Releases: Expanded View
Fact Sheet: The Philadelphia Region
The Accessible Greater Philadelphia Region
There are 4.0 million people residing in the five-county region (7.8 million in the Philadelphia Designated Market Area) and 1.6 million in Philadelphia, making it the second-largest city on the East Coast and the fifth-largest in the country. Center City ranks second in downtown populations in the U.S., behind New York City’s Manhattan.
Philadelphia is a two-hour drive from New York City, two-and-a-half hours from Washington, DC and 45 minutes from Atlantic City, with convenient access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I-76, I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. 25% of the United States population lives within 350 miles of Center City Philadelphia.
The city is a 90-minute flight or a one-day drive from Toronto (880 kilometers), Ottawa (772 kilometers) and Montreal (745 kilometers). There are more than 35 flights per week from these cities and convenient connections from all other major Canadian cities.
Philadelphia International Airport, located about seven miles from Center City, is a base for around 30 carriers (including several discount carriers such as Southwest Airlines and Frontier) that offer 700 daily nonstop flights to more than 120 domestic and international cities.
Amtrak’s 30th Street Station is a major East Coast hub, with trains that run along the northeast corridor serving Boston (six-hour commute), New York (under 90 minutes), Baltimore (90 minutes) and Washington, DC (two hours).
Thanks to founder William Penn, Center City has an easy-to-follow grid street design, making it a walkable city. Visitors can flag down taxis at the airport, train stations, hotels, the Independence Visitor Center and throughout Center City. Methods of public transportation:
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a vast network of bus, subway and trolley commuter services in the city and the suburbs. The SEPTA Airport Rail Line connects the airport with Center City.
- The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO Hi-Speedline) is an easy way to travel from southern New Jersey to Center City Philadelphia.
Narrated Touring Transportation:
Philadelphia Trolley Works and the Big Bus Company are among the city’s narrated touring options. In the summer months, PHLASH trolleys take visitors to the city’s most popular tourist areas for $2 per ride.
- visitphilly.com, Philadelphia’s official tourism site
- uwishunu.com, insider’s guide to what’s happening in the city and region
Philadelphia experiences four distinct seasons with a moderately cold winter and hot, humid summer. January average temperature, 32 degrees Fahrenheit; July average temperature, 78 degrees; average yearly rainfall, 41 inches; normal seasonal snowfall, 21 inches.
There were 39.7 million domestic visitors to Philadelphia and The Countryside® in 2014. Out of the total, 88% were here for a leisure trip—just to have fun.
William Penn founded Philadelphia in 1682 and applied his Quaker ideals of racial harmony and religious tolerance to the colony. Nearly 100 years later, during the American Revolution, the fight for freedom took hold in Philadelphia. In July 1776, the rewards were great as independence rang out with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The 19th century proved to be prosperous for the city, still very much the nation’s center of culture and industry. Today, Philadelphia is a thriving destination, popular for its history, cultural attractions and fine dining experiences.
A sample of city attractions: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, Betsy Ross House, City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary, The Franklin Institute, Independence National Historical Park (including Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center), Independence Seaport Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Morris Arboretum, Mütter Museum, National Constitution Center, National Liberty Museum, One Liberty Observation Deck, Penn Museum, Penn’s Landing, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum, The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Walnut Street Theatre, Wilma Theater
Some regional attractions: American Helicopter Museum and Education Center, Brandywine River Museum, Elmwood Park Zoo, Fonthill Museum, Longwood Gardens, Mercer Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Tyler Arboretum and Valley Forge National Historical Park
January: Mummers Parade
February: Philadelphia Auto Show
March: PHS Philadelphia Flower Show
April: Equality Forum, Penn Relays, Philadelphia Science Festival
May: Broad Street Run, Brandywine River Museum Antiques Show, Dad Vail Regatta, Devon Horse Show and Country Fair
June: Roots Picnic, Odunde, PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival, Philly Beer Week
July: Wawa Welcome America, Blobfest
August: BlackStar Film Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival
September: Fringe Festival, Mushroom Festival, Liberty Medal
October: Terror Behind the Walls, DesignPhiladelphia, Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, OutFest, Philadelphia Film Festival, Harry Potter Festival
November: Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Philadelphia Marathon, Thanksgiving Day Parade
December: A Longwood Gardens Christmas, SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
There are more than 11,000 hotel rooms in Center City, and about 8,000 within a 15-minute walk of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and City Hall. Some 4,500 rooms surround the Philadelphia International Airport.
