Top Things To Do In Philadelphia

Save on admission to the top Philadelphia attractions

Few who visit the City of Brotherly Love will realize that this exceptionally walkable and charmingly intimate city is actually the fifth largest in the country. Thanks to the clever designs of founder William Penn, and with the natural boundaries of the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, Philadelphia feels comfy and homey … but with all the perks of modern-day life. And everything from the city’s modern aspirations to its rich history can be found at the top things to do in Philadelphia.

The Franklin Institute

Named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Institute aims to inspire the same spirit of inquiry and discover that its namesake embodied. Founded in 1824, The Franklin Institute is one of the country’s oldest and best science museums.

What to Do
Visit the museum’s on-site Fels Planetarium – the nation’s second oldest – offers a fascinating array of programs that highlight our own skies and the universe beyond. Kids can explore a two-story neural network in the Your Brain exhibit and learn all about how the brain works. Another great exhibit for the kids is KidScience. Designed for kids Pre-K through Grade 2, they'll learn how the different elements of light, earth, water, and air play a role in nature.

What to See
View exhibits ranging from the world’s largest artificial heart (a walk-through mega-pump that would be of accurate size for a 220-foot-tall person) to a massive Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. Watch a live science demonstration in the Musser Demonstration Theater. Some of the shows offered include weather, fireworks, chemistry and machines.

>> Learn more about the Franklin Institute.

Philadelphia Zoo

Perhaps the best way to see this zoo is to follow the half-hour feeding schedule of animals throughout the park – African lions, vampire bats, penguins, giraffes, and polar bears, to name a few. America's first zoo has plenty to do and see and is a top thing to do in Philadelphia.

What to Do
Take a spin on the new Amazon Rainforest Carousel, which, instead of horses, features 30 beautifully hand-carved and hand-painted animals, all representing endangered species found within the Amazon Rainforest. For the adventurous kids, take them on a real pony ride or let them feed lorikeets and lories by hand.

What to See
Pay a visit to "Mommy," a Galapagos tortoise that has called the Philadelphia Zoo home for 75 years. The Philadelphia Zoo is also home to a wide variety of endangered species including Mhorr gazelles, Sumatran orangutans, a Guam rail, and more. Take the kids over to see KidZooU, a world-class children's zoo located inside the main zoo campus.

>> Learn more about the Philadelphia Zoo.

Phila Trolley Works Tour & The Big Bus Company

With professional guides and someone else at the wheel, these organized tours are ideal for anyone looking for the full Philadelphia experience. And since you can hop on and off the bus at a wide variety of locations, you'll be able to see the main sights of Philadelphia at your own pace.

What to Do
Take a tour that includes 20 stops and on/off privileges for 24 hours from validation. Some of the main attractions that you can travel to are the Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center, The Philadelphia Zoo, Chinatown, City Hall, and many more.

What to See
Take in the sights and sounds of the The City of Brotherly Love with an unsurpassed view of the city from a seat atop one of the double-decker buses. It's the best seat in the house for getting a great look at all Philadelphia has to offer.

>> Learn more about Phila Trolley Works & The Big Bus Company.

Adventure Aquarium

Located just across the Delaware River on the Camden City, N.J., waterfront, Adventure Aquarium is the fifth largest in the United States and the only aquarium in the world to feature hippopotamuses. The aquarium is open 365 days a year, so you never have to worry about missing out on the fun.

What to Do
Visitors can get their hands wet in the many touching exhibits, which include stingrays, sharks, grass shrimp, lobsters, anemones, and horseshoe and hermit crabs. Make your way through the Shark Tunnel, a 40-foot suspended tunnel in a 550,000-gallon tank with 360 degree views of over 25 sharks and other animals.

What to See
The Jules Verne Gallery offers a rare look at unusual creatures of the deep, including giant spider crabs and a giant Pacific octopus. Make time to see a show in the aquarium's 4D theater, which combines 3D movies with other special effects to make the experience even more engaging.

>> Learn more about the Adventure Aquarium.

National Constitution Center

Located on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, this nonprofit, nonpartisan institution invites visitors to immerse themselves in the Constitution, its history and its ongoing significance. It's also the first and only museum completely devoted to the United States Constitution, its ideals and its legacy of active citizenship.

What to Do
Prepare to be dazzled by The Story of We the People, the National Constitution Center's main exhibition with more than 100 multimedia elements. This hands-on exhibition brings major milestones in America's history to life by letting visitors view artifacts (like a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation) and engage with various screens to learn about how the constitution has influenced the nation's history and continues to be important.

What to See
Stop by and see Signers’ Hall, where you can walk among 43 life-size bronze statues of the Founding Fathers who were present the day the Constitution was signed. You can also see a rare copy of the first public printing of the constitution published in The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1787.

