Planning a trip to Philadelphia? Use this guide to make sure you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Philadelphia! Here’s what you’ll definitely want to see and do:
A few weeks ago Kevin and I spent a weekend in Philadelphia to celebrate our anniversary. We had such a blast in this fun city. Philadelphia is fascinating — there is so much beauty and history here. It almost feels like stepping back in time, or traveling across the ocean and vacationing in a romantic European city with all the historic buildings, architecture, and streets.
Where else can you walk on the oldest street in America? Or mail a letter from the very first United States Post Office? I highly recommend everyone visit Philly at least once. It is especially great for kids learning about our nation’s history and founding fathers.
Best Things to Do In Philadelphia
If you’re wondering what to do in Philadelphia, we researched all the most popular things to do in Philadelphia and put them all in this one convenient list. Here are the best things to do in Philadelphia:
The Liberty Bell
Of course, one of the most popular things to do in Philadelphia is see the Liberty Bell!
Entrance to the Liberty Bell is free, and opens daily at 9am. You don’t need a ticket, and if you get there right at 9am or a few minutes before, you can be the first to get in and see the Liberty Bell without the crowds or waiting in line.
Across from the Liberty Bell is Independence Hall, where the Liberty Bell once hung, and where the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock, to name a few.
Entrance to Independence Hall is free, but you do need a ticket. A free ticket can be obtained at the Independence Visitor Center near the Liberty Bell. The visitor center opens daily at 8:30am, so grab a ticket before or after seeing the Liberty Bell, then head over to Independence Hall.
Philadelphia Love Sign
The City of Brotherly Love’s best-known landmark is LOVE itself!
The iconic LOVE Statue has been a symbol of Philadelphia since it was installed in Philadelphia’s Love Park in 1976. Taking a picture in front of the Love Sign is one of the most iconic things to do in Philadelphia!
Read More: Best Philadelphia Restaurants
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
If you are a fan of Rocky, you know this view! The Philadelphia Museum of Art (also know as the “Rocky Steps”) is where Rocky Balboa ran up the now-famous 72 stone steps.
This is a view from the top! You’ll find the Rocky Statue at the bottom of the steps on the right. Running up the Rocky Steps was definitely on Kevin’s “things to do in Philadelphia” list!!
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States. It’s located right by the Love Sculpture and Reading Terminal Market. There’s a tower and observation deck inside, but even if you don’t go in it’s definitely worth walking past and seeing.
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is a landmark in Philadelphia where the seamstress and flag-maker Betsy Ross lived when she sewed the first American Flag.
We had originally planned to just walk by and see the outside, but for a small fee you can also go inside and see what the home would’ve looked like in the 1700s. It was actually very cool to see inside. So many small, winding staircases!
Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in America.
There are 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836.
These houses have been continuously inhabited for nearly 300 years.
If you’re looking for things to do in Philadelphia, I would highly recommend walking up and down this cobblestone street!
There were beautiful streets and homes everywhere we turned in Philly!
Ben Franklin’s Grave
Although he wasn’t born here, at age 17 Benjamin Franklin ran away to Philadelphia to start a new life, and lived most of his life here until he died in 1790.
You can see where Ben and his wife Deborah were buried at the Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. There is a small fee to get in the cemetery, but you can see the grave from the outside. We didn’t go in, both of these pictures were taken from the outside. You can also place a penny on his grave.
The First Post Office in the United States
Only in Philadelphia can you visit the very first Post Office in the United States. The postal workers here wear colonial-style clothing and use a quill and inkwell to write — a living portrayal of a bygone Colonial lifestyle. People come from all over to mail letters here, because letters mailed from this post office are hand-canceled with an exclusive postmark. Definitely send yourself a post card from here as a memento of your trip! One of the most popular things to do in Philadelphia is have your wedding invitations mailed from this post office!
Boathouse Row is another unique historic site in Philadelphia.
Located just west of the Philadelphia Museum of Art you’ll find a row of 15 boathouses built in the 19th-century which house a variety of social and rowing clubs along the Schuylkill River. If you’re looking for things to do in Philadelphia, this spot is perfect for an afternoon stroll!
At the entrance to Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood stands the colorful 40-foot Friendship Gate. This international neighborhood features unique shops and the best Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai food in the city!
Philadelphia Magic Gardens
Another highlight of the trip was visiting the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. This is one of our favorite things to do in Philadelphia!!
The Magic Gardens are a unique, vibrantly embellished outdoor art installation.
This labyrinth of colorful tiles spans three city lots which are completely covered in mosaic art.
The man behind the mosacis is Isaiah Zagar, a local artist who began tiling Philadelphia’s infamous South Street in the 1960s and never stopped.
He constructed the space out of glass tiles, bicycle spokes, wine bottles, ceramic and other artistic knick-knacks.
There is a small fee to enter the gardens, but you can see a lot of them from the outside, and even the walls around the garden are decorated as well!
South Street is one of Philadelphia’s most eclectic and lively neighborhoods. Known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street is a melting pot of groups and cultures. It’s got personality & charm all its own with over 300 diverse shops and more than 60 restaurants, cafes and bars.
South Street is perfect for people watching — it’s always buzzing with hip visitors and locals no matter if you visit on a Tuesday afternoon or a Friday night!
Ben Franklin Bridge
One of our favorite things to do in Philadelphia is walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge at sunset.
