A Day in Philadelphia

by Alexandra

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When people in this area consider an exciting day trip, the first idea that usually jumps to mind is New York City, but how about the other city that’s about ninety miles south from here. The city that offers an exhilarating journey to the heart of the American government and beginning of the United States’ history. The city that has retained every inch of its historical past from the famous monuments and exhibits to the cobblestone streets. The city known as Philadelphia.

The Liberty Bell

Below is a list of my recommended sites to see in Philadelphia. They are listed in a convenient order to follow.

  • Liberty Bell

Rating: Must See

Situated directly in the center of Independence Square, Liberty Bell is definitely a must see. The mere size and design of this bell is shocking, but you also can learn some surprising stories about it involving the Women’s and Abolition Movements. Make sure to ask a guard about where the real crack is. No tickets are required and admission is free, but try to get there early because you could end up waiting over an hour by noon.

At this point, try to get your tickets for Independence Hall. A tour around 4:00 would be perfect as you can see the rest of the sites, and come back here at the end of the day!

  • National Constitution Center and US Mint

Rating: If You Have Time

Although the National Constitution Center teaches about an integral part of the country, the museum exhibits get a bit dull, and it will end up taking most of your day. I recommend checking out what exhibit they are showing as some are more interesting than others. If time is available, one can take a tour inside the mint, but at the very least, a walk by is essential.

  • Christ Church Burial Ground

Rating: If You Have Time

On the pathway from the US Mint to Carpenter’s Hall, this is an interesting stop that includes many of Philadelphia’s famous historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, John Dunlap, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Dr. Phillip Syng Physik, and Francis Hopkinson. This is a fun site because visitors are allowed to throw coins onto his grave. These coins are used to maintain upkeep for the graveyard.

  • The first post office

    The First Post Office

Rating: Must See

Again, on the way to South Street, this offers the best souvenir of the city, a postcard to mail to yourself sent from the nation’s first post office.

  • Benjamin Franklin’s Building

Rating: If You Have Time

Right next to the post office, this is a small interesting museum of one of the buildings that Benjamin Franklin owned as a landlord. Many artifacts are excavated, and a visitor has a chance to see way people lived before modern technology.

  • Carpenter’s Hall

Rating: Must See

Home to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and Franklin’s Library Company, the American Philosophical Society, and the First and Second Banks of the United States, a day in Philadelphia is not complete without coming here. Although it’s a little out of the way, it’s on the way from Liberty Hall to South Street and is definitely worth the trip to see this exquisite historical monument and fun gift shop.

  • Remnants of Building Where the First Bustier Designer Lived and Worked, Average House of 17th Century Philadelphia, and the Todd House

Rating: If You Have Time

These historical monuments and building remnants are a short distance from Carpenter’s Hall. These sights allow a chance to catch a glimpse into old-world Philadelphia. The Todd House (home of Dolley Madison) does offer tours by appointment and is an opportunity to see an example of a solid middle class dwelling of that era.

  • A church being renovated

    Churches

Rating: Must See

All located within a block radius from one another and on your way to South Street, this is definitely a place to go. They include Old St. Joseph’s Church, the first Catholic Church in Philadelphia; St. Peters Church, an Episcopal church with the still preserved architecture by America’s first architect, Robert Smith; and Old St. Mary’s Church/Cathedral, which was originally hidden behind houses, and parishioners had to enter through the graveyard. These all allow a visitor to see into Philadelphia’s religious past and famous architecture.

  • South Street

Rating: Must See

This is absolutely the perfect place to break for a bit of shopping and lunch. Although Jim’s is known to have the best Philly cheese steaks, the wait is over an hour, and no cheese steak is worth that wait. Therefore, I recommend Lickety Split, a restaurant that offers traditional Philadelphia favorites like the best Philly cheese steak and Caesar salad I have ever tasted. Stay away from the burgers though as they tend to be a bit small and dry. Within the two blocks, there are also many souvenir shops and other places to eat on South Street. Cupcake Confidential offers a delightful after lunch dessert with their famous cupcakes in a jar and ice cream-cupcake push pops.

  • Portrait Gallery/Second Bank in USA

Rating: If You Have Time

Although the exhibit is extremely appealing, you will most likely not have enough time to actually see it on your day trip to Philadelphia. I would say to at least walk by it as many say it exemplifies the best architecture in the city.

  • City Hall Where the First Supreme Court Met

Rating: Must See

This is a great stop on the way to the Independence Hall. Visitors are allowed to see where the First Supreme Court met and again venture into this country’s past. The city hall’s employees along with the few museum showcases in the separate room allow you to gain additional knowledge. Although it’s only a small exhibit, I highly recommend it.

  • Remnants of George Washington’s House

Rating: Must See

Located directly in Congress Hall, a quick trip here is definitely important. This is a quick stop as it should take no more than ten minutes to go through here. Although there is no actual building left, dimensions of his house allow you to see the small living conditions of presidents before the White House. The plaques on certain walls also allow you to envision some of the original house while also learning about parts of George Washington’s house.

  • Congress Hall

Rating: Must See

Why not take a quick journey here while waiting to see Independence Hall? This monument will give you the chance to see where original Congress met and what served as the Capitol building before it moved from Philadelphia to the District of Columbia. This is also where both George Washington and John Adams were sworn in. Again, the guides are exceptional and will teach you much about our nation’s history.

  • Philanthropical Society Building

Rating: If You Have Time

Although you might not have time to actually go inside here, a quick walk past here on the way to Independence Hall is an interesting trip to see where the original political elite met to help charities.

  • A bit of history

    Independence Hall

Rating: Must See

Located across from the Liberty Bell, this should definitely be in your top three sites to see. This exhibit offers the chance to see where the original Declaration of Independence was collaborated on and signed and where the framework for the Constitution was set in motion.   This majestic meeting hall is definitely worth a trip to see, and the guides are extremely knowledgeable and will entertain you with stories of the government’s beginning that influenced politics across the world. However, the tour gets a bit long and drawn out; therefore, don’t be surprised if you see many around you yawning (especially when you’re on the last tour of the day).

  • The Reading Terminal Market

Rating: Must See

This is a perfect place to end the day. It is located directly across from the Marriott and is near the section of Philadelphia known as Chinatown. The market offers both readymade food and groceries to take home and has a diversity of food including Asian, traditional Philadelphia cuisine, and Amish cooking. Dinner here is a great option, or you can also take something for the car ride home.

If you happen to be in Philly for a longer time period, make sure to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, the oldest zoo in America and the home of Betsy Ross, maker of the first US flag!

Enjoy your trip to Philadelphia!

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