>> Learn more about the National Constitution Center.

One Liberty Observation Deck

Get exciting views of the city from Philadelphia's tallest observation deck. At 883 feet high, One Liberty Observation Deck provides a truly unique view of Philly. No matter what time of day you go, you'll love seeing Philly from above.

What to Do
One Liberty Observation Deck has interactive touchscreens that let you zoom into key landmarks. And with a 360-degree view of the city, you'll have plenty of landmarks to see.

What to See
Take time to see the three state-of-the-art audio zones and learn about historic moments in Philadelphia's history that include pop culture, music, and sports. Get great views of landmarks like City Hall, the Ben Franklin Bridge, and more.

>> Learn more about the One Liberty Observation Deck.

Please Touch Museum

The straightforward name of this museum is accurate: as the first museum in the nation to target children ages seven and younger, Please Touch Museum encourages the natural inclination of children to learn through active touching and doing.

What to Do
Since the whole museum is geared around kids, there is no shortage of things to do. Your kids can race sailboats at River Adventures, repair a car at Roadside Attractions, or play in a realistic urban environment in City Capers. The best thing about Please Touch Museum is that kids really do get to touch everything.

What to See
Kids will love Flight Fantasy with its realistic simulations and Roadside Attractions, where a real city bus beckons. Watch a live theater performance in the Please Touch® Playhouse Theater, where the performers get plenty of audience interaction and give many kids in the tri-state area their first theater experience.

>> Learn more about the Please Touch Museum.

Eastern State Penitentiary

When it opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary featured an all-solitary confinement model and was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Closed in 1971, the penitentiary stands in ruin today but still retains much of it's eerie beauty.

What to Do
If you're in town during October and like haunted houses, you can't do better than Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary. From April to November listen to the audio tour "The Voices of Eastern State" as you walk the prison halls. From December to March you can be guided by live expert tour guides.

What to See
Visitors can see the cell where Al Capone spent eight months, and have a guard’s-eye view via TowerCam!, remote-controlled cameras that are positioned in the central guard overlook. Eastern State Penitentiary is also home to several art installations that you have to see while you're there.

>> Learn more about the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia opened to the public in April 2017, on the anniversary of the first battle of the revolution. The Museum of the American Revolution tells the story of the revolution through art, manuscripts and printed works from the 17th century.

What to Do
Climb an American Revolution inspired ship for a lifelike experience of war at sea, and so much more!

What to See
See replicas of members of the Oneida Indian Nation! You also won’t want to miss seeing General George Washington's war tent via film.

>> Learn more about the Museum of the American Revolution.

Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial

The US Battleship located in New Jersey is docked on the New Jersey waterfront shared with Philadelphia. Battleship New Jersey is renowned for being the only US battleship providing gunfire support during the Vietnam War.

What to Do
Get a real taste of battle by firing the M2 machine guns on the Battleship’s forecastle.

What to See
Gaze at a tomahawk missile launch in the Combat Engagement Center.

>> Learn more about the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial.

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas and is affiliated with Drexel University.

What to Do
Have a stare down with a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or even touch snake skins, turtle shells, and more!

What to See
See reptiles and amphibians in their natural element!

>> Learn more about the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Barnes Foundation

Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, The Barnes Foundation is hailed for its timeless art collection and prestigious educational institution.

What to Do
Navigate art ensembles, fine art, and even decorative art from across time periods and cultures

What to See
Admire works by Matisse, Picasso, Modigli­ani, Van Gogh, and more!

>> Learn more about the The Barnes Foundation.

Independence Hall

Considered the birthplace of the United States itself, this spot is a must-see. Get up close and personal with American history as you tour the building where the Founding Fathers talked, argued, and created a new nation.

What to Do
Head to the Assembly Room, which was the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution. Swing over to the Supreme Court Room to see a collection of artifacts from the time period when the United States of America was founded as a nation.

What to See
Pay special attention to the "rising sun" chair, which was used by George Washington when he presided over the Constitutional Convention. In the Governor's Council Chamber you can see the surveyor's tool used to determine where the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland would be. There is so much history to see in Independence Hall, take your time and enjoy it.

>> Learn more about Independence Hall.

Liberty Bell Center

This impressive space showcases the Liberty Bell with Independence Hall as a fitting backdrop. Located on Independence Mall the Liberty Bell Center gives details on the myths and facts surrounding the Bell.

What to Do
Visit exhibits that trace the bell’s history from its debut at the Pennsylvania State House to its use as a symbol of freedom by abolitionists and other groups. Did you know that the Bell was originally called the State House bell? The history of the Liberty Bell is fascinating and the exhibits at the Center will guide you through it all.

