important cities in the United States, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Pennsylvania.

Before talking about what to do in Philadelphia, if you are going to visit several attractions where they charge entrance fees, I recommend the Sightseeing Flex Pass (covers up to 7 attractions for an unlimited time) or the Sightseeing Day Pass (a pass for 1 to 5 days to visit all the attractions you want).

1. Liberty Bell, the main attraction of Philadelphia

The Liberty Bell, with the inscription “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” is an icon of the independence and freedom of the United States. It is believed that on July 8, 1776, the ringing of this bell, located at that time in Independence Hall, marked the reading of the Declaration of Independence, hence its great historical importance.

Visit the Liberty Bell, things to do in Philadelphia

1. Liberty Bell, the main attraction of Philadelphia

With the British trying to take control of the city during the War of Independence, Congress and much of the population left Philadelphia, taking the bell with them and hiding it. Nobody knows when the bell’s iconic fracture appeared, but in any case, upon being able to return to the city, it became a symbol of freedom and the union of the Americans.

It’s currently on display at the Liberty Bell Center, across from Independence Mall, where it made history; you can view it for free. It’s, without a doubt, one of the most emblematic places to visit in Philadelphia.

2. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, an important museum to visit in Philadelphia

The Museum of Art is a must-see in Philadelphia. Many come to visit the outside since its neo-Greek style is impressive. In addition, the famous Rocky scene was filmed on their stairs, so running the Rocky Steps is almost a rite of passage for anyone visiting Philadelphia for the first time. Although it isn’t free, I think that it’s a museum worth visiting inside.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, places to visit in Philadelphia

2. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, an important museum to visit in Philadelphia

In the museum, you’ll find everything from almost complete European cathedral facades to a Japanese teahouse. The museum is enormous, and you can travel through Asia, Europe, and America by going from one room to another. In addition, there are works by Picasso, Dalí, Van Gogh, and Rubens, among others.

For all this, visiting it is the best thing to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, plus it’s free on Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. and on the first Sunday of each month.

3. Selfie with the Rocky statue, the funniest thing to do in Philadelphia

Right next to the museum is the statue of Rocky Balboa, which was made for the third film in the famous boxer’s saga and was later donated by Sylvester Stallone himself to the city of Philadelphia.

Selfie with Rocky Statue, things to do in Philadelphia

3. Selfie with the Rocky statue, the funniest thing to do in Philadelphia

If you don’t get there early, you’ll probably have to stand in line to get your picture taken with the statue, since it’s one of the most popular free things to do in Philadelphia (along with running up the Rocky steps).

Also, if you are a big fan of the Rocky movies, I recommend taking this Rocky tour. We did it when my brother came to visit us, and the truth is that we really liked it.

4. Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the most famous prisons in the world

The Philadelphia Penitentiary, which operated from 1820 to 1971, is one of the most famous prisons in the world. Here, some of the most notorious criminals were imprisoned, such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone, who was here for a few months.

Eastern State Penitentiary, places to go in Philly

4. Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the most famous prisons in the world

Currently, only ruins remain, but pavilions and watchtowers have been preserved and it’s considered a National Historic Monument. Its haunting atmosphere has made it one of the things to do in Philly that you can’t miss. Here, the current incarceration system was refined and served as an example for more than 300 prisons built at the time.

If you plan to visit it, I recommend buying your ticket in advance here to enjoy a $3 discount and a guided tour. However, you can get an even bigger discount when using the Sightseeing Flex Pass or the Sightseeing Day Pass.

5. Independence National Historical Park, a place to go in Philadelphia

The Independence Hall is a Gregorian-style red brick building that presides over Independence National Historical Park. It was built in 1753 to house the Pennsylvania colonial government. The most important historical moment that took place in this building was the debate and signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States by the Founding Fathers of the Nation. In addition, as I have already mentioned, the Liberty Bell was originally in its bell tower; today it has a replica of it.

