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When it comes to visiting Philadelphia, some of the best things to see and do are free—or close to it. For families and budget-conscious travelers eager to explore the region, that’s great news. Check out the city’s many low-cost or no-cost attractions, including historic Independence Hall, student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music and the high-tech production line of Herr’s Potato Chip Factory.
- Snuggled behind the east wing of Independence Hall is Philosophical Hall, a brick building erected in the late 1780s that was the nation’s first museum, national library and academy of science. Today, the
The Gardens and Galleries Trail of Greater Philadelphia
Visitors can use The Gardens and Galleries Trail of Greater Philadelphia on visitphilly.com to plan their trips to the beautiful gardens of the Philadelphia region. In addition to Mother Nature’s artwork, the trail highlights historic galleries and museums that feature artistic interpretations of the local landscape.
Arboretums For Pleasure, Education & Inspiration
In part because the Quakers who settled in Pennsylvania were meticulous about identifying and cataloguing the forms of natural life they discovered here, the Philadelphia region is internationally recognized for its wealth of arboretums. Chestnut Hill’s Morris Arboretum of the
With its cobblestone streets and original 18th- and 19th-century buildings that line the streets from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Walnut to Lombard Streets, Philadelphia’s quaint Society Hill neighborhood remains as picture-perfect today as it was hundreds of years ago. Its proximity to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Center make it hard for visitors and locals to resist the appeal of walking the same streets the nation’s founders once strolled.
Following an era when the neighborhood was home to a number of luminaries—Samuel Powel, the first mayor of the...
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant & Multicultural Affairs (MOIMA) today announced the launch of Philadelphia’s New Americans Tour, a self-guided excursion for new citizens and those studying to be citizens through the sites and attractions that tell the story of the nation’s founding. The tour is available in English at visitphilly.com/newamericans and in several other languages, including Spanish, French and Mandarin at phila.gov/ima. To promote the tour, VISIT PHILADELPHIA, the region’s tourism promotion agency, will host journalists and social media influencers, give a popular Instagrammer the reins of its account to show off the...
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...
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 even spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:
History Lessons By Day & Night:
- The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia – Visitors get an up-close look at history during this 75-minute walking tour to more than 20 sites. It runs daily from April
Fascinated with fine art? Curious about cars? Want to know more about mummies? Visitors to Philadelphia can see dozens of collections large and small—from rare books to Renoir masterpieces to throwback toys—at some of city’s most renowned museums. The result of a penchant for collecting through Colonial, Victorian and more modern times, each one of the depositories listed below offers great artistic, historic and/or cultural value, and all are open to the public.
- More than 200 galleries and 226,000 works comprise the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), one of the largest museums in the United States. Inside
* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2014. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- 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 as they follow the tour route. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is available as part of a guided tour. America’s most decorated battleship also hosts special events and overnight encampments. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
Sport fishing fans will fall hook, line and sinker for the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Professional Tournament, taking place on Philadelphia’s Delaware River August 7-10, and just one of the many ways locals and visitors can enjoy life on the water in the Philadelphia region this summer. The catch-and-release competition marks Philadelphia’s first-ever major pro fishing tournament and will include launch-area activities on Penn’s Landing: concerts, vendors, military and veterans’ activities and an Expo Festival with family-friendly games and activities.
The competitors aren’t the only ones enjoying Philadelphia’s water-based activities. Making a splash this summer: a new pop-up park on...
Founded in 1681, the town of Bristol, Pennsylvania boasts a long and proud history. Located on the banks of the Delaware River, Bristol served an important role in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and at one time it was a major textile-milling center. The old-world influence still exists today, as evidenced by the town’s many antique shops, historic mansions and significant landmarks.
Along the riverfront, several statues pay tribute to such icons as Christopher Columbus and Harriet Tubman. Another important figure, textile-milling tycoon Joseph R. Grundy, lends his name to many establishments around town, including the Margaret
When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter traveled to The Vatican to visit Pope Francis, he presented the pontiff with a gift: a set of handcrafted Mercer tiles from Doylestown. The mayor is one of many who have discovered Doylestown through the legacy of Henry Mercer. The
19th-century archeologist and industrialist built the cheerful borough its three most striking landmarks: Fonthill, a sprawling 44-room concrete palace; the Mercer Museum, a six-story Gothic and Byzantine historical repository for pieces of early Americana that Mercer collected; and Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, where employees preserve fading methods of production.
