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There are so many fun things to do in Philadelphia. From exploring the city’s rich history to relaxing in the parks, eating your way through the neighborhoods, and checking out the world-class museums, there’s enough here to make you want to visit Philly again and again.
Here’s a look at some of the top Philadelphia attractions and unique things to see and do in the city.
- Sample the offerings at Reading Terminal Market
- See Christ Church and its Burial Ground
- Tour Independence Hall
- See the Liberty Bell
- Try a scoop at Franklin Fountain
- Wander Elfreth’s Alley
- Take a photo in LOVE Park
- Stop by a local craft distillery
- Eat at the Bourse Food Hall
- Hang out at Washington Square Park
- Step inside the President’s House
- See a show at the Mann Center
- Explore Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
- Walk through mosaics at Magic Gardens
- Relax in Rittenhouse Square Park
- Try a classic Philadelphia food
- African American Museum in Philadelphia
- Sink into a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park
- Go on a rooftop bar crawl
- See an exhibit at Carpenters’ Hall
- Stop by the Pizza Brain museum
- See the street art of the Mural Arts program
- Catch a show at World Cafe Live
- Get outside at Parks on Tap
- Visit the Mummers Museum
- Enjoy Cherry Street Pier
- Go bowling at North Bowl
- Walk through the monuments at Laurel Hill Cemetery
- See the gardens at Morris Arboretum
- Tour the Penn Museum
- Visit the Johnson House Historic Site
- See Graffiti Pier
- Sip your way through craft breweries
- Tour Stenton
- Learn the history of Mother Bethel AME
- Take in the view from Bok Bar
- Shop at the Head House Farmers Market
- Relax at Rail Park
- See the lights of the Neon Museum
- See wildlife at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
- Visit historic Cliveden
- See the plants at Bartram’s Garden
- Wander through The Woodlands
- See Rittenhouse Town
- Stop by Cira Green
- Enjoy FDR Park
- Tour Grumblethorpe house
- Explore Eastern State Penitentiary
- Visit The Rosenbach
- Walk through Miracle on 13th Street
- Shop at Christmas Village
Sample the offerings at Reading Terminal Market
In Center City, Reading Terminal Market is not just a place to eat—it’s a slice of history. Opened in 1893, it’s the home of over 100 vendors who feed Philly locals and tourists every day. You can find cuisines from all over the world, Pennsylvania Dutch specialties, flowers, produce, and more.
See Christ Church and its Burial Ground
Founded in 1695, Christ Church welcomed Presidents, signers of the Declaration of Independence, and other notable figures among its worshipers. The building, which is located at 2nd and Church, is open for tours.
One of the main draws of Christ Church is its burial ground a couple of blocks away at 5th and Arch. The burial ground is the final resting place of many Revolutionary War figures and early leaders and is the site of Benjamin Franklin’s grave.
Tour Independence Hall
Visiting Independence Hall is one of the top things to do in Philadelphia. The building where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were adopted has been restored to its 1776 appearance, so walking through it feels like the Founding Fathers just left.
The exterior of Independence Hall is impressive, but the 20-minute guided tour is what brings the building and the history that was made there to life. There are artifacts from the Constitutional Convention and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
See the Liberty Bell
Try a scoop at Franklin Fountain
A stop at Franklin Fountain is one of the most popular Philadelphia activities, no matter the season. On summer weekends, the line at its Old City location can stretch around the block. In the off-season, the crowds let up a little, but they keep people coming through the door with seasonal ice cream and soda flavors.
At Franklin Fountain, the ice cream comes in over 2 dozen flavors, including vanilla bean, peanut butter, and rocky road. Many flavors have an historic or local tie, such as their apple butter ice cream that includes local apples and apple butter from a Pennsylvania company founded in 1892.
Wander Elfreth’s Alley
Elfreth’s Alley is one of the most colorful places to visit in Philadelphia. Even though it’s only one block long, we always find ourselves wandering up and down multiple times looking at its decorations and brightly painted doors.
