Philadelphia Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Day Trips from New York City
Credit

Courtesy of Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

2-day Itinerary in Philadelphia

Explore the best things to do in Paris in 2 days based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #1
    Liberty Bell Center
    View all Photos
    #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.

    ...Read More »
    5 minute walk
  • 2
    #2
    Independence Hall
    View all Photos
    #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.

    ...Read More »
    15-20 minute walk
  • 3
    #5
    Reading Terminal Market
    View all Photos
    #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.

    ...Read More »
    10-20 minutes by car
  • 4
    #3
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    View all Photos
    #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.

    ...Read More »

Day 2

  • 1
    #8
    Eastern State Penitentiary
    View all Photos
    #8 in Philadelphia
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. 

    Bear in mind that this attraction may not be appropriate for younger children due to its rather frightening nature. Recent visitors said the site is intriguing, yet disturbing, if not downright creepy. To  embrace the terror, visit around Halloween when the prison turns into a haunted house with six different attractions. If you do decide to bring the kids, the Eastern State Penitentiary offers family-friendly tour options with a more PG retelling of the events that took place behind its thick stone walls.

    The Eastern State Penitentiary is located several blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is accessible via Philadelphia Trolley Works, Big Bus, The Phlash, Philadelphia Bike Tours, and several SEPTA bus routes. It is open to the public every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with last entry at 4 p.m. Admission (which includes an audio tour) costs $14 for adults and $10 for children ages 7 to 12 if you purchase tickets online. In person, there's an additional $2 fee per ticket. There is also a daily guided tour at 2 p.m., but you must reserve a ticket in advance (no additional charge). For more information, visit the former prison's website.

    ...Read More »
    10-15 minute walk; 5-10 minutes by car
  • 2
    #12
    Franklin Institute Science Museum
    View all Photos
    #12 in Philadelphia
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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, don't miss the SportsZone, which explains the science behind sports like surfing and rock climbing with the help of simulators. Or explore space without ever leaving earth at the Fels Planetarium. You can also take in a movie at the IMAX theater or test your wits in the museum's escape rooms. If you're interested in history, make sure to save time for the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, which features a 30-ton statue of Franklin as well as a collection of his belongings.

    Most visitors agree that spending a day in the Franklin Institute is a great way to kill some time, especially if you have little ones in tow. However, some reviewers were disappointed that certain exhibitions cost extra.

    The Franklin Institute Science Museum sits just south of Fairmont Park and is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can take the PHLASH bus to stop No. 15. General admission costs $23 for adults and $19 for children ages 3 to 11. Some temporary exhibits and the IMAX showings charge additional fees. For more information, check out the Franklin Institute website.

    ...Read More »
    10-15 minute walk
  • 3
    #4
    Rittenhouse Square
    View all Photos
    #4 in Philadelphia
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 enjoyed taking a break from the city life and sitting back to relax in the area. Reviewers described it as "charming" and "lovely," though some also warned of panhandlers.

    You can reach Rittenhouse Square via the City Hall and Walnut Locust metro stops. The park is located Walnut Street between North 18th and North 19th Streets. It is free to visit and accessible 24/7.

    ...Read More »
    10-15 minute walk

Explore More of Philadelphia

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019