Philadelphia has so much to offer visitors! Whether you’re planning your first trip or have lived here all your life, you may not know all the best places to go and things to do in the city of brotherly love. Most people know that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, but did you know that it’s also one of the friendliest cities in the world? Or that Philadelphia was host to the first World Fair in 1876? For those visiting our city, there are lots of great places to visit and things to do, as well as places to eat and drink. But with so many things to choose from, it can be hard to decide what’s right for you. To help you make the most of your time in Philadelphia, we’ve put together this list of the top things to do in Philadelphia that you can’t miss. Clicking on Cheap Spirit Flights can give you happiness and smiles at the lowest rate.
Visit Penn’s Landing
Penn’s Landing is a great place to visit any time of year, but it really shines during warm-weather months. Located on Philadelphia’s waterfront, Penn’s Landing offers spectacular views of the historic Old City and other parts of downtown. The section is full of attractions like live music and activities for children like mini golf. Local food vendors serve up all sorts of delicious treats too!
Go on a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are one of my favorite ways to get a lay of any new place I’m visiting. Not only is it fun to learn local history and hear stories from a local, but they also provide an excellent way for me to figure out my next move. There are several free walking tours around Center City (which I will highlight below), and if you don’t want to join a tour, you can download a free self-guided tour guide here. You could also purchase tickets for Symphony in C, which is performed by members of the Philly Pops orchestra who perform during summer evenings at Rittenhouse Square—it’s so relaxing and enjoyable!
See a Show at the Kimmel Center
One of Philly’s best assets is its cultural offerings and it doesn’t get much more prominent than a show at one of three local venues: The Kimmel Center, Academy of Music or Merriam Theater. All three have great acoustics, seating and technical facilities; here’s some tips on what to see. First up, make sure your date isn’t afraid of heights. Anything by Cirque du Soleil will be visually stunning. A Neil Simon play? Make sure there are no kids around—unless they’re old enough to appreciate his humor—because they’ll think it was hilarious while others might be offended by his raunchy jokes. Looking for something different? Then check out Blue Man Group. It’s completely different from anything else on offer and both educational and entertaining (though families should read up ahead of time as young children may find it scary). Finally, if seeing comedy is part of your evening plans (and why wouldn’t it be?) then head over to Helium Comedy Club for an evening with rising stars who’ve appeared everywhere from Comedy Central to The Tonight Show. Want another recommendation? Check out Dave Barry Turns 50—he’ll have everyone laughing all night long!
Ride a Bike Through Rittenhouse Square
The bike lanes along Kelly Drive, which traces Manayunk Canal for 15 miles, are particularly beautiful. Rittenhouse Square is one of those perfect spots where you will find yourself slowing down and just taking it all in. If biking isn’t your thing, try renting a pair of skates at Wissahickon Skating Club and head over to Kelly Drive. If it’s spring or summer, try strolling along Kelly Drive as well; there are many trees that line both sides of it so shade is never an issue. You will also be able to enjoy some great views of lovely waterfalls throughout your walk or ride. Before you know it, you’ll have spent hours walking around Rittenhouse Square without even realizing how much time has passed. Be sure to check out 20th Street behind The Curtis Center – if you look closely, there are charming vintage doorbells installed into these building walls. They don’t ring but make for excellent photo ops. While on 20th Street you can visit Le Bok Fin (2037 Sansom St.) a local bakery/coffee shop with delicious vegan cupcakes and lemonade served in mason jars! You might be tempted to skip Center City altogether but remember that Philly is famous for its food (and Philadelphia cream cheese) – you won’t want to pass up Italian Market District located on 9th street between Arch & Fitzwater St.
