6 Tourist Attractions in Philadelphia that You Shouldn't Miss
The city of brotherly love is known for a rich history in the foundation of the USA. Take some time to visit the following "must not miss" attractions!
Philadelphia is home to what many historians consider to be the beginning of America as we know it now. From William Penn to the American Revolution to the Founding Fathers and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the city is full of historical figures and moments that will always be a part of this country. Add to that the desire to restore architecture, preserve art, and showcase iconic walks of life, and you have yourself a city that is just begging to be explored. The following six locations in the city do a fantastic job of introducing you to a little bit of everything there is to offer within the city of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Built in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the first place any visitor to the city should consider seeing. With over 221,000 pieces ranging from every art period, there is bound to be something for everyone. As you climb the famous steps sitting at the end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you get a sense of just how majestic this building is. The third largest art museum in the country is a trip through time, viewing art from the Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and modern periods as well as anything that could be classified in between. And if you have seen enough from these famous periods, take a trip upstairs and be amazed by over 80 different periods ranging from an Indian temple to a medieval cloister and more. Exhibitions are frequent so be sure to check in before making your travel plans if you want to know who might be on display during your visit. If 221,000 pieces of art seems a bit overwhelming for one day's adventures, do not feel as if you must see everything at once. Your purchased ticket is good for consecutive days of enjoying all that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has to offer. The first Sunday of every month as well as all Wednesday's after 5pm offer a nice little treat as well in naming your price. That's right, you can decide for yourself how much you wish to spend on your ticket if you come on one of these select days. Even if you want to sneak in for a dollar, after seeing all of the beautiful work preserved inside this building, you may wish to offer a little more on your way out.
When thinking about the United States of America and all that it stands for, there are very few images or objects that most people can agree upon. One of these iconic objects is the Liberty Bell, located here in the heart of Philadelphia. Viewing an important piece of American history, for free I might add, is something everybody should add to their list when planning a trip to Philadelphia. This stop is not just about a single room and the bell of course. Surrounding the Liberty Bell in the vast halls and lighted rooms are the historic documents and images talking about the history of the bell. These documents go over what is true about the becoming of the bell and what may have been dramatically overdone by storytellers over the years. Enjoy a really interesting look at the bell like never before with an X-ray image giving you a look inside the symbolic crack. Videos about abolitionists, suffragists and other groups adopting this symbol of freedom are available for viewing along your tour. Continuing on will provide exhibits about how the Liberty Bell has been used in the culture of the United States, imprinted on millions of common objects. Towering glass walls showing both the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are available for pictures and sheer beauty. Stopping by this history filled building is a great addition to any Philadelphia tour.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Back in 1829, there was a soaring white castle-like building which was given central heat for the harsh winters, running water for drinking, and even flush toilets...before the White House! That building is in fact the Eastern State Penitentiary of Philadelphia. Taking a tour through this spooky old prison is even better, knowing some of the criminal minds to have spent time behind these walls. The likes of Willie Sutton and Al Capone are just a few of the better known names to have endured time in this prison. The Eastern State Penitentiary was designed in a unique way in that it was the first major prison to be built for criminals to be isolated from one another. The idea was very new at the time, having people isolated in order to be reformed, and it is an idea that has turned into common understanding in modern prisons around the world. 142 years of use is a long time and a lot of people coming and going. The penitentiary closed in 1971 and soon became a National Historic Landmark. If you are visiting in October and need added thrills to an already eerie building, "Terror Behind The Walls" is considered one of the scariest haunted houses in the country. If the art museums and history rich writings of the city have gone on long enough, take a break in this majestic building with quite a history itself.
Please Touch Museum
If you are traveling with kids and can see they are becoming more and more bothered by the adult attractions, the Please Touch Museum is a fantastic way to give your children a day to enjoy. Built in 1976, the Please Touch Museum has been the premier museum for small children needing their own attractions as well as learning about history in a fun, hands on way. With six large exhibits ranging from past, present and future, kids of all ages are bound to find something that interests them. The Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, built in 1908, has been restored and is ready for kids and adults to ride once again. Speaking of adults enjoying the carousel, it is not the only thing they will find entertaining. The entire museum is hands on! No more walking around with velvet ropes and looking at art through a glass window. This is a history-rich museum just waiting for you to take part. Your kids will probably forget most of the traditional historic sites on this trip but they will have a hard time forgetting that day when they played in the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland exhibit. Craft activities, story telling, music, and dance are all experiences to be had within the Please Touch Museum so be sure to see what is happening the week you plan to visit. With so many older buildings and hundreds of year old documents to view in the city, it is nice to find a place to relax and enjoy with your kids, breaking all the rules of the traditional museum while you are at it.
Perhaps one of the only fictional movies to be portrayed as such an icon, Rocky Balboa is entrenched in Philadelphia history with the Rocky Steps and the Rocky Statue. Based upon the series of movies starring Sylvester Stallone, The Rocky Steps and Rocky Statue are one of the most well known symbols in movie history. It is not uncommon to see inspired people every day running up and down the stairs and jumping into the air, much like their fictional hero of the screen. The statue was put together in 1980 for the release of Rocky III, though the steps are an iconic image of the first film from years before. The statue was donated to the city of Philadelphia by Sylvester Stallone after the filming of Rocky III and stands proud to this day for all locals and visitors to enjoy. The statue and steps are not the only view worth taking in once you make it to the top. The breathtaking view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and city skyline make this trip even more with it during the early hours of sunrise and the later evening closer to sunset. Whatever time you may go, take time to be a part of film and cultural history.
Finishing up quite an impressive list is possibly the most important building in the city, the United States Mint of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Mint was created at a time when the nation needed an identity, something original and unique to the country. In 1792, a time when the United States was needing a means of commerce, the first United States Mint was established. The location? The nation's capital (at the time), Philadelphia. While this is not the first ever building you will be stepping in, it is the location of a historic decision after the constitution was written in which the most powerful minds of the time decided to start printing money. A self guided tour gives you the opportunity to see this unique process from high above, about 40 feet above the factory, on the entire process of coils and blanks and copper and nickel. Although money is made here, the first workers rarely earned more than one dollar per day. You can also take a look at how technology has helped change and speed up the coining process. For example, the first million coins took roughly three years to complete. That sounds reasonable until you learn that presently it takes only thirty minutes to print a million coins! There is much more wonderful rich history hidden along this 45 minute self guided tour, well worth the effort for anyone interested in a bit of history and machinery mixed together in one of Philadelphia's most historic buildings.
Thanks for stopping by!
And there you have it. A quick look at just a few of the numerous sites to visit on your next visit to the city. As you can see, there is a deep flowing history in these streets and one that should not be missed. From memorials to art to modern ideas and historic documents, there is bound to be something for all walks of life to enjoy. If you are able to squeeze in a few of these sites on your travels, you will have a hard time not returning in the future for a chance at capturing even more in the city of brotherly love.
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