The City of Brotherly Love is known for its wealth of Colonial treasures, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House and many others, but it also has plenty more to do and see. Explore its many museums, take a bike ride along Schuylkill River and dine in its farm-to-table restaurants helmed by creative young local chefs—and, of course, you can’t leave town without trying a Philly cheesesteak.
Here are some of the coolest things to do in Philadelphia:
- The centrally located Independence Hall—on Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th street—is a great place to kick off your visit and one of the top things to do in Philadelphia, Pa. Take a tour of this historic redbrick building, which is the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Access is by timed ticket only March through December. Same day tickets are free and are available at a visitor center the day of your visit. Advance reservations can be made for a $1.50 handling fee per ticket. Another Revolutionary-era site of note is the Liberty Bell. It’s not known when or how it got its famous crack, but you can see it for yourself on a free tour and learn more about it through a variety of exhibits at Liberty Bell Center. The Betsy Ross House, where the first American flag—commissioned by George Washington—was supposedly sewn, is about a 10-minute walk from the center. Visitors can hear Betsy’s stories on an audio tour then meet a costumed interpreter playing the legendary seamstress herself. All of these sites are good options for Philadelphia day trips.
- Stop by city hall for an eagle-eye view of top things to do in Philadelphia. Visitors can enjoy views from an observation deck about 500 feet above the ground, just below an iconic statue of William Penn.
- The Philadelphia Art Museum may be best-known for its iconic steps used during unforgettable training montages in Rocky and Rocky II, but its pedigree extends far beyond the flight of a fictional boxer. The museum—founded in 1876—has a collection totaling more than 240,000 objects including paintings, sculptures works on paper, armor, costumes and textiles from Asia, Europe and the U.S. Visit on Friday nights for live music. If all this somehow isn’t enough to satisfy a ravenous art appetite, check out the Barnes Foundation. Housed in a spectacular contemporary building, the Barnes Foundation is known for its world-class collection of Renoirs, Cezannes, and other impressionist masterpieces. It’s home to nearly four dozen works by Picasso.
Philadelphia Art Museum
- The Philadelphia Zoo is said to be the first zoo in the country, and a perfect option for planning Philadelphia day trips. The 42-acre site is home to roughly 1,300 animals, some of which roam the facility via Zoo360, a campus-wide network of see-through trails that provide animals a chance to roam around and, in some cases, above, zoo grounds.
- Enjoy a casual lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, one of the country’s oldest public markets. Join the lines at DiNic’s to sample its best-selling Italian roast pork sandwich—delicious!
- Take a guided bike tour around town with the Philly Bike Tour Company. One of the most popular offerings is its two-hour River Loop Tour, which takes riders along the Schuylkill River Trail. It’s a great way to spot additional options for the top things to do in Philadelphia, Pa.
- Take a tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary, an imposing castle-like former prison that once counted Al Capone as an inmate. Visitors can learn about the facility’s extensive history via a self-guided audio tour. The penitentiary also offers hands-on history lessons where guests can learn how to open cell doors or the massive front gate. The site is reportedly haunted, and a spectacularly spooky setup in October gives some credence to the myth. Terror Behind the Walls transforms the penitentiary into a one-of-a-kind haunt with multiple attractions set up among the cellblocks.
Eastern State Penitentiary
- Dine at Vernick Food & Drink, a small plates hotspot in Rittenhouse Square and Vedge, a vegetable-based restaurant from chef-owner Rich Landau, a former winner of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
- Have a drink in City Tavern, on South 2nd Street, which dates back to 1773. Its sells craft ales from Yards Brewery Company, including George Washington’s Tavern Porter and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale.
Pat's King of Steaks
- . Pat’s or Geno’s? Though there are plenty of places to get a Philly cheesesteak, these two spots (across from each other on Easy Passyunk Avenue) are constantly battling to see who’s best. Try both and see which one you’d recommend to others looking for things to do in Philadelphia.