Things to do in Philadelphia, USA

25 Things to Do in Philadelphia and Best Places to Visit

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If you are looking for things to do in Philadelphia, I’ve got you covered, because I’ve been living in this city for over four years. Are you ready to discover the places to visit in Philadelphia that you shouldn’t miss?

One or two days will be enough to see the most important sights in Philly, especially if you book the famous segway tour. If you have more time, I recommend 5 days to visit all 25 tourist attractions in Philadelphia that I recommend in this article.

Philadelphia, also known as the City of Brotherly Love, is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the USA. The Declaration of Independence was signed there, and it even served as the capital of the United States between 1790 and 1799. Located right between the two major cities, it’s an hour and a half from New York City and two and a half hours from D.C. Without a doubt, Philly is one of the most important cities in the United States, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Pennsylvania.

Before I make suggestions on what to do in Philadelphia, if you’re going to visit several attractions that charge entrance fees, I recommend the Sightseeing Flex Pass (it 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 in Philadelphia

The Liberty Bell, which bears the inscription “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” is an icon of U.S. independence and freedom. It is believed that on July 4, 1776, (some say July 8), 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 in 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 for safekeeping. Nobody knows when the bell’s iconic fracture appeared, but in any case, once it returned to the city, it became a symbol of freedom and the union of all Americans.

It’s currently on display at the Liberty Bell Center, across from Independence Mall, where you can view it for free. It’s surely one of the most iconic places in Philadelphia.

2. Visit Independence National Historical Park, a must-do in Philadelphia, PA

Independence National Historical Park, also known as “America’s most historic square mile”, is where you’ll find several famous Philadelphia attractions, including the Liberty Bell.

Here, you can see Independence Hall, a Gregorian-style building constructed 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 United States Declaration of Independence by the nation’s Founding Fathers. You must book a guided tour to go inside; same-day passes are free but sell out quickly, and advance tickets are just $1.

Independence Hall, a must see in Philadelphia

2. Visit Independence National Historical Park, a must-do in Philadelphia, PA

Some other important buildings at Independence National Historical Park include Congress Hall, Old City Hall, and the National Constitution Center. If you love history, some nearby places to visit in Philadelphia include the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site and the Museum of the American Revolution. This walking tour will take you to all the major landmarks, as well as some hidden historical places you might miss otherwise. But in case you want to visit the area at your own pace, you can book here your ticket to the Museum of the American Revolution.

There is a lot to see in this area, so if you need a break, stop by the Independence Beer Garden next to the Liberty Bell Center.

3. The Philadelphia Museum of Art & Rocky Statue

Beautiful on the inside and outside, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see in Philadelphia. In the museum, you’ll find everything from 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. The permanent collection includes works by masters such as Picasso, Dalí, Van Gogh, and Rubens, and there are always temporary exhibits on rotation.

The museum is a popular place to visit in Philadelphia among tourists and locals. Besides the stunning collection of artwork, many come here to run up the Rocky Steps that were made famous in a famous Rocky scene. It’s a rite of passage for first-time visitors to the city, and you’ll get a great view of the Ben Franklin Parkway from the top of the stairs.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, places to visit in Philadelphia

3. The Philadelphia Museum of Art & Rocky Statue

Next to the base of the steps, you’ll find the Rocky Statue, another iconic Philly landmark. Sylvester Stallone himself actually donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia, and it’s one of the most popular spots for a photo op. Also, if you’re a big Rocky fan, you’ll love this Rocky tour, which takes you to some iconic locations from the movies.

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

4. Eastern State Penitentiary, a famous place to see in Philadelphia

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, a famous place to see in Philadelphia

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.

If you’re interested in the darker side of Philadelphia’s history, you can’t miss this grim history tour with twisted facts that will give you goosebumps.

5. Reading Terminal Market, a cool place to go in Philly

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

This market opened in 1893 inside the Reading Railroad Company terminal. It currently has more than 100 food stalls from all over the world as well as local specialties and handicrafts. Some vendors are descendants of the early Reading Terminal Market workers. I especially love the homemade donuts from the Amish stall; you must try them!

Reading Terminal Market, things to do in Philadelphia PA

5. Reading Terminal Market, a cool place to go in Philly

There is a food court area in the center of the market, there are tables and chairs, so you can go here as a group and have everyone try different foods. While the market is open every day, I would try to avoid Sundays because most of the traditional stalls, like the Amish ones, are closed.

