Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Aug 22 2016

Philly Tours Explore History, Art, Food, Bridges & The Supernatural

Explore The Region By Foot, Trolley, Horse Or Smartphone

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 these dapperly dressed guides. Walking tours delve into the lives of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the soldiers of Valley Forge and influencers who inhabited the original city—and, if the group wants to know, the more intimate aspects of these influencers’ lives. (267) 393-0291, bowtietours.com
  • Context Tours – Those seeking smart, accessible insights into American history look no further than these expert-led explorations of the colonial city from many angles. Academically minded, these tours go beyond the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, offering access to Christ Church, Arch Street Friends Meetinghouse, the Powel House, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Hospital, Mother Bethel A.M.E. and more. (800) 691-6036, contexttravel.com/cities/philadelphia
  • Founding Footsteps – This relative newcomer to the tour scene offers a lighthearted take on well-loved—and well-hidden—history, with a sense of humor and, quite often, a beer or two. The most general option, Philly Phables, combines trolley and foot transport on a 90-minute history-rich overview of the city, whereas Tavern Tours,  BYOB Trolley tours and the new Stand-Up & Drink Tours—a trolley-based bar crawl hosted by professional comedians—offer boozier perspectives on America’s birthplace. foundingfootsteps.com
  • The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia – Visitors get an up-close look at historic sites such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall during this 75-minute walking tour. It runs daily from April through November and meets at the National Constitution Center. Private/group tours are available year-round with advance reservations, including a Black History combo package that includes a customized Historic Philadelphia tour and admission to the African American Museum in Philadelphia. 525 Arch Street, (215) 525-1776, theconstitutional.com
  • History of Valley Forge Trolley Tour – This 90-minute guided trolley tour of Valley Forge National Historical Park highlights some of the key sites of the 1777-78 winter encampment. The tours take place year-round, including the December holidays (limited schedule until March). 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, Valley Forge, (610) 783-1074 nps.gov/vafo
  • Horse-Drawn Carriages – Guides recount Historic Philadelphia’s past as visitors sit back in quaint horse-drawn carriages. Tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center.
    6th & Market Streets, (215) 923-8516, phillytour.com
  • Historic Philadelphia Inc.’s Independence After Hours – This evening walking tour visits historic landmarks and meets up with Colonial characters. The experience begins with a three-course meal at City Tavern. The Colonial host then “sneaks” everyone into the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), where Founding Fathers are discussing the Declaration of Independence. The tour runs select days, late May through October, and departs from the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  • National Park Service Tours – Rangers lead themed walking tours around Independence National Historical Park. Tour times and starting locations vary by season and are available at the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, nps.gov/inde
  • New Americans Tour – Developed by VISIT PHILADELPHIA® in partnership with the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs, the self-guided New Americans Tour celebrates the people, places and events that shaped America. visitphilly.com/newamericans
  • Philadelphia Historic African American Tours – Lauded as one of the most engaging step-on bus offerings, Charlene Palmore-Lewis’ 3.5-hour tour entwines what she refers to as “traditional” American history with African-American history, which predates William Penn’s arrival and stretches from Jamestown to today. Visitors discover four out of five of Penn’s original parks—including Congo Square—along with the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Girard College and the Julian Abele-designed Philadelphia Museum of Art, with a single step-off at Mother Bethel A.M.E. (610) 892-0623
  • The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia Architecture Walking Tours – These 90-minute walking tours interpret the past, present and future of the Philadelphia region as expressed through architecture, urban design and social history. Guided tours are available May through October; private tours are available year-round by emailing tours@preservationalliance.com. 1608 Walnut Street, (215) 546-1146, preservationalliance.com
  • Historic Philadelphia, Inc.’s Tippler’s Tour – From May through December, the over-21 set can sing along to 18th-century drinking songs, enjoy stories of the drinking traditions of Colonial times and sample a few drinks and snacks as they ramble through Historic Philadelphia with a Colonial guide. Tipplers stop at local watering holes such as National Mechanics, City Tavern, and Victoria Freehouse. Along the way, they learn important information, such as Benjamin Franklin’s names for a drunk person (“nimptopsical” and “tipsicum grave”). Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  • Twilight Tours – From mid-June through Labor Day, free guided walking tours show off Independence National Historical Park every evening starting at 6 p.m. Groups meet at the Park Ranger Desk at the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 597-7919, friendsofindependence.org

Food & Film Circuit:

