Fondly known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is a bustling city famous for its revolutionary history and delicious Philly cheesesteaks.
As the birthplace of America, it’s where the founding fathers first came together to establish their vision for the United States. In addition to its rich history of the nation’s founding and American Revolution, Philadelphia boasts a diverse culinary scene, vibrant entertainment, scenic parks, and more.
If you’re considering moving to Philadelphia or simply stopping by on vacation, you may be wondering what places to check out first. Below, we highlight eight of the best places to visit in Philadelphia.
#1 Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center
You can’t come to Philadelphia without visiting Independence Hall. This historic site is where the Declaration of Independence was signed back in 1776. It’s also where the Constitution was written nearly a decade later.1
There’s something special about standing on the same grounds as the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.Independence National Historical Park holds high significance of United State history and American Revolution, and While you’re in the area, you can also behold the famous Liberty Bell. This symbol of American freedom rang during the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Luckily, these historic sites don’t charge any entrance fees, so you can enjoy them on a budget. Just make sure you visit before tickets run out for the day. If you’re a serious history buff, you may want to sign up for a paid guided tour ahead of time too.
#2 Philadelphia Museum of Art
Another iconic attraction is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Designed to resemble a Greek temple, this majestic museum contains a world-class collection of over 200,000 pieces, spanning from medieval times to modern day. It’s one of the largest museums in the country, housing the works of prestigious artists, such as:2
- Vincent van Gogh
- Claude Monet
- Pablo Picasso
- Georgia O’Keefe
- Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
- Marcel Duchamp
Fans of the classic 1976 film, “Rocky,” will recognize the art museum’s steps from the movie’s iconic running scene.3 Many people come to the museum just to recreate Rocky’s fist bump at the top of the steps. There’s even a bronze statue of the fictional character at the base of the steps to commemorate this scene.
Tickets to the Philadelphia Museum of Art are free for kids and cost up to $25 for adults.4 A single ticket gives you two-day access to the museum, enabling you to cover a lot of ground without needing to rush.
#3 Reading Terminal Market
After a morning of sightseeing, you may work up an appetite. If so, you can shop from over 80 culinary merchants at Reading Terminal Market. Located under the Reading Railroad’s 1891 train station, this indoor market doubles as a National Historic Landmark. It was established back in 1893.5
For the past two centuries, Philly residents and visitors have stopped by Reading Terminal Market for:
- Classic Philly cheesesteaks
- Local produce
- Free-range meats
- Fine cheeses
- Delicious desserts
- Freshly-baked bread
- Handmade gifts
In addition to its energetic ambiance and diverse fare, Reading Terminal Market is known for its strong support of small, independent businesses. Roughly 70 of its 80+ merchants are local and family-owned.6
#4 LOVE Park
If you’re searching for an iconic Philly backdrop to snap the perfect selfie, look no further than LOVE Park. This picturesque park features the famous LOVE sculpture designed by Robert Indiana. Prior to the sculpture’s installation in 1976, this park was known as John F. Kennedy Plaza.4
In addition to its LOVE sculpture, LOVE Park also has plenty of open spaces, serene fountains, and walking paths. Depending on the day, you may even come across a pop-up event. It’s the perfect place to have a picnic, lay out in the sun, or check out an outdoor performance.
Doubling as the entrance to Benjamin Franklin Parkway, LOVE Park is just around the corner from the following attractions:
- Philadelphia’s Museum of Art
- The Barnes Foundation
- The Franklin Institute
- Philadelphia City Hall
#5 Fairmount Park
If you’re craving an escape from the city’s commotion, head on over to one of the locals’ favorite parks in Philadelphia, Fairmount Park. This picturesque park spans over 2,000 acres5. You can travel across its impressive acreage by foot, bicycle, or horseback.
In addition to its shaded hiking trails and waterfront walking paths, Fairmount Park is full of exciting attractions, including:
- Shofuso Japanese House and Garden – From its koi ponds to its traditional tea house, this Japanese house and garden is a peaceful place to zen out. It hosts traditional tea ceremonies and other cultural events too.
- Philadelphia Zoo – As the oldest zoo in the country,6 the Philadelphia Zoo is home to a wide range of worldwide wildlife. One of its most unique features is its Big Cat Falls, a unique overhead, suspended tunnel system where big cats can walk throughout the park over other exhibits.
- Boathouse Row – Boathouse Row is located within Fairmount Park on the east side of the Schuylkill River. It features fifteen historic, Victorian-style boathouses. It’s also where many local boating clubs like to congregate.
- Please Touch Museum – If you’re visiting Philly with kids, the Please Touch Museum is a delightful Fairmount Park pit stop. This interactive museum can give little ones the chance to get out their energy and learn about science, history, gardening, and more, all while using their hands.
- Colonial-Era Park Charms Mansion Tours – Fairmount Park is home to several historic mansions that date back to the 1700s. You can walk around these homes on foot or sign up for one of the park’s trolley tours to get an inside look into their furnishings and unique backstories.