Independence Hall, a must see in Philadelphia

5. Independence National Historical Park, a place to go in Philadelphia

To visit Independence Hall, you must book a guided tour. From March to December, you will need a pass for a specific date and time, but you can get your pass for free the same day directly at Independence Hall. Normally, same day passes sell out quickly, so if you don’t feel like getting up early, you can book your ticket here ($ 1). If you want to visit it for free, pick up a pass as soon as you can, and while you wait for your tour, you can visit the rest of the things to see in Philadelphia that are in the area.

In Independence National Historical Park itself, there are other attractions that I recommend you visit, such as the Liberty Bell Center (where the original Liberty Bell is), Congress Hall (the first congress of the United States), the old city hall, and the National Constitution Center.

As you can see, almost all the important places in the city are around this park, so visiting it is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia, PA.

6. Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest public markets in the USA

The Reading Terminal Market is one of my favorite places in Philadelphia and a place I recommend you visit, especially if you are hungry, as it’s one of the best places to eat in Philly.

Reading Terminal Market, things to do in Philadelphia PA

6. Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest public markets in the USA

This market opened in 1893 inside the Reading Railroad Company terminal. It currently has more than 100 food stalls from all over the world and also has local specialties. Some vendors are descendants of the early Reading Terminal Market workers. I especially love the homemade donuts from the Amish stall. They are certainly something you have to try.

In the center of the market, there are tables and chairs, which is great if you go with a group and everyone wants to eat different things. If you can go any day of the week, try to avoid Sunday since, although the market is open every day, the most traditional stalls, like those of the Amish, are closed then. In any case, it’s one of the things to do in Philadelphia that I recommend the most.

7. Philly Cheesesteak, the must-try food in Philadelphia

Regarding food, I can’t forget the Philly Cheesesteak, the most famous sandwich in town. You will see it everywhere. At the Reading Terminal Market, there are numerous stalls where they serve it, although if you want to try the authentic one, the one that made this meat and melted cheese sandwich famous, you have to go to the place where it was created in 1930, Pat’s King of Steaks, or its perpetual rival, located just opposite, Geno’s Steaks.

Eat a Philly Cheesesteak, things to do in Philly

7. Philly Cheesesteak, the must-try food in Philadelphia

If you want to do a tasting to try these and other Philly Cheesesteaks, I recommend this segway tour, where in addition to learning about the history of the city, you will taste five varieties of this sandwich. A must-take tour in Philadelphia for any food lover.

8. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the most colorful place to visit in Philadelphia

The Magic Gardens one of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia. Before I visited it, I thought it wasn’t worth the $10 entrance fee, considering that much of this mosaic and ceramic garden can be seen from outside. In fact, you can find samples of this art throughout the South Street area, although I assure you that once inside the Magic Gardens, it’s impossible not to be surprised. It is well worth paying every dollar of admission, as it is a must-see in Philly.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a beautiful place to go in Philly

8. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the most colorful place to visit in Philadelphia

It was created by local artist Isaías Zagar throughout his life as a means of treating his depression and bipolar disorder. And he didn’t just use ceramic and glass. Virtually any object could be placed strategically to create harmony in the midst of chaos: rusty bicycle wheels, mirrors, glass bottles, cutlery, sculptures … It’s also a very fun place to visit in Philadelphia with kids, since at the entrance, they will give you a list of hidden objects that you must find in the psychedelic maze, my favorite part of this masterpiece.

Zagar also embellished facades throughout the neighborhood, which, until the late 1960s, was a less-affluent area. In fact, thanks to him and other artists and activists who were in charge of the “South Street Renaissance” project, the construction of the road that would have eliminated the street and, with it, all the art on the facades of the neighborhood, was canceled.

9. Philadelphia City Hall, the largest municipal building in the United States

Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, and at 548 feet tall, it was also the tallest in the world when it was built in 1901 and kept that title until 1908. It did retain its position as the tallest building in the city until 1987, as there was an unwritten rule that no construction could exceed the height of the 27-ton bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of the city, placed on top of the city hall tower.

The building is beautiful, and I’m not just saying that because we got married there; it really is a place that I recommend visiting in Philly. It is a National Historic Landmark, and in 2006, it was also declared a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Philadelphia City Hall, a visit to do in Philadelphia

9. Philadelphia City Hall, the largest municipal building in the United States

To visit it and see the incredible 360º views from the top of its tower, you have two options. The first is to buy the tower pass ($10) and visit the tower on your own, which takes approximately 15 minutes. The second is a two-hour guided tour where you will learn about the historical, artistic, and architectural details of this building. This tour also includes a visit to the observation deck of the tower.

