Philly, the city of Philadelphia, is an awe-inspiring place that overflows with a glorious past and diverse culture. It’s the go-to destination for history enthusiasts, food connoisseurs, and art lovers who appreciate iconic American landmarks.
This city emanates charm through its architecture, verdant parks against breathtaking skylines, and vibrant neighborhoods.
As the largest city in Pennsylvania in the northeastern United States region, Philly has several prestigious universities and flourishing business opportunities paired with thriving tourism activity. A distinctive quality of this location is its local significance tied to many attractions such as Independence Hall or Liberty Bell Center, both symbols embodying American independence, enriching visitors’ experience by becoming a part of witnessing first-hand rich historic events that made Philly what it is today!
With so many things to do in Philly, it is no wonder that this city continues to captivate visitors from all over the world.
Philly boasts not only its captivating historical attractions but also a dynamic street art scene found in neighborhoods like South Street and Mural Arts Philadelphia. The world-renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, showcasing masterpieces by iconic artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Salvador Dali is also housed in the city.
For food connoisseurs out there, Philly will never disappoint with its vast selection of local and international cuisine available at Reading Terminal Market – a landmark farmer’s market. Meanwhile, Italian Market offers delectable Pennsylvania Dutch specialties along with other mouth-watering delicacies that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, whether you are a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a foodie looking for new culinary adventures, things to do in Philly are plentiful and remarkable.
This city is a must-visit destination that offers a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking architecture. So without further ado, let us explore ten must-do activities while visiting this phenomenal city.
2. What is Philly Known for?
Philly, the fifth-largest city in the United States and also known as the “City of Brotherly Love”, is famous for its rich history, culture, landmarks, museums, and cuisine. It’s home to iconic sights like Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center which are located in Independence National Historical Park – the birthplace of America’s democracy. Visitors can learn about the American Revolution & founding of the nation at historic sites including the National Constitution Center.
There’s no denying that Philadelphia is a city steeped in history and culture, earning it the title of birthplace of the nation. With an abundance of historical landmarks and sites, it’s easy to see why tourists looking for things to do in Philly flock from every corner of the globe to soak up its rich heritage.
If you’re keen on uncovering America’s past, then prioritize visiting Philadelphia’s iconic historical sites at all costs. Don’t miss out on these essential must-see locations:
Other things to do in Philly attractions include Spruce Street Harbor Park and Cherry Street Pier, both on the waterfront with great city views. The street art scene is a must-see too, with murals and artwork throughout neighborhoods. From history to modern marvels, Philly has it all for everyone – history buffs, art lovers, or foodies can find endless things to do in this iconic American city.
3. Things to Do in Philly
As the birthplace of America, Philadelphia is a city filled with numerous activities and attractions suitable for people of all ages. With so many options available, planning your itinerary can be challenging.
However, fear not as we have you covered! We have curated a list of the top 10 things to do in Philly that showcase both its famous landmarks and hidden gems while emphasizing cultural institutions.
From visiting the historic Independence National Historical Park or viewing Liberty Bell to admiring colorful street art scenes and enjoying delicious local cuisine at Reading Terminal Market; there’s something unique waiting for everyone in Philadelphia. So sit back and relax as we take you on an adventure through this spectacular city!
3.1. Visit Iconic Philadelphia Sites
There’s no denying that Philadelphia is a city steeped in history and culture, earning it the title of birthplace of the nation. With an abundance of historical landmarks and sites, it’s easy to see why tourists flock from every corner of the globe to soak up its rich heritage.
If you’re looking for things to do in Philly and keen on uncovering America’s past, then prioritize visiting Philadelphia’s iconic historical sites at all costs. Don’t miss out on these essential must-see locations:
3.1.1. Independence Hall
Independence Hall, situated in the Independence National Historical Park of Philadelphia, is undeniably one of the most prominent historical landmarks in America. This building witnessed two remarkable events- the signing of both The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution.
If you’re looking for things to do in Philly, a guided tour of this prestigious venue will enable you to witness firsthand what our founding fathers discussed at length and eventually signed the Declaration that announced our independence as a sovereign nation. Visiting this site is an absolute necessity for those who possess a keen interest in American history.