What to See
Watch a video presentation of the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements. Take a look at the x-rays that give a detailed view of the Bell's crack and how the Bell worked. And of course, take time to view the Liberty Bell itself. At 2,080 pounds, the Bell really is a great sight.

>> Learn more about the Liberty Bell Center.

LOVE Park (John F. Kennedy Plaza)

Located across from City Hall, this urban plaza is a welcoming oasis to locals and tourists alike. The park was originally designed as a terminus for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and it's official name is JFK Plaza.

What to Do
Mingle amongst Center City workers on lunch breaks, families drawn by the soothing sounds of the large fountain, and even a few skateboarders willing to flout city law. Once considered an ideal skateboarding location, the city has passed laws over the years to make the park unskateable.

What to See
The iconic Robert Indiana Pop art sculpture found there, from which the park takes its nickname. The sculpture was first placed in the plaza in 1976 for the US Bicentennial celebration. It was removed in 1978 but quickly made a permanent feature that same year.

>> Learn more about LOVE Park.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The mile-long stretch of scenic land known as Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the home to many museums and interactive experiences. This cultural hub features impressive architecture, historic monuments, and grand museums galore. Get a taste of Philly that’ll satisfy any cultural cravings at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

What to Do
It’s nearly impossible to walk along Benjamin Franklin Parkway without stepping inside one of the many museums lining the street. Explore the history of groundbreaking technology at the Franklin Institute, or think about visiting The Thinker--one of Auguste Rodin’s most well recognized sculptures—at the Rodin Museum. If you have the time, check out the galleries at the Moore College of Art and Design or visit The Academy of Natural Sciences where a 43 ft. fossil of the Tylosaurus is on display.

What to See
The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a mouthful to say, but don’t worry, the stunning design will leave you speechless. A gorgeous vaulted dome, carefully crafted stained glass windows, and the spacious main sanctuary splashed with golden hues make the Cathedral Basilica a must-see. Or visit the Barnes Museum, one of the quirkiest fine art museums in the country, with "the greatest private collection of post-impressionist and early modern art in America," according to The Economist.

>> Learn more about the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Franklin Square

Family fun for Philly locals and tourists alike, Franklin Square features an 18-hole Miniature Golf course, the bright and colorful Parx Liberty Carousel, Franklin Square Fountain, and delicious food from SquareBurger. An afternoon in Franklin Square is a day well-spent.

What to Do
Putt your way through history at Philly Mini Golf where all 18 holes are designed after famous Philly attractions like the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Liberty Bell. Celebrate your hole-in-one (or not) at SquareBurger and enjoy a juicy burger or a satisfying Cake Shake. If you’re not too full, hop on the Parx Liberty Carousel, where zebras, horses, lions, and dragons are ready to take you for a spin.

What to See
The Franklin Square Fountain is not only a refreshing escape from a hot summer day, it’s a piece of Philly history. The Fountain has been a Franklin Square centerpiece since the mid-19th century but continues to provide guests with a place to relax and enjoy a beautiful day.

>> Learn more about Franklin Square.

Reading Terminal Market

Nothing thrills the senses more than great smelling food and vibrant energy. At Reading Terminal Market, independent farmers and small businesses lay out savory goodies you can eat right then and there, and fresh, high-quality produce to take home and enjoy. This bustling Marketplace has been providing Philadelphia with fresh food since its opening day on February 23rd, 1892.

What to Do
If you’re a foodie, head to the Reading Terminal Market on an empty stomach. You’ll want to save room for the array of cuisines that are available around every corner. From Amish specialties to the sweet aroma of baked goods, there are plenty of vendors to choose from.

What to See
Reading Terminal Market celebrates the historical bond between independent businesses and the community. This popular market supplies only the very best of everything, which is why it’s always very busy. Fresh flowers, handcrafted commodities, and the one-of-a-kind Philly energy draw thousands of people to the market every year. It’s the only 21st century market with an old-town feel.

>> Learn more about Reading Terminal Market.

Citizens Bank Park

Baseball, Philly Cheesesteaks, and Phanatics: everything you need to have a good time in Philadelphia is ready and waiting at Citizens Bank Park! Join the fans and experience the fun with a Phillies baseball game.

What to Do
Check out the Phanatic Phun Zone, which allows children under the age of 8 to play games, climb, explore and enjoy a big slide, all while staying inside the park. Located behind the First Base gate, the Phanatic Phun Zone is guaranteed to provide some distraction to your little ones while you enjoy the game. And be sure to order some Crab Fries from Chickie’s and Pete’s, a local fan favorite.

