Releases: Expanded View
Fact Sheet: 31 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions
* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2015. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- The African American Museum in Philadelphia*, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The museum takes a fresh and bold look at the stories of African-Americans and their role in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Other exhibits and programs explore the history, stories and cultures of those of African descent throughout the African diaspora. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
- While exploring the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, visitors can enjoy exhibitions that display artifacts from the ship’s past and play an interactive role. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is part of the Turret II guided tour. America’s most decorated battleship also hosts special events and overnights. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
- The Betsy Ross House tells this story of a new nation’s flag and working-class Colonial women. Guests can tour the home of the America’s most famous flagmaker—an upholsterer by trade— meet Betsy in her shop every day and enjoy interactive programs, storytelling and activities. 239 Arch Street, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- Modeled after the work of famed English church architect Christopher Wren, Christ Church once counted George Washington, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin among its worshippers. A few blocks away, Franklin and his wife are buried at Christ Church Burial Ground. Those passing by often throw pennies on the grave for good luck. Christ Church,
2nd Street above Market Street; Burial Ground, 5th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-1695, christchurchphila.org
- Eastern State Penitentiary introduced Americans to a new form of housing inmates: solitary confinement. Al Capone and Willie Sutton were among the 75,000 inmates who spent time here. Self-guided tours, a once-daily guided tour and a Halloween haunted house, along with exhibitions and special events, make the massive prison a favorite among those who dare to enter. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
- In locations throughout the historic district, Historic Philadelphia, Inc. gives modern-day visitors the chance to experience Colonial times through immersive experiences that include period dinners, pub crawls and re-enactments. Storytellers recount lively tales at Once Upon A Nation benches sprinkled throughout the district. Independence Visitor Center,
6th & Market Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- Part of the nation’s most historic square mile, Independence National Historical Park, open seven days a week, tells the story of how American democracy came to be. Historic landmarks and attractions such as the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, The President’s House and Franklin Court take visitors back to the time of the nation’s Founding Fathers. (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
- The National Constitution Center is the only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. Visitors begin their journey with Freedom Rising, a 17-minute, live theatrical production about the American quest for freedom and then explore the interactive main exhibit, Story of We the People and enjoy a Founding Fathers photo opportunity in Signers’ Hall, featuring 42 life-sized statues of the delegates who participated in the signing of the Constitution. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
- Located on Independence Mall, the National Museum of American Jewish History* delves into the stories and contributions of Jewish people in the U.S., from early settlers to history-makers such as Albert Einstein, industry giants such as Esteé Lauder and artists and entertainers, including Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg. Four floors of artifacts, memorabilia and artwork tell the narrative in chronological order. Bonus: Entry to the first floor is free of charge. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
- No battles were fought in Valley Forge, but the time the Continental Army spent here went down as one of their most trying periods. Exhibits and artifacts in the Visitor Center, replicated huts and the original headquarters tell the story of the pivotal winter that George Washington and his troops endured. The 3,500-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park also includes trails and picnic areas. 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (610) 783-1000, nps.gov/vafo
- Located on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation houses the most important collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern art in the world, with a jaw-dropping 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos, along with works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat and Modigliani. The captivating collection also includes American paintings and decorative arts, metalwork, African sculpture and Native American textiles, jewelry and ceramics—all presented in Dr. Barnes’ distinctive arrangements in 26 intimate rooms. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
- The bucolic settings that inspired much of the art on view in the galleries—rolling hills, verdant meadows, a flowing river—surround the Brandywine River Museum of Art*. For many, the landscape is synonymous with Andrew Wyeth, whose work is exhibited here alongside a collection of American art that includes works by N.C. and Jamie Wyeth. The museum also offers guided offsite tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House & Studio and Kuerner Farm. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywinemuseum.org
- The James A. Michener Art Museum* pays homage to the beautiful Bucks County landscape—inspiration for countless artists—with a collection of regional impressionist works and an outdoor sculpture garden. The museum also hosts special exhibitions featuring the work of internationally known artists with ties to the region. Its glass-enclosed pavilion serves as the site for jazz nights and special events. 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-9800, michenerartmuseum.org
- The country’s oldest art museum and school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* (PAFA) presents special exhibitions, an outstanding permanent collection of American art and work by some of the nation’s most talented contemporary artists, including PAFA alumni. The museum features treasures by luminaries Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Nancy Spero, Elizabeth Murray and Kehinde Wiley. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
- The vast collections of art from across the globe and through the ages—including Renaissance, American, Asian, impressionist and contemporary masterpieces—make the Philadelphia Museum of Art one of the most important art museums in the country. Its impressive holdings, acclaimed exhibitions, special programs and beautiful outdoor Sculpture Garden make it a cultural must-see. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
Museums Of All Kinds:
- At 204 years old, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America’s oldest natural history museum. Visitors of all ages can get face to face with towering dinosaurs, wander through a tropical garden filled with live butterflies, meet live animals and see three continents of wildlife in their natural habitats. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
- The Franklin Institute demonstrates the science involved in life everywhere, from sports to space. The museum’s world-class special exhibitions add to 11 hands-on exhibits, such as the highly interactive Your Brain and the newly reimagined SportsZone, and is home to the Fels Planetarium; the Tuttleman IMAX Theater; and the Joel N. Bloom Observatory. The Giant Heart, a walk-through human corpuscle that would belong to someone 220 feet tall, was one of its first attractions and remains one of the most popular. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
- Independence Seaport Museum* focuses on the importance of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers to Philadelphia. Along with displays that chronicle the city’s contributions to naval and commercial maritime history and several interactive activities, the attraction offers visitors the rare opportunity to board and explore two National Historic Landmark ships, the Cruiser Olympia and the Submarine Becuna. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
- The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is one of America’s finest museums of medical history. Its “disturbingly informative” displays and special events decipher mysteries of the human body and inspire appreciation for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The 20,000-item collection includes Albert Einstein’s brain, The Soap Lady, a medicinal plant garden and an examination of Civil War medicine. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 560-8564, muttermuseum.org
- Through imaginative and interactive exhibits, the National Liberty Museum* invites visitors to see what it means to “Live Like a Hero.” Incredible stories of heroism and artwork encourage guests to find their place in the story of liberty. It’s a gem located just steps from America’s most treasured symbols of freedom. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org
- At the Penn Museum, a 15-ton Egyptian sphinx, surrounded by massive columns from the Palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah—all circa 1200 B.C.E.—star in a renowned international collection that includes Egyptian mummies, Chinese Buddhist and ancient Greek sculptures, monumental steles from the ancient Maya and a Mesopotamian queen’s 4,500-year-old jewelry. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
- Created exclusively for kids up to age 7 to learn through play, Please Touch Museum® in Fairmount Park gives its young guests free reign. National Historic Landmark Memorial Hall houses the 40-year-old institution’s interactive exhibitions, art programs, music and dance performances, children’s theater, story times and the beloved Dentzel Carousel.