  • Chew Philly Food Tours – These 2.5-hour tours through the Manayunk and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods treat guests to eight tastings of savory and sweet foods and includes bits of history and culture along the way. (800) 656-0713, phillyfoodtours.com
  • City Food Tours – Themed tours of the region’s culinary delights include a Decadent Gourmet Tour, Ethnic Eats of South Philly, Prohibition Cocktails, Philly Pizza and Highlights of East Passyunk. (877) 413-7224, cityfoodtours.com
  • Philly Food Adventures – Food writer and blogger Jamie Shanker welcomes groups of four to 20 for her 2.5-hour jaunt around Chinatown. Meeting under the neighborhood’s arch, she offers insights on Philly’s Asian neighborhood and Chinese population before taking eaters to five spots (plus markets) for dumplings, noodles and under-the-radar street fare. phillyfoodadventures.com
  • South Philadelphia Food Tours – South Philly is home to Chef Jacquie, the personable culinary guide who leads daily behind-the-scenes tours of the Italian Market, offering groups hearty tastes of meatballs and gravy at Villa di Roma and samples at other stalwart Italian and Mexican food vendors along South 9th Street. On Monday through Thursday evenings, she hosts a four-course progressive dinner along burgeoning East Passyunk Avenue. (610) 506-6120, taste4travel.net
  • Tastings & Tours’ Winery & Brewery Tours – Those who appreciate a good drink can enjoy a carefree day at some of the area’s finest wineries, breweries, brewpubs and distilleries, all while taking in some beautiful scenery. The guided, all-inclusive, private tastings are offered in Bucks County and beyond. (484) 695-6465, tastingsandtours.com
  • Wok ’n Walk Tours – Chef Joseph Poon’s tours of Chinatown make for unforgettable vacation stories. The private group jaunts include visits to a fortune cookie factory, an Asian grocery, a Chinese bakery and a Chinese place of worship, among other stops, and end with a meal at one of Chef Poon’s favorite Chinatown restaurants. (215) 928-9333, josephpoon.com

Ghostly Offerings:

  • Ghost Tour of Philadelphia – Do spectral spirits really inhabit Independence Hall, St. Peter’s Cemetery, the Powel House, battleship Olympia and other historic landmarks? Visitors find out when they hear the true ghost stories and visit real haunted houses during this candlelight walking tour of Independence National Historical Park, Society Hill and Old City. Signers’ Garden, 5th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 413-1997, ghosttour.com
  • Ghost Tours of New Hope – Saturday nights from June through November, lantern-lit tours of New Hope feature stories about the town’s spine-chilling hauntings. Private tours can be arranged year-round. Main & Ferry Streets, New Hope, (215) 348-1598, ghosttoursofnewhope.com
  • Grim Philly Twilight Tours – Authors and professors lead these highly researched, grown-ups-only, year-round, off-the-beaten-path tours—all historic, many quite scary. Walking, tavern and riverboat tours include ghosts, Oktoberfest, speakeasies, the Jersey Devil and others. 599 Market Street, (856) 829-3100, grimphilly.com
  • Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour – The paranormal stories on this ghost tour are “one part history, two parts haunt.” Guests who dare to take this 75-minute outdoor walking journey see 20 of Philly’s frights, including haunted historic homes and graveyards. Public tours run April through November; private/group tours and VIP ghost hunts available year-round. Tours meet at Cosi Restaurant. 325 Chestnut Street, (215) 525-1776, spiritsof76.com

Aesthetic Outings:

