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Things to see in Philadelphia

Attractions

The Liberty Bell Center

There are many who associate the Liberty Bell as the symbol of freedom, however it started life in a foundry in London's Whitechapel and had the ignominy of cracking on its first ring. Originally used as the bell to signal the reading of the Constitution, it was later adopted as a symbol of liberty by abolitionist societies. The Liberty Bell Center presents larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images exploring the facts and the myths surrounding the Bell together with an insider’s view, literally, of the Bell’s crack and inner-workings via x-rays.

Address: , 6th Street and Market Street, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 215 965 2305.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1900.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/inde/learn/historyculture/stories-libertybell.htm
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Independence National Historical Park

The Independence National Historical Park encompasses several historic attractions that date from the era of the American Revolution, most of which are free to visit. The Independence Visitor Center provides a good introduction to the sights, the park and the entire region. Other highlights include the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776 and the Constitution announced in 1787. The Liberty Bell Center houses the cracked bell that was sounded after the first public reading of the Declaration.

Address: , Sixth Street and Market Street, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 215 965 2305.
Opening times:

Opening hours depends on the attraction.

Website: http://www.nps.gov/inde
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

City Hall

Eternally looking down onto his favourite city, founder William Penn's 11m (37ft) bronze statue is perched atop City Hall. Philadelphia boasts the largest and most elaborate city hall in America. It took 30 years to build and was the city's tallest building until 1987. Completed in 1901, City Hall's massive central tower rises for 167m (548ft) and is the hub of Downtown, with an open courtyard forming a walkway that connects Broad and Market streets. The observation deck offers superb views of the city.

Address: , Broad Street and Market Streets, Philadelphia, 19107
Telephone: +1 267 514 4757
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1700; Mon-Fri 0930-1615, select Saturdays 1100-1600 (tower and observation deck).

Website: http://www.phlvisitorcenter.com/things-to-do/city-hall-visitor-center
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

National Liberty Museum

Not far from the Liberty Bell itself, the Liberty Museum highlights intangible ideas like diversity, bigotry, heroism and liberty, and seeks to make them more concrete through interactive exhibits and art. Many of the exhibits are glass sculptures including Dale Chihuly's 6.4m (21ft) Flame of Liberty. Harvey Littleton's Shattered Lives, a bullet through glass, illustrates both literally and figuratively what one bullet can do.

Address: , 321 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 215 925 2800.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.libertymuseum.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Philadelphia Museum of Art

This neoclassical building offers spectacular views towards City Hall. Its steps were immortalised by Rocky, in the 1976 film of the same name. The museum's collection is one of the most important in the country, with more than half a million paintings, sculptures and artefacts spanning 2,000 years of art from Asia, Europe and America. 

Address: , 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19130
Telephone: +1 215 763 8100.
Opening times:

Tue-Sun 1000-1700 (Wed and Fri until 2045).

Website: http://www.philamuseum.org
Admission Fees:

Yes (free for under 12s and local art and design students).

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Rodin Museum

A branch of the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum features the largest collection of the great sculptor's work outside of Paris. Its gardens and stately exhibition halls are sprinkled with numerous pieces, including casts of The Thinker and The Kiss as well as The Burghers of Calais. Framing the entrance is his Gates of Hell. The museum’s stunning gardens are also now accessible from the Parkway.

Address: , 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19130
Telephone: +1 215 763 8100.
Opening times:

Wed-Mon 1000-1700 (open until 2000 20 Jul–19 Aug).

Website: http://rodinmuseum.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

The Barnes Foundation

Between 1912 and 1951, Dr Albert C. Barnes acquired works of art from some of the most ‘daring artists’ of the time – Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Chaim Soutine and Vincent Van Gogh. Formerly in Merion, Pennsylvania, The Barnes Foundation has been reborn in a sparkling new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the first addition to the city’s prominent Museum Mile in six decades. Its outdoor gallery garden is a unique feature and it also joins up with the Rodin's new garden next door.

Address: , 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19130
Telephone: +1 215 278 7000.
Opening times:

Wed-Mon 1100-1700.

Website: http://www.barnesfoundation.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

National Constitution Center

The US constitution is brought to life with interactive exhibits at this excellent museum. The multimedia show, Freedom Rising (shown twice hourly), features live actors, film and music and it's a perfect way to understand just how the Constitution came to be. Your journey into the past continues in interactive displays that revisit important events in US history and their relation to the Constitution. Visitors can even be sworn in as the President of the United States.

Address: , 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 215 409 6700.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 0930-1700, Sun 1200-1700.