4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
Parks, Gardens & Animals:
- Started in 1924, the Elmwood Park Zoo features animals from around the globe, including American bison, red pandas, jaguars, giraffes and zebras. Visitors love Treetop Adventures, a zip line park inside the zoo, which includes more than 70 challenging games high in the trees. 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, (610) 277-3825, elmwoodparkzoo.org
- Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, Franklin Square delights the young and not-so-young with its old-fashioned carousel, Philadelphia-themed mini-golf course and two playgrounds. When hunger strikes, visitors head to SquareBurger for sustenance (burgers, fries and Cake Shakes, made with Philadelphia’s own Tastykakes). 6th & Race Streets, historicphiladelphia.org
- Longwood Gardens attracts visitors from around the globe to its 1,077 acres filled with 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, 11,000 different types of plants, spectacular fountains and picturesque meadows and woodlands. The horticultural haven also hosts 400 events each year, including flower shows, gardening demonstrations, educational programs, children’s activities, concerts and musical theater. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
- Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, a 92-acre garden in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill section, offers an ever-changing landscape complete with colorful gardens, champion trees and beautiful fountains. Nationally award-winning exhibit Out on a Limb takes visitors 50 feet up into treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing. An outdoor Garden Railway features a miniature world with model trains on a quarter-mile track, open in summer and during winter holidays. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777, morrisarboretum.org
- Visitors to the Philadelphia Zoo will discover Zoo360, the world’s first system of see-through mesh treetop trails that cross over pathways, connect habitats—and let animals travel and explore. So, as visitors move around the zoo, the zoo moves around them. Other wild highlights of America’s first zoo: First Niagara Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve and KidZooU, a wildlife academy of dynamic displays, rare breeds and hands-on experiences. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
- One of Philadelphia’s favorite watering holes, McGillin’s Olde Ale House predates the construction of City Hall. The popular Irish pub has been open since 1860, making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in the city—and one of the oldest in the country. Good food, reasonable prices, an impressive selection of local and regional beers on tap and warm hospitality keep patrons coming back. 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562, mcgillins.com
- With festivals for every season, stores for every type of shopper and the just-for-kids Giggleberry Fair, Buck’s County’s Peddler’s Village packs a surprising number of activities in its bucolic, Colonial-style landscape. The Golden Plough Inn invites people to keep the fun going for multiple days. Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska, (215) 794-4000, peddlersvillage.com
- The circa 1892 and always busy Reading Terminal Market* houses more than 80 vendors of farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, herbs and ready-to-eat meals—from cheesesteaks to Amish baked goods to Greek fare. Tours are available. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-2317, readingterminalmarket.org
- SugarHouse Casino is one of Philadelphia’s premier entertainment destinations, serving
3.6 million guests annually. The casino features 1,891 slots, more than 100 table games and a 28-table poker room. A recent $164 million expansion has increased non-gaming amenities to include seven new restaurants and bars, a multi-purpose event space and a seven-story parking garage. 1001 N. Delaware Avenue, (877) 477-3715, sugarhousecasino.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
Philly Tours Explore History, Art, Food, Bridges & the Supernatural
Visitors to Philadelphia can choose from an assortment of options to explore the region, including those of the air, automotive, audio, culinary, self-guided and water-based varieties. And the sightseeing fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Those who come out at night can join tours that feature behind-the-scenes action and, if so desired, spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:
History Lessons By Day & Night:
- Bow Tie Tours – Learning about Philadelphia’s—and America’s—history through the true tales of real-life characters who walked the city’s streets is the secret to the success of
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Here is the 24-stop essential guide, available at visitphilly.com/historic:
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Nighttime Is The Right Time To Return To Philadelphia's Historic District
As day turns to dusk and museums and landmarks close for the night, Philadelphia's Historic District is just gearing up for a night of fun. Theaters, play places and ghost tours keep youngsters amused until pajama time, while beer gardens, dance clubs and live music venues entertain the over-21 crowd well into the wee hours.
Here’s how the Historic District buzzes with activity long after the clock strikes 5 p.m.:
End-of-day play at Franklin Square includes an award-winning playground, eclectic carousel and 18-hole mini-golf course with scale versions of iconic Philadelphia landmarks (open until 9 or 10
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*Also good for man-on-the-street interviews
In Center City:
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- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center – Millions of LEGO bricks build the foundation for this creative and fun destination. Perfect for ages 3