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Best Things To Do in Philadelphia

History pervades Philadelphia's major attractions: America's Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence here in Independence Hall, and the city's Liberty Bell rang in 1776 to summon citizens for the first reading of the Declaration. Philly is also home to the green Fairmount Park and the bustling Rittenhouse Square. Noteworthy museums include the odd Mutter Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art with its remarkable collection of impressionist art.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
If you're interested in history, you must visit this red-brick Georgian-style building (located in Independence National Historical Park in the Old City), where the Second Congressional Congress met off and on from 1775 to 1783. More importantly, it was here that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated, drafted and signed by our forefathers. While touring Independence Hall, you'll have the chance to see the Assembly Room where George Washington was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Army. You can also see surviving copies of the declaration, the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation, all displayed in the West Wing's Great Essentials Exhibit.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Independence Hall
If you're interested in history, you must visit this red-brick Georgian-style building (located in Independence National Historical Park in the Old City), where the Second Congressional Congress met off and on from 1775 to 1783. More importantly, it was here that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated, drafted and signed by our forefathers. While touring Independence Hall, you'll have the chance to see the Assembly Room where George Washington was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Army. You can also see surviving copies of the declaration, the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation, all displayed in the West Wing's Great Essentials Exhibit.
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#2

#2 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Opposite Independence Hall, you'll find the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park. Now residing in a huge glass gazebo, this 2,080-pound piece of history was once mounted in the belfry of Independence Hall. It was used to mark important historic events, most notably at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Its chimes were last heard in 1846 for George Washington's birthday. It was around that time that the bell's famous crack was formed, rendering it unusable. Despite the long lines, recent visitors call this attraction a must-see for all Americans.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Liberty Bell Center
Opposite Independence Hall, you'll find the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park. Now residing in a huge glass gazebo, this 2,080-pound piece of history was once mounted in the belfry of Independence Hall. It was used to mark important historic events, most notably at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Its chimes were last heard in 1846 for George Washington's birthday. It was around that time that the bell's famous crack was formed, rendering it unusable. Despite the long lines, recent visitors call this attraction a must-see for all Americans.
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#3

#3 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Must-see ?
Unlike the Please Touch Museum, the Franklin Institute is sure to appeal to kids of all ages, not to mention the young-at-heart. Interactive displays help you and your kids learn about everything from physics to astronomy. While you're here, make sure not to miss The Sports Challenge, which explains the science behind sports like surfing and rock climbing with the help of simulators. Or explore space without ever leaving the ground at the Fels Planetarium. You can also take in a movie at the IMAX Theater. If you're interested in history, make sure to save time for the Franklin National Memorial, which features a gigantic statue of Benjamin Franklin as well as a collection of his belongings.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Franklin Institute Science Museum
Unlike the Please Touch Museum, the Franklin Institute is sure to appeal to kids of all ages, not to mention the young-at-heart. Interactive displays help you and your kids learn about everything from physics to astronomy. While you're here, make sure not to miss The Sports Challenge, which explains the science behind sports like surfing and rock climbing with the help of simulators. Or explore space without ever leaving the ground at the Fels Planetarium. You can also take in a movie at the IMAX Theater. If you're interested in history, make sure to save time for the Franklin National Memorial, which features a gigantic statue of Benjamin Franklin as well as a collection of his belongings.
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#4

#4 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Must-see ?
Whether you're actually interested in the exhibits or just looking to re-enact that timeless scene from "Rocky," the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see. Modeled after the ancient Greek temples, this notable attraction is one of the leading museums in the country. After you've made it to the top of the stairs, take a moment to appreciate the Mr. Balboa's statue before diving into the museum's impressive of works by Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cézanne and many others. You'll also find entire structures from around the world, including a 16th-century Indian temple hall, a 17th-century Chinese Palace hall and a Japanese teahouse.
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Museums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Whether you're actually interested in the exhibits or just looking to re-enact that timeless scene from "Rocky," the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see. Modeled after the ancient Greek temples, this notable attraction is one of the leading museums in the country. After you've made it to the top of the stairs, take a moment to appreciate the Mr. Balboa's statue before diving into the museum's impressive of works by Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cézanne and many others. You'll also find entire structures from around the world, including a 16th-century Indian temple hall, a 17th-century Chinese Palace hall and a Japanese teahouse.
... more