No matter what you’re craving, I’m sure you’ll find it at this top Philadelphia site. And if you’re a foodie, consider this Philly food tour, which goes to five popular eateries, including Reading Terminal Market.

6. Find the perfect Philly Cheesesteak, a fun thing to do in Philadelphia

Speaking of food, I can’t forget the Philly cheesesteak, the city’s most iconic food item. You can find it everywhere, including at Reading Terminal Market. However, connoisseurs will tell you that if you want to eat an authentic Philly cheesesteak, you must go to Pat’s King of Steaks, where this famous food was created in 1930.

Locals will argue about who has the best cheesesteaks, and Pat’s biggest rival is Geno’s Steaks, which is located just across the street on Passyunk Avenue. The lines here can be long, so if you aren’t set on eating at Pat’s or Geno’s, check out Jim’s on South Street or Dalessandro’s in Roxborough, two other notable cheesesteak joints to visit in Philadelphia.

Eat a Philly Cheesesteak, things to do in Philly

6. Find the perfect Philly Cheesesteak, a fun thing to do in Philadelphia

If you want to try some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly, I recommend this segway tour, which includes five tastings while learning about the history of the city.

While we’re talking about food, I suggest indulging in some other Philadelphia specialties, such as roast pork sandwiches, hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice, and tomato pie.

7. City Hall, a must-see in Philadelphia

Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, and its iconic statue of William Penn, the founder of the city, sits atop its tower. At 548 feet tall, City Hall was the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1901 and, because of an unwritten rule that no other structure could exceed the William Penn statue, it was the city’s tallest building until 1987.

The building is beautiful, and I’m not just saying that because we got married there; it’s one of my most recommended places to visit in Philly. The National Historic Landmark even became a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 2006.

Philadelphia City Hall, a visit to do in Philadelphia

7. City Hall, a must-see in Philadelphia

You can visit City Hall and get incredible 360º views from the top of its tower by either purchasing a self-guided Tower Pass ($10) or taking a 2-hour guided tour to learn about the tower’s historical, artistic, and architectural details. This tour, which is included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and the Sightseeing Day Pass, also includes a visit to the observation deck.

While you’re at City Hall, be sure to check out Dilworth Park on the western side of the building. The outdoor square is a popular place in Philly for people-watching and hanging out. I also recommend crossing the street to visit LOVE Park, where you’ll get an excellent view of the Parkway and the Art Museum. Finally, the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, the nation’s largest, is an architectural masterpiece and just a minute’s walk from City Hall.

8. Penn’s Landing, a place with lots of things to do in Philly

One of the coolest places to go in Philly is Penn’s Landing. It’s comprised of several piers that stretch along the Delaware River and you can always find something going on here. You’ll find outdoor spaces for festivals and concerts, such as Great Plaza, Rivers Casino, the artsy Cherry Street Pier, and Race Street Pier.

Penn’s Landing is also home to the RiverLink Ferry, the historic Moshulu ship and floating restaurant, and the Independence Seaport Museum, where you can learn more about the Delaware River’s maritime history. This ticket includes admission to the museum and aboard the USS Olympia, and it’s a fun thing to do in Philly with kids.

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

8. Penn’s Landing, a place with lots of things to do in Philly

Also, the Blue Cross RiverRink hosts winter and summer festivals with all kinds of amusements. If you visit in the summer, you must stop by Spruce Street Harbor Park, a colorful spot with hammocks, board games, food vendors, and lovely views of the Delaware River Waterfront.

If you follow the boardwalk below Ben Franklin Bridge, you will arrive at Morgan’s Pier, my favorite place to have a beer on a hot summer day. And if you’re up for it, you can walk the hour to Graffiti Pier, a sort of urban art gallery and one of the most unique places in Philadelphia.

9. Fairmount Park, a beautiful place to visit in Philadelphia

Fairmount Park is one of Philadelphia’s largest urban parks where you can find events like outdoor concerts and festivals, as well as public art and historic homes. I lived in this area for two years, and it’s an amazing place to visit in Philly. I especially love that it’s full of flora and fauna, including groundhogs, raccoons, deer, and, in the summer, fireflies.

Besides, Fairmount Park offers plenty of fun things to do in Philadelphia. Right behind the Art Museum, you can walk along the Schuylkill River and see the Fairmount Water Works, the lovely Azalea Garden, and the Fountain of the Sea Horses.