At the intersection of the Schuylkill River and French Creek, Phoenixville blends historic charm with a modern mindset. Originally known as Manavon, it adopted its current name in 1849; at the time, the town’s biggest employer was the Phoenix Iron Company, a major manufacturer of nails, rails, structural steel and weapons. Today, Phoenixville boasts an artsy, low-key vibe that attracts visitors craving a relaxing day with a creative twist.
Occupying the former Phoenix Iron Company Foundry, the Schuylkill River Heritage Center offers a multi-media glimpse into the history of the local area. The museum’s exhibits focus on the
Home to West Chester University, this quaint town in the Brandywine Valley exudes an energetic, young vibe. In the bustling downtown area, casual eateries and food-centric events satiate hungry palates, and throngs of charming shops line the streets.
As Chester County’s county seat, West Chester has a strong political history. The first biography of Abraham Lincoln, which was instrumental in his eventual election to the presidency, was published in The Lincoln Building on West Market Street in 1860. Downtown West Chester has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Distinctive Destination
There’s likely nowhere else in the country that can claim New Hope’s special blend of quirkiness, history, joviality, an abundance of art galleries, sophisticated dining, eclectic shopping and a lively theater scene. This riverside town boasts a strong gay community, a concentration of artistic talent and a past as a player in the East Coast shipping trade.
Together with Lambertville, New Jersey, a more compact but equally adorable town connected by a pedestrian bridge, New Hope’s commercial district nurtures a business community with wide-ranging tastes. On Main Street alone, dozens of shops offer a variety of goods—from art and women’s...
Dubbed the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square sits in the heart of the lush Brandywine Valley. In the center of town, locals gather to shop and dine, while further out, the surrounding farms produce roughly 60% of the country’s mushrooms, earning the area its well-deserved nickname.
Originally occupied by Lenape Native Americans, the area known as Kennett Square served an important role in the nation’s history. British soldiers camped here during the Revolutionary War, the town served as a military encampment during the War of 1812 and many prominent Kennett Square citizens helped slaves escape as
At less than one square mile, Media may be compact, but the county seat of Delaware County, located 12 miles southwest of Philadelphia, is quite multi-faceted. Not only does it carry the nickname “Everybody’s Hometown” for its stated commitment to diversity and neighborliness, it also holds the distinction as America’s original Fair Trade town, marking its public support of businesses that make sure workers receive a fair price for their products and labor. The feeling of community is palpable on State Street, where shopkeepers tend lovingly to stores situated in buildings older than the town itself, and acquaintances greet one...
In 1940, movie director George Cukor set his Oscar-winning film The Philadelphia Story in the prosperous enclave of Wayne, selecting it to depict high-society America. With such distinction to its name along with a location on Philadelphia’s clubby Main Line, Wayne carries itself with an elegant grace while maintaining a down-to-earth spirit. Sure, some of downtown’s boutiques set the standard for trendy women’s fashions and many restaurants set their tables with crystal stemware, but it’s clear from one step inside the bohemian Gryphon Coffee or Teresa’s Next Door Belgian beer bar that Wayne never loses its genuine sense of welcome...
The definition of a small town, Ambler covers less than one square mile, but despite its diminutive size, it’s amazingly complete, with a host of shops, restaurants, bars and special events that keep the streets bustling. Unassuming and unpretentious, Ambler has retained an historic gentility and independent spirit that are the pride of this tightly knit community.
Originally known as the Village of Wissahickon, Ambler was renamed in 1869 in honor of Mary Johnson Ambler, a Quaker resident who helped lead rescue efforts during the Great Train Wreck of 1856. The town served as a manufacturing hub in
As the largest and most diverse town on the ritzy Main Line stretch of suburbs, Ardmore has a distinctly double character: It’s residential yet urban, independent yet central, historic yet forward-facing. Even the community itself straddles two counties (Ardmore is seated in Montgomery, while South Ardmore is in Delaware). Add to that some of the area’s best shopping, dining and nightlife and visiting Ardmore is a multidimensional experience.
Once known as Athensville, the town was rechristened “Ardmore” by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1873. The railroad also lent the town its transportation hub, and gave the “Main Line” on
One of the oldest boroughs in Montgomery County, Jenkintown brims with historical interest and secret finds. In this residential community, visitors find National Landmarks, an active art scene and shops and restaurants that are not just along the main drag.
Settled by William Jenkins in 1697, Jenkintown was incorporated in 1874. Among the quirkier holdovers from older days are the two fire companies founded in the 19th century—both continue to serve the half-mile area today. Like many of the suburbs that surround Philadelphia, Jenkintown had its first heyday in the 19th and 20th centuries. A