  • Brandywine River Museum of Art Studio Tours – The Wyeths and the Brandywine Valley go hand-in-hand. Art lovers can choose from tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio and the Kuerner Farm. Ticket prices include same-day and next-day admission to the museum. (610) 388-2700, brandywinemuseum.org
  • City Hall Tours – Covering more than 14.5 acres, Philadelphia’s City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States—and one of the most elaborate. The exterior features more than 250 sculptures representing people of the world and their continents, as well as allegorical figures—all designed by Alexander Milne Calder. The most notable sculpture is the one at the very top: a 37-foot, 27-ton statue of city founder William Penn. A two-hour guided tour of the building and 15-minute tower tours are offered every weekday. Both include a view from the observation deck, 500 feet above ground. Broad & Market Streets, Room 121, (215) 686-2840, phlvisitorcenter.com/cityhall
  • Covered Bridge Driving Tour – Covered bridges serve as beautiful and historic landmarks for scenic Bucks County. Visit Bucks County offers turn-by-turn driving instructions for a self-guided tour of the county’s dozen quaint bridges. (215) 639-0300, visitbuckscounty.com
  • Emergence of a Modern Metropolis Tour – Run by the Center for Architecture and Design, this year-round, two-hour tour explores the transformation of Philadelphia from an engine of industry to a 21st-century capital of business and culture. It features the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Wanamaker building and the Comcast Center, among other landmarks. (215) 569-3186, philadelphiacfa.org
  • Hidden City Tours – Visitors and locals who want to discover lesser-known landmarks and stories choose Hidden City Tours. Itineraries include Life & Death at Mount Moriah Cemetery, David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Forgotten Broad Street and Philly Jazz Walking Tour. Schedules and meeting spots are determined tour-by-tour, and most sell out in advance. hiddencityphila.org/events
  • Mural Arts Trolley, Walking and Love Letter Tours – Aboard an antique trolley, guides relay the stories behind a selection of Philadelphia’s nearly 4,000 murals during two-hour tours, running select days April through November. Aboard the Market-Frankford Line train (called “the el” for its elevated portion) to West Philadelphia, lovers, dreamers and street art appreciators are guided past artist Stephen Powers’ Love Lettters, a series of 50 rooftop murals and street-level signs, weekends January through May and September through December. Those who prefer to view works on foot can sign up for two-hour walking tours, also offered on select days April through November. Reservations recommended. Tours depart from the Philly Tour Hub, 229 Arch Street or Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 128 N. Broad Street, (215) 925-3633, muralarts.org
  • Mural Mile – With a map, art fans can move at their own pace. Those who opt for the mural tour go from commercial districts to residential blocks throughout Center City. The map is available online. Guided tours of the Mural Mile are also offered to explore the compelling stories behind each of the public art projects. (215) 925-3633, muralarts.org
  • Museum Without Walls: AUDIO – This free tour gives people an engaging and fun way to experience more than 65 outdoor sculptures along Kelly Drive and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, around City Hall, in Rittenhouse Square and throughout West Fairmount Park. Both art enthusiasts and recreational passersby can use their phones, a free mobile app, audio downloads or the website to hear three-minute interpretive segments. More than 150 authentic voices—people connected to the sculptures—reveal stories as unique as the artworks. (215) 399-9000, museumwithoutwallsaudio.org
  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Beginning at the artist’s sculptural masterpiece, this one-hour walking tour highlights Isaiah Zagar’s whimsical mosaics along South and Bainbridge Streets, between 8th and 10th Streets. Neighborhood walking tours run on weekends from April through October, and weekends and bank holidays. Site tours through the mosaic installation take place November through March. 1020 South Street, (215) 733-0390, phillymagicgardens.org

By Air, Water, Bike & Segway:

  • Big Red Pedal Tours – Aboard Big Red Pedal Tours, participants explore Philly by day or by night aboard a 15-passenger pedicycle. Together, the group propels the open-air “tour bus” to a series of stops around town. The daytime tour includes historic sites such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Betsy Ross House. After dark, it’s a pub-crawl-on-wheels, stopping at three bars in roughly two hours. Come fall, riders can take hot toddies tours too. (215) 625-2509, bigredpedaltours.com
  • Biplane Rides Over Philadelphia – High-flyers can choose from unforgettable 30-, 50- or 75-minute open-cockpit rides that include flying over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and Penn’s Landing, staring eye-to-eye with William Penn or catching an aerial view of the Main Line and New Hope. (800) 247-2371, biplaneridesoverphiladelphia.com
  • Patriot Harbor Lines – Up to 45 guests board two reproduction classic 1920s commuter yachts for tours of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Options include private charters, the Boat to Bartram’s Garden Cruise, Hidden Architecture Cruise, Grim Philly Terror Cruise, Secrets of the Schuylkill Tour, Delaware River Harbor Cruise, Sunset Cruise, Patriot Harbor Wine Cruise, Walnut to Walnut Cruise, EcoUrban Cruise to Petty’s Island and Philly By Boat Cruise. Schuylkill River tours depart from the Walnut Street Dock, and Delaware River tours leave from the Independence Seaport Museum. (267) 908-3076, phillybyboat.com
  • Philadelphia Segway Tours by Wheel Fun – After hands-on training, people take off on motorized Segways. Riders choose from the three-hour Full City Tour and a two-hour Old City Historic Tour. Both options leave from the Independence Visitor Center and include the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 523-5827, phlvisitorcenter.com, philadelphia.segwaytoursbywheelfun.com
  • Philly Bike Tour Co. – These guided bike tours feature routes through different sections of Philadelphia, including the Classic City Tour, covering main attractions such as the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Art is All Around Us Tour; and the Fairmount Park Historical Tour. All include a bicycle, helmet and water bottle. 2015 Fairmount Avenue,
    (267) 521-2150, phillybiketours.com
  • Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tours – Visitors receive 30 minutes of kayaking instruction before heading out on the Schuylkill River for one-hour excursions, which run most weekends and select Thursday evenings during the summer. Specialty experiences, including moonlight tours and private group tours, are also available. Departs from the Walnut Street Dock. Schuylkill Banks at Walnut Street, (215) 222-6030, ext. 100, schuylkillbanks.org
  • Wheel Fun Rentals – At the Independence Visitor Center, those who prefer to tour on two wheels can rent a bike and everything else they need for a self-guided tour—route map, helmet and lock. Wheel Fun also offers guided Segway tours for those explorers who prefer a less strenuous mode of transportation. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, phlvisitorcenter.com

