Once I learned that we were going to be based in Pennsylvania for the summer I immediately started planning our trip to Philadelphia! Philadelphia is a historic city in American history and has a charming downtown vibe in the historical district. If you’re a history buff, money lover (Benjamin Franklin is an important figure for this town), or someone who just loves to visit old buildings and eat good food (Philly cheese steaks are to die for) then this town is for you!
Visit Eastern State Penitentiary! They have parking on 22nd street right alongside the site. The parking is free but is limited to two hours which fit perfectly with our schedule. We paid $14.00 but if you are a student you do get a small discount. They give you an audio guide with headphones that guides you throughout the prison. Be sure to take time and read the posters along the walls as there is alot of interesting information! We loved reading about Al Capone and his time spent there. Cameras are allowed but they do charge a small fee if you plan on bringing in a tripod. If you go during the day don’t plan on bringing the tripod in because there are too many people. This visit was well worth the small entrance fee we paid!
Take a tour of Independence Hall. Entrance and tours are free but you must obtain a ticket. Go to the Visitor’s center and pick one up. The Visitor’s center opens at 8:30am but the line gets there before that. We got there at 8:10 which got us at the first of the line and on the first tour of Independence Hall. I usually am not a guided tour type of person but this was extremely educational and I learned a lot! Shout out to our awesome tour guide for having so much enthusiasm that it got the whole crowd excited. The place has a holy feeling to it, especially knowing that our founding fathers sat in that very spot and drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence.
See the Liberty Bell– Free entrance and you don’t need a ticket. I would recommend getting there early once again to beat the crowds, especially if you are visiting over the weekend like we were. The crowds can get quite large here and the hoards of people pulling out their selfie sticks are overwhelming so you don’t need to plan a lot of time viewing the Liberty Bell.
Stop by the very first Post Office in the United States in historic Philadelphia. Pro tip- buy a postcard before arriving and they let you stamp it with their unique postmark that, as the attendant proudly declared, was the only one in the entire US that had it.
Visit Elfreth’s alley which is the oldest residential street that is still in use. Walking down the alley made you wish that objects could talk because those old brick homes probably have much to share.
Take a gander at the Benjamin Franklin Bridge! We loved seeing the bridge from Race Street Pier. We walked to the end of it and took a break while admiring the beauty of the actual bridge and peering over to New Jersey which sits on the other side of the bridge.
Take a stroll through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The Magic Gardens is Isaiah Zagar’s masterpiece he built using non-traditional materials (our favorite was all the bike spoke wheels). Entrance is $10 to view this work of art but be sure to purchase tickets beforehand or you may have to wait in the long lines.
Eat as many Philly Cheese Steaks as you can handle! Steve had his work cut out for him as I don’t care too much for meat so he was eating for two. We avoided the famous Pat and Geno’s after talking to a couple of our Uber drivers who warned us that it was a tourist trap- not that great and overpriced. Instead they recommend two other stops for us to try. Sonny’s Famous Cheesesteaks and Campo’s. We wish we could have had more time to try more but Steve was really impressed with both of these stops! Ask the locals when you arrive where the best places are and be adventurous!
Here are a few other stops we would have loved to see but we ended up crashing early and sleeping in so we missed a few of them!
–Take a tour of Philadelphia City Hall. While you’re there spend the couple bucks to ascend to the observation tower more than 500 feet above to get an amazing view of the city.
–Stop at the Reading Terminal and eat as much as you can! We talked to a few locals and they recommended stopping there and getting Philly cheese steaks.
-Betsy Ross is a hero to me so I wish we could have had more time to visit the Betsy Ross home and learn more about her. Her house is located near me Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell so it would be a quick stop to see.
Getting Around & Accommodations
Driving in Philadelphia- Don’t! We are both country kids so city driving makes us a little nervous- especially with parallel parking! Who knew it could be so difficult? Save yourself some stress and just park at your hotel or Airbnb and let Uber take care of you! We never paid more than $5 for a ride to get around the city. If you want a free ride follow our link to get yourself one! $5 off Uber coupon
If you are trying to stay as close to historical downtown and are looking for budget accommodations I recommend going with Airbnb. Here’s a coupon to get $40 off your stay!