If you decide to go up the tower to see aerial views of the city, you should know that this tour is also included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and the Sightseeing Day Pass, since it’s one of the most popular things to do in Philadelphia.

10. Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, a great wonder of the Masonic world

The Philadelphia Masonic Temple is not only one of the most beautiful Masonic temples in the United States, but also one of the largest and most important in the world. It’s also next to the town hall, so it is a mandatory stop when doing your Philadelphia sightseeing.

Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, where to go in Philadelphia

10. Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, a great wonder of the Masonic world

It is a Norman-style building made of granite and decorated with towers. Inside are seven lodge rooms that were designed to capture the seven ideal architectures according to Freemasonry: Corinthian, Oriental, Egyptian, Renaissance, Gothic, Ionian, and Norman.

In addition, inside the temple is the Grand Lodge Museum, with an impressive collection of Masonic treasures and a library with an extensive collection of literature on the institution. From Tuesday to Saturday, there are guided tours, so if you want to know more about Freemasonry, you can check out timetables and prices here.

11. Taking a photo in the Love Park, something that’s popular to do in Philly

Visiting the Love Park is one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia. In addition, it is right next to the city hall and the Masonic Temple, so you will see it on the way. Although the square is actually called John F. Kennedy Square, it is known as the Love Park for the Robert Indiana sculpture called Love. If you travel to Philadelphia as a couple, you cannot leave without taking a photo under the sculpture. Additionally, it is aligned with Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which connects City Hall with the Museum of Art, so you will have spectacular views of the Rocky Steps and the museum through the sculpture frame.

Love Park, fun things to do in pPadelphia for couples

11. Taking a photo in the Love Park, something that’s popular to do in Philly

It is one of the quietest places to visit in Philadelphia. In summer, there is an area with water jets for the little ones to play and cool off, in addition to green areas and chairs and tables to eat in the sun if you decide to buy a snack in the surrounding shops. However, when I enjoy this park the most is at Christmas, since they set up the Christmas Village, an authentic German Christmas market, here.

12. Schuylkill River Trail, a lovely place to go in Philly

Philadelphia is on the banks of the immense Delaware River, which connects the city with the Atlantic and has provided it with an important industrial port. However, there is another river that runs through the city that is smaller and charismatic and on whose shores I recommend walking, the Schuylkill River (pronounced SKOO-kill).

Schuylkill River Trail, a beautiful place to visit in Philadelphia

12. Schuylkill River Trail, a lovely place to go in Philly

The promenade, which runs along the shore, the Schuylkill River Trail, is more than 75 miles long, but there are two sections that I recommend you visit. The first goes from South Street to the Museum of Art and separates the center from University City. This section is full of green areas, bike lanes, deck chairs, etc. In short, it’s one of the best fun things to do in Philadelphia in summer. From this area, I recommend the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, a platform that allows you to walk on the river and connects with the bridge that crosses it on South Street. From this bridge, you will have amazing views of the skyscrapers of Philadelphia at sunset.

The other area that I recommend is the one that goes from behind the Museum of Art to Laurel Hill Cemetery, passing through Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in Philadelphia and where events such as outdoor concerts take place in summer. I lived in this area for two years, and it is amazing. The previous section you can consider an urban park, but this is full of nature. You might see groundhogs, raccoons, and even deer. I’ll let you in on a secret: in July, if you visit it at night, you will also see a lot of fireflies.

13. Boathouse Row, a special place to visit in Philadelphia at night

A peculiarity of the Schuylkill River is that it is very popular for rowing. This sport, typical of cities like Oxford or Cambridge, is also of great importance in the city of Philadelphia. In fact, one of the most popular things to do in Philadelphia is to visit the pretty 19th-century rowing clubs, known as Boathouse Row.

