Philadelphia is perhaps most known for its historic sites, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It certainly played a role in the birth of our nation, but it has much more to offer as a travel destination. There’s amazing museums, street art, markets, and more to enjoy, plus incredible food, including those Philly cheesesteaks.
If you’re planning on spending time there, whether a weekend or a week, you’ll want to time it right and do some smart planning to make sure you get the most for your money. Here, you’ll learn about some of the fun things to do when visiting Philadelphia, plus ways to have a memorable trip.
Best Times to Go to Philadelphia
The best time to go to Philadelphia is in the spring, from around March to May. The average temperatures during this time are in the 50s to low 70s. The weather is warm without being too hot, and it’s not too crowded with tourists.
Early fall can also be a nice time to visit before it gets too cold, with average temperatures in the same range.
You might also considering visiting when some of the city’s biggest events are happening:
• The Philadelphia Flower Show in March
• The Kensington Derby and Arts Festival in May
• The Odunde Festival in June, the largest African-American street festival in the nation
• The Philly Bike Ride in October.
Bad Times to Go to Philadelphia
Winter is the least busy time to go to Philadelphia since it can get very cold and snowy.
However, because of this, hotel prices may be lower, so it may be enticing if you’re looking for how to save money on hotels in Philadelphia.
Summer travel is also a less desirable time to go to Philadelphia because of the crowds and hot weather, which can be in the 80s and humid. But if you don’t mind the warm temperatures, you’ll find plenty of tourists soaking up this historic city.
Average Cost of a Philadelphia Vacation
Philadelphia can be pretty affordable for a city destination. It’s possible to visit Philadelphia at nearly any budget. If you want a central location, Center City is a popular place to stay, with hotel prices around $500 to $600 a night during a weekend in May. If you’re looking for a more affordable place to stay, check out hotels near Fairmount Park, which can run between $300 to $400 for the same weekend.
What about a longer trip? In terms of total costs, not including getting to and from Philadelphia, expect to pay $1,319 for one person for one week, and $2,638 for a couple. If you’re budgeting for a trip and ready to start saving, you should think about where to keep travel funds. A high yield savings account can be a good choice as it keeps your money secure and earns interest; online banks often offer the best rates.
You may want to avoid “book now pay later” travel options if possible, and instead try to save money ahead of time so that you don’t pay extra in interest.
If you’re thinking about booking a trip to Philadelphia but are worried that you may have unforeseen circumstances and have to cancel your trip, you can look into travel insurance. If you pay for your trip with certain credit cards, they may provide travel insurance for certain situations. You should understand how credit card travel insurance works when deciding whether to purchase private travel insurance or use your credit card protections.
10 Fun Must-Dos in Philadelphia
There’s a lot to do in this large, historic city. This list of the top 10 must-dos in Philadelphia includes top-rated attractions and ideas from travelers who’ve been there and done that. You’ll find free activities as well as things that are pricier and that you might want to charge and earn credit card rewards.
Depending where you’re staying, you may be able to visit Philadelphia without renting a car. The city is very walkable, and there are buses, trains and above-ground trolleys in some parts of the city. The city also has an inexpensive shuttle service that stops at historic and cultural destinations around Center City, called the Philly PHLASH.
Now, here’s the list of the top 10 fun things to do while visiting Philadelphia.
1. Check out the Liberty Bell
Although the Liberty Bell doesn’t ring, it’s one of the most famous bells and is an iconic symbol of freedom. Its chime summoned people to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776. The Liberty Bell Center is free to visit year-round and does not require tickets. It’s located in front of Independence Hall, the next item on this list.
