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Fun Things to do in Philadelphia


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city guide

The first Americans to live in the Delaware Valley were of the Lanape and Minqua Tribes. The Swedes founded the first European settlement in what is now Philadelphia in the 1640s. In 1655, fewer than 2,000 Swedes and Finns surrendered New Sweden to a Dutch expedition from New Amsterdam. However, in 1664 the Dutch surrendered New Netherlands to the English. Thereafter, the history of Philadelphia is inseparable from that of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On March 4, 1681, William Penn received from King Charles II of England his charter for a colony to lay north of Maryland and west of the Delaware River. As a Quaker leader, William Penn planned his colony as a whole experiment where men of his own religious sect or other persuasions might find freedom of mind. Penn chose the peninsula formed by the flow of the Schuykill into the Delaware River as the site for the capital of his colony.


Best time to go

The best time to visit Philadelphia is from March to May, when the city thaws from the cold winter and moderate room rates can be found at the hotels. Plus, a spring visit will yield a burst of photogenic cherry blossoms around the city.


Fun city facts and activities

    The best free things to do in Philadelphia range in genre and scope: from a walk through some of the most beautiful parks in the area to completely-gratis visits to top Philly museums and attractions, the City of Brotherly Love promises to expand your horizons culturally, culinary and in just about any other way possible.

    You might want to spend the day at the Barnes Foundation (free entry on the first Sunday of each month) to gaze at one of the leading collections of works by Pablo Picasso or, instead, visit America's oldest living botanical garden (a 45-acre landmark!). Whatever you opt for, get ready to see a side of Philly you'll likely never have experienced before without even having to take your wallet out.
    Phillys museums are a must, whether you enjoy art, history or weird medical specimens (that would be the M_tter Museum), theres a museum for you. If the outdoors are your thing, Philadelphia has a number of parks as well as the Delaware riverfront thats been smartly developed in spots with restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Sports fans will love catching a game whether it's the Eagles, the Flyers or the Phillies at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex (though be warned: brotherly love does not apply if youre rooting for the opposing team). The citys best restaurants offer a range of tasty eats for when hunger strikes, and a variety of music clubs and bars guarantee a good time out at night (keep this list of the best cheesesteaks in Philly handy for the perfect late night bite).
City facts

Neighborhoods to explore

    Chestnut Hill
    Fairmount-Spring Garden
    East Falls
    Mount Airy

Food Specialties

    The cheesesteak is no doubt iconic, but it's not Philly's only sought-after cuisine. The city has shed it's image as a rough-and-tough, hand-held meal kind of town and has emerged as one of the premier dining destinations in the country. Now, the best restaurants in Philadelphia are also some of the most noteworthy in America.

    Thats mostly due to a crop of young, talented chefs who, instead of jutting off to larger cities like New York or Chicago, are staying in the City of Brotherly Love to build a community of inventive, world-class eateries that are bringing top-notch flavors and amazing vibes to every corner of the city.

    These spots have nabbed national attention and give Philadelphians the chance to not only enjoy the foods weve always loved (hello, red sauce and meatballs!) but work in a range of dishes from across the globe from Israeli to Japanese to elegant vegan.

    This list represents the places that locals love the most the ones we talk about and return to over and over again. It includes a range of amazing places to eat and drink that are located in some of the best neighborhoods in the city and that fit every kind of budget from the pricey spots for special-occasion dinners to more casual options for any old Saturday night.

Philadelphia Offbeat activities

Free or cheap things to do

1. Visit the Magic Gardens: Explore this world of mosaics and murals, created by local artist Isaiah Zagar.

2. Spend the day at Spruce Street Harbor Park: An oasis of gardens, boardwalk, and hammocks right on the Delaware River.

3. Take a Ghost Tour: Take a spooky guided tour around the old neighborhoods of Philadelphia, and learn some of the citys haunted history.

4. See a Movie at the Ritz Movie Theater: An historic movie theater located in the heart of Old City, Philadelphia.

5. Take a Brewery Tour: Learn about Philadelphia's rich brewing history and sample some of the best craft beers in the city.

6. Explore the Eastern State Penitentiary: Take a tour of this infamous prison and learn about its fascinating history.

7. Visit the M_tter Museum: A medical museum filled with strange and fascinating artifacts from the world of medicine

Offbeat activites
Kid friendly

Fun things to do in with kids

Free or cheap things to do

1. Philadelphia Magic Garden
Little ones will love wandering through this whimsical space, its winding walls filled with colorful glass and tiled mosaics. First, stop by the front desk to snag your scavenger hunt card then explore interactive corners where kids can touch tiles, tools and hear stories about the space. Drop in for free daily tours that will teach all about the gardens muralist, Isaiah Zagar, and be sure to check the website for monthly special events, like family-friendly crafternoons and live musical performances after-hours.

2. Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
With rope mountains to climb and slides to zoom down galore, this 16,000-square0foot playhouse is every childs dream come true. Younger tots will love roaming and hiding in the three-storied playhouse while older kids eagerly explore nearly seven acres of jungle gym fantasies. But beware, adventurers of all ages will quickly become addicted to the famous 39-foot-long slide with a daring (but kid-friendly!) 13-foot wide slope. Prepare to hear one too many Just 5 more minutes?

