Philadelphia is like Washingon DC’s older brother. It was the original US capital and is famous for being the city where American history was declared. Luckily all of the historical attractions are located in the same place around the city centre.
Here’s the best free things we did on the streets of Philadelphia…
Independence National Historical Park
The NPS operated Independence National Historical Park is where you will find Independence Hall, the building where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were debated and signed. Coincidently we toured this building on the day, 240 years later, that the Declaration of Independence official document was signed on August 2nd 1776. What an amazing feeling! Independence Hall is free to visit and have a guided tour, all you need is a ticket from the NPS tourist office a few minutes walk away.
The Liberty Bell
The famous icon of American independence and freedom, The Liberty Bell, is also free to visit. This 900kg bell is very popular so this exhibit is best visited in the afternoon, as the morning queue is very long.
Benjamin Franklin House
You can also visit many sites dedicated to one of America’s ‘founding fathers’, the face on the $100 bill, Benjamin Franklin, including his home, printing office and grave as well! He was an amazing person; a politician, US ambassador, inventor, educator and newspaper editor and printer.
The Portrait Gallery
Also worth a look is the US First and Second Banks for their Greek Revival architecture and the latter also houses The Portrait Gallery. This gallery is free to visit as well!
The Philadelphia Mint
Another free activity in the historic centre is The Philadelphia Mint. This facility is the forth building to house the mint, constructed in 1969 and requires photo ID to enter and strictly no photography. The self guided tour takes you along a long narrow walkway with information, displays, interactive activities and views into the factory below.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art or ‘Rocky Steps’
When your done with America’s political history, you can check out some pop culture history! The Philadelphia Museum of Art isn’t actually visited for the art on display but rather the ‘Rocky Steps’. Here you will find the stairs that Rocky Balboa jogs up in the first ‘Rocky’ movie. When we visited there were loads of tourists filming themselves running up the stairs and also posing with the bronze statue of Rocky to the right of the art museum. As if on cue, a car pulled up with the famous song from the film, ‘Eye of the Tiger’, blasting from the stereo! It was a goosebumps moment and everyone got a laugh out of it!
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Now that you have done all the Philly must do’s, relax in Spruce Street Harbor Park, an urban beach located at Penn’s Landing by the Delaware River. This green public space is open in the summer months with plenty of food trucks to satisfy your hunger and beer gardens to quench your thirst. There are games and events, as well as seating and hammocks to chill.
Now for a place to stay…
Two Trekkers recommend the hipster suburb of Manayunk. Located 20 minutes by train out of the centre of Philly, this urban gem has a bustling Main Street with loads of trendy places to eat and drink. On Thursday nights ‘Stroll the Street’ for specials on food and drinks as well as live music and events.
Our Airbnb had bikes and we spent a lovely afternoon riding along the Manayunk Canal Towpath towards the city. This is a section of the longer Schuylkill River Trail. One of the best experiences we had in Philly!