When tourists visit the east coast of the U.S., they understandably want to visit New York City, and Washington, D.C. But most people don’t think of Philadelphia as a tourist destination. Philadelphia, or Philly, as it’s often called, is a fantastic city to visit. It’s full of history, awesome art, and an incredible food scene! But what if you’re itinerary is packed and you only have one day to visit? Well, here are seven things to do in Philly in 24 hours!
But first, a few details about Philly: Although it’s the largest city in Pennsylvania, with 1.5 million people, it’s not the capital! Situated on the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, it’s conveniently located, between New York and D.C.,. It’s also just an hour inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Philly is home to many firsts in the U.S., including the first hospital, first library and first stock exchange! It also has more murals than any other city in the U.S.!
Joggers, cyclists and folks out just to enjoy the day come to this 26.5 mile trail, running from Center City Philadelphia, through Valley Forge National Historical Park and ending in the suburbs of Chester County. You can rent bicycles, kayaks or just relax and have a picnic. The Schuylkill Banks section of the trail is a great place to people watch on a nice day!
This world class museum is on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Originally chartered in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, it houses unbelievable works of art. But if you’d rather do something else, at least run up the “Rocky Steps” at the Museum! The 1976 movie Rocky was largely filmed in Philadelphia. As part of the title character’s boxing training regime, he runs up the steps of the Art Museum, nicknamed, “the Rocky steps”! You can even take your photo with the statue of the character on the museum grounds. Visiting the statue, running up the steps and taking a picture is pretty much a “must do” on your visit to Philadelphia. Admission to the museum is $20. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130. Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Closed Monday.
The story behind this museum and how it came to be located in Philadelphia is almost as interesting as the art itself. Alfred C. Barnes was an inventor and prolific collector of art in the Philadelphia area. When he passed away in 1951, his will dictated specific instructions restricting access to his precious art collection, including roughly, that the art could never be moved from its home in the suburbs of Philadelphia; however, after his death, an extensive legal battle ensued between various entities and in 2012, the Foundation was relocated to its home on the Ben Franklin Parkway near the Philadelphia Museum of Art (The Art of the Steal is a super interesting documentary about how the Barnes Foundation came to be in Philadelphia). The eclectic collection includes Native American art, French impressionism, African art, modern art, as well as antiquities from China, Greece and Egypt . Entry is $30 per person. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130. Wed-Mon 11am-5pm. Closed Tues.
If you’re keen to learn about American history and the American Revolution, Independence Mall, on 3rd Street, is a great place to visit. All the sights on the mall, including the ones listed below, are within walking distance of each other in this historic location of Philadelphia. If your time is limited, you can simply enjoy walking around the green area of mall:
Independence Hall, where the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. Entry is free, but admission is by tour only. Open daily 9am-5pm.
The Liberty Bell, originally in the steeple at Independence Hall. The bell first cracked when rung after its arrival in Philadelphia. Entrance is free, and is first come first served. Open daily 9am-5pm. All visitors must go through screening.
The National Constitution Center details the history of the U.S. Constitution. Admission is $14.50. Mon- Sat: 930am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm.
The newly opened Museum of the American Revolution is, well, about the American Revolution! Admission is $19. Open daily 10am-5pm.
What was once the ultimate party street has evolved into a great food scene. It also has really cool street art, notably the Magic Gardens, situated at 1020 South Street! It’s the vision of artist Isaiah Zagar, who undertook beautifying and revitalizing the neighborhood in the 1960’s by renovating dilapidated buildings and adding colorful mosaics to them. While you can buy tickets for a more extensive visit, if you’ve only got a limited amount of time, you can enjoy a taste of the gardens from the outside, like I did! Admission: $10. Open Wed-Mon 11am-6pm. Closed Tues.
Eat a Cheesesteak
There’s no food more representative of Philadelphia than the cheesesteak. In fact, it’s the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia”! The “hoagie” is a hot sandwich on a particular type of roll with thinly sliced pieces of beef and melted cheese. The word “hoagie” is a true Philadelphia word. According to legend, a local newspaper reported that Italians working at the shipyard in Philadelphia during World War I, known as Hog Island, introduced the sandwich by putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between slices of bread. It became known as the “Hog Island” sandwich, which was then shortened to “Hoggies”, then ultimately the “hoagie”. You may recognize similar names for this type of sandwich – submarine, hero, or grinder, but don’t call it any of those in Philly! And there’s no shortage of great cheesesteak places in Philly, but the most well known are: Pat’s (Pat’s King of Steaks), Geno’s (Geno’s Steaks) and Tony Luke’s. Try as many as you can and decide which you like best!
The public market has been a landmark in Philadelphia since 1893! It’s super popular with locals and tourists, so it can get really crowded and seating can be hard to find. Open daily from 8am-6pm, it has awesome food and other cool stuff – everything from falafel to donuts, to a bookstore, to yes…. cheese steaks! Ya gotta eat, right?
This is a guest blog post from Tina, the Editor of Traveleidoscope.com, a blog offering a kaleidoscope of ideas for active travelers! Tina is a U.S. based blogger who writes weekly about her journeys around the world and her trips around the block! Stop by – she’s working on her next adventure!