The City of Brotherly Love is filled with more history and culture than nearly any other U.S. city. Yet for all it offers, Philadelphia is vastly underrated. Part of that is no doubt due to the fact that rival cities, like New York and DC, are less than four hours away. But with so much to offer—and for visitors of all ages—Philly is well worth the trip.
Below you’ll find 15 surefire ways to enjoy Philadelphia and the surrounding area. No matter the season, there’s always something to see or do … and certainly to eat.
1) Independence Hall
Taking one of the tours of Independence Hall is like taking a step back in time. Get your revolutionary spirit on as you stand in the very room where our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
2) The Franklin Institute
One of the best museums in the country, it’s filled with interactive exhibits, touring shows and an IMAX theater that wraps both above and beneath you. Not to mention, the two-story statue of Ben Franklin at the entrance is a great photo opportunity.
3) The Liberty Bell
Though you can’t touch the famous bell, there are plenty of opportunities to snap the perfect shot. This is in the same historical neighborhood as the aforementioned sites, so make sure to bundle your visits to maximize time.
4) Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Seemingly out of place, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden was conceived as part of an exhibition in the 1950s. Events include tea ceremonies, dance lessons, tours and workshops. With stunning views of the city and a surprisingly tranquil atmosphere in an urban setting, Shofuso was the third-ranked Japanese Garden in North America in 2013.
5) Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks
Sure, you can go to Pat’s or Geno’s and wait in the long lines for one of their famous cheesesteaks, but you won’t see any locals there. They’ll be at Tony Luke’s or D’Alessandro’s.
6) Philadelphia Art Museum
No visit to Philly is complete without running up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps in true Rocky fashion, arms pumping overhead and all. Once you’re done, enjoy the priceless pieces of artwork inside—as a reward for your athletic feats.
7) South Street
An eclectic strip for the adventurer with bolder taste, funky shops abound. Check out Fez Moroccan, an authentic Moroccan restaurant where you eat an eight-course meal with your hands, sit on pillows and watch belly dancers on weekends.
8) Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia is known for its amazing arts scene. The Avenue of the Arts is a long stretch of theaters in downtown Philadelphia, ranging from small playhouses to multi-million dollar venues.
9) LOVE Park
Known for its famous Love sculpture, >LOVE Park used to be a haven for skateboarders because of its many rails and levels. Today, despite protest from athletes and public figures alike, skateboarding is banned in the Park, but it’s still open to the public, allowing you to get that iconic photo.
10) Boat House Row
Situated behind the Art Museum, this area is great for a picnic during the day, but the nighttime is the right time to visit. Year-round, these houses are adorned with sparkling Christmas lights.
11) Main Street
Manayunk is an oft-overlooked area of Philadelphia, probably because residents want to keep it from getting overwhelmed by crowds. Main Street is one long avenue filled with chic boutiques and locally owned venues. The stuffed breads at Marchiano’s Bakery are legendary. Splurge on the dipping sauce.
12) Please Touch Museum
The Please Touch Museum is exactly what the name entails—a museum in which touching anything and everything is encouraged, from instruments to model train sets. The exhibits are aimed at a younger audience, but they are sure to bring out the child in you.
13) Valley Forge
Although no war was fought at Valley Forge, which is 22 miles from Philadelphia, it was an important stronghold for the Continental army. Today, it features historical reenactments, tours, workshops and hiking trails.
14) Philadelphia Zoo
The first in the United States, the Philadelphia Zoo never disappoints. With endangered animals, daily presentations and special events, this is another family-friendly activity for all to enjoy.
15) Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens, 30 miles from Philadelphia, has an outdoor conservatory, three tree houses, multiple mansions, fountains throughout and acres upon acres of meticulously cultivated plants and flowers, from all regions of the world. You will dream of strolling here—and of Philly generally—long after your visit ends.