Boathouse Row, places to go in Philadelphia at night

13. Boathouse Row, a special place to visit in Philadelphia at night

These are located behind the Museum of Art, on the Schuylkill River Trail by Fairmount Park. However, the best area from which to see this row of fifteen picturesque houses is on the opposite shore. To cross, I recommend doing so in front of the museum, using the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive bridge (not on Spring Garden St.).

The best time to see Boathouse Row is when the sun goes down, since the houses have special lighting, which changes in intensity and color depending on the time of year or if there is an event nearby. Visiting them is definitely one of the best things to do in Philadelphia at night.

14. Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Auguste Rodin outside Paris

The Rodin Museum is on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the avenue that connects City Hall with the Museum of Art. This area stands out for the number of museums there, and one of the most important ones is the Rodin Museum. Here, you will find the largest number of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside of Paris. In fact, in the entrance courtyard, you can see the famous sculpture of “The Thinker”. Another of his most famous works, “The Kiss”, is also in this museum.

Rodin Museum, a museum to visit in Philly

14. Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Auguste Rodin outside Paris

You won’t only be able to see Rodin’s sculptures, but also other objects related to him: bronzes, drawings, letters, books, etc. The gardens that surround the museum are also beautiful, and there you can find the “Puerta del Infierno”, another of the most acclaimed works by Rodin which used to be the museum’s entrance. The entrance fee to the museum is “Pay What You Wish”, and the suggested price is $12. If you’re on a budget, visiting this museum may be one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia.

15. The Franklin Institute, the most beloved science museum in the country

The Franklin Institute is also on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in the Museums District. It opened in 1824, making it one of the oldest science and development centers in the United States. It is named after one of the nation’s most beloved Founding Fathers in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin, who, in addition to signing the United States Declaration of Independence, was an avid scientist, inventor, journalist, politician, and philosopher.

The Franklin Institute, a must see museum in Philly

15. The Franklin Institute, the most beloved science museum in the country

He invented bifocal lenses, the lightning rod, the urinary catheter, and many other discoveries that are still used today. In the museum, in addition to finding a monument to the memory of Benjamin Franklin, children and adults will learn about electricity, insects, anatomy, Newton’s laws, etc. through interactive displays and exhibits. Furthermore, the institute has a giant model of the human heart that you can enter to understand how it works, flight simulators, a planetarium, and an IMAX cinema.

Visiting it is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Philadelphia with kids. All the exhibitions are like games for the whole family to learn and have fun. Admission isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and Sightseeing Day Pass, so if you’re going to visit this and any other paid attraction in Philadelphia, it’s well worth it.

16. The Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philly

The Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences is right next to the Franklin Institute and the admission fee is also included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and Sightseeing Day Pass. The institution has been dedicated for more than two hundred years to sponsoring expeditions in search of new species and biomes. Today there are more than 17 million specimens in its collections, creating a biodiversity library that is still used for research.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, indoor activities Philadelphia

16. The Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philly

A visit to the museum is entertaining for children and adults, although it is not without controversy. The most popular area of the museum is 37 dioramas with taxidermies from all continents and of some animals that are already extinct. Although most dioramas were indeed created between the 1930s and 1950s, I personally don’t like this type of attraction.

The exhibition on dinosaurs, for example, does seem very interesting to me, since there’s a complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and others. The museum also has a butterfly garden and is one of the most popular places to see in Philadelphia.

17. One Liberty Observation Deck, the best views of Philadelphia

The One Liberty Observation Deck is a platform that is almost 883 feet high and s located on the 57th floor of the One Liberty Place building, one of the tallest and most beautiful skyscrapers in the city. From here, you can see all of Philadelphia from a bird’s eye view through its 360º glass deck.

One Liberty Observation Deck, fun places in Philly

17. One Liberty Observation Deck, the best views of Philadelphia

Although some think that the views are more beautiful from the city hall tower, keep in mind that the One Liberty deck is higher and fully covered, so on windy days, it is the best option. I also like the views from here more, since you can see City Hall and Two Liberty Place, the other skyscraper that makes up Liberty Place, from above. These two skyscrapers are beautiful, with a look reminiscent of the Chrysler Building in New York, with its triangulated cusps and blue mirror-glass facades.