On one side of the bridge is Philadelphia, and the other side is New Jersey. We took an Uber across the bridge to New Jersey and walked back to Philadelphia to work up an appetite for dinner. Stunning views of the river and Philadelphia skyline at sunset!
Eastern State Penitentiary
This is one my favorite things to do in Philadelphia! The audio tour takes around 45 minutes and is narrated by Steve Buscemi.
Read More: Visiting Eastern State Penitentiary
Looking for the best place to stay in Philadelphia? Check out our review of The Logan Hotel in Philadelphia.
Read More: Philadephia Hotels — The Logan Hotel
Getting Around in Philadelphia
We loved walking all over Philadelphia everywhere we could, but sometimes you just need a taxi. Thank goodness for Uber! Have you heard of Uber?? It’s your own personal, private car service and it’s cheaper than a taxi. All you do is download the Uber app, and it will show you where drivers are near you, and tell you how long it will take for a car to get to you.
Uber is available in most cities worldwide and usually a car can be there in less than 5 minutes. You even set your destination through the app so you don’t have to worry about your driver not speaking English or not knowing where to take you.
No need to wait outside in the cold, heat, or rain for a taxi — the app sends you a notification when your driver is getting close, and another notification when they have arrived.
You can add a credit card or Paypal account to your Uber account, so you never to worry about paying the driver. It’s all done through the app — no money exchanges hands. You get in the car, the driver takes you to your location, and you get out. No fumbling with paying, you can just get out and leave!
Tip is even included. It says so on their webpage that it’s built into the price of the service. So much easier than a taxi! Uber is seriously the fastest, best, and safest way to get around in Philadelphia!
These are all great and all things that Philly natives overlook about the city. Born and raised here and actually never went to the Liberty Bell and that seems to be common.
All your suggestions are great. Can all be done in one day? Or is it better to do it in 2 days?
Born in Philly ,raised in South Jersey, I don’t disagree with any of those places in this article, especially for a tourist to our great city. Okay this covers your first day in town, what about the rest? You have to get a cheese steak. They’ll tell you Pat’s or Geno’s both right across from each other. Don’t eat there, go see it then head to South Street to Jim’s. They’re good not the best but I’m not about to direct you to Steve’s or Donkey’s. A stroll down South Street ain’t what it used to be but still worth a couple of hours. As crazy as our sports fans are ( we are) it’s amazing how incredibly nice we are to tourists and there is nothing we love more than talking about our city and telling people where to go to have fun. Reading Terminal market is a must go , be hungry when you go. A day trip down the shore is always great. If you go to the art museum know on the way there we have a hundred other museums along the way there. The Ninth street market is also a great waste of a couple hours. We have everything here. We love to share our city with the world. You can walk from one side of center City to the other in a couple hours and there is so much to see and do in that walk. Come to Philly ask anyone what to do that day after you hit all of our attractions that have to do with our countries birth, and you will get an itinerary of interesting things to do.
Thank you so much for your nice comment! I have another post on where to eat in Philadelphia! :)
Lived 3 years in center city Philly in the late ’60s & early ’70s and loved it. Now I am setting up a one day tour with my daughter, who has worked in Philadelphia, her daughter and other of my grandchildren. Viewing the recommended sites to visit has given me an enthusiasm to see Philly thru their young eyes. What a city full of history, past and more recent, and fun things to do.
This was the most informative post I’ve read on Philadelphia! Thank you! I’ve been researching the best places to see when I take my kids there this summer!
So fun! Have a great trip!
Great blog post described here with some amazing photos what you’re searching for your next trip. Philly trip was a wonderful experience. I love Philly streets, historical structure, tradition, food, etc. Thanks for sharing this nice, informative blog post.
Fantastic piece. Will be using it to plan a trip. Thank you!
Eek! I’m headed there next month and CAN’T WAIT! Your post just got me more psyched :) Thx! Great list.
You take beautiful pictures! Thanks for the tips, can’t wait!
Great post! My fiancé and I are on a road trip, just passing through Philly and we stumbled upon this post! We can’t wait to check some of these places out.
I was also wondering who you go through for your ad service? We have a blog of our own and can’t seem to find the right ad company. I was wondering if you could help! Thanks!
Great Job! I am planning to visit philly this summer and these were by far the best tips I’ve read! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for your ideas. I have just been researching for an upcoming trip from Australia in September and you have great suggestions, many I hadn’t found in my research. Thanks.
You should check out reading terminal market and the sky garden as well!!
Been to Philly once, my fave pizza us in Philly at Lorenzo’s!!!!
Do you mind PLEASE telling me how you got the tripcipe map on your post? I’ve researched everywhere and can’t seem to find the answer!
Thanks for visiting my city, wonderful pictures. Makes me want to go do a few things in town ….
It’s always fun to see your city through somebody else’s eyes. You got so many wonderful shots – and saw so many things! Very cool.
Thank you for this post on Philadelphia. My husband is working on a project near Philly and we are always looking for fun things to do. You gave us new ideas.
So awesome to see posts on my city! Very excited for your food post!
Thanks for coming & visiting Philly! Glad you had a great time. As for your next post, I’m going to guess Reading Terminal Market. Lots of food there!
I went to Philly once in high school, but definitely didn’t get a chance to soak in as much as you did! LOVE all the history! Totally on my bucket list to drop a letter off at the first post office ;)
It’s gotta be the Eastern State Penitentiary! We went to Philadelphia last summer, and that was definitely a highlight of the trip!