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Once the USA’s capital, Philadelphia is one of the country’s most historically significant cities.
Philadelphia boasts glorious colonial architecture, world-class museums, movie film sites, arts and culture galore, great shopping, and a booming nightlife. There are many reasons to add Philly to your bucket list!
While many people may already know of Philadelphia’s highlights, discovering hidden gems and having authentic experiences can be tough.
Sometimes it’s awesome to see a different side to a destination and stray away from the tried-and-trodden path.
That’s where we come in! Our expert team have hunted high and low to bring you the ultimate list of the best things to do in Philadelphia. With a wealth of diverse attractions and activities, you really can’t go wrong!
So, start planning your awesome stay with the help of these best things to do in Philadelphia.
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Philadelphia offers so much fun in all shapes and sizes. With something to keep almost anyone entertained, amused, and engaged, here are some of the best fun things to enjoy in Philly.
Spend two hours gliding through some of Philadelphia’s most historic and atmospheric streets on a Segway. You’ll ride past the Schuylkill River, through Chinatown, and along streets that are brimming with history and energy.
Highlights include the Rocky Statue, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Thinker statue by Rodin, as well as a wealth of places with links to the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.
Penn’s Landing site and Betsy Ross House are just a couple of highlights. You’ll also get to head off the beaten track and visit places unseen by many tourists.
Don’t worry if it’s your first time “Segwaying”—you’ll be given complete instructions before you take to the streets and a guide will accompany you on your adventures.
If there’s one movie character that’s almost synonymous with Philly it’s Rocky Balboa. Take half a day to tread in Rocky’s wake and visit iconic filming sites around Philadelphia.
Hop into your private chauffeur-driven car and let the fun begin!
See the gym where Rocky kept himself in tip-top shape, run through the Italian Market, see Rocky’s home, and try to sprint up the 72 famous “Rocky Steps” outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A huge bronze statue of the movie great stands proudly outside the Rocky museum too—perfect for selfies.
And, always remember, on the tour or otherwise:
“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
Spend a couple of hours discovering Philadelphia’s best historic spots and travel into the past to experience the dramatic birth of the USA.
A local guide will lead you through the city’s most significant sites from the past, all while providing fascinating information and local wisdom.
Learn more about the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner (the US flag, not the National Anthem) at Betsy Ross House. See Benjamin Franklin’s former home.
Visit the National Constitution Center, admire Independence Mall, be in awe of the presidential home of George Washington and John Adams, and see where money is churned out at the U.S. Mint. Stand at the spots where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.
Other highlights include the Old City Hall and Franklin Court. Unwind in a local pub with a craft beer (or soft drink) at the end of your interesting journey back in time.
There are many opportunities for tender romance in Philadelphia, from candle-lit meals, arty days out, and nights in fine wine bars to adventure activities with your love and hand-in-hand historical sightseeing.
Travel to the top of the One Liberty Observation Deck with your sweetheart for sensational vistas and selfies with a stunning backdrop.
Look out for major city landmarks beneath you, and learn more about significant sites through touch-screen displays. You’ll also be able to learn more about Philadelphia’s past and achievements.
Stand 883 feet above the bustling streets and be wowed by stunning panoramic views.
Not only will you get to admire the City of Brotherly Love in all its daytime glory, but your ticket also lets you visit again at night to enjoy the twinkling lights from above as you see the city bathed in moonlight.
Set sail with your sweet and enjoy a fabulous harbour cruise with a delectable buffet dinner and cool live entertainment to really get you both in the loving mood.
Soak up the evening views of Philly’s fine skyline, enhanced by the bright lights and shimmering reflections on the water’s surface.
Take your seat at a candlelit table and sip a drink before helping yourself to a range of tempting dishes on the buffet.
How about braised ribs, baked pasta, or oven-cooked North Atlantic sole, accompanied by creamy mashed potato and a range of crisp and flavourful salads?
Leave space for dessert—the cheesecake, apple cobbler, and fresh fruits are just a few things to tempt you.
Soft music accompanies dinner and you can take a hand-in-hand stroll around the ship afterwards or hit the dance floor to throw some shapes to some of the hottest local DJs.
Located in the heart of Philly’s cool art and culture area, Sister Cities Park is a relaxing verdant oasis and a place of tranquil calm. Admire the terrific skyline views as you wander through the lush park with your love, and have fun discovering the park’s varied attractions.
Call into the Visitor Center to find out what’s on, soak up some sun from the grass, and feel the splash of the fountain, the cooling droplets of water a welcome relief on your skin on a hot sunny day.
Unwind in the small café, stop to smell the flowers, and don’t miss the best bit with your significant other—a snap in front of the large deep red “amor” statue.
From parks and museums to animal encounters, history, and cool murals, Philly has heaps for families to enjoy. You’re all sure to love chowing down on tasty Philly cheesesteaks too.
Ease some of the headaches of trying to keep the whole family happy on holiday with some of these awesome ideas for things to do in Philadelphia with little ones in tow.
Everyone is sure to be happy exploring Philadelphia by hop-on hop-off bus. Kids can feel excited as they gaze out the windows or feel the breeze through their hair on an open-topped vehicle, and parents can learn more about the city by way of the multi-lingual onboard commentary.
Stops are close to major points of interest, saving little legs from getting tired too quickly, and you can make pit stops whenever you want. Food breaks and toilet visits are easy! Services are frequent.
Set your own sightseeing pace and do the things that suit your family best. Stops include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (with the famous “Rocky Steps” in front), Independence Hall, Chinatown, Eastern State Penitentiary, the Rodin Museum, and, a huge hit with kids, Philadelphia Zoo.