The oldest residential street in the US, Elfreth’s Alley is still an active neighborhood. The 32 houses here now were built between 1728 and 1836. When you visit, stop by the museum that occupies 124-126. It’s been restored to its Colonial-era appearance and there tell the history of the street and the tradesmen who lived here when it was first built. Even if you only have one day in Philadelphia, Elfreth’s Alley is worth a stop.
Take a photo in LOVE Park
LOVE Park is one of the most iconic Philadelphia sites and is a symbol of the city. Named for the red LOVE statue by Robert Indiana, the park is a popular photo spot for tourists and a place where locals stop at the afternoon food trucks. Throughout the year, there are markets, pop-ups, and special events here, including the city Christmas market.
Stop by a local craft distillery
There are lots of fun craft distilleries to visit. Check out Philadelphia Distilling’s modern tasting room in Fishtown or pull up a stool at New Liberty Distilling in nearby Olde Kensington. Several suburban distilleries like Bluebird Distilling and Manatawny Still Works also have outposts with great cocktail bars in the city.
Eat at the Bourse Food Hall
If you’re visiting the historic attractions, the artisanal food hall at The Bourse is the place to go. Grab a cocktail at Bluebird Distilling, ice cream at Scoop DeVille, a fantastic sandwich at Freebyrd Chicken, and numerous other delicious treats.
Hang out at Washington Square Park
First established in 1682, Washington Square Park is a tree-filled park just one block from Independence Hall. In the middle of the park, the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier monument includes a soldier’s remains, an eternal flame, and a statue of George Washington after whom the park was named.
There is lots of seating to enjoy nice weather, and Washington Square Park often has different performances and pop-up events, so you never know what you might find.
Step inside the President’s House
George Washington and John Adams occupied the President’s House during their terms of office when Philadelphia was the temporary US capital. Though the building no longer stands, an open-air structure in its footprint provides information about the house and the people who lived there.
Importantly, the President’s House exhibit explores the paradox between the founding fathers fighting for freedom for some while owning enslaved workers. It addresses the nine enslaved people Washington held in Philadelphia and what their lives were like here.
See a show at the Mann Center
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park is one of the unique places to go in Philadelphia to see a performance. In the warmer months, the Mann Center offers both a covered pavilion and a sprawling lawn, making it the ideal place to enjoy a show on a nice day.
The Mann hosts concerts from artists of every genre from Bob Dylan to Jill Scott. Plus, it is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which plays traditional concerts as well as special events like playing the live score to movies like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Explore Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is an oasis. Just a few miles from Center City, the Japanese house, peaceful garden, and pond could not be a more relaxing place to spend time.
You can walk inside the traditional-style Japanese house and learn about homes in Japan—both their art and function—and how the Japanese live. When you’ve seen the inside, take time to explore the outside. The garden, koi pond, and 75-year-old weeping cherry tree are some of the prettiest things to see in Philadelphia.
Walk through mosaics at Magic Gardens
Located on South Street, Magic Gardens is a one-of-a-kind experience. Artist Isaiah Zagar has crated an environment decorated with fantastical mosaics and reclaimed items that combine to create one of the coolest places to visit in the city.
Relax in Rittenhouse Square Park
Fun fact: Rittenhouse Square was one of the five original squares created by William Penn in the 17th century. Today, it is a tree-filled park surrounded by luxury apartments, shops, and restaurants. Its year-round Saturday farmers market and many special events such as the Rittenhouse Square Spring Festival are highlights.
Try a classic Philadelphia food
There’s DiNic’s Roast Pork sandwich—an oven-roasted pork shoulder layered with provolone cheese and sautéed broccoli rabe—and the Schmitter from McNally’s tavern, stacks of roast beef, grilled salami, cheese, tomato, and onion on a Kaiser roll. Also not to be missed are the fried chicken and donuts from Federal Donuts, water ice, Philly Soft Pretzels, and many more.
African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first museum in a major US city focused on the heritage and culture of Black Americans. Exhibits cover everything from the contributions of African Americans in the early history of the US to civil rights, the Negro baseball league, and art.