Boathouse Row, places to go in Philadelphia at night

9. Fairmount Park, a beautiful place to visit in Philadelphia

A bit further along, you can see Boathouse Row, an important rowing spot on the Schuylkill River. For the best view, use the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge to get to the opposite shore so you can see all fifteen boathouses. They have special LED lights, so I suggest going at sunset to see the spectacular display.

Other popular attractions in Fairmount Park include the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden; the Centennial Arboretum, which hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival; the Glendinning Rock Garden; and the Please Touch Museum, an awesome Philly attraction for kids. Along with its 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, the museum has interactive displays that invite children to learn through play and experience.

10. Franklin Institute & other museums on the Ben Franklin Parkway

The Franklin Institute opened in 1824, making it one of the country’s oldest science centers. Named after Founding Father and avid scientist Benjamin Franklin, the museum has interactive exhibits for children and adults to learn about electricity, insects, anatomy, and Newton’s laws. There is also a giant walk-through model of the human heart, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater. Admission isn’t cheap, but it’s included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and Sightseeing Day Pass.

Franklin institute, the best place to go in Philadelphia

10. Franklin Institute & other museums on the Ben Franklin Parkway

The Franklin Institute is just one of the museums on the Ben Franklin Parkway, which connects City Hall with the Art Museum. Right next to the Franklin Institute, is the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences. Along with dozens of dioramas, there is a butterfly garden and a dinosaur exhibit with a complete skeleton of a T-Rex. It’s one of the most popular places to see in Philadelphia, and admission is also included in the sightseeing passes.

Another important museum is the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris. Here, you can see famous sculptures like The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell. Admission is “Pay What You Wish”, so it’s a fun, cheap thing to do in Philadelphia.

There are lots of other things to see along the Parkway, including Logan Square, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Barnes Foundation. As you stroll down the avenue, you’ll notice the sidewalks are lined with over 100 flags, which represent countries with significant populations in Philadelphia.

11. The Betsy Ross House, another historical place to go in Philly

Another historical site in Philadelphia that I recommend is the Betsy Ross House, home of the seamstress who made the first flag of the United States. During a visit with George Washington, Mrs. Ross was asked to create a new flag that would unify the 13 colonies, hence 13 stars and 13 stripes on the original flag.

The Betsy Ross House may be small, but it’s a reminder of the seamstress’s sacrifices to the country; she was the widow of two soldiers, and she was forced to house English military servicemen during the War of Independence.

The little home is close to the National Historical Park of Independence and it’s included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and the Sightseeing Day Pass, so consider adding it to your list of things to do in Philadelphia.

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

11. The Betsy Ross House, another historical place to go in Philly

Besides, the Betsy Ross House is just a 3-minute walk from Elfreth’s Alley, the city’s quintessential historic street and the oldest residential street in America. Its 32 Georgian-style red brick houses are a perfect representation of 18th-century Philly.

This cobblestone alley once housed artisans and, with the arrival of the Industrial Age, was inhabited by Russian, Italian, and Irish factory workers before being abandoned. In the 1930s, the city raised funds to rehabilitate the houses, and today it’s an essential place to visit in Philadelphia.

12. South Street, a unique place to visit 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 a fun thing to do in Philadelphia.

South Street, things to do in South Philly

12. South Street, a unique place to visit in Philadelphia

If I had to define South Street in three words, they would be punk, bohemian, and alternative. This area is the best place to visit in Philadelphia if you want to enjoy the nightlife and an explosive mix of cultures.

While you’re here, grab a Philly cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks or saunter into one of the many bars and cafes. Art aficionados will love browsing the art galleries and independent boutiques. The retail places here range from skate and sex shops to antique and record stores. You’ll also find a couple of live music venues and the Magic Gardens, which I’ll talk about next.

13. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, one of the coolest Philly attractions

The Magic Gardens is 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 the 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 admission, as it is a must-see in Philly.

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

13. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, one of the coolest Philly attractions

It was the life’s work of local artist Isaías Zagar, who used art 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, which was 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, they were able to cancel the construction of the road that would have eliminated the street and, with it, all the art on the facades of the neighborhood.

14. Rittenhouse Square, a famous square you should visit 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 and fine dining. It’s a beautiful place to take a relaxing stroll or hang out with friends, and it’s one of the best places to stay in Philly.