A Bit Of Everything:

  • Awfully Nice Tours – On these intimate driving tours, visitors can customize their city or regional experience based on their specific areas of interest, or they can choose from pre-designed options with themes such as countryside, winery, church, neighborhood and Rocky. Tours range from two-hour to full-day outings and include a personal driver/guide and pick-up and drop-off service from hotels. (215) 280-3746, awfullynicetours.com
  • Big Bus Company – Riders can see the sights from an outdoor seat atop these double-decker buses, or they can ride in the bottom. Passes are good for up to three days, and passengers can hop on and off at the 27 stops throughout the city. Tickets are available online, on the bus or at the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 389-TOUR (8687), phillytour.com
  • Philadelphia Trolley Works – This Victorian-style trolley allows riders to hop on and off while visiting popular attractions throughout the nation’s most historic area and beyond. Passes are good for up to 72 hours, and passengers can explore from 27 stops throughout the city. Tickets are available online, on the trolley or at the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 389-TOUR (8687), phillytour.com
  • Philadelphia Urban Adventures – A more off-the-beaten-path approach to touring, this organization offers options such as the Food for Thought food truck jaunt through the University City neighborhood; the Italian Market Immersion tour, during which visitors meet vendors and sample their goods; Markets, Mosaics & Magic, which includes Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens; the two-hour Philly On Tap, complete with local beers during happy hour; and the two-hour History in HD, combining history and refreshments. Lengthier options for 21-and-over visitors include the new, 4.5-hour From History to Happy Hour, featuring iconic sites interspersed with great watering holes and Totally Philly, a whopping nine-hour rundown that includes Historic Philadelphia, South Street, the Italian Market and absolutely essential bars. Additional options, such as the Center City Holiday Tour, are offered seasonally. (215) 280-3746, philadelphiaurbanadventures.com
  • Philly By Segway – Choose from four options for gliding through town, including one- and two-hour rides through the city, a cheesesteak tour that include tastes of five different sandwiches or a two-hour Mural Arts Program tour through Old City, Chinatown and Northern Liberties. The experience includes 30 minutes of training. Guides take photos along the way and upload them for free so people can fully enjoy the outing. 229 Arch Street, (215) 280-3746, phillybysegway.com
  • PHLASH Downtown Loop – The PHLASH is the quick, easy and inexpensive connection to key historic attractions and cultural institutions. Making 22 stops, the purple bus is just $2 per ride or $5 for an all-day pass. Passes can be purchased online, at all Visitor Center locations or on the bus (exact change required). It runs every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., April through Labor Day and from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. From Labor Day through Thanksgiving, it operates on the weekend only. (800) 537-7676, phillyphlash.com
  • The Yo, Philly! Rocky Film Tour – In a town of Rocky Balboa impersonators, Mike Kunda is one of the most dedicated. His popular three-hour, by-reservation-only tour takes fans through Philly to every important stop from Rocky to Creed. theyorockyfilmtour.net
  • Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts – Even Philadelphia experts are sure to learn something new during a Watson Adventures scavenger hunt. Topics range from the family-friendly Wizard School Scavenger Hunt at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the adults-only Haunted Philadelphia and Munch Around the Market. (877) 9-GO-HUNT, watsonadventures.com

Visitor Centers:

  • Independence Visitor Center – Historic Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor Center—and four additional Visitor Centers—serve as gateways to the city and the region. Visitors can find information, get tickets to popular attractions or take a snack break. At the main 6th and Market Street location, visitors can pick up free timed tickets for Independence Hall. Visitors can find information, get tickets to popular attractions or take a snack break. Each of the five locations serves guests with expert staff offering tips and insider information. can pick up free timed tickets to Independence Hall. Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-7676; other Visitor Centers: Sister Cities Park Visitor Center, 18th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (267) 514-4760; Fairmount Park Welcome Center, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard (LOVE Park), (267) 514-4761; City Hall Visitor Center, Broad & Market Streets, Room 121, (215) 686-2840; Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, (800) 537-7676, phlvisitorcenter.com
  • Philly Tour Hub – People from around the world can enhance their Philadelphia experience at this meeting space, which is dedicated to the traveler experience. Here, visitors can sign up for tours, engage with other travelers and local experts, get basic information, use free Wi-Fi, sip coffee or just relax between activities. 229 Arch Street, (215) 280-3746, phillytourhub.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.
 

Contact(s):
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