What to See
Head down Ashburn Alley, named after the Hall-of-Famer Richie Ashburn, to get a closer look at the large bronze statue of Ashburn right behind center field—the position that got his name up in the Hall of Fame. The All-Star Walk honors the Phillies players who played in the MLB All-Star Game with granite markers along the floor. Just make sure to look up from the ground every once in awhile to avoid a nasty collision.

>> Learn more about Citizens Bank Park.

Lincoln Financial Field

Fly, Eagles, fly…off to Lincoln Financial Field. Fans from Philadelphia and beyond have followed the Eagles for years, and a game at the Linc is always guaranteed to be a good time.

What to Do
The tailgating fun is an experience all in itself! The big parking lot serves as a pre-game powerhouse full of excited fans and fun pre-game activities. When you enter the stadium, delicious aromas waft through the air, a talented band plays top hits, and the concourse games are a perfect precursor for the big game yet to come.

What to See
See your favorite Eagles soar across the field, and enjoy all the action from the large LED video screens on either side. Swoop, the Eagles mascot, will lift your spirits and get you pumped up for an Eagles victory.

>> Learn more about Lincoln Financial Field.

Wells Fargo Center

Home of the NBA 76ers and the NHL Flyers, Wells Fargo Center is the perfect place to catch an exciting game. Flyers fans are as passionate as the players and 76ers are sure to entertain.

What to Do
Walk around the concourse and find a plethora of food vendors to satisfy your game-day hunger. A classic hotdog and soda are always options, but the crab fries are a special favorite among fans. Head to the Fan Zone at Wells Fargo Center for a stylish Flyers jersey or the Fan Gear Store for game-ready Sixers merchandise.

What to See
Franklin, the Sixers mascot, is a bright blue dog made by kids, for kids. He’s a spirited young pup eager with Sixers fever, and is ready to entertain children and adults. Be sure to keep an eye on the courtside seats; 76ers co-owner Will Smith has been known to pop up in the front row. Both the Sixers and the Flyers will provide quality pre-game entertainment so you can get your game face on.

>> Learn more about the Wells Fargo Center.

The Rocky Steps

The famed set of stairs leading up to the Philadelphia Art Museum are known as the "Rocky Steps." The bronze hero welcomes you at the bottom of the staircase before you make the challenging trek.

What to Do
Pull up the sweatpants, strap on the running shoes, and make the climb. More often than not, visitors to the Philadelphia "Rocky steps" attempt to recreate the famous movie scene by following Rocky Balboa’s lead. Remember to capture the moment of triumph by throwing your fists in the air.

What to See
The bronze statue of Rocky Balboa sits at the bottom of the steps and is the actual statue that was used in Rocky III. The view of Benjamin Franklin Parkway from atop the staircase is worth the run. No wonder Rocky felt so accomplished! The Philadelphia skyline makes for a great picture.

>> Learn more about The Rocky Steps.

Philadelphia Mint

The United States Philadelphia Mint facility might not freshen your breath, but it will give you a unique, first-hand look at the coin-making process. Take a trip to the Philadelphia Mint to see where the change in your pocket comes from.

What to Do
Take a self-guided tour and watch the machines turn coils of copper the length of five football fields into smooth "blanks." Then see how the coining presses turn blank sheets of metal into finely detailed coins. Afterwards, say hello to Peter the Mint Eagle, the model behind mint artists’ designs.

What to See
New coining presses can make 1 million coins in 30 minutes. Now, compare that to a coining press from 1792, and it took nearly three years to make as many coins. The process was rigorous; workers spent 11 hours a day, 6 days a week working for one dollar a day. When you see the system that was used when coins were practically handcrafted—you might think twice about handing over an old penny.

>> Learn more about the Philadelphia Mint.

To visit the best attractions in Philadelphia, use Philadelphia CityPASS and save nearly half off combined admission. You can choose from a pass that allows you to combine three, four, or five of your favorite attractions including Adventure Aquarium, The Franklin Institute, Philadephia Zoo, Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works, One Liberty Observation Deck, Eastern State Penitentiary, Please Touch Museum®, Museum of the American Revolution, Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, National Constitution Center, and Barnes Foundation. Some special exhibits are not included with the CityPASS and may require an extra fee.

Museum of the American Revolution image Courtesy of Museum of the American Revolution
Battleship New Jersey Photo Credit: Battleship New Jersey
Barnes Foundation Photo by Michael Perez. Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation
LOVE Park Photo Credit
Franklin Square Photo Credit
Reading Terminal Market Photo Credit
Citizens Bank Park Photo Credit
Lincoln Financial Field Photo Credit
Wells Fargo Center Photo Credit
Rocky Steps Photo Credit

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