Rittenhouse Square, a popular place to visit in Philadelphia

14. Rittenhouse Square, a famous square you should visit in Philly

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

If you want to stay in one of the most famous places in Philadelphia, this is the area for you. Besides being a lovely urban green space, Rittenhouse Square hosts events throughout the year, including a Spring Festival, a Fine Art Show in the fall, and the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

15. Franklin Square, a great place to go in Philly as a family

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

If Rittenhouse is a refined square designed for relaxation, Franklin Square is best-suited for family fun. It has a miniature golf course featuring the main monuments of the city, a picnic area, a carousel, swings, the renowned SquareBurger, and a large central fountain that was built in 1838.

Franklin Square, an important place to go in Philly

15. Franklin Square, a great place to go in Philly as a family

Some of the city’s most popular annual events are also held in the plaza, such as the Chinese Lantern Festival during the summer, where, in addition to the impressive light display, you can enjoy contortionists, stunts, martial arts, and traditional dances. Additionally, the festival has tons 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 at Franklin Square. You can cross the bridge on foot, although it’s quite a long journey. On the other side is Camden, a neighborhood that has improved in recent years and 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.

16. Schuylkill River Trail, a lovely attraction in Philadelphia

I’ve already mentioned Philadelphia’s Delaware River, but there is another river that runs through the city. The Schuylkill River (pronounced SKOO-kill) is smaller, but just as worthy of a visit, particularly its waterfront promenade, the Schuylkill River Trail.

The trail extends for over 75 miles, although there are two sections I recommend visiting. The first goes from South Street to the Museum of Art and cuts through University City. This area is full of green spaces, bike lanes, deck chairs, etc. In short, it’s one of the best things to do in Philadelphia in summer.

From here, you can walk along the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, which goes across the river and connects to the South Street Bridge. From this bridge, you will have amazing sunset views of Philly’s skyscrapers.

Schuylkill River Trail, a beautiful place to visit in Philadelphia

16. Schuylkill River Trail, a lovely attraction in Philadelphia

The other area I recommend is the one that goes from behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Laurel Hill Cemetery, passing through Fairmount Park, an area I mentioned earlier.

It’s also worth noting that you can follow the Schuylkill River Trail north to Manayunk and Roxborough, two artsy neighborhoods that are perfect for shopping and bar-hopping.

17. Mütter Museum, a curious museum to visit in Philadelphia

The Mütter Museum belongs to the Philadelphia College of Physicians and is one of the most bizarre 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

17. Mütter Museum, a curious museum to visit 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’s also included in the Sightseeing Flex Pass and in the Sightseeing Day Pass.

18. One Liberty Observation Deck, where to go in Philly for the best views

One Liberty Observation Deck is a nearly 883-foot-tall platform 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

18. One Liberty Observation Deck, where to go in Philly for the best views

Although some think that the views are more beautiful from the city hall tower, keep in mind that One Liberty Deck is taller and fully covered, so on windy days, it’s the best option. I also like the views from here more because 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 Philly, don’t hesitate to explore the city from above!

19. Mural Arts Philadelphia, more great stuff to do in Philly

Something you will certainly see a lot of while visiting Philly is its nearly 4,000 murals. Painted by artists of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds, these murals often reflect the changes each neighborhood experienced and the concerns of its residents.

The Mural Arts Philadelphia tour, things to do in Philadelphia

19. Mural Arts Philadelphia, more great stuff to do in Philly

These works are made possible by Mural Arts Philadelphia, the largest public art program in the country that focuses on connecting artists with communities. If you are interested in urban art, you’ll love seeing these murals, and I recommend this free self-guided tour to help you find the most popular ones. I assure you that you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll probably find some cool places in Philly you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Some of my favorite murals in the city are Philadelphia Muses, Garden of Delights, and Legacy.

20. Browse the Italian Market and Chinatown, another fun thing to do in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Italian Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in the country. It originated in South Philadelphia in the 19th century, and although it has changed a lot since then, it’s still an interesting place to visit in Philly. 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

20. Browse the Italian Market and Chinatown, another fun thing to do in Philadelphia

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! And with this walking tour, you will learn more about it.

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 and seasonal street festivals that celebrate Asian heritage.

21. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, another must-see in Philly

If you visit Fairmount Park, I highly recommend going to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, one of the coolest places in Philadelphia. It is a traditional 17th-century Japanese-style tea house surrounded by lovely gardens.