Take a walk along the Schuylkill River Trail
The Schuylkill River Trail is a 22-mile trail that begins at Locust Street, runs past Fairmount Park and ends near Valley Forge National Historical Park. The trail offers endless walking opportunities, as well as biking, rollerblading and running paths. Stretching through Philly’s old neighborhoods and around city landmarks, it’s one of those places you have to visit at least once. And since it’s open 24/7 (yes, really), there’s no excuse not to get outside when your body tells you it’s time for a break. It’s also a great way to explore different parts of town without ever having to worry about parking or traffic—plus it gives residents who live along its path an opportunity for some exercise before/after work. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to Philly or just visiting, experiencing more of what our city has to offer while taking care of yourself shouldn’t be overlooked. So don’t skip out on a walk down memory lane! Sure, it may seem cliche; but trust us: You’ll never look at the Center City District quite the same way again. There’s nothing like watching Center City come alive from Schuylkill Banks to see what we mean.
Visit the Betsy Ross House
Did you know that Betsy Ross, perhaps most famous for her role in making our nation’s first flag, actually had a long and fascinating history? The Betsy Ross House is a museum dedicated to that history—from before she even arrived in America. See if you can spot some of her original sewing tools or get a copy of an early American songbook from the 1750s while you’re there. It’s just one of many fascinating museums located right here in Philadelphia. Of course, there are plenty more unusual things to do in Philly as well; take a tour on a Civil War-era ship or learn how ice cream became popular with locals during Prohibition. You could visit some of Philly’s oldest homes or admire more than 1,500 pieces at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. And don’t forget about all those great (unusual) restaurants! From meatballs made with Old Bay seasoning at Federal Donuts to buttery brioche French toast at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Philly offers up flavors ranging from traditional (cheesesteaks) to ethnic (falafel) to new classics like lobster corn dogs and deep-fried Snickers bars.
Have Breakfast at Jim’s Steaks
Jim’s Steaks is one of Philadelphia’s best-known and oldest cheesesteak joints. Established by Jim, a Greek immigrant, in 1930, it’s still run by his family; you can expect top-notch customer service as well as delicious steaks. People come from all over just for their cheese steaks and if you don’t believe us, check out all those five-star reviews! If you visit at breakfast time they have incredible breakfast sandwiches. There’s nothing like starting your day with an authentic Philly experience! Make sure to look up directions because although it may not be hard to find, getting there might be a bit tricky. Visit Yelp for more details about location and delivery options since making steak shakes should really be on everyone’s bucket list! But we know that most people are busy so we recommend that you take advantage of online ordering capabilities because who wants fast food when fast casual will make your life that much easier? You can always go back to eating steak shakes whenever you want anyway so do yourself a favor: pay attention when they ask how you want your steak cooked…it matters more than you think. Choose right (medium rare or medium) and get ready for greatness. You won’t regret it!
Take a day trip to Valley Forge
A visit to Valley Forge National Park, just a couple hours outside of Philly is a great way to see some historical sights and learn about our country’s origins. The park features monuments and markers that detail life during that time period, such as an encampment of Continental Army soldiers. It’s a nice change of pace from all those city sights you’ve been seeing and more than worth a day trip. Just make sure you follow these helpful tips for visiting Valley Forge! Then set off on your adventure—remember, no man is an island. Let someone know where you are going and when they should expect to hear back from you. While we hope nothing goes wrong on your trip, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure someone knows what kind of car you drive and keep their number handy should something happen so they can call authorities if need be. Plus, consider stopping by somewhere along your route for lunch or snacks—you can pick up souvenirs at gift shops or hit up local restaurants while keeping yourself fueled throughout your day trip!
Sample beer at multiple bars downtown
Philly has an emerging craft-beer scene, and brews are a popular choice at many of Philly’s bars. If you want to discover which beers you like best, ask around and get recommendations from friends or hit up one of Philly’s beer-centric bars. Breweries like Sly Fox, Yards, Lost Abbey, Victory and Weyerbacher have their own taprooms—so you can sample their unique brews on site. Keep an eye out for Philly Beer Week events during your trip—they regularly feature activities like beer tastings, brewery tours and meet-the-brewer nights. Alternatively, pick up a map of local breweries when you visit St James Tavern (101 N 15th St). The historic tavern serves as an informal gathering spot for foodies and savvy travelers; make sure to ask about special events going on while you’re there. Once you find a brewery that stands out from all others, visit it several times throughout your stay so that your pallet gets a chance to enjoy different beers without having too much at once. This way, you’ll be able to more easily determine which flavors stand out most to you!