Website: http://www.constitutioncenter.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Lights of Liberty Shows

State-of-the-art technology lets you experience the American Revolution right where it happened. This unique sound-and-light presentation travels through Independence National Park at night. As you journey to historic buildings, images are projected over 15m (50ft) high onto the historic buildings where the events actually happened. Headsets provide background music, special effects and drama, available in five languages. There is also a 3D show at the Liberty PECO Theatre.

Address: 6th and Chestnut Streets, PECO Energy Theater, Philadelphia,
Telephone: +1 215 629 4026.
Opening times:

Selected dates at dusk (Apr-Jun); Tue-Sat at dusk (Jul-Aug); Thu-Sat at dusk (Sep-Oct), weather permitting. The 3D show is available all year round.

Website: http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/lights-of-liberty
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Betsy Ross House

The widow Ross, a staunch patriot, is credited with sewing the first American flag. Although scholars dispute this, the small house where she lived is now a museum that provides an insight into the lives of working-class people in the colonial era, as well as the history of the flag. It's worth paying a little extra for the 25-minute audio tour that provides a detailed history of the house and of Betsy's life.

Address: , 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 215 686 1252.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/what-to-see
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Independence Visitor Center

Address: , 599 Market Street, One North Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, 19106
Telephone: +1 800 537 7676.
Opening times:

Daily 0830-1900 (until 03 September 2018); daily 0830-1800 (04 September 2018 - June 2019). Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Website: https://www.phlvisitorcenter.com/

Found at various locations across the centre of town, including Independence National Historical Park, these excellent visitor centres are the best places to get information on museums, exhibitions, events and openings. Staff are knowledgeable and helpful.

Tourist passes

The CityPass (tel: +1 208 787 4300; www.citypass.com/philadelphia) is your ticket to experiencing some of the best Philly's sights at a discount of up to 48%. It includes free admission to 3, 4 or 5 attractions depending on the pass including: The Franklin Institute Science Museum; the Adventure Aquarium; the Philadelphia Zoo or the National Constitution Center; the Philadelphia Trolley Works and the Big Bus Company; and Eastern State Penitentiary or the Please Touch Museum. It is valid for nine days and can be purchased online or from the attractions on the day. Mobile tickets are also available.

Alternatively, a 1- to 5-day PhiladelphiaPass (tel: +1 800 887 9103; www.philadelphiapass.com) offers free admissions to over 40 attractions plus discounts at shops and restaurants.

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels

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Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Situated in the Philadelphia’s tallest tower, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia offers a unique experience and magnificent views of Philadelphia. Facilities include an infinity pool and fitness centre (on the 57th floor), several restaurants and a spa.

Opens in August 2019

Penn’s View Hotel

Just a short walk from the historic sights of the old city, and with views over the Delaware River, Penn’s View is one of Philly’s most underrated overnight gems. The rooms are designed in a traditional style, with exposed brick walls and warming fireplaces. Stump up a little extra for a whirlpool bath, ideal for winding down before hitting the excellent Il Bar downstairs or the Panorama Wine Bar upstairs.

Thomas Bond House

The charming Thomas Bond House is a cosy alternative to high-rise hotels. This bed and breakfast is set in a converted Georgian style home that dates back to 1769, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 12 guest rooms are handsomely furnished with period antiques, and two of the rooms have fireplaces and Jacuzzis.

The Kimpton Palomar

This luxury boutique property, with 230 rooms right in the middle of the Rittenhouse Square area, is Philadelphia’s first green hotel. Developed from an original 1929 art deco building, it imaginatively combines new with old. Everything about the hotel is based around sustainability, so its eco friendliness has been elevated to an art form. It also has in-room spa program and fully-equipped gym.

Morris House Hotel

Found in a beautiful colonial-era mansion, the Morris House Hotel is regularly held up as Philadelphia’s finest. There are just 15 rooms, each one with a cosy look that gives the whole place a very English feel. There are gorgeous gardens too, perfect for kicking back in on a hot summer’s day, G&T in one hand and book in the other. In winter, decamp to the lounge where you’ll find an open fireplace to warm your bones.

The Ritz-Carlton

Quite simply, one of the best addresses in town. Located beside Philadelphia's City Hall on the Avenue of the Arts, The Ritz-Carlton occupies a grandiose one-time bank - the old domed banking hall is now the reception, while the vault is a cigar and brandy bar (the marble steps on the way down are worn where ladies once descended to retrieve their gems from strong boxes). Guest rooms are huge and the bathrooms luxurious.