#5

#5 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
When it comes to satisfying your appetite in Philly, you can only eat so many cheesesteaks. So when lunchtime rolls around, head to the Reading Terminal Market in the Market East District. This market is located beneath the Reading Railroad's 1891 train shed and harbors almost 100 different vendors. Here, you can sample food from around the world — including Greek, Thai, Mexican and Indian specialties — while perusing homemade crafts and jewelry. Recent travelers highly recommend the Amish donuts. While there is a central dining area, many of the food stalls also have their own seating. 
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Reading Terminal Market
When it comes to satisfying your appetite in Philly, you can only eat so many cheesesteaks. So when lunchtime rolls around, head to the Reading Terminal Market in the Market East District. This market is located beneath the Reading Railroad's 1891 train shed and harbors almost 100 different vendors. Here, you can sample food from around the world — including Greek, Thai, Mexican and Indian specialties — while perusing homemade crafts and jewelry. Recent travelers highly recommend the Amish donuts. While there is a central dining area, many of the food stalls also have their own seating. 
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#6

#6 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ?
Many say this children's museum is one of the best in the country, offering dozens of hands-on displays related to everything from fine arts to construction zones. You and your kids can travel to Wonderland with Alice, practice your reading skills in the Story Castle and hone your science skills in the lab. There are also plenty of opportunities to get creative, with daily arts and crafts projects. And when tummies begin to rumble, the Please Taste Café serves plenty of healthy snacks that both you and your little ones will love.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Please Touch Museum
Many say this children's museum is one of the best in the country, offering dozens of hands-on displays related to everything from fine arts to construction zones. You and your kids can travel to Wonderland with Alice, practice your reading skills in the Story Castle and hone your science skills in the lab. There are also plenty of opportunities to get creative, with daily arts and crafts projects. And when tummies begin to rumble, the Please Taste Café serves plenty of healthy snacks that both you and your little ones will love.
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#7

#7 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ?
Having opened way back in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo is the first and oldest zoo in the country, but this 42-acre facility does a great job of hiding its years. With almost 2,000 animals residing here, there is plenty to keep you and your kids entertained for the entire day. Swing by the PECO Primate Reserve and check out the gorillas and the orangutans or come face to face with lions, tigers and jaguars at the Bank of America Big Cat Falls. Other top sites include the Tortoise Trail, the African Plains and Bear Country. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor concessions, but you're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Philadelphia Zoo
Having opened way back in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo is the first and oldest zoo in the country, but this 42-acre facility does a great job of hiding its years. With almost 2,000 animals residing here, there is plenty to keep you and your kids entertained for the entire day. Swing by the PECO Primate Reserve and check out the gorillas and the orangutans or come face to face with lions, tigers and jaguars at the Bank of America Big Cat Falls. Other top sites include the Tortoise Trail, the African Plains and Bear Country. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor concessions, but you're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
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#8

#8 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ?
The National Museum of American Jewish History aims to connect Jews to their heritage and inspire people of all backgrounds to appreciate the diversity of the Jewish experience. More than 30,000 artifacts illustrate immigration, worship, hard work, community and family life. The first floor features the "Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame," which showcases the accomplishments of 18 well-known Jewish Americans. The other three floors cover Jewish history dating back to 1654. Recent visitors highly recommend a stop here, and appreciated the fact that the museum focuses on the entire history of Jews, rather than just on the Holocaust.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of American Jewish History aims to connect Jews to their heritage and inspire people of all backgrounds to appreciate the diversity of the Jewish experience. More than 30,000 artifacts illustrate immigration, worship, hard work, community and family life. The first floor features the "Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame," which showcases the accomplishments of 18 well-known Jewish Americans. The other three floors cover Jewish history dating back to 1654. Recent visitors highly recommend a stop here, and appreciated the fact that the museum focuses on the entire history of Jews, rather than just on the Holocaust.
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#9

