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Best things to do in Philadelphia

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Where in the world: USA  /  Pennsylvania  /  Philadelphia
Whether you're in town on business or visiting for pleasure, you'll find plenty of suitable things to do in Philadelphia. You can have your picture taken with the iconic Liberty Bell, a symbol of American freedom and independence. If you're traveling with kids, head over to The Franklin Institute for an interactive adventure in physics and biology. Philadelphia Museum of Art contains works by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, as well as a collection of artifacts from Asia and Europe.

Philadelphia is best known for its Art Museums, Government Buildings, and History Museums.

Top 15 things to do in Philadelphia

1. Independence Hall

The birthplace of America, Independence Hall is the centerpiece of the national historical park located in the oldest part of the city. Known primarily as the location where a young nation declared its independence from the British Empire on July 4, 1776, this landmark building is now a World Heritage Site. A symbol of freedom and democracy, and pictured on the back the $100 bill, the red brick structure consists of a central building with a bell tower and steeple plus two smaller wings featuring arcaded hyphens. For an in-depth look at the interior, pick up your free timed-entry tickets at the park's visitor center. For a small fee, you can also reserve your tickets online or by phone.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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2. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The third largest museum in the country, Philadelphia Museum of Art holds a collection of more than 220,000 pieces, including masterpieces by Picasso, Dali, El Greco, Rubens, van Gogh, and Renoir. With an exterior familiar to most from the "Rocky" movies, the museum preserves the creative accomplishments of the entire world, containing over 200 galleries and spanning nearly 2,000 years of art history. The museum holds important artworks from Asia, notably a collection of Persian and Turkish carpets, as well as recreations of a Chinese palace hall, Japanese teahouse, and Indian temple. The European collection encompasses works from the Middle Ages to the present day, while the American galleries survey three centuries of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts. Ease your exploration of the massive galleries by joining a guided tour of the exhibits.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Eastern State Penitentiary

Admire the impressive architecture and haunting atmosphere of one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world, Eastern State Penitentiary. Once a thriving site of discipline and order, the prison has long since closed, and now you can take a tour of the building’s unique wagon-wheel design that inspired thousands of penitentiaries worldwide. Follow your guide through the cellblock rows, solitary confinement cells, and execution chambers. Don’t miss the chance to visit the original cell of Al Capone. If you’re interested in haunting tales, ask about the prison’s long history of paranormal activity and ghost sightings.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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4. Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation is known internationally for its collection of 19th- and 20th-century French paintings. Established in 1922, the museum houses extensive works by Post-Impressionist and Early Modern masters, such as Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso. It also exhibits American art, African sculptures, Native American crafts, and countless other international pieces. Honoring its founder Albert C. Barnes’s commitment to fine arts and horticulture, the Barnes Foundation also created the Barnes Arboretum, located on the Merion campus. Here you can round out your educational and cultural experience by viewing upwards of 2,000 species of trees and plants.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Reading Terminal Market

Part of the Philadelphia Convention Center, Reading Terminal Market features more than 100 lively merchants selling fresh food, baked goods, flowers, and crafts in an antique setting reminiscent of early 19th-century Philadelphia markets. In 1859, popular outdoor markets in Philadelphia were dismantled because they were considered unhygienic. This prompted the opening of two indoor markets--the beginnings of the large market that exists today. At this center, where scenes from "Trading Places" and "National Treasure" were filmed, you can spend the day shopping for authentic goods, eating delicious ethnic food, or trying Bassett's Ice Cream, a favorite of Philadelphia locals. Though most merchants work at the market every day of the week, keep in mind that Amish or Mennonite vendors do not open shop on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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6. Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square

One of the United States' premier botanical gardens, Longwood Gardens spans over 436 hectares (1,077 acres) and is home to 11,000 different types of plants and trees. The Longwood conservatory hosts 20 indoor gardens, with one of the world’s most impressive greenhouse structures. The greenhouse spans 0.8 km (0.5 mi) and boasts an array of colorful plants from around the world. Outside, the chimes tower and waterfall and the Italian water garden make fantastic places to sit and relax. End your visit with a cup of coffee and a pastry at The Lodge, where you can enjoy superb views of Longwood.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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7. The Franklin Institute

See site for details.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Wissahickon Valley Park

One of the region's major areas for leisure and outdoor recreation, Wissahickon Valley Park offers numerous hiking trails, as well as a number of historical inns, mansions, mills, and bridges. Animal lovers will be delighted by the opportunity to spot deer, foxes, raccoons, groundhogs, butterflies, and other animal species native to Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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9. Liberty Bell Center

The former site of Washington's slave quarters sits near the entrance of Liberty Bell Center. Upon entering the center, you'll find a series of exhibits before reaching the Liberty Bell. The bell is displayed out of reach (but in plain sight) and still hangs on what is thought to be the original yolk made of American elm. The bell's recognizable crack is clearly visible--observers have referred to it as a metaphor for the fragility of democracy. Be aware that all visitors are required to go through a security screening at the entrance.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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10. Please Touch Museum

Please Touch Museum invites children of all ages to interact with imaginary worlds. You'll notice that the exhibits feature movie props and items from popular children's stories, like the walking piano from the film "Big" or more than three decades of "Star Wars" toys. All exhibits and displays are kid friendly and made to be touched. Be sure to enjoy the Woodside Park carousel from 1908 that's been rebuilt in the museum.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Harrah's Philadelphia, Chester

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is a harness racing track and casino (a racino) on the Chester, Pennsylvania waterfront. It is owned by Vici Properties and operated by Caesars Entertainment.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Philadelphia Zoo

A premier zoo for animal breeding, Philadelphia Zoo is known for the variety of primate species that live there. The Rare Animal Conservation Center offers an up-close view of rare species and features interactive graphics. In other areas you'll view the antics of otters and red pandas, as well as the grace of big cats. Take time to visit the aviaries, which teem with feathered friends. You'll be able to spot the zoo anywhere in the city--the Zooballoon, a tethered balloon that floats high above the skyline, marks its location.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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13. Rodin Museum

Rodin Museum houses the world's second largest collection of famous sculptor Auguste Rodin's works--the largest one outside of Paris. Opened in 1929, it was a gift to the city of Philadelphia from Jules Mastbaum, a movie-theater magnate and an avid collector of Rodin's works. The famous Thinker sits in the museum garden in front of the entrance. Once inside, you can see masterpieces like the Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy; the Kiss; the Burghers of Calais; and many others. Take time to view many lesser-known works, as well as prints, studies, castings, drawings, and Rodin's personal items.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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14. Independence National Historical Park

Spread across 20 city blocks in the city's historic district, Independence National Historical Park is the place to go for a better sense of the country's official birthplace. You're bound to wait in some lines; more than 3.5 million visitors come here each year, primarily to see the iconic Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, just two of the 30 sites. At Benjamin Franklin's Museum, take advantage of interactive exhibits to learn about this founding father. While greenspaces allow kids to burn off some energy, you might want to have something on hand to keep them (or you) occupied when it's time to get in line.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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15. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is a museum and private art school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1805 and is the first and oldest art museum and art school in the United States. The academy's museum is internationally known for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Its archives house important materials for the study of American art history, museums, and art training. It offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, certificate programs, and continuing education.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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