Top Things to See and Do in Philadelphia for First-Timers

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Philadelphia is an amazing city with lots of history and culture. Home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed, along with many other historic sites, Philadelphia is teeming with U.S. history. The city has a wide range of attractions, from its many iconic museums to amazing food venues, or just walking around to view the streets lined with public art and giant wall murals, Philadelphia has something for everyone.

Living in New York City, Philadelphia is a short and easy trek so I’ve been there many times for quick day trips. What I really like is that Philadelphia is small enough that it is easy to get from one site to another, sometimes within walking distance.

This guide is meant for first-timers in Philadelphia but past visitors might find something interesting here that they’ve missed for future travels.

Must See & Do

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  • Reading Terminal Market
    • Bustling food and farmers market at the heart of the city
    • You can choose from a wide range of food from Asian to BBQ and even an Amish market
    • Home of DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef, which has been featured on top of many food lists and shows
    • I also recommend The Grill at Smucker’s and having their pot roast sandwich with everything
    • Hours and more details can be found at their WEBSITE

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  • Rocky Steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works
    • The steps of The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the location of the famous running scene in the Academy winning movie Rocky.
    • Along with running up the Rocky Steps, you can pose with the statue of Rocky, located on the right side of the steps when facing the museum.
    • The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses a vast renowned collection of artwork and it’s the third-largest art museum in the country
    • Adults: $20. Youth (13–18): $14. Children (12 & under): Free
    • Admission and hours can be found at the museum WEBSITE

Pro Tip: Every Wednesday between 5:00 to 8:45 pm admission to the museum is “Pay What You Wish”

    • Friday of the month, the museum holds a feature live jazz or international music concerts and a cash bar in the Great Stair Hall starting at 5:00 pm
    • Free parking is available at The Oval in front of the museum. Additional paid parking is available behind the museum, but free after museum hours
    • If you have time, take a stroll through the scenic Fairmount Water Works located behind the museum

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  • Liberty Bell & Independence Hall
    • Located in Independence National Historical Park, The Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall are right across the street from each other
    • Entrance to The Liberty Bell Center is free but requires airport-like security
    • More information about The Liberty Bell Center can be found HERE
    • Entrance to Independence Hall is via timed ranger-led tours only
    • Independence Hall tickets are also free and require going through security
    • Limited tickets for Independence Hall tours are purchased same-day at the Independence Visitor Center or in advanced (with a 1.50$ fee) at their website HERE
    • More information about Independence Hall can be found on their WEBSITE

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  • Geno’s Steaks & Pat’s King of Steaks
    • Which Philly cheesesteak is better? …I’ll leave that up to you
    • A late night staple, these two sandwich shops sit across the street from each other and are known for their rivaling Philly cheesesteaks
    • Open 24 hours
    • Street parking might be difficult during peak hours

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  • Mütter Museum
    • A medical museum featuring a collection of anatomical specimens, abnormalities, and historical medical instruments
    • For those interested in oddities and medicine
    • A little creepy and not for everyone, but I found it very interesting
    • Admission, hours, and more info can be found HERE

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  • Dilworth Park, Philadelphia City Hall, & the Love Sculpture
    • Dilworth Park is a public space in Center City Philadelphia, along the west side of City Hall
    • Nice area to stroll through and people watch. Admire the architecture of City Hall
    • The café provides outdoor seating and hosts happy hour and other events
    • Features a public fountain and an ice skating rink and Christmas village during the winter holidays
    • Across the street is the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building that has the bigger than life board games pieces throughout Thomas Paine Plaza, also known as Board Game Art Park
    • Also across the street, on John F Kennedy Blvd and N15th St, is Love Park, where the iconic Love Sculpture and fountain is located.

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  • South Street
    • A vibrant area of fusion of culture, you’ll find diverse urban mix of restaurants, bars, galleries, coffee shops, stores, and performance spaces at South Street
    • Mainly between Front Street to 9th Street, but stretches past the Magic Gardens to Brad Street.

Pro Tip: Also plan to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens when walking through South Street

    • The area hosts summer block parties, BBQs, and other events throughout the year
    • More information can be found at the community’s WEBSITE

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  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
    • Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar transformed this property to be his largest work of mosaicked spaces and public murals
    • It has become a unique Philadelphia destination that includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries

Pro Tip: Try to visit during weekdays when crowds are less and give you more viewing room as a lot of the space is narrow and can easily get overcrowded

    • Tickets for admission can be purchased on-site but they advise people to purchase reserved time slots online… it’s also a good idea to find out if the venue is closed for special events
    • More information and operating hours can be found on their WEBSITE

Map

 

Enjoy!
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