Sink into a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park
With colorful hammocks, floating gardens, and lots of food options, Spruce Street Harbor Park is one of our favorite places to go in Philly in the spring and summer and makes a perfect date night.
In the Marina at Penn’s Landing, the park has floating gardens and nets that let you hang out above the Delaware River. Throw in some crab fries, local craft brews, and ice cream from Franklin Fountain, and you have the makings for a great time.
The seasonal park has great views along the river and is fun during the day. At night, thousands of LED lights brighten up the trees.
Go on a rooftop bar crawl
Everyone loves a good rooftop bar. Fortunately, Philadelphia has an excellent selection when it comes to great places to have a cocktail or beer with a view.
We love Assembly on the roof of the Logan Hotel overlooking Logan Circle and Continental Midtown, which has an indoor/outdoor bar that’s open year-round. The Stratus Rooftop Lounge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is also a winner along with El Techo, also in Center City.
See an exhibit at Carpenters’ Hall
Carpenters’ Hall was the home of the First Continental Congress in 1774 where colonial delegates voted to take a stand against the King of England. Patrick Henry and other passionate patriots gathered here to debate the future of the colonies and the path to independence. The delegates’ chairs and the original banner from the 1788 Constitutional parade are also displayed.
Stop by the Pizza Brain museum
Pizza Brain is the world’s first pizza museum and a restaurant serving some of the country’s best pizza rolled into one. This Fishtown mainstay has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest collection of pizza memorabilia in the world.
See the street art of the Mural Arts program
This city is full of street art. There are places in downtown Philadelphia where it feels like there is a mural nearly every other block. That’s because we have the nation’s largest public arts program—Mural Arts Philadelphia.
In its 35-year history, Mural Arts has created over 3000 murals, and they add more than 60 public art projects each year. Check out their tours to dig into the city’s street art culture.
Catch a show at World Cafe Live
World Cafe Live is one of the best places to visit in Philadelphia for live music. With two listening venues and a restaurant and bar, it welcomes nationally known acts and up-and-comers. World Cafe Live is also home to WXPN’s radio studios and the national radio show “World Cafe.”
In addition to the concerts, World Cafe hosts open mic nights, trivia games, and other special celebrations. Even if there’s no music, stop by the upper level for a bite to eat or something to drink near the University of Pennsylvania and 30th Street Station.
Get outside at Parks on Tap
In the warmer months, Parks on Tap is a traveling beer garden that visits different parks to introduce residents and visitors to the beautiful outdoor spaces throughout the city. Each pop-up event offers food and adult beverages in a relaxed, family- and pet-friendly environment.
Visit the Mummers Museum
Mummers, who dress in unique, colorful costumes and entertain the city during their famous New Year’s Day parade, are the keepers of one of Philadelphia’s most storied traditions. The Mummers Museum teaches visitors about the roots of the celebration and even lets you dress up as a Mummer.
Enjoy Cherry Street Pier
Cherry Street Pier is an ideal place to go when the weather is nice. The repurposed space is home to artists’ workshops and special events, including lots of craft and food markets throughout the year. The pier offers a spectacular view of the Delaware River and hosts a seasonal beer garden with food vendors.
Go bowling at North Bowl
A Northern Liberties favorite, North Bowl has 17 bowling lanes and two full bars to enjoy. With video games, couches for lounging, and a pool table, there are lots of things to do here. It’s a local favorite spot to grab a drink, enjoy a casual meal and hang out with friends any night of the week, even if you don’t bowl.
Walk through the monuments at Laurel Hill Cemetery
It might seem odd to put visiting a cemetery on a list of what to do in Philadelphia, but Laurel Hill is an uncommon cemetery. When it opened in 1836, it was designed as a scenic spot overlooking the Schuylkill River where visitors could enjoy the scenery.
There are more than 30,000 monuments to peruse, some of which are featured on special, expert-led tours of the grounds. You’ll see graves and monuments for city leaders, pioneers across industries and social movements, and even a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a must see.
