With its rich historical heritage, Philadelphia is one of the United States' most visited cities. After all, both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed here in Independence Hall. Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin once called this city home. And before Washington, D.C. usurped its role, Philadelphia served as the country's capital. Yet the city is far from being stuck in its glorious past. The Philly of today is filled ... continue»
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The best time to visit Philadelphia is from March to May, when the city thaws from the cold winter and moderate room rates can be found at the hotels. Fall and winter are the coldest and cheapest seasons to visit the City of Brotherly Love. Peak season is the summer when multitudes of tourists swarm sites like Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Zoo.Best Times to Visit Philadelphia»
Since Philadelphia is arranged on a grid system, the mostly one-way roads are easy to navigate. Helpful maps are posted along street corners across the city -- watch for the "Walk! Philadelphia" signs to get around the different neighborhoods. Downtown Philadelphia, called Center City, has numbered streets that run north to south; the streets that run east to west generally have tree names, such as Walnut, Spruce, and Pine.
Accessible via 15th & Market Sts, City Hall Station and Walnut-Locust Station subway stations.
The busiest part of Philadelphia is downtown or Center City, where the old and the modern come together. The neighborhood is constricted by the Delaware River on its east side and the Schuylkill River on the west, while Vine Street and South Street form its northern and southern boundaries. Stop by Rittenhouse Square, a tree-filled park in the southwest of Center City, where many professionals choose to take their lunch. It serves as a reprieve in an area filled with sleek skyscrapers, posh apartments and upscale hotels.
Accessible via the 2nd & Market Sts, 5th & Market Sts, and Penn's Landing subway stations.
Eclectic Old City in the east side of Center City is popular with the younger set. Filled with trendy galleries and some of the hippest restaurants in the city, this neighborhood even played host to the cast of MTV's The Real World: Philadelphia in 2004. History lovers will find the Betsy Ross House in Old City, as well as Elfreth's Alley, known by Philadelphians as the nation's oldest street.
Accessible via the 8th & Market Sts and 5th & Market Sts subway stations.
Just south of Old City is the Historic District, and like it sounds, this area shepherds the most historically significant attractions in the city. Those familiar with Philly say there's no way that you can visit and not stop by the Independence National Historical Park. Other Historic District must-sees include the Benjamin Franklin house, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall -- where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Accessible via the 2nd & Market Sts subway station.
The Delaware River waterfront on the far east end of Center City is bustling and vibrant during the day and night. In summer, the area becomes home to concerts and popular festivals. This is also where you will find the Independence Seaport Museum, which contains pieces displaying the city's nautical past.
Accessible via the 37th & Spruce Sts and 34th & Market Sts subway stations.
One of Philadelphia's many nicknames is the "Athens of America," named so for the swath of students in University City. Located west of Center City and across the Schuylkill River, this area is where you'll find the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), with architecture reminiscent of England's Oxford and Cambridge universities. Drexel and University of the Sciences are also nearby.
Accessible via the Ellsworth-Federal Station subway station.
Located at the southern end of the city, South Philadelphia is packed with diversity and ethnic cuisine. Although the area leans heavily towards Italian influences (Sylvester Stallone's character Rocky Balboa is from here), there is also a growing Asian presence. In addition, some of the city's more famous cheesesteak vendors like the Italian Market are located in South Philly at South 9th Street.
Accessible via the Route 38 bus and the Route 15 trolley.
With more than 8,000 acres of land situated northwest of the city, Fairmount Park is one of the world's largest city parks, offering hiking, trails for walking and horseback riding, and piers for fishing. The Philadelphia Zoo is here, as well as Boathouse Row, a line of 1860s buildings that sit along the Schuylkill River. At night, they are outlined by small lights, making them even more of a sight to see.
Although the main tourist areas of Philadelphia, like Center City, are generally safe, frequent travelers say other parts of the city (like South or West Philly) can be very dangerous. Use common sense during your stay: Keep your valuables near you (and preferably hidden from view) at all times. If you're unsure about how to get to a certain destination, take a cab or drive, especially at night.
The best way to get around Philadelphia is by foot. Although some attractions like the Philadelphia Zoo require some other mode of transport, most sightseeing is centered in the Old City, Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill areas, all of which are very pedestrian-friendly. To get from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and around the city, you can use a tangle of trolleys, buses and subways. From May to October, you can also get around via the purple Phlash trolleys. Hailing a cab is also an option, but the cost of the rides can add up quickly. And if you -- like the majority of Philly travelers -- come to the city by car, you should invest in a good map and be prepared for some driving and parking frustrations.Getting Around Philadelphia»