This experience is also included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and Sightseeing Day Pass, so if you are interested in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia, don’t hesitate to explore the city from above.

18. National Constitution Center, an interesting museum to visit in Philadelphia

The National Constitution Center is a museum and national town hall for constitutional dialogue. It combines high technology and interactive methods with the traditional exhibition of documents to help the visitor learn a little more about the US Constitution.

National Constitution Center, another museum to go in Philly

18. National Constitution Center, an interesting museum to visit in Philadelphia

In the museum, you will also be able to see life-size bronze statues of the 39 signers of the United States Constitution, as well as the 3 dissidents.

Personally, it’s not one of the museums in Philadelphia that I like the most, although as it’s included in the Sightseeing Day Pass and it’s in the National Historical Park of Independence, if you have bought that pass, you can take a look on the way to Liberty Bell or Independence Hall.

19. Museum of the American Revolution, a historical museum to go to in Philly

Like the previous museum, unless you are very interested in the War of Independence (1775-1783), or you have the Sightseeing Day Pass, I don’t think the price of admission to the Museum of the American Revolution is worth it. However, this is just my opinion, and it does not stop this being one of the main tourist attractions in Philadelphia.

Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

19. Museum of the American Revolution, a historical museum to go to in Philly

In the museum, you can learn more about the American Revolution, which led to the independence of the thirteen British colonies, through an interactive exhibition, theatrical performances, and unique artifacts, such as the original tent of George Washington, the first President of the United States, or weapons used during the war. If you want to know a little more about the history of the country, visiting it is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia, United States. It is also a short walk from Independence Hall.

20. The Betsy Ross House, the home of the most famous flag-maker in America

Continuing with the historical places to visit in Philadelphia, we cannot forget the House of Betsy Ross, the seamstress who made the first flag of the United States after receiving a visit from George Washington, who wanted to create a new flag that would unify the 13 colonies. So the first flag had 13 stars and 13 stripes.

The Betsy Ross House, a historical place to visit in Philly

20. The Betsy Ross House, the home of the most famous flag-maker in America

Betsy is not only famous for embroidering the flag, but also for her sacrifices for the country. Widow of two soldiers who fought in the War of Independence and a forced hostess of the English military, who occupied her house, she is much admired today.

This little house with small rooms and narrow stairs is a very popular place to visit in Philadelphia. In addition, it’s very close to the National Historical Park of Independence and is included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and the Sightseeing Day Pass.

21. Effreth’s Alley, a historical street you must see in Philly

Elfreth’s Alley is Philadelphia’s quintessential historic street and is the oldest residential street in America. Its 32 Georgian-style red brick houses are a perfect view of 18th-century Philly.

Effreth’s Alley, free things to visit in Philadelphia

21. Effreth’s Alley, a historical street you must see in Philly

This cobbled alley began as the residence of various artisans and workers and later ended up surrounded by factories during the industrial era.

With the passage of time, the alley was inhabited by Russian, Italian, and Irish workers until it was abandoned. In the 1930s, funds were raised for the rehabilitation of its houses, and today it is an essential place to visit in Philadelphia. It is located just 5 minutes from the Betsy Ross House.

22. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia

The well-known American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) lived in Philadelphia for a time, but of all the houses he rented, only this red brick one remains and has become a National Historic Site.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

22. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia

Visiting it is one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia if you have read any of his works, such as “The Pit and the Pendulum” or “The Black Cat,” which describes a creepy basement similar to the one you will find in this house museum.

During your visit, you can discover Poe’s influence on other writers, see unique editions of his books, listen to excerpts narrated by famous actors, and participate in interactive activities related to the writer and his work.

23. Mütter Museum, a curious museum to go to in Philadelphia

The Mütter Museum belongs to the Philadelphia College of Physicians and is one of the most extravagant museums I have ever visited. For this reason, it is often known as the “freaky museum. It contains a large collection of pathological and anatomical samples, old medical instruments, and vintage wax models.