3.1.2. Liberty Bell Center
No visit to the United States is complete without a trip to the Liberty Bell Center, where history and symbolism merge into one experience. The iconic Liberty Bell itself, a tangible representation of America’s fight for independence from tyranny, can be found in the Independence National Historical Park.
It was this very bell that rang out on July 8th, 1776 – an unforgettable moment when our forefathers read aloud their historic Declaration of Independence for all to hear. As you marvel at its beauty and power firsthand today, it becomes clear why this timeless symbol has become synonymous with freedom and democracy worldwide throughout generations past and present alike.
3.1.3. Independence National Historical Park
The Independence National Historical Park houses several noteworthy sites, including the National Constitution Center that should not be overlooked. This museum is an engaging experience featuring American history with a focus on the United States Constitution. The exhibition displays significant relics from America’s beginnings, educates visitors about debates surrounding the constitution, and offers them a chance to digitally sign their names in support of this revered document.
3.2. Explore the City’s Art and Culture
If you’re seeking art and culture-related things to do in Philly, then consider yourself fortunate! Philadelphia’s rich artistic heritage can be explored through its numerous museums, galleries, and famous landmarks. Immerse yourself in this vibrant scene – from the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art to lively street art. For an unforgettable experience, discover must-visit places like Mural Arts Philly or the African American Museum.
3.2.1. Philadelphia Museum of Art
If you’re an art lover visiting Philly, make sure to visit this renowned museum. It has a remarkable collection of artwork from different periods, including pieces by acclaimed artists like Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Don’t forget to climb the iconic “Rocky Steps” outside that became famous in the Rocky movie franchise.
3.2.2. Mural Arts Philadelphia
Mural Arts Philadelphia is a popular spot for street art lovers. The city boasts over 4,000 murals that visitors can explore on their own or with a guide to witness the breathtaking artwork enhancing its streets.
3.2.3. African American Museum
The African American Museum located in Philadelphia is an establishment that focuses on safeguarding and presenting the achievements and encounters of African Americans in both Philadelphia and America. Its exhibitions provide insights into various aspects of black culture and history, including music, art, civil rights activism as well as more. The museum also arranges several events throughout the year for its visitors to enjoy.
3.3. Indulge in Delicious Food and Drink
When it comes to things to do in Philly, exploring the city’s food scene is a must. The city of Philadelphia is renowned for its gastronomic landscape, and nothing beats the experience of indulging in delectable treats at its famed markets and food halls. Whether you’re craving traditional Philly cheesesteaks or high-end culinary creations, these venues boast a wide array of mouth-watering options to savor:
3.3.1. Reading Terminal Market
Situated in the Center City, this ancient covered market has been offering locally-sourced delicacies for more than a century and a quarter. Boasting over 80 merchants vending everything from authentic Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch dishes to newly picked produce and handcrafted cheeses, your gustatory desires are bound to be fulfilled.
3.3.2. Italian Market
The Italian Market, an age-old open-air bazaar in Philadelphia, presents a genuine essence of the city’s inheritance. Positioned in South Philly, this lively avenue marketplace highlights more than 100 merchants peddling all kinds of products ranging from newly caught seafood and farm-fresh yields to handcrafted pasta and desserts.
3.3.3. Bourse Food Hall
The Old City’s renowned establishment has undergone a makeover, now serving as a contemporary food court with more than 20 merchants catering to an assortment of cuisines ranging from street-style Mexican dishes to handcrafted pizzas. In addition, you can relish expertly mixed cocktails and beer while admiring the remarkable architecture of the premises.
3.4. Enjoy the Outdoors
With its fascinating past, dynamic cultural scene, and an array of exciting outdoor activities, Philadelphia is a city that proudly showcases its many charms. From magnificent parks to breathtaking waterfronts, the City of Brotherly Love has something for everyone who loves nature or seeking adventure.
This section will delve into some of the most exceptional things to do in Philly for outdoor enthusiasts which you simply can’t afford to overlook.