3. Please Touch Museum
Break the rules at this museum where curious minds of all ages are encouraged to play in two fun-filled exhibit floors. Kids can navigate an indoor hedge maze, sail across a tabletop river, launch a rocket or stargaze while learning about creatures of the forest. The museums super cool Cents and Sensibility exhibit arrived in January 2019 and explores the concept of money in a playful way. Kids will be captivated by the Dollar and Cents Scale, which teaches you how to add combinations of coins to make a dollar, and the Money Maze, which asks you to direct a money ball through a labyrinth while learning about spending, saving and sharing.

4. Philadelphia Zoo

Fly, swing and leap on over to Americas longest-standing zoo for an afternoon of animal adventures to remember. First, dive into the newest addition, KidZooU, for a few furry up-and-close encounters, interactive exhibits and climbing structures. Then pay a visit to nearly 1,300 animals from the rare black and white ruffed lemur and the Chinese alligator to zoo favorites like the jaguars, hippos, bears, rhinos and more. Finally, unwind in a sail aboard a swan boat or choo-choo on the kiddie train express.

5. Franklin Institute
Escape rooms, VR and giant heartsoh my! Inquisitive minds of all kinds will love spending the day at this science emporium. Find out how your body can help power a lightbulb or put Newtons Laws of Motion to the test with a playground of pulleys and pendulums. Then, gear up to operate a massive crane before finding out who will crack the code first in a puzzle-packed escape room challenge. And dont forget to get lost in the museums AR experience that youll just have to see to believe.

6. Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Museum of Art houses a stunning collection of over 240,000 pieces of original art, ranging from sculptures to furniture collections from historic Philadelphians homes. Kids will love the family art cart in the galleries, where they can sketch from the masterpieces as well as Sunday family tours, specifically geared toward the younger set. Guides center the tour on a specific theme (colors, shapes, etc.) and then lead children through the museum in search of examples in the collection.

7. Eastern State Penitentiary
This ones great for older kids (ages 7 and up)! The former penitentiary, which was abandoned for more than 20 years before becoming a museum, offers a vast history of fascinating inmatessuch as Al Caponeand prison culture. You can take guided or audio tours through the space (stops with adult content are marked accordingly in the event youd like to skip them). Be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt booklet (free with admission) so your kids can find all of the items on the list.

8. Mutter Museum
Come one, come all and marvel at some of the worlds medical mysteries. From over 2,000 of the oddest objects ever ingested by the human body to the many intricacies of the Soap Lady, this museum, run by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, is also one of only two places worldwide where Albert Einsteins brain residesliterally. Examine it up close, or peruse a collection of 139 human skulls and learn about the study they

9. Jkidphilly at the Jewish Learning Venture
Part of the Jewish Learning Venture, this program seeks to connect kids and families within the vibrant community of Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs and offers different activities throughout the year to that end. Check out the calendar for an ever-changing selection of events and celebrations, including craft days, baking events and afternoon park playdates.

10. Firemans Hall Museum
If youve got a kid who loves firetrucks, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Just outside of Old City, this restored firehouse offers close-up looks at antique firetrucks as well as artifacts rescued from some well-known fire-related events. Upstairs, kids can try on firefighter gear, sit and read books, and make 911 calls on a pretend phone. The tiny gift counter offers fun take-home items such as stickers, patches and model firetrucks.

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City data and FAQ 

Do you need a car to visit Philadelphia?
I think it would depend on where in Philadelphia you were visiting. For Center City, University City, Old City, South street, going to the stadiums, visiting the museums and other tourist attractions, no, you do not need a car and would be better off without one. There is plenty of public transportation, the Philly PHLASH, and hop on and off sightseeing buses to take you where you want to go.
Anne Albright Lives in Philadelphia, PA
Of course you have more flexibility with a car, but parking can be expensive as in most big cities. Philly has a robust subway system running both north/south and a line running mostly east/west. There is also a extensive commuter rail service that connects Philly with the surrounding suburbs. Google SEPTA to see a map of the subway and rail systems. Plenty of buses too.
Oscar Benjamin

Are two days enough to visit Philadelphia?
I would probably have to say no. I believe Philadelphia is Pennsylvania's most populated city and possibly the biggest also or at least second from the top. Even if you had a week to visit you'd probably miss a few things.
Crystal Storm

Yes and no. You will not get to see everything even if you speed through it but if you pick and choose, with tight planning, you can see the highlights you would want to hit. That does not allow for some of the really cool thing to do in the area around Philly like Longwood Gardens, The Brandywine River Museum, the Camden Aquarium, or even PA Dutch country.
Krstin Heckrote

Depends what youre seeking. You can do the historical area in that time. But theres plenty of other things to do that are not as contained that require more travel and more time.
Linda Dann Lives in Philadelphia, PA

What is Philadelphia most known for?

Well, just in terms of history. Independence Hall: Where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written, debated over, and voted on. National Constitution Center. Museum of the Revolutionary War.
Tim Nichols Lives in Pennsylvania (1962- Present)

Our Nations first capital, soft pretzels, cheese steaks, great pizza and many other things, but this is a good start.
James McGill Lived in Philadelphia, PA

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