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5 Philadelphia Tours First-Time Travelers Should Experience
Whether you prefer to bike, walk or ride a bus, these tours are the best way to see the City of Brotherly Love.
Philadelphia is loaded with great tour options – from family-friendly excursions around Center City to a trip back in time to the colonial era.(Courtesy of Kendra Leblang)
In a city packed with so much history and culture, it's easy for visitors to miss some of what makes Philadelphia unique. That’s where tours come in handy, and Philadelphia is loaded with some great options – from family-friendly excursions around Center City to bike rides through one of America’s largest urban parks to a trip back in time to the colonial era. Here are some of the city's top tours, as recommended by local experts.
The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia
The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia(Courtesy of Betsy Ross House)
At the top of most visitors’ lists when traveling to Philadelphia is a tour of Independence Hall, where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Though the historic building is one of the most recognizable and popular stops in Old City, plenty of other famous sites are right around the corner.
[Read: The Best Hotels in Philadelphia.]
The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia is the perfect way to explore those other stops, including the Betsy Ross House, the Declaration House, Franklin Court, the First Bank of the United States and the President’s House.
Damien Infantino, event services manager at The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel, calls the tour “super informative.”
The 75-minute tour covers more than a mile of the Independence National Historical Park and hits 20 landmarks. Tours are offered daily April through November, and tickets are $19 for adults and $12.50 for kids 3 to 12.
'Big Bus Double Decker Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour'
'Big Bus Double Decker Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour'(Courtesy of Mark Callahan)
The Big Bus Company offers a touring option ideal for those looking for a bit of flexibility. The Big Bus Double Decker Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour hits nearly 30 of the most popular locations around the city, including museums, parks and neighborhoods.
What’s great about The Big Bus Tour, says Infantino, is that “you can determine how long or how short you want that tour to be because you can just hop on or hop off.”
[Read: The Best Philadelphia Tours.]
You can purchase one-, two- and three-day passes. One-day passes cost $10 for children 4 to 12, $28 for seniors and $30 for adults. The Big Bus Tour operates daily except for Christmas and New Year’s, and hours vary depending on the season.
'Rocky Film Locations,' Philly Tour Hub
'Rocky Film Locations,' Philly Tour Hub(Courtesy of Kendra Leblang)
Recommended by James Portner, chief concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, for its range of tour options, Philly Tour Hub offers everything from Segway tours to private driving tours and even scavenger hunts.
One of the most unique tours in the company’s portfolio, though, is its Rocky Film Locations tour. Offered daily, the two- to 10-hour personalized tour hits some of the iconic locations seen in the "Rocky" movies, including Mighty Mick's Gym, Rocky's house, the Schuylkill River and the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Rocky Film Locations tour starts at $225 for groups up to six people.
'Fairmount Park Historic Tour,' Philly Bike Tour Co.
'Fairmount Park Historic Tour,' Philly Bike Tour Co.(Courtesy of Elizabeth Thorpe)
As one of the largest urban parks in one of the country's oldest cities, Fairmount Park has a lot of things going for it. "You'll find up there not only lovely, wonderful nature trails that take you through miles of wonderful parkland area, but some of the most magnificent 18th-century properties," says Frank Marandino, chief concierge at The Rittenhouse Hotel.
But if walking the more than 2,000 acres seems daunting, you can take to two wheels and enjoy the park's sights and sounds on Philly Bike Tour Co.'s Fairmount Park Historic Tour. The three-hour, $59 tour covers some of the green space's most popular attractions, like Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Zoo and buildings from the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.
Philadelphia Personal Tours
If you’d like a tour specially designed to fit you and your family’s interests, Philadelphia Personal Tours comes highly recommended. Owner Tom Walker is a retired Army veteran who has always been into history and all things Philadelphia.
“He's been on A&E, the History Channel, he's taken Joan Rivers and her family on tour before,” Portner says. “He's got a great staff of a couple of other people who focus on different things. One specializes in art history and architecture; he's got another one that's great on the Revolutionary War and all of Philadelphia.”
Walker’s company offers all kinds of tours, covering Philadelphia murals, unique dining experiences and even Gettysburg. He also has a close relationship with an Amish family and frequently invites clients to enjoy a traditional Amish meal.
The tours are highly customizable, so contact Walker for information on pricing.
To experience more of what Philadelphia has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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