Philadelphia's Best Attractions: Eat, Explore and Be Entertained



When you're visiting a new locale, it's not so much about the location, it's the attractions that make you decide to go, or get you excited about your trip there. While you might not be able to cram all of these activities into one visit to Philadelphia, these are the places here that may excite you enough to plan a trip back here in order to be able to experience them all. From incredible historic sights with roots that date back to the beginning of our country's history (like Independence National Historical Park), to places that house great works of art (such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art), to incredible food venues, and gardens that will have you talking about their beauty for a long time afterwards, this city is loaded with incredible attractions. Start with these iconic venues and then work your way around the city, concentrating on perhaps a little bit of everything? Or narrow your focus down to art or history or food venues, or whatever may be of interest to you and yours. There's no shortage of great places to feed your curiosity, so go forth and explore to your heart's content. You'll love the fact that there are a variety of options, as well as the fact that many places are near each other, or easily reached via public transportation. Get excited and get going on your own Philadelphia adventure!



10


 

Philadelphia's newest greenspace, this park is a lovely addition to the City Hall area. Filled with plenty of greenery and places to relax and sit, the space is host to a number of special events and fun family gatherings throughout the year. During the warmer months, bring your lunch and enjoy people-watching or simply get a breath of fresh air at one of the small brightly-colored tables here. Kids as well as kids-at-heart will enjoy cooling off in the sprinklers in the summer months. Movie screenings and other special events are scheduled here during evening hours in nicer weather, a hay maze is offered in the fall, and ice skating takes center stage in the winter.


9
Museum District & Fairmount Park


 

America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and much more make the zoo Philadelphia's leading family destination, welcoming over 1.2 million visitors a year. Philadelphia Zoo offers a revolutionary, first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration system, called Zoo360, which promises the most majestic of creatures more room to roam utilizing a campus-wide network of see-through trails. Monkeys, orangutans and big cats, like lions and tigers, are on the move – traveling overhead through the treetops in the first three pathways of Zoo360, Treetop Trail, Great Ape Trail and Big Cat Crossing. Award-winning exhibits like First Niagara Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve, McNeil Avian Center and KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children's Zoo & Faris Family Education Center make Philadelphia Zoo an obvious choice for those visiting Philadelphia with kids.


8
Mutter Museum
Photo courtesy of IStoleTheTV


 

Though it's officially called The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Mutter Museum, it's best known by its nicknames, the Mutter Museum or just the Museum of Medical Oddities. Whatever you choose to call it, this is not an attraction for the faint-of-stomach. Unborn fetuses in jars, petrified body parts, conjoined twins and, as part of an exhibition, Albert Einstein's brain, are just a few of the artifacts that chronicle the fascinating and sometimes gruesome story of medicine through the ages. Visit this incredible museum for an experience like no other, for a break from the humdrum, or for an appreciation of the medical profession and all that goes in to it.


7
Museum District & Fairmount Park


 

Offering more than a dozen interactive exhibits, the Franklin Institute Science Museum is a favorite for both the young and young at heart. Children especially love walking through the world's largest artificial heart and learning about energy transfer via the Giant Newton's Cradle and Ball Launcher. Guests also discover the nation's second-oldest planetarium, Fels Planetarium, and on the top floor, an observatory where they can view the Sun, Moon and Jupiter. Have fun with electricity, wind, gravity, learn about medicine and health, sports and space. It's great for all ages and perfect for morning or afternoon exploration that'll keep kids talking about the place for long after you've headed home.


6
St. Joseph's
Barnes Foundation


 

Since its controversial move to downtown Philadelphia from the western suburbs where it got its start, this iconic art museum can be enjoyed in the nation's first LEED-gold certified institution of its kind. Now that it's just a short distance from other wonderful Philadelphia sights, getting here and being able to appreciate the incredible collection within its walls is even easier than before. Curators have managed to arrange all of the late Dr. Alfred Barnes' Impressionist-era paintings and African masks and sculptures in the exact same position as he had them in the mansion that formerly housed his landmark collection. Even better - now there's plenty more space for education, events, exhibitions and relaxation.


5
Museum District & Fairmount Park


 

When it opened it doors in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence among convicts. Today, the massive structure stands in ruins as one of Philadelphia's most historic sites. Visitors can tour this haunting building that once held America's most notorious criminals, including gangster Al Capone. Narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, the audio tour offers an intimate and informative look at Eastern State's storied cellblocks and yards. Take the tour, explore the buildings, view the crumbling cells, see where prisoners tried to escape through incredible means, and imagine all that may have gone on within those walls.


4


 

This most world-class of art museums offers a stellar collection of art pieces from incredible artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, Picasso, and Rodin. Surrealist art is well represented by Dali, De Chirico, Max Ernst, and Magritte, with pre-modernist work from the likes of Canaletto and Guardi. Numerous theme rooms display a vast collection of textiles and ancient artifacts, including 8000-year old Asian pieces, in rooms that surround visitors with the appropriate architecture and décor. The first Sunday of every month, as well as Wednesdays after 5 are pay-what-you-wish. Concessions are courtesy of celebrity restaurateur Stephen Starr. Even if you do not go inside this wonderful building, stop by to appreciate the outside, run up the front steps Rocky Balboa style, or visit the famed Rocky Statue nearby for a great photo opportunity.


3


 

This is an incredible indoor city market full of foods of all kinds, shares, sizes and tastes. Pulling from vendors from all over the Philadelphia area, this is the venue to sample and bring home delicious foods that will tantalize your taste buds and round out your Philadelphia experience. After undergoing a thorough renovation, amenities here are more modern, and a public classroom gives culinary experts a space to host events. But the eclectic shops and old-time charm remain at the circa-1892 indoor market. Several restaurants serve a full sit-down meal, but if your appetite is for something lighter, there are numerous bakeries, sandwich shops and organic produce vendors, as well as a beer garden. If shopping is your thing, you'll love all the books, specialty foods, Pennsylvania Dutch products, Irish gifts, plants, and housewares on offer.


2


 

Learn about Colonial America's most important political city and the founding of the nation by exploring some of the 20 city blocks that comprise Independence National Historical Park. While a walk along its cobblestoned streets reveals dozens of the colonies' first institutions of education, religion, culture and service, if you're in a rush head straight to Independence Mall, which houses the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, where the founding fathers debated and signed the U.S. Constitution. If you've got a little more time, stroll through Independence Square, where the Declaration of Independence was read publicly for the first time, and be sure to tour Ben Franklin's post office and printing shop. Start at Independence Visitors Center for a reference point and required timed tickets to some of the (free) attractions.


1
National Constitution Center


 

The National Constitution Center was created to allow people to explore all that the Constitution is, how it shaped and molded our country (and continues to do so), and why its so important to our history and our future. A visit to the National Constitution Center starts with an incredible multi-media theater presentation that describes the main points of our country's most important document. As a family-oriented museum, many of the exhibits are interactive, as guests may vote for their favorite president, or even take the presidential oath of office. Though it's possible to purchase walk-in tickets, you may also purchase timed-in-advance tickets for a better gauge of your day.


Map

×