3.4.1. Spruce Street Harbor Park
This park by the Delaware River waterfront is a popular outdoor destination open from May to September. It offers visitors of all ages various activities such as hammocks, games, live music, food, and drink vendors. Take a walk on the boardwalk for stunning views or ride the floating gardens to soak up some sun in this urban oasis.
3.4.2. Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park is a massive urban park that covers 2,000 acres. It features historic mansions, scenic trails, and plenty of recreational facilities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, and even a disc golf course. Whether you like running or hiking or simply enjoying nature at your own pace, Fairmount Park makes for the ideal outdoor destination.
3.4.3. Rail Park
This park is an ideal outdoor retreat for those seeking a break from city life. It’s situated on unused rail lines in the Callowhill neighborhood and offers unique greenery, art installations, and ample seating for relaxation. Visitors can walk along the elevated trail to enjoy scenic views of the skyline or participate in community events held at the park throughout the year.
3.5. Attend a Performance
Philadelphia is known for its flourishing arts scene, and attending live performances is one of the best things to do in Philly to immerse yourself in it. Whether you prefer classical music or any other performing art form, the city offers plenty of choices. This section focuses on two top venues: the Philadelphia Orchestra and several other performing arts locations throughout the city.
3.5.1. Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a top-tier ensemble known for its excellent renditions of classical and modern music. Established in 1900, the orchestra has performed with many legendary conductors throughout its history. Its home base is the impressive Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, situated in downtown Philly and featuring exceptional acoustics and design.
3.5.2. Performing Arts Venues
Besides the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, there exist numerous other performance venues in the city that present a variety of live shows. These locations comprise the Academy of Music, Merriam Theater, and Walnut Street Theatre among several others. Whether you fancy catching a Broadway-style spectacle or witnessing modern dance numbers or even experiencing locally produced plays; Philadelphia’s performing arts arena caters to all tastes.
3.6. Explore City Neighborhoods
Philly is a city with an array of neighborhoods, each showcasing its unique flair and vibe. To immerse oneself in the culture and history of this lively city, exploring these various locales proves to be one of the most worthwhile experiences. Here are three things to do in Philly that are must-visit neighborhoods during your time in Philadelphia:
3.6.1. Old City
This area has Philly’s famous landmarks – Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center. It also offers great art, shops, and dining options. Stroll the historic cobblestone streets or enjoy a drink at a nearby bar.
3.6.2. South Philly
This lively neighborhood is known for its Italian Market, offering fresh produce and handmade pasta. It has top-notch cheesesteak shops and bakeries too. Take a walk through the colorful streets or watch a game at the nearby sports stadiums to experience the energetic vibe.
3.6.3. University City
The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University are located in West Philadelphia, which has a vibrant atmosphere catering to both students and locals with its selection of cafes, bars, and shops. Take the opportunity to explore public art displays near the universities or enjoy picturesque views of the city by strolling along the Schuylkill River Trail.
3.7. Visit City Parks and Squares
If you’re searching for outdoor activities in Philadelphia, then the city’s stunning parks and squares are worth exploring. With Rittenhouse Square being an iconic landmark and Fairmount Park providing picturesque scenery, there is a range of choices available to individuals seeking solace from the fast-paced city life by surrounding themselves with nature. Pack a picnic, take a stroll, or simply sit back and people-watch in these serene settings.
3.7.1. Rittenhouse Square
With its greenery and foliage, Rittenhouse Square serves as a verdant oasis amid high-end shops, eateries, and coffee houses. This park attracts both residents and tourists alike while also accommodating multiple festivities such as the Rittenhouse Square Spring Festival each year.
3.7.2. Washington Square Park
Located at the center of Philadelphia’s historic district, Washington Square Park serves as a serene park and a significant landmark. Within its premises are multiple monuments such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Washington Grays Monument, attracting crowds for picnics and outdoor music events.
3.7.3. Love Park
John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as Love Park, is a renowned communal area situated in Center City Philadelphia. Its most notable attraction is the LOVE sculpture designed by Robert Indiana which has now become an emblem of the city. Besides its stunning view of the skyline, this park is a well-known destination for various outdoor activities such as skateboarding, picnicking, and attending open-air events.
