Pennsylvania’s biggest and most populous city also holds an important place in US history, it’s home to many historical sites, museums, public art & architecture and even Philly Cheesesteak! Read on for a complete Philadelphia Travel Guide.
Early history says the area where present-day Philadelphia is used to be home to the Delaware Indians.
It was in 1682 that this city beside the Delaware River came into being. Founded by Willam Penn, Philadelphia played the capital of the Pennsylvania Colony and later, the capital of the United States!
Philadelphia has many more firsts and national historical events attached to it. This city is considered to be the birthplace of America as this was where the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is also where the constitution was put into effect, and where the First Continental Congress was held. It was the first big city in the US too.
What to see & do
With so much history to its name, the Independence Hall where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and where the Constitution was ratified is almost always a point of interest. Liberty Bell & the Museum of American Revolution are also must-sees in this historical city.
Other notable places to see in the city are Elfreth’s Alley where the oldest continuously inhabited private residences are, Eastern State Penitentiary & Betsy Ross House where the first US flag was sewn.
Some of the other most-visited POIs in the city are the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, the Mint, Fairmount Park, Reading Terminal Market & Rittenhouse Square.
The top things to do here include looking at the architecture — both old & modern. Also, seeing the murals and sculptures all over the city & visiting the attractions of Fairmount Park and checking out the Magic Garden, to name a few.
For more ideas that aren’t included in this Philadelphia Travel Guide, check out my post: Top 10 things to do in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has many good restaurants. Pick any cuisine and you’ll see that there’s one or more restaurants of that style of cooking that features among the top restaurants in the city.
Other places you might want to eat at are the Reading Terminal Market. Along with vendors selling fruits, vegetables & cheese, it has small restaurants serving great food. And in South Philadelphia is the Italian Market. It has some of the best Italian eateries also has some Mexican food joints.
However, when in Philadelphia for the first time or just anytime, there should be no missing Philly cheesesteak! You might also want to try the city’s salted soft pretzels if you haven’t done so yet.
For specific restaurants that aren’t included in this Philadelphia travel guide, check out my post: Best restaurants in Philadelphia.
Along with seeing its famous sights and savoring some if its delicious cheesesteak, one other thing you must do in Philadelphia is shop! If you’re in Pennsylvania, you’re in a state where there’s no tax on clothing & shoes!
And there are many areas in the city that give you ample options to shop not just for clothes & footwear but also antiques, jewelry & art.
If you want to do some mall shopping, head to The Shops at Liberty, Philadelphia Mills, or Fashion District.
If you’d like to go deep into the shopping scene of the city, there’s West of Broad Street, East Passyunk Avenue, Main Street in Manayunk, Rittenhouse Row, German Town Avenue, and Frankfort & Girarc Avenues in Fishtown.
Remember that the Old City is Philadelphia’s art, fashion & design district. The place to go for high-end jewelry is Jewelers Row, and for antiques, Antique Row.
The largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is also the seat of Philadelphia County. Its neighbor to the east is the state of New Jersey, and Delaware is not very far from its south. As such, the Philadelphia Metropolitan area includes parts of New Jersey & Delaware.
This big city is situated in the Delaware Valley. It developed on the western bank of the Delaware River. And the Schuylkill River flows through the city and joins the Delaware River. The city has some smaller creeks that flow through and some lakes too.
Philadelphia is well-equipped to cater to tourists arriving in large numbers. And you’ll find all types of accommodation from luxury hotels to hostels, although there are only a few of the latter.
If you’re visiting the city for the first time you’re going to want to visit all the famous sites like the Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, City Hall, Rittenhouse Square & Reading Terminal Market. Staying in the Center City neighborhood makes it easy for you to get to these places. There are a lot of restaurants & shops too. You could also consider staying in East Passyunk Avenue or Old City.
And if you look for a hotel room or an apartment on Delaware Avenue, you’ll be close to the waterfront and its restaurants & bars.
For budget accommodation, you could stay in South Philadelphia. You’ll also be close to some good food-market eats & bars. You can look for something in Bella Vista or Queen Village. And if you’d like to experience Philadelphia’s nightlife, try Fishtown.
If you’re taking a flight to Philadelphia, the largest airport in the area is Philadelphia International Airport. Other airports you could look into are Trenton-Mercer Airport& Atlantic City International in New Jersey.
If you’re going to be taking the train, Philadelphia is serviced by Amtrak. It connects it to several cities on the East coast. You can even take the commuter rail from New York City.
And if you’d like to take the bus, several bus companies, like Greyhound, Bieber, Trailways & Peter Pan have services to Philly.
And if you’re driving into the city, there are a number of interstate highways you could use. I-95, I-76 & 1-676 get you close to the city. However, if you’d rather not drive so as to avoid the congestion on the roads in the city, and bypass all the parking fees, you could rely on cab-hailing services or even make use of bike-sharing services. There’s also a good network of buses & subway lines if you want to take public transportation to get around.
Best time to visit
Philadelphia gets most of its visitors in the summer when the city is at its warmest and parents take kids to see all the historical sites in the city. However, if you’d like to avoid the crowds but still visit when the weather is good, the best times to visit Philadelphia is in spring or fall.
In spring & fall, the temperatures are mild. Also, the city is not too crowded and the room rates are not as high as it is in the summer. In spring you can enjoy the cherry blossoms in Fairmount Park. In fall, you’ll be in time for the changing colors of the leaves. You can also see some fall color on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near Independence Hall & Wissahickon Valley Park, too.
If you’re looking for the lowest room rates, winter is the best time to visit. However, be prepared for low temperatures and the possibility of snowstorms.
If you’d like to visit the largest indoor flower show in the world, visit Philadelphia in early March. Mummers Parade is one of the most popular events, and it takes place on New Year’s Day. Then there’s the Fourth of July festival, another event to consider if you like attending local events when you travel.
Despite being a Philadelphia travel guide, I wanted to make sure to include some areas nearby that you should check out! When you’re in Philadelphia, you might want to venture out of the city and go see Longwood Gardens, shop at the King of Prussia Mall, or visit Harrisburg, the capital city.
You might also want to plan a trip to Ridley Creek State Park, or Pocono Mountains!