In addition to these must-see attractions, Fairmount Park has swimming pools, tennis courts, sports fields, playgrounds, and picnic tables. With so much going on, there’s truly never a dull moment. You could spend days in Fairmount Park and still not see it all.
#6 Eastern State Penitentiary
Built in 1829, the Eastern State Penitentiary is a historic prison-turned-museum. You can tour its cell blocks during the day, or, if you’re feeling brave, at night.
As you explore the ins and outs of the facility, you can learn about the criminals who did their time there. One notable inmate was Al Capone, who enjoyed a rather lavish cell during his stay.7
From the end of September to mid-November, you can also experience the penitentiary’s Halloween Nights. This seasonal event includes riveting haunted house tours and spooky live entertainment.
#7 Delaware River Waterfront
If you’re in the mood to take a riverside stroll or enjoy a specialty cocktail, the Delaware River Waterfront is the place to do it.
As with many places in Philly, this hot spot combines historic charm with modern amenities. Philadelphia’s founder, Willian Penn, first landed his ship here back in 1682.10 These days, you can enjoy outdoor concerts, art exhibits, skating and roller rinks, and much more.
#8 Fine Dining
If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely want to eat your way through the city. Some Philadelphia eateries are low-key and casual, while others specialize in a fine dining experience.
If you’re interested in trying some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, here are a few spots to check out during your stay:
- Ristorante Panorama – Located in Old City, Ristorante Panorama is a wine lover’s dream. It holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest wine bar.11 It’s also known for its delicious house-made pasta dishes.
- Dante & Luigi’s – Another Italian delight is Dante and Luigi’s. It’s one of the oldest Italian restaurants in America,12 fittingly nestled in Philly’s Italian Market.
- XIX Nineteen – If you’re craving a delicious dinner with a show-stopping view, XIX Nineteen can deliver just that. This restaurant is located in Center City on the 19th floor of The Bellevue. It has 360-degree views and a luxurious atmosphere.
- Butcher & Singer – Also located in Center City, Butcher and Singer is an upscale steakhouse. Thanks to its Old-Hollywood ambiance, it’s an alluring place to enjoy some impeccably-cooked steak, lobster tails, classic cocktails, and top-notch service.
- Barclay Prime – If you want to experience the highest-end cheesesteak Philly has to offer, Barclay and Prime won’t disappoint. This chic steakhouse is located in Rittenhouse Square. From its decor to its dining options, Barclay Prime is truly top-tier.
These are just a few of the upscale eateries you can enjoy while in Philly. This city’s selection of high-class restaurants is ever-expanding.
Make Philadelphia Your New Home With Common
As you can see, the list of things to do in Philadelphia is never-ending, whether you’re looking to visit Philadelphia on a day trip or moving to the city. From exploring United State history at the Liberty Bell Center to finding the best place to try the city’s diverse eateries, Philadelphia is teeming with places to visit. If you want to explore everything that this city has to offer, you may be considering making it your home.
If so, Common can make your move stress-free. We offer beautiful Philadelphia rentals at affordable rates including Common at Broadridge, Common Frankford, and Mily on Green. Whether you select one of our private apartments or a private bedroom in a shared coliving suite, you’ll enjoy the best of city living without the hassle.
Common renters also gain access to an instant community. Once you’re settled into your new home, just download the Common app and start meeting up with other Common locals. With this list of places to visit in Philadelphia, you should have no problem planning some exciting outings with your new friends.
- National Park Service. Independence Hall. https://www.nps.gov/inde/learn/historyculture/places-independencehall.htm
- Philadelphia Museum of Art. Explore Our Collection. https://philamuseum.org/collection#artists-collectors-tab
- Visit Philadelphia. The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps. https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/the-rocky-statue-and-the-rocky-steps/
- Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission. https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/love-statue/
- Visit Philadelphia. Fairmount Park. https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/fairmount-park/
- Philadelphia Zoo. America’s First Zoo. https://philadelphiazoo.org/about-the-zoo/
- Eastern State Penitentiary. Al Capone’s Cell. https://www.easternstate.org/explore/exhibits/al-capones-cell
- Visit Philadelphia. Penn’s Landing and Delaware River Waterfront. https://www.visitphilly.com/areas/philadelphia-neighborhoods/penns-landing-and-delaware-river-waterfront/
- The Philadelphia Inquirer. A Guinness record for a Philly Restaurant. https://www.inquirer.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/A_Guinness_record_for_a_Philly_restaurant_.html
- The Philadelphia Inquirer. Who’s the oldest? https://www.inquirer.com/philly/blogs/what_happened/Whos-the-oldest-.html
- Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Market. https://readingterminalmarket.org/about-the-market/
- Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Voted Best Public Market In America By Usa Today 10best For The Second Year In A Row. https://readingterminalmarket.org/news/reading-terminal-voted-best-public-market-in-america-by-usa-today-10best-for-the-second-year-in-a-row/
- Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairmount_Park#/media/File:Belmont_Plateau.jpg