There’s never a shortage of awesome things to do in Philadelphia— but there are some things you just can’t miss while you’re here.
Whether it’s running like Rocky, refueling with a cheesesteak and then wandering along Boathouse Row or touring Independence Hall, devouring a roast pork sandwich at Reading Terminal Market and then visiting an amazing museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, these are the experiences that make our city stand out among the rest.
Read on for the 10 most essential experiences to be had in the City of Brotherly Love.
#10 Snap a photo in front of the Liberty Bell.
The Liberty Bell was originally used to call the Pennsylvania Assembly to meetings. It was later adopted by abolitionists, suffragists and Civil Rights advocates, making it a symbol used by many today. The bell, which is free to visit year-round, draws people from around the nation to snag a photo in front of the soaring glass walls overlooking Independence Hall.
Where: The Liberty Bell Center, N. 6th & Market streets
#9 Pose with the Rocky Statue & run up the “Rocky Steps.”
Since Rocky’s triumphant run, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art have become an international destination. Travelers from around the world embark on their own jog up the stairs, pumping their fists in the air as they cherish the spectacular view. To finish off the experience, head to the bottom of the stairs and snap a photo with the bronze statue of Rocky, originally created for Rocky III.
Where: Rocky Statue and Rocky Steps, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
#8 Enjoy an authentic Philly cheesesteak.
The Philly cheesesteak is inarguably the city’s most famous food. These awesome sandwiches consist of chopped (or thinly sliced) steak and a choice of cheeses and/or fried onions on a hoagie roll. Those in the know order their cheesesteak with two words only: cheese selection (provolone, American or Whiz) and “wit” or “without” onions. The debate about which local spot cooks up the best sandwich may never end, but for an iconic Philly experience, visit the corner of South 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, where rivals Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks feed the masses daily.
Where: Various locations including Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue
#7 Tour Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States.
While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall holds monumental significance to the development of the nation. In 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in the building’s Assembly Room. Just 11 years later, representatives from a dozen states met here to lay the framework for the U.S. Constitution. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park, and guided tours are available year-round. Free, timed tickets are required and can be picked up at the Independence Visitor Center but plan ahead — tours fill up fast!
Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
#6 Chow down on food from dozens of vendors at Reading Terminal Market.
This indoor foodie paradise is an almost unbelievable one-stop shop for everything from local produce and meats to artisanal cheeses and desserts. The public space also provides open seating where customers can enjoy meals from more than 30 restaurants, ranging from hot roast pork sandwiches from DiNic’s to duck noodle soup from Sang Kee Peking.
Where: Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch streets
#5 Visit the awesome museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, modeled after the Champs Elysees in Paris, is sometimes called Philadelphia’s most artistic mile. Some of the city’s most important cultural institutions are housed here, including the Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Rodin Museum, the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building and the crowning Philadelphia Museum of Art. No Philly experience is complete without a dip into the city’s cultural offerings.
Where: Various locations including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
#4 Take in the epic view of City Hall from South Broad Street.
The largest municipal building in the United States, Philadelphia’s City Hall is an architectural treasure inside and out that’s served as the home for Philadelphia’