2. Immerse Yourself in History at Independence Hall
The Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence inside of Independence Hall in 1776. The framework for The U.S. Constitution was created there as well, and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To visit this important site in the founding of our nation, you can tour Independence Hall daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Guided tours are available year-round for a $1 ticket. Also, be sure to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time to go through security screening. phlvisitorcenter.com/IndependenceHall
3. Chow Down on a Cheesesteak
A trip to Philadelphia is not complete without a delicious, classic Philly cheesesteak, which is said to have originated in the 1930s. What is it exactly? Chopped meat, onion, and cheese sandwich on an Italian roll. Two of the most popular places to get a Philly cheesesteak include Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks. They are both located at the intersection of South 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia, in South Philadelphia. A cheesesteak will cost you $12 to $15. genosteaks.com/menu/ and patskingofsteaks.com/
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4. Wander Through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
One of the best things to do in Philadelphia is to take in the Magic Gardens, a unique indoor and outdoor art installation by local Philly artist Isaiah Zagar. The Magic Gardens contain multiple, brightly colored tiled passages over and underground. The installation includes such surprising, creatively repurposed materials like bottles, ceramic shards, cement and even bicycle spokes.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is located on South Street in Philadelphia. The attraction is open year-round between 11 am and 6 pm, but is closed on Tuesdays. Tickets cost between $8 and $15. phillymagicgardens.org/
5. Run up the ‘Rocky’ Steps
If you pass the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you may see people racing up the stairs and jumping around with their arms up. That’s because the first of the popular boxing films featured the character of Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stalone, running up the steps to a soaring soundtrack. A statue commemorating Rocky is located at the bottom of the stairs.
The movie is almost 50 years old, but still has a dedicated following. This is a fun stop for film buffs, and read on to learn why you’ll want to go inside after you climb those steps.
6. Explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art includes more than 240,000 works spanning 2,000 years. It includes many famous works from the Renaissance, and an array of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases. You’ll see masterpieces by such famed artists as van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Klee. Whether your taste in art runs Medieval or modern, you’ll find something to admire.
The museum is open Thursdays to Mondays, and closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4. Hours vary by date, but it’s generally open between 10 am and 5 pm. Tickets cost $25. There’s also a Pay What You Wish day on the first Sunday of every month and every Friday night after 5 pm. philamuseum.org/
7. Visit the Barnes Foundation
If you want to see even more art, the Barnes Foundation is another top thing to do in Philadelphia. Although less well-known than the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation includes a large collection of French impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings. The Barnes Foundation has an impressive 181 Renoirs, which is more than any other collection. It also includes 69 Cezannes, as well as African art.
The Barnes Foundation is located in the Franklintown neighborhood. Is open Thursday through Monday, from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission ranges from $5 to $25 depending on your age. barnesfoundation.org/
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8. Tour Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is 130 years old and located below a former railroad terminal in Center City, Philadelphia. There are many vendors selling flowers, Amish baked goods, spices, Spanish olives, hoagies, books, crafts, and more. Reading Terminal Market is free to enter, and is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. readingterminalmarket.org/
9. Snap Selfies at the Love Sculpture
Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love. And the colorful steel LOVE Statue by artist Robert Indiana certainly says it. You’ll find this Pop Art favorite at John F. Kennedy Plaza, with the four letters of the word “love,” stacked up; it’s a popular place to take photos.
There are actually multiple LOVE statues in the city. There’s also another LOVE statue on the University of Pennsylvania campus and an AMOR statue at Sister Cities Park, a few blocks from Kennedy Plaza. The statues are all free to visit.
10. View the Delaware River Waterfront
The Delaware River separates Pennsylvania from New Jersey, and the waterfront area can be a fun thing to do in Philadelphia. It includes multiple attractions and parks, like Cherry Street Pier, Race Street Pier, Blue Cross RiverRink, and Spruce Street Harbor Park. The waterfront has great views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia and New Jersey. If you’re traveling with pets, the Delaware River waterfront can be a perfect place to take a stroll with your dog while you’re visiting Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is a unique destination that brings history to life, but also has an array of art and other attractions to take in. Plus, there’s great food to sample in this city. A trip to Philadelphia can be both fun and educational, as well as affordable, provided you know a few smart hacks.
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What are things to do in Philadelphia for free?
There are many things to do in Philadelphia for free, like visiting sites including the LOVE sculpture, the Rocky steps, or the Liberty Bell. Free activities are one way to hack how families afford to travel.
What is Philadelphia most popular for?
Philadelphia is probably most famous for historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. However, other popular and well-known attractions include Love Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Reading Terminal Market and the Rocky Steps.
How can I spend a day in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia’s Historic District has several attractions within walking distance of each other and would be a good way to spend a day in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley, and Franklin Square are all located in Philadelphia’s Historic District. Or you might visit some art attractions for a day, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Photo credit: iStock/Ultima_Gaina
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