3.8. Discover Hidden Gems
The city of Philadelphia is endowed with a diverse culture and a history that dates back centuries. Although it is most famous for its notable landmarks like the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, there are several lesser-known yet charming spots waiting to be explored by curious visitors. The city boasts an array of attractions ranging from historical monuments, cultural centers, and lush green parks to open-air recreational areas which cater to the varied interests of people.
3.8.1. Laurel Hill Cemetery
The cemetery resembles a stunning park and serves as the ultimate destination for numerous distinguished Philadelphians, including creative minds, authors, and those who fought in the Civil War. Tourists have the opportunity to explore historical monuments and mausoleums on their own or participate in various events organized here all year round.
3.8.2. Christ Church
One of the oldest and most significant historic landmarks in the city is a beautiful church that was established in 1695. This stunning Georgian architectural masterpiece played a crucial part in laying the foundation for the United States, boasting of its historical artifacts. Visitors can indulge themselves with guided tours to learn about its intriguing history or attend any concerts/events organized throughout the year here at this iconic venue.
3.8.3. Benjamin Franklin Museum
This interactive museum is a recommended visit for individuals keen on knowing about the life and accomplishments of one of America’s well-known founding fathers. The exhibits and displays are intended to engage visitors of all ages by delving into Franklin’s contributions – from his experiments with electricity to his involvement in drafting the Declaration of Independence. It is truly a hidden gem worth exploring!
3.9. Visit World-Class Science and Technology Museums
Aside from its rich history and culture, there are plenty of things to do in Philly for science and technology enthusiasts. Philadelphia is renowned for having top-tier science and technology museums that provide a captivating look into the progressions of both fields throughout time – past, present, and future. For enthusiasts in these areas of study, there are two particular institutions worth checking out:
3.9.1. The Franklin Institute
If you have a passion for science and technology, make sure to add the Benjamin Franklin-named museum to your bucket list. Its interactive displays provide an in-depth exploration of topics ranging from outer space to anatomy. On top of that, the facility boasts a planetarium and IMAX theater along with numerous seasonal exhibitions.
3.9.2. Penn Museum
The museum is a rich source of historical and cultural relics and displays from various civilizations globally. Its vast collections of artwork and artifacts provide visitors with the opportunity to delve into ancient Egypt, Africa, and the Mediterranean region, among others. Additionally, tourists can witness experts in action at the esteemed conservation laboratory engaged in restoring valuable antiquities.
3.10. Discover the Deleware River Waterfront
During your visit to Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, there are plenty of things to do in Philly that you don’t want to miss out on. You’ll find a lively area that boasts various activities and attractions. Consider exploring these two destinations:
3.10.1. Penn’s Landing
Penn’s Landing is a well-liked destination among residents and visitors, situated at the bottom of Market Street. This riverside park presents picturesque panoramas of the Delaware River and arranges diverse festivities year-round. Strollers can traverse along the riverfront promenade or relish a meal outdoors in its garden while experiencing an exciting journey on its iconic tall ship, Gazela. It’s definitely one of the top things to do in Philly, offering visitors a chance to relax, take in the views, and enjoy the various activities and events hosted there.
3.10.2. Ben Franklin Bridge
Ben Franklin Bridge is a famous symbol that links Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. It’s an excellent destination for taking a picturesque walk as visitors can traverse the pedestrian lane or ride their bikes while enjoying awe-inspiring vistas of the cityscape and the Delaware River flowing beneath it.
Philadelphia is a city that caters to everyone’s interests with its diverse range of experiences. It boasts historic landmarks, world-class museums, vibrant neighborhoods, and scenic parks for visitors to enjoy. Some must-visit things to do in Philly include iconic sites like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, exploring the unique neighborhoods such as Old City and South Philly, or indulging in outdoor activities along the Delaware River Waterfront.
Philadelphia has a distinctive culture and history which sets it apart from other cities. Its influence can be seen today through art, cuisine, and dynamic communities owing to its significant role in founding America. Regardless of your passion for history, food, or nature – Philadelphia will leave an indelible mark on your heart, leaving you yearning for more.
Click here to read more.
Also check out, Things to do in NJ