#9 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ?
The castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary is one of Philadelphia's most important historic sites. Having opened in 1829, this Quaker-inspired prison sought to reform prisoners using isolation and reflection rather than capital punishment and physical abuse. Although it was shut down in the 1970s, the Eastern State Penitentiary led the way to reform in the judicial system. Today, you are welcome to tour the facility; the highlight for many is Al Capone's cell. 
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Eastern State Penitentiary
The castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary is one of Philadelphia's most important historic sites. Having opened in 1829, this Quaker-inspired prison sought to reform prisoners using isolation and reflection rather than capital punishment and physical abuse. Although it was shut down in the 1970s, the Eastern State Penitentiary led the way to reform in the judicial system. Today, you are welcome to tour the facility; the highlight for many is Al Capone's cell. 
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#10

#10 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ?
You may want to think twice about bringing your kids to the small yet fascinating Mütter Museum. Housed within the College of Physicians, Mütter is dedicated to the exposition of medical oddities. While most museums like this fill their halls with old pictures and antique scalpels, this rather cramped 19th-century building overflows with jars containing about 20,000 preserved body parts and other objects. Some highlights include items that belonged to Marie Curie, a tumor removed from Glover Cleveland's mouth, an informative display on Siamese twins and the tallest skeleton on display in the U.S.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Mutter Museum
You may want to think twice about bringing your kids to the small yet fascinating Mütter Museum. Housed within the College of Physicians, Mütter is dedicated to the exposition of medical oddities. While most museums like this fill their halls with old pictures and antique scalpels, this rather cramped 19th-century building overflows with jars containing about 20,000 preserved body parts and other objects. Some highlights include items that belonged to Marie Curie, a tumor removed from Glover Cleveland's mouth, an informative display on Siamese twins and the tallest skeleton on display in the U.S.
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#11

#11 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
While it was once a grazing area for livestock, Rittenhouse Square is now one of the swankiest areas in the city. Named for David Rittenhouse, the first director of the United States Mint, this neighborhood — several blocks southeast of the Mütter Museum — now features plenty of top-notch restaurants, elegant stores and trendy nightlife venues. The park itself is a great place for a picnic or an outdoor stroll. Recent visitors loved taking a break from the city life and sitting back to relax in the area. 
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Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Rittenhouse Square
While it was once a grazing area for livestock, Rittenhouse Square is now one of the swankiest areas in the city. Named for David Rittenhouse, the first director of the United States Mint, this neighborhood — several blocks southeast of the Mütter Museum — now features plenty of top-notch restaurants, elegant stores and trendy nightlife venues. The park itself is a great place for a picnic or an outdoor stroll. Recent visitors loved taking a break from the city life and sitting back to relax in the area. 
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#12

#12 in Philadelphia

Local Pick: If Time Allows ?
Constructed in the late 19th century and decorated by artist George Herzog, this sturdy stone temple is one of the largest of its kind and was once the meeting place of one of history's more legendary organizations. Tour the temple's seven meeting rooms, each of them dedicated to ideal forms of architecture: Oriental, Gothic, Egyptian, Renaissance, Ionic, Corinthian and Norman. Or attempt to uncover the mysteries behind the masons (members of which include Ben Franklin and George Washington). Recent travelers call the attraction a hidden gem and a must-see, but recommend timing your visit with the tours in mind because patrons are not allowed to wander around freely.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Masonic Temple
Constructed in the late 19th century and decorated by artist George Herzog, this sturdy stone temple is one of the largest of its kind and was once the meeting place of one of history's more legendary organizations. Tour the temple's seven meeting rooms, each of them dedicated to ideal forms of architecture: Oriental, Gothic, Egyptian, Renaissance, Ionic, Corinthian and Norman. Or attempt to uncover the mysteries behind the masons (members of which include Ben Franklin and George Washington). Recent travelers call the attraction a hidden gem and a must-see, but recommend timing your visit with the tours in mind because patrons are not allowed to wander around freely.
... more

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