Philadelphia Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Day Trips from New York City
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1-day Itinerary in Philadelphia

Explore the best things to do in Paris in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #1
    Liberty Bell Center
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    #1 in Philadelphia
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. Historians believe the first crack developed in the early 1840s. Metal workers were tasked with repairing the bell in anticipation of George Washington's birthday in 1846. The repair was unsuccessful and the bell ceased to chime ever again.

    Despite the long lines, recent visitors called this attraction a must-see for all Americans. They also suggested planning your visit first thing in the morning during the week.

    The Liberty Bell Center offers informational video presentations (offered in many different languages) that details the bell's history. After that, get your camera ready: The bell is on display with Independence Hall visible in the background.

    The center is open year-round starting at 9 a.m., closing at 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, check out the Liberty Bell Center section of the Independence National Historic Park website.

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    5 minute walk
  • 2
    #2
    Independence Hall
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    #2 in Philadelphia
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 Continental 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.

    From March through December, you must obtain a ticket for a tour to visit Independence Hall (tickets are free, but there is a $1.50 ticket-handling fee). Many recent visitors recommend reserving tickets in advance to avoid waiting. They also say the guides, who are national park rangers, are great. You don't need a ticket to visit in January and February, but you must join a guided tour. A limited quantity of free tickets are available every day at the ranger's desk in the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market streets. This is the only place to obtain free, timed entry tickets.

    Independence Hall is open daily with tours beginning at 9 a.m., closing at 5 p.m. Check out the NPS website for more information.

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    15-20 minute walk
  • 3
    #5
    Reading Terminal Market
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    #5 in Philadelphia
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    For a taste of local Philly produce, baked goods, coffee and more, head to Reading Terminal Market in the Market East District. This market is located beneath the Reading Railroad's 1891 train station (a National Historic Landmark) and harbors more than 80 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 love the variety of foods, saying there is something for everyone. While there is a central dining area, many of the food stalls also have their own seating. Some described the market experience as "overwhelming" because of the volume of vendors and visitors. If you're limited on time, consider reading about the market's various vendors beforehand on the market's website. Past visitors and critics praised the doughnuts at Beiler's Bakery, the apple dumplings at Dutch Eating Place, the roast pork sandwich at DiNic's and the po'boys at Beck’s Cajun Café.

    The Reading Terminal Market is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. While you don't have to pay to browse, you may want to carry some extra cash on you just in case something catches your eye. To avoid hefty parking fees, consider walking or using public transportation to reach the market. Several train stations are located nearby and the Philly PHLASH services the area (stop No. 4 and stop No. 16). For more information, check out the market's website.

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    10-20 minutes by car
  • 4
    #3
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
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    #3 in Philadelphia
    Museums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. Of note, there are ongoing renovations in the Main Building, resulting in a few galleries being closed until 2019.

    The museum also includes the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building (just a short walk from the main building on Pennsylvania Avenue), which houses an impressive collection of photography, costumes and contemporary works.

    Recent visitors agreed this museum is a must, touting its amazing collections and variety. If you can, budget a full day for this museum and before you start exploring, decide which exhibits are the most important and plan your day around those.

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art occupies the southern tip of Fairmount Park, just west of the Eastern State Penitentiary. Both it and the Perelman building are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours on Wednesday and Friday for the main museum until 8:45 p.m. Admission costs $20 for adults and $14 for children over 13 to 18; admissions covers entry for two consecutive days to the museum's main building, the Perelman building, the Rodin Museum and historic house Cedar Grove. On the first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday between 5 and 8:45 p.m., there is a "pay as you wish" admission. For more information, check out the museum's website.

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