See the gardens at Morris Arboretum
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a 92-acre garden in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Thousands of native, rare, and majestic plants fill the grounds. There are manicured gardens, sculpture gardens, and the unique Out on a Limb exhibit that takes visitors 50 feet up into the treetops without climbing.
Tour the Penn Museum
With remarkable objects from around the world, the Penn Museum traces the history of humanity from the earliest cities to today. You’ll find everything from the largest Egyptian Sphinx in the Western hemisphere to a bull-shaped lyre made of gold and lapis from Ancient Mesopotamia. The collections are fascinating and many are interactive, encouraging visitors to imagine themselves within the cultural context of the exhibits.
Visit the Johnson House Historic Site
The Johnson House Historic Site in Germantown is one of the most fascinating Black history sites in the city. Its owners were devout Quakers who offered their home as a station along the Underground Railroad, a pivotal spot for formerly enslaved people making their way north. Tours of the house include information about the Johnson family, the Quakers and the anti-slavery movement, those who sought freedom here, and the people who risked their lives to help.
See Graffiti Pier
An abandoned pier has been transformed into an informal, urban open air gallery at Graffiti Pier. Depending on when you visit, you might find artists a work, people perusing the murals, or bands filming music videos. Or maybe all three—it’s just that kind of place.
Sip your way through craft breweries
Philadelphia has been called one of the best beer cities in the world. There are dozens of craft breweries to choose from, including some of the top breweries in the country like Yards and Evil Genius.
Stenton is one of the most historic buildings in the city. Built in the 1720s, it was the home of James Logan who was the colonial Mayor of Philadelphia, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and William Penn’s right-hand man. The house stayed in the family for nearly 200 years.
Today, the home in North Philadelphia is an historic house museum with furnishings and exhibits that tell the story of life in the city before and after the Revolution. Visitors can tour the house and wander through the incredible garden.
Learn the history of Mother Bethel AME
Mother Bethel AME Church in Old City is the mother church of the first Black denomination in America. Dating to 1787, it was built on the oldest piece of land in the country that has been continuously owned by African Americans.
An important part of Black history in the city, Mother Bethel was a stop on the Underground Railroad and welcomed abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Lucretia Mott. Visit to see its beautiful stained-glass windows and the tomb and artifacts related to Rev. Richard Allen, the church’s founding minister.
Take in the view from Bok Bar
If you’re looking for an unparalleled view of the city skyline alongside good food and drinks, head to Bok Bar. This unusual space is at the top of the former Bok Vocational High School, and the building retains many of the features you’d expect in such a setting, which makes it even more fun to explore. Spending an afternoon or evening here is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia in the summer.
Shop at the Head House Farmers Market
The Head House Farmers Market is one of the most charming places to go in Philadelphia. It is held in a building whose history dates to 1745, and the Sunday market draws farmers and producers of artisanal products from across the region. Visitors will find flowers, an abundance of produce, bread, cheeses, prepared foods, and more.
Relax at Rail Park
A section of overgrown, unused rail lines has been revitalized into the free, pet-friendly Rail Park. Stroll, swing, and enjoy the open space.
See the lights of the Neon Museum
Crabs, a dancing Elvis, and an ad for a hair replacement center are among the unique items at the Neon Museum of Philadelphia, one of the city’s newest museums. Exhibits here showcase the signs of locally and nationally recognized businesses, telling their stories as part of the fabric of the city. Each sign draws visitors in with color, movement, nostalgia, or a combination of all three.
The collection of signs that makes up the Neon Museum is the work of Len Davidson, a neon designer and preservationist. He displays about 120 pieces in the 3-story-high space in Olde Kensington. Descriptions accompany the signs and provide their history.
See wildlife at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
The largest freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a natural retreat from the city. The 1200-acre refuge has walking trails, boardwalks for wildlife observation, and opportunities for canoeing and fishing in the sunlit Darby Creek.