Mütter Museum, places to visit in Philadelphia

23. Mütter Museum, a curious museum to go to in Philadelphia

Some of the weirdest things you will see in this museum are sections of Einstein’s brain, a collection of human skulls, malignant tumors, the joined liver of the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, boats of human skin, and photographs of medical abnormalities.

It’s certainly not a museum for everyone, but if you’re curious, visiting it is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia. It is also included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and in the Sightseeing Day Pass.

24. Rittenhouse Square, one of the most popular places to go in Philly

Rittenhouse Square is located in the center of the most luxurious neighborhood in Philadelphia and is one of the best areas for shopping, enjoying the best restaurants in town, and even taking a relaxing stroll around the park. Plus, it’s one of the best places to stay in Philly.

Rittenhouse Square, a popular place to visit in Philadelphia

24. Rittenhouse Square, one of the most popular places to go in Philly

It was one of the first five squares planned by William Penn, the founder of the city, and throughout history, it has accumulated exquisite sculptures, which are scattered throughout the park. The most popular is perhaps the “Lion crushing a snake,” although you will see many others.

If you want to stay in a luxury hotel in Philadelphia, in this area you will find possibly the best ones. I also recommend visiting this park and square if you want to relax in the sun or stroll in a green space in the middle of the city.

25. Mural Arts Philadelphia, more great stuff to do in Philadelphia

Something you will certainly see a lot of when you take a walk through the streets of Philadelphia is its almost 4,000 murals. Painted by artists of all kinds, they reflect the changes suffered in each neighborhood and the concerns of its inhabitants.

The Mural Arts Philadelphia tour, things to do in Philadelphia

25. Mural Arts Philadelphia, another great stuff to do in Philadelphia

If you are interested in urban art, I recommend this free self-guided tour. I assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Philadelphia Muses, Garden of Delights, and Legacy are my favorite murals.

26. South Street, one of the most famous streets in Philadelphia

South Street is one of the most multicultural streets in Philadelphia. Here, sounds and flavors from all over intermingle. If you feel like listening to live music, trying food from all continents, discovering alternative art galleries, watching independent-style movies, or just being amazed by the diverse mix of pedestrians, touring South Street is fun stuff to do in Philadelphia.

South Street, things to do in South Philly

26. South Street, one of the most famous streets in Philadelphia

If I had to define South Street in three words, they would be: punk, bohemian, and alternative. Definitely the best place to go if you want to enjoy Philadelphia’s nightlife and an explosive mix of cultures.

27. Italian Market, one of the oldest open-air markets in the USA

The Philadelphia Italian Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in the country. It has been installed in the south of Philadelphia since the 19th century, and although it has changed a lot since then, it is still an interesting place to visit in Philadelphia. The stalls sell meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and other imported products. In addition, there are many gourmet shops with cheeses, oils, chocolates, and pasta brought from Italy.

Italian Market, free things to do in Philadelphia

27. Italian Market, one of the oldest open-air markets in the USA

A few years ago, some of the stalls were still run by descendants of the first Italian immigrants to the neighborhood. However, nowadays, Italian restaurants share sidewalks with Mexican taquerias, Vietnamese restaurants, and Korean barbecue places, among others. If it weren’t for the colorful decoration on the facades and the posters of the original grocery stores that still remain, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this is the Italian quarter of the city. Mind you, it’s still the best place to eat pasta in Philly.

If you prefer Asian food, then I recommend the Chinatown neighborhood, which is in the heart of the city, and stands out for its beautiful Friendship Gate. This neighborhood also appeared in the 19th century, serving as a nucleus for Cantonese immigrants who arrived in the city. Today, there are countless Asian restaurants to choose from, and it’s the best place to go to enjoy Asian flavors.

28. Franklin Square, a place with more things to do in Philadelphia

Like Rittenhouse Square, Franklin Square is one of Philadelphia’s five original squares and is located very close to Independence National Historical Park, making it a must-see place in Philadelphia.

If the other was a refined square designed for relaxation, this is the best for family fun. It has a miniature golf course with the main monuments of the city, a picnic area, a carousel, swings, the renowned SquareBurger, and a large fountain in the middle of the square that was built in 1838.

