There’s more to Philadelphia than seeing the Liberty Bell and seeking out all the filming locations from National Treasure. Philly is a surprisingly arty city, with loads of photogenic spots to stop and admire. Here are 10 fun things to do in Philadelphia!
1. THE LIBERTY BELL & INDEPENDENCE HALL
The Liberty Bell is an important attraction to include in any first-time visit to Philly. The bell is housed inside a small museum, which is free to enter and has a surprisingly detailed summary of the its past.
Afterwards, check out Independence Hall across the road. The Liberty Bell has long since been removed from the hall’s tower, but you can still learn plenty of US history at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry is free, but ticketed, so arrive early to ensure you don’t miss out.Where to stay: Sofitel Philadelphia
2. MURAL MILE
Philly has a surprising number of murals that cover the sides of seemingly unfinished buildings. A self-guided walking tour of the Mural Mile, which zig-zags through downtown, will take you through old town to see some of the best artworks, and includes a bunch of super cute cobblestone streets, too.
3. MAGIC GARDENS
The Magic Gardens stands out as one of the best and most interesting things to do in Philadelphia. What was once an ugly, empty block on South Street has been beautified with mosaics by artist Isaiah Zagar. Everything surface is covered with items that were once trash, and are now compiled into a wonderfully magical maze of color. The Magic Gardens are included in this South Philadelphia Walking Tour.
4. SOUTH STREET
While you’re on South Street, check out some of the bars and shops around the area. You can do some art spotting as you walk down the street, and you might notice that the mosaics of the magic gardens has spread throughout the neighborhood.
Check out the Tattooed Mom bar for some crazy graffitied walls, and vegetarians can try a vegan option of the famous Philly cheesesteak on the menu here!Where to stay: Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
5. BOATHOUSE ROW
We figured we’d drive along the river then pull over to take a photo of Boathouse Row, but apparently that’s not possible. Driving along the highway, we spotted Boathouse Row – then realized there was nowhere to pull over and nowhere to turn around. We got our glimpse, then gave up. Still, the pretty row of lit up riverside buildings were lovely to see even if we didn’t get the photo we were hoping for.
6. ART MUSEUM (AND ROCKY STEPS)
People who have seen the movie Rocky tend to act out the scene where he runs up the stairs and pumps his fits into the air at the Art Museum, but this spot is actually really pretty, too. From the top of the stairs, looking back down Benjamin Franklin Parkway gives you a nice view of City Hall with the buildings of downtown beside it.
7. READING TERMINAL MARKET
The Market can get crowded for lunch on weekends, so try visiting on a weekday if you have that option. Even with the crowds, the market has tempting smells coming from every stall and a smorgasbord of vendors to cater for every taste.Where to stay: Loews Philadelphia Hotel
8. EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY
The $14 entry ticket to Eastern State Penitentiary includes an audio tour, most of which is narrated by Steve Buscemi (that creepy-looking guy from Con Air). You can probably spend a good 2 hours in the penitentiary, wandering down each of its long halls and seeking out Al Capone’s cell. The tour is as every bit as good as Alcatraz.
9. 30TH STREET STATION
30th Street Station is where many of the intercity buses will depart and arrive. Both the interior and exterior of the building have some stunning architecture! If you want some good city photos, this is the perfect place to get them.
10. CITY HALL
City Hall stands smack-bang in the middle of Broad Street and Market Street. The building is absolutely huge (it contains over 14.5 acres of floor space) and is architecturally gorgeous. You can wander around through the courtyard, do a tour of the interior for $12, or go up the tower for $6 where you’ll get great views of the city. For the paid activities, try to arrive before midday as there are a limited number of daily tickets and they sell out early.