Philadelphia is a true diner’s destination. Bon Appétit magazine said “The City of Brotherly Love has become an urban culinary mecca, with good eating as much of a draw as the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Balboa statue, and the diverse culture.” (July 2009)
Dining trends throughout the region that make Philadelphia such a well-recognized foodie town include: the bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) craze; outdoor cafes; kitchens using locally grown, farm-fresh ingredients; couples in the kitchen; and the dining empires of prolific restaurateurs Stephen Starr and Jose Garces.
Philadelphia neighborhoods and malls offer a wealth of diverse shopping experiences, from independent boutiques and upscale shops on big and little streets in Center City and in the vast King of Prussia Mall, to outlet stores and discount malls such as Franklin Mills. There is no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania and no GST or Federal tax for Canadian visitors.
From luxe lounges to dive bars with character to jazz clubs to indie rock haunts, Philadelphia has a booming nightlife scene. Neighborhoods like Old City, Northern Liberties and Rittenhouse Square offer an array of nightlife options.
The five major-league teams are the Phillies (baseball), Eagles (football), Flyers (hockey), Sixers (basketball) and Union (soccer). Other teams include the Wings (indoor lacrosse), Soul (arena soccer), Independence (women’s soccer) and Kixx (indoor soccer, on hiatus). Sports complexes include Citizens Bank Park, home to the Phillies; Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Eagles; the Wells Fargo Center, home to the 76ers and the Flyers; and PPL Park, home of the Union.
The newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in the Northeast, features one million square feet of space.
Colleges and Universities:
Nearly 300,000 students attend some 50 colleges in the Philadelphia five-county region. More than 50,000 degrees are conferred annually.
Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, W.C. Fields, Edgar Allan Poe, James A. Michener, Walter Annenberg, Reverend Leon Sullivan, W.E.B. DuBois, Marian Anderson, John Coltrane, Grace Kelly, “Dr. J.” Julius Irving, Wilt Chamberlain, Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Kevin Bacon, M. Night Shyamalan, Jill Scott, Pink, Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper.
Filmed in the Area:
Arlen Faber, Cold Case (TV), The Colbert Report (TV), Dare, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV), Marley & Me, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, The Wrestler, Baby Mama, The Happening, Rocky Balboa, Shooter, Lady in the Water, Invincible, In Her Shoes, National Treasure, The Village, Jersey Girl, Signs, The Sixth Sense, Rocky I-V, Beloved, Fallen, 12 Monkeys, Up Close & Personal, Philadelphia, The Age of Innocence, Trading Places, Mannequin I-II, Witness, The Real World Philadelphia (TV) and Unbreakable
In addition to being the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia can claim many of America’s firsts: first hospital (Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751), first reading of the Declaration of Independence (1776), first Fourth of July celebration (1777), first stock exchange (Philadelphia Stock Exchange, 1790), first capital of the United States (1790-1800), first art museum and school (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805), first natural history institution (The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1812), first department store (Wanamaker’s), first Mother’s Day (1908), first Thanksgiving Day Parade (1920), first professional football game (Philadelphia Eagles beat Cincinnati Reds, 64-0, 1934), first zoo (Philadelphia Zoo, 1874), first computer (ENIAC), first ice cream sundae, among others.
More Philly superlatives: America’s oldest street in continuous use (Elfreth’s Alley), the largest mall on the East Coast (King of Prussia Mall), the most murals in the country (3,800), the oldest theater in continuous use in the English-speaking world (Walnut Street Theatre, 1809), the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor market (Italian Market), the largest landscaped city park (Fairmount Park, 8,700 acres), the oldest African-American newspaper (The Philadelphia Tribune), one of the largest masonry buildings in the world (City Hall), one of the few cities with a professional franchise in all five major league sports and the longest-running folk parade (New Year’s Day’s Mummers Parade, 1901).
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.
A Tale Of Two Host Cities: Philadelphia And Cleveland Put On 2016 Political Conventions
While presidential candidates are going head-to-head in heated discourse, the great American cities of Philadelphia and Cleveland are pushing political banter aside to ready themselves for the national spotlight as they host the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28) and Republican National Convention (July 18-21), respectively. Cleveland’s last political convention was the 1936 RNC; that same year, Philadelphia welcomed the DNC. The cities will be part of history again in 2016.
Both destinations have a loyal fan base; residents love their respective city’s arts and culture, history, music and food, and visitors clamor over much of the same. Here’s a look...
10 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About The 2016 DNC Host City, Philadelphia
The 2016 Democratic National Convention will take place in Philadelphia, the birthplace of America and the country’s first World Heritage City, July 25-28, 2016. The city has enough history, art, culture, food, vibrant neighborhoods, parks and political landmarks to fill web, newspaper and magazine pages from now until the convention.