Franklin Square, an important place to go in Philly

28. Franklin Square, a place with more things to do in Philadelphia

Some of the city’s most popular annual events are also held in the plaza, such as the Chinese Lantern Festival during summer nights, where, in addition to the impressive light display, you can enjoy contortionists, stunts, martial arts, and traditional dances. Additionally, the festival has a lot of stalls where you can buy local crafts or taste Chinese food.

The Franklin Bridge, which crosses the Delaware River and connects Pennsylvania to New Jersey, starts from Franklin Square. The bridge can be crossed on foot, although it’s quite a long journey. On the other side is Camden, a neighborhood which, although it has improved in recent years, still has a reputation for being somewhat unsafe. However, I have been there quite a few times (by car) and have never had any problems. The views of the Philadelphia skyline from New Jersey are wonderful, especially at sunset. Besides, you will be able to visit the USS New Jersey, one of the most interesting things to do in NJ.

29. The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin is one of the city’s most beloved Founding Fathers, as you have seen throughout this list of must-do things in Philadelphia.

The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

29. The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia

Although, at the Franklin Institute you will find the memorial and some personal objects of this public figure that played a fundamental role in the country’s history, if you want to know more about his life and work, I recommend the Benjamin Franklin Museum. In it, personal objects of the philosopher, politician, and inventor are exhibited, and through computer animations and exhibitions, you can learn more about him.

The museum is located one block from Independence Hall, and if you want to visit the place where his remains and those of some of the other signers of the Declaration of Independence rest, the Christ Church Cemetery is not far away. A visit to Benjamin Franklin’s Grave is included with the Sightseeing Flex Pass and Sightseeing Day Pass, but admission to the museum, which is $5, is not included in any of the passes (although it is free on these holidays).

30. Spruce Street Harbor Park, something great to do in Philadelphia in summer

Visiting Spruce Street Harbor Park is the most popular thing to do in Philadelphia on summer nights. This park, built on old piers along the Delaware River, which was once a major industrial port, is one of the most fun places in the city.

With colorful lights, hammocks, board games, arcade games, numerous food stalls, and beautiful views of the river and Franklin Bridge, this is the best place to go if you want to have a special night. Moreover, it is located a short distance from the city center, making it totally feasible to walk.

Spruce Street Harbor Park, the best place to go in Philadelphia in summer

30. Spruce Street Harbor Park, something great thing to do in Philadelphia in summer

Although this park is only open in the summer, it’s part of what is known as Penn’s Landing, a series of piers along the Delaware River that have been rehabilitated to be transformed into the coolest area of Philadelphia. Here, you will find outdoor spaces for festivals and concerts, such as Great Plaza; the Rivers Casino; and the Independence Seaport Museum, where you can learn more about the maritime history of the Delaware River. At Blue Cross RiverRink, you can go skating or ice skating all year round, and at the Race Street Pier, you can just rest and see views of the river and the bridge. If you follow the boardwalk below Franklin Bridge, you will arrive at Morgan’s Pier, my favorite place to have a beer on a sunny day and a must-see in Philadelphia in the summer.

31. Longwood Gardens, one of the most important botanical gardens in the USA

Longwood Gardens, founded in 1906, is one of the world’s leading horticultural gardens. It could not be left off our list of things to do in Philadelphia, despite being located about 45 minutes from the city center. It has 40 interior and exterior gardens, occupying an area of 1,077 acres that is split between greenhouses, forests, meadows, and gardens.

It is a place where you can get lost in art and design with seasonal collections; the spring one stands out- it’s full of magnolias, tulips, and azaleas- as does the Christmas one, which has orchids, camellias, and palm trees. You can also stroll through forests full of ancient trees and fauna, such as deer, butterflies, beavers, and birds, or through its well-kept gardens with beautiful fountains.

Longwood Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Philadelphia

31. Longwood Gardens, one of the most important botanical gardens in the USA

In any case, it is a place that I recommend you visit in Philadelphia if you have enough time, since it usually takes about 3 or 4 hours to visit it.

If you like botanical gardens, but this seems a bit far away, I also recommend the Morris Arboretum, an educational center that combines art and science, all in the midst of thousands of exotic woody plants that are beautiful and eye-catching. In addition, it is complemented by a beautiful rose garden and is only half an hour from the city.