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a quietest place in Philly

21. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, another must-see in Philly

The house was built in 1953 and was on exhibit at the MoMa in New York until it was permanently installed in Philadelphia in 1958. This is when the first gardens were designed, and they’ve since been renovated to create a small piece of Japan in the middle of Philly.

The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden truly is a peaceful haven that all ages will enjoy. Here, you can feed the beautiful koi fish that live in the pond, stroll through a meticulously maintained Japanese garden, watch a demonstration of a traditional tea ceremony, or relax next to a waterfall fountain. It’s one of my top things to do in Philly, and I’m sure you’ll love it here!

22. Wissahickon Valley Park, a natural place to visit in Philadelphia

If you need a break from city life, I suggest going to Wissahickon Valley Park. This area encompasses over 2,000 acres of forests, creeks, trails, and a wooded gorge, so it’s the perfect thing to do in Philly when you need a nature fix.

Wissahickon Valley Park, best things to do in Philly

22. Wissahickon Valley Park, a natural place to visit in Philadelphia

Declared a National Natural Landmark in 1964, the park has over 50 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, and dozens of bird species migrate here every year. Most people prefer the flat trail along Forbidden Drive, which prohibits motor vehicles. From there, you can take several other paths that lead to over a dozen historic bridges, cottages, and stables. Some notable landmarks include the Glen Fern mill, Thomas Mill Covered Bridge, and the Wissahickon Memorial Bridge.

I also recommend the Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop Trail, a heavily-trafficked 9.4-mile route that takes you to the wooded gorge and a beautiful waterfall. While you’re enjoying the scenery, keep an eye out for blue herons, box turtles, salamanders, red foxes, and other creatures. For all these reasons, it’s easy to see why over a million people visit the park every year.

23. Hike in Valley Forge National Historical Park, a nice thing to do around Philly

Valley Forge is an important historical site near Philly, and it’s considered a National Historical Park.

Here, the troops of the Continental Army, with George Washington at the 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 Pennsylvania’s harsh and humid winter. Hunger, cold, and various diseases plagued the troops, but their solidarity and union were what gave the United States its independence.

Valley Forge National Historical Park, cool spots in Philly

23. Hike in Valley Forge National Historical Park, a nice thing to do around Philly

Today, you can visit some buildings that served as a refuge for the soldiers, as well as cannons and trenches that were left after the American Revolution. We live right next to Valley Forge, and it’s 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. The Joseph Plumb Martin route is a very popular trail because it takes you to most of the historic places. However, if you want to see more nature, I recommend the Mt. Misery Trail.

24. Longwood Gardens, one of the best attractions near Philadelphia

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 comprised of greenhouses, forests, meadows, and gardens.

This is a place where you can get lost in art and design with seasonal collections; the spring one stands out to me because it’s full of magnolias, tulips, and azaleas. The Christmas display is also wildly popular and includes orchids, camellias, palm trees, and lots of lights.

Longwood Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in Philadelphia

24. Longwood Gardens, one of the best attractions near Philadelphia

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 looks spectacular any time of year, so I recommend visiting if you the time, as it usually takes about 3 or 4 hours to see everything.

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. All the eye-catching flora is complemented by a beautiful rose garden, and the arboretum is only half an hour from the city.

25. Visit Amish country, an interesting thing to do near Philadelphia

Last but not least, visiting Amish Country is one of the most popular things to do near Philadelphia, and it’s well worth the drive.

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. The second-largest Amish congregation in the United States lives in Lancaster County, just an hour and a half from Philadelphia. You might hear the area be referred to as Dutch Country or the Pennsylvania Dutch. This is a nod to the Amish, who are descendants of early German immigrants to Pennsylvania and, as such, primarily speak German.

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

25. Visit Amish country, an interesting thing to do near Philadelphia

If you visit the outskirts of Lancaster, particularly along Highway 30 or 340, you will almost certainly come across horse carriages; Amish don’t use cars to get around. In addition, their clothing is very unique. Men wear long beards and hats, and women wear black or white head coverings called kapps.

Of course, if you want to take a trip back in time, visiting Amish Country is the best thing to do near Philadelphia. If you do it on your own, I recommend stopping by 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, with that, you have the best things to do in Philadelphia! I hope you found it interesting and I gave you a better idea of what to do in Philly. To help you plan your visit, you can check our guide on where to stay in Philadelphia. Also, here is a map of Philadelphia that I am sure you’ll 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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