While Philadelphia covers a huge area, here’s a manageable selection of the Pennsylvanian capital’s central attractions.
Day 1: Historic highlights
Your visit begins where the United States began, in the historic core of Philadelphia’s Old City. Head for the Independence Visitor Center to get the most out of the area’s sights. The words of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution come alive in Independence Hall and National Constitution Center, while Betsy Ross House commemorates the woman who sewed the first American flag. And then of course there’s the Liberty Bell. A large crack may have silenced it over 150 years ago, but it remains both a symbol of the city and its most-visited sight. In the evening, spend some time – if you dare – with Philly’s ghosts.
Day 2: Indoor and outdoor art
See some of Philadelphia’s best artworks for free on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive; the collection of outdoor sculpture includes Robert Indiana’s world-famous LOVE sculpture. Meanwhile the Barnes Foundation Gallery has some of the country’s finest examples of 19th and 20th century French art as well as a charming arboretum. Nearby Fairmount Park is the home of the Please Touch Museum, where little fingers can get busy with all sorts of interactive exhibits. On the other hand, touching is generally discouraged at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which nonetheless boasts a vast collection ranging from ancient to modern in a neo-classical building (and if it looks familiar, think Rocky). U Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art brings the city’s art scene right up to date.
Day 3: Community and cuisine
Starting at Washington Square, with its centerpiece Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier, head north to the recently revamped African American Museum. Nearby Chinatown announces itself with an ornate “Friendship Arch”: treat yourself to egg tarts and pork buns, or otherwise head to historic Reading Terminal Market where Amish traders come to town to sell artisanal foods. The “Gayborhood” near City Hall welcomes gay and straight alike. In the evening, take in a concert at the Kimmel Center or the nearby Academy of Music.