32. Please Touch Museum, the best place to visit in Philly with kids

If you are wondering what to do in Philadelphia with kids, we recommend the Please Touch Museum. As the name suggests, it is based on interactive exhibits and events where kids are allowed to touch and experience what they want.

Please Touch, things to do in Philly with kids

32. Please Touch Museum, the best place to visit in Philly with kids

While playing and having fun, they will learn about animals, machines, cultures from all over the world, etc. And you can also play with them. It is one of the few museums in the world that is made specifically for children, and although kids can have fun at other museums in Philadelphia, only in this one will they be the protagonists.

There are even special rooms for children under three years old, where they can discover animals, see shows specifically geared toward their age group, and enjoy lullabies in the “Fairytale Garden”. Other popular areas include the 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, the grocery store where children can shop, the mini Delaware River to navigate, and the child-driven bus. Certainly the best place to visit in Philadelphia with kids.

33. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a peaceful place you can’t miss in Philly

Very close to the previous museum, and also located in Fairmount Park, is the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, one of the most curious places in Philadelphia. It is a traditional 17th-century Japanese-style garden house.

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a quietest place in Philly

33. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a peaceful place you can’t miss in Philly

This house was built in 1953 to be exhibited at the MoMa in New York until it was definitively installed in Philadelphia in 1958 and the first gardens were designed, which have been renovated to form a piece of Japan in the middle of Philadelphia.

If you want to enjoy a haven of peace while you feed the beautiful Koi fish that live in the pond, enjoy a Japanese garden cared for down to the smallest detail, watch a demonstration of a traditional tea ceremony, or relax next to a waterfall fountain, this is a place that I recommend visiting in Philadelphia.

34. Valley Forge National Historical Park, a place you must visit in Philadelphia

Valley Forge is a historical site of great importance and is considered a National Historical Park.

Here, the troops of the Continental Army, with George Washington at their forefront, spent the winter of 1777 to 1778. In the midst of the American War of Independence and with the British army gaining ground, Washington tried to find a refuge where soldiers could shelter from the harsh and humid winter of Pennsylvania. Hunger, cold, and various diseases plagued the troops, but the people’s solidarity and union were what gave the United States its independence.

Valley Forge National Historical Park, cool spots in Philly

34. Valley Forge National Historical Park, a place you must visit in Philadelphia

Today, you can visit some buildings that served as a refuge for soldiers, as well as cannons and trenches that were left after the American Revolution. We live right next to Valley Forge, and it is one of our favorite places to walk close to home, so we go quite often. Here you can see all the hikes around the park. Although the most popular trail, where you will see most of the historical places, is the Joseph Plumb Martin route, if you want to see more nature, I recommend the Mt. Misery Trail.

35. Visit Amish country, an unmissable thing to do in Philadelphia

And we end with one of the most popular things to do near Philadelphia: visiting Amish Country.

The Amish are a religious group that stands out for their rejection of modern technology and the use of electricity, which is why they practically live like they’re in the 17th century.

In Lancaster County, an hour and a half from Philadelphia, is the second-largest Amish congregation in the United States, which is why it’s often known as Dutch Country. The main language they use is German.

Visit an Amish settlement, the best excursion to do in Philadelphia

35. Visit an Amish settlement, an unmissable thing to do in Philadelphia

If you visit the outskirts of Lancaster, especially when heading to Lancaster on Highway 30 or 340, you will almost certainly come across horse carriages, as the Amish don’t use cars to get around. In addition, their clothing is very unique. Men wear long beards and hats, and women wear white kapps.

Of course, if you want to take a trip back in time, visiting Amish Country is the best thing to do in Philadelphia. If you do it on your own, I recommend you visit the Amish Farm House Museum to learn more about the ways of life and cultural aspects of this society. If you don’t have your own vehicle to get there, I recommend this tour.

And that’s all. I hope you found it interesting and have a clear understanding of what to do in Philly. To help you plan your visit, here is a map of Philadelphia that I am sure you will find useful.

Enjoy your trip!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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