Cracking clues, solving puzzles, and completing tasks add a certain excitement to a day of sightseeing. You can take the scavenger hunt at your own pace, pausing to soak up the sights and make side detours, or unleash your family’s competitive side by racing to secure a spot on the leaders’ board.
All you need is a smartphone, a smart head, and a spirit of fun … game on!
See Philly in a different way as you hit up sites like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Christ Church, US Mint, and President’s House.
Travel back in time to uncover more about the city’s colourful and interesting history, see a wealth of cool street art and murals, and explore a place that is a little bit different to the norm and something of local hidden gems.
Visit Adventure Aquarium for a fun-filled day that you’ll all remember for a long time to come. Learn more about creatures of the deep and come face to face with a plethora of fascinating marine animals.
One of the biggest aquariums in the area, Adventure Aquarium can be found on the scenic Camden Waterfront.
Home to more than 8,500 species of water-dwelling critters in all shapes, colours, and sizes, the Adventure Aquarium will give you all some eye-popping and jaw-dropping moments.
Be in awe of the diverse spark species and feel the adrenalin pumping as you walk across the rope suspension bridge of Shark Bridge, just a few inches above the ferocious sharks swimming below.
See hippos, penguins, porcupines, turtles, and frogs. Of course, there are many fish species too, along with lobsters, crabs, delicate seahorses, eels, starfish, and more.
Enjoying Philadelphia doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg when you incorporate some of the city’s best free things to see and do.
Dating back to the early 1700s, Elfreth’s Alley is one of Philadelphia’s most historic streets. It was named after a local blacksmith and property owner. There are some30 homes that were constructed from the late 1720s and the mid-1830s.
The cobblestoned street with its federal- and Georgian-style buildings was very typical of local working-class city streets in times gone by. A stroll along Elfreth’s Alley is sure to take you back in time.
Once surrounded by thriving factories, the area attracted many immigrants in the past. The area went through periods where it flourished and times when it floundered; it’s a terrific example of both urban renewal and decay. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark.
Strolling along the atmospheric street is one of the top things to do in Philadelphia, and it won’t set you back a single cent. The local museum, which is well worth a visit, does, however, charge a small admission fee. There are also a couple of specialist houses, with well-preserved interiors, that charge an entrance fee.
One of Philadelphia’s most famous sights is also totally free. Indeed, one may also say that standing in front of the historically significant Liberty Bell is one of the best things for history buffs to do in the entire state of Pennsylvania, if not in the USA.
A strong symbol of America’s independence, the large bell once hung proudly in Independence Hall. Today, it is displayed in the Liberty Bell Center in Philly’s Independence National Historical Park.
It also became a symbol of the USA’s freedom during the Cold War and has inspired much national pride. It was depicted on banknotes, stamps, and other national items.
Created in the 1750s, it bore the words “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof”.
In its early days, the Liberty Bell chimed to let people know of public meetings and to remind local lawmakers of their need to attend sessions.
It is widely believed that the Liberty Bell was one of several bells that loudly rang out to celebrate the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
The steps that lead up to the doors of the Philadelphia Art Museum were forever immortalised in the famous Rocky movies. Those who have seen the popular films will recall seeing the beloved boxer running up and down the steps at part of his gruelling training program.
You too can follow in the steps of Rocky and try to take on the steps. Walk, run, or jog, you’re bound to get some cool action shots emulating the boxer.
There’s a large statue of Rocky outside the museum too, great for even more cool selfies to fill your Instagram feed.
If you’re looking for a buzzing nightlife with plenty of diversity, Philadelphia won’t let you down. Pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants are among the usual places people flock to for nocturnal fun, but there are also a few offbeat ways to spend your evenings too.
Do something different after the sun has gone down and join a spooky candlelit ghost tour around Philly.
You’ll find that some of the city’s most historic areas take on an almost other-worldly and rather eerie ambience in the gloom, and you can watch out for things that go bump in the night as you stroll through the Old City, Independence National Park, and Society Hill.
Keep your eyes peeled for the spectre of Ben Franklin!
Travel on and off the beaten path, visiting secret places as you learn more about colonial-era America and its diverse characters. From villains and heroes to paupers and wealthy folk, no stone is left unturned.
Guides in period costumes help to bring the past to life, with little-told tales, local anecdotes, and interesting historical facts.
If you want to hit up some of Philly’s most famous sites after hours, a bus tour can be the most convenient and efficient way of doing so.
Lasting for an hour and a half, you’ll traverse the city by double-decker bus, accompanied by a knowledgeable and personable local guide.
Areas visited include Chinatown, South Street, and the Old City, and the bus makes a quick photo stop at the “Rocky Steps”—run up them at night for some cool holiday snapshots to make your friends jealous!
Have a fun time as you uncover Philadelphia’s beer scene on a pub crawl. The tour includes three drinks and a bar snack. You’ll also meet other cool cats as you hit up different pubs with your friendly guide.
You’ll visit some of the cities popular watering holes, joining the locals for happy hour, and also spots that you may not have discovered but for the help of your guide.
Choose between historic pubs, Irish bars, dive bars, beer cafes, and more—there’s something to suit most tastes. Afterwards, rest your head at any of these top 15 hotels in Philadelphia. Or if you’re looking for a no stress guide to accommodation, check out our guide to where to stay in Philadelphia.
With so much diversity and awesomeness, tick off as many of these best things to do in Philadelphia on your next trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.