Visit historic Cliveden
The Cliveden estate began as a country house for attorney Benjamin Chew and his family in 1767. Just 10 years later, it became famous when the Revolutionary War arrived on its doorstep in the form of the Battle of Germantown.
Visitors can tour the house and learn the story of the seven generations of the Chew family that lived here. On the first Saturday in October, the estate hosts a battle reenactment on the property.
See the plants at Bartram’s Garden
Bartram’s Garden is the oldest botanical garden in North America. Founded in 1728, it was filled by its owner John Bartram with an astonishing collection of plants from around the continent.
The original garden and early-18th-century home can still be visited. Descriptions throughout the grounds provide insights into the various plants and their uses in Colonial America. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours wandering and enjoying nature.
Wander through The Woodlands
The historic Woodlands Cemetery and Mansion sits on 54 acres in University City. It features an 18th-century Neoclassic mansion surrounded by the graves and monuments of over 32,000 souls. Across the grounds are over 700 historic trees and plants that date from the earliest days of America. It’s a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, and it’s one of the best places to see fall foliage in Philadelphia.
See Rittenhouse Town
In a spot right off Lincoln Drive is Historic Rittenhouse Town, the remains of a community that included the first paper mill in North America built in 1690. Today, six historic buildings remain, including facilities that host cooking demonstrations and paper-making workshops.
Stop by Cira Green
One of the more unique things to do in Philadelphia is to spend an afternoon at Cira Green, the city’s rooftop park. The sprawling space offers skyline views 12 stories above University City. It feels like you’re practically at eye-level with some of the tallest buildings around.
During much of the year, the park hosts special events, often projecting movies and sports on its massive screen. Visitors can also enjoy the offerings of Sunset Social while hanging out at the park. The fast-casual menu at the rooftop restaurant and bar includes salads, sandwiches, cocktails, and other drinks.
Enjoy FDR Park
FDR Park along the Delaware River is a great place for almost anything you want to do outdoors. There is a golf course, walking paths, and picnic and recreation areas. There are also wetlands and waterways that have led the Audubon Society of Pennsylvania to say the park is one of the best places to go in Philadelphia for bird watching.
Tour Grumblethorpe house
For 160 years, the historic house known as Grumblethorpe was home to the Wister family. Built in 1744, British General James Agnew set up residence here during the Revolutionary War. He was later shot and died in the front parlor, landing Grumblethorpe on the list of haunted spots in the city.
The house is now a museum, part of the Historic Germantown district. Its garden—built on fertile soil in the Schuylkill Valley—was a working farm from the time the house was built. Today, it supplies produce for the Grumblethorpe Youth Farmstand, which sells its bounty at the house every weekend in the summer.
Explore Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary housed thousands of inmates in its 140-year history. The site, which is now a preserved ruin, was the model for 300 prisons on five continents in its early days.
Closed in 1970, Eastern State went 20 years without maintenance, leading to crumbling walls, fractured concrete, and cellblocks that are open to the elements and plants. The penitentiary has since become a museum but was kept in its ruined state. Exhibits and an audiotour tell the history of the building, the controversies around incarceration, and the stories of many former prisoners.
Visit The Rosenbach
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia houses an astounding collection of rare manuscripts and books. From Lewis Carroll’s own copy of Alice in Wonderland to a handwritten manuscript for Ulysses by James Joyce, there are many outstanding works here.
Housed in a 19th-century townhouse that was owned by the Rosenbach brothers, The Rosenbach also displays the brothers’ fine collection of statues, jewelry, artwork and artifacts collected from around the world.
Walk through Miracle on 13th Street
Miracle on 13th Street is one of the most fun things to see at Christmas. Every year, the residents in the 1600 block of South 13th Street transform this block into a festival of lights, decorations, and all things holiday kitsch. If you’re in town in the winter, it should certainly be on your list.
Shop at Christmas Village
Each year between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve, the Christmas Village pops up in LOVE Park. The groups of merchants feature decorations, gifts, and food in an environment designed to make Center City feel like a German Christmas market.