Here are 10 things people might not know about the host city, plus key resources for convention and destination coverage.
10 Philly Facts You (Probably) Don’t Know:
- One-quarter of the U.S. population lives within a five-hour drive of Philadelphia.
- The fast-growing Indego bike-share program launched in spring 2015 and
Use Your Vacation Days, Says Philly
Inspired and appalled by a recent Oxford Economics study that found that 42% of Americans leave 3.2 vacation days on the table, VISIT PHILADELPHIA™ released a 3.2-day Philadelphia itinerary.
“It’s good for the economy, a person’s work life and their personal life,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “We believe in the power of travel, and we’re inviting people to use their extra vacation days in the greatest place we can think of—Philadelphia.”
“Philadelphia’s ‘3.2-day itinerary’ is a fun and innovative way to highlight an important cultural issue,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and...
16 Things To Know: African-American Philadelphia
Strength In Numbers:
- The 2010 U.S. Census reported 661,839—that’s 43.37%—of Philadelphians are African-American, the city’s second largest ethnic demographic. More recent estimates show this population has increased by approximately 1% in the past six years.
- The largest concentration—82%—of African-American Philadelphians live in North Philadelphia west of Germantown Avenue, Point Breeze in South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and in parts of Southwest Philadelphia.
- Important African-American business corridors include 52nd Street between Walnut and
Arch Streets and Baltimore Avenue between 40th and 52nd Streets, both in West Philadelphia; and Stenton Avenue between Broad Street and Walnut Lane and Ogontz
20+ Lists You Didn't Know Philly Made This Year
So far this year, Philadelphia has appeared on many national best-of lists.
“This good press is a good example of the city’s momentum. It goes with the story that’s unfolding right now—the new restaurants, more outdoor dining, throngs of people on Independence Mall and all over the city, more people visiting and visiting for longer periods of time,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA™. “Philadelphia is a premier destination, and the place to be. VISIT PHILADELPHIA is happy to be the promotion agency for a city that over-delivers.”
Here’s just a sample of what people have been...
Philadelphia Picks Up 14 More Accolades In 2011
Greater Philadelphia is a hot topic among the national press in 2011, with an additional 14 buzz-worthy accolades awarded to the area in the past few months for its top-notch historical attractions, dining options and sports scene. Noted as “best” and “trendsetting,” Philadelphia created applause amongst the likes of Budget Travel, forbes.com, Grub Street and many other reputable media outlets. Travelers should get out their bucket lists and add these must-dos to their Philly itineraries:
- In March, Budget Travel said that Independence Hall is one of “15 Places Your Kids Should See Before 15.”
- The following
Backgrounder: Gay-friendly Philly
Philadelphia, which recently marked the 40th anniversary of its vibrant Gayborhood, continues to come out as one of the nation’s top travel destinations for gay and lesbian visitors. As reflected in its award-winning Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay® campaign, the region has become the place to learn about America’s past by day and to experience a little of the party life by night. Philadelphia is now tied for the #9 spot on the list of most-visited gay and lesbian destinations on Community Marketing, Inc.’s annual LGBT Tourism Study, and it’s tied for #2 among...
Girls Rule While Cleopatra Reigns In Philadelphia
The following girls’ weekend itinerary is available at visitphilly.com/cleopatra:
LOCATIONS: Northern Liberties, Old City, Washington Square, Rittenhouse Square, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, University City and Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia; Kennett Square and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
TRANSPORTATION: Foot, taxi, bus, Phlash, subway or car
DURATION: Three days and two nights
TRIP SYNOPSIS: Strong, shrewd, beautiful and beguiling, Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh to rule Egypt before the completion of the Roman conquest, has been portrayed reverently by historians and Hollywood alike, making her an enduring icon and role model to women. As such, the world debut of Cleopatra: The Search for the...
Romantic Outings And Presidential Fun Fill February's Three-Day Weekend In Philly
During the three-day weekend in February, travelers to the Philadelphia region can enjoy a romantic getaway or a presidential adventure—or a bit of both. Where better to celebrate the Presidents’ Day/Valentine’s Day weekend than in the birthplace of the nation and the City of Brotherly Love? After long walks in the region’s picturesque countryside, visitors can take in a few presidential sites—there are plenty in Philadelphia and The Countryside®—followed by a romantic dinner for two. Mix in a mural ride on a “Love Train,” a mating tour around the nation’s first zoo, the Oath of Office, a birthday cake...