Go on a Ghost Tour
The city has a rich, weird history. If you believe what some tour guides will tell you, there are ghosts of everything from pirates and fallen soldiers to nuns and children. And that’s just for starters. Learn about ghosts and Philly lore on one of several tours, or take a trolley tour and stop at places rumored to be haunted along the way. Visit Independence Hall, America’s birthplace; get creeped out at Eastern State Penitentiary; see if your hotel is truly as haunted as people say. There’s no shortage of ghost stories here, so decide which ones you want to listen to before you go exploring. Don’t forget your flashlights!
Walk around Rittenhouse Square
Rittenhouse Square is one of America’s great urban parks. The park was laid out by William Penn, as part of his 17th century plan for Philadelphia. Today, it stands as one of America’s most well-maintained and beautiful urban parks. As well as being a vibrant public space and tourist attraction; there are plenty of things to do in Rittenhouse Square that make it more than just a typical park stop. Enjoy free activities such as outdoor yoga classes and live music performances, plus have some fun with street performers who entertain visitors every day. There are also plenty of nearby places to shop at during your visit. Whether you need to grab an apple from a local fruit stand or buy flowers from a farmer’s market vendor – Rittenhouse Square has all that you need on offer!
Enjoy an Open Air Screening of TV Shows or Movies
Now that you’ve had a chance to walk around and explore some of what Philly has to offer, it’s time for an activity that brings people together. Head over to Spruce Street Harbor Park for outdoor movies or theater performances. Go on a Boat Tour: There are tons of boat tours leaving from Penn’s Landing every day of the week (including holidays). Hop on board and learn about Philly’s unique history as well as fun facts about local landmarks. The best part? These tours are completely free! If you don’t mind paying for a great experience, check out Spirit Cruises or Independence Seaport Museum cruises; both have fancy boats with bars and restaurants onboard.
Catch A Festival
Why not? It’s summer, there are hundreds of festivals happening all over town, and they’re all free! Music, sports, dance, fine arts—the variety is stunning. Festival events are family-friendly most of them so you can easily spend a whole day (or weekend) making new friends while learning a thing or two.
Here are some top festival picks:
1. Made In America
2. Philly Restaurant Week
3. Hop Farm Music Festival
4. The Great Allentown Fair
5. Little Baby’s Ice Cream Tasting
6. The Reading Terminal Market
7. Taste of Ethiopia
8. Three Rivers Arts Festival
9. Wing Bowl
10. World Cafe
Live Free performances are just one perk at Philly venues, which also offer cheap drinks and snacks along with access to industry insiders that can help launch your career as an artist, writer, chef or performer. To learn more about these great resources, check out our top 12 music venues in Philadelphia , our guide to attending a taping at WHYY , why attending open mic nights is such a great idea , three reasons why everyone should go see live music more often , five reasons why everyone should go see comedy live more often and our favorite places for food & drink . Hint: make sure your guide has offered discount Spirit Airlines coupons.
Bike Ride Through Boathouse Row and Belmont Plateau Trail
While many people are familiar with boathouse row and Fairmount Park, few make it beyond there. One way to experience more of what Philly has to offer is a bike ride through Boathouse Row and Belmont Plateau trail. Starting at Smith Memorial Arch, you can ride west on Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River until it connects with Martin Luther King Drive; then turn right. Make your way up past Boathouse Row and continue until you reach Ridge Avenue (about 3 miles). At Ridge Ave., turn left onto Belmont Plateau Trail for 2 miles, where you’ll be treated to great views of Manayunk and river-side mansions along Kelly Dr. The best part about biking these trails? No hills! The worst part? Sharing your path with half a dozen Segways!
Go Watch One of The Philadelphia Orchestra Perform
The world-renowned orchestra has been bringing classical music for over 100 years. You will have a great time hearing some of your favorite masterpieces played by one of the greatest orchestras out there. All performances take place at Verizon Hall at Strathmore. If you are in town, make sure you stop by and enjoy some amazing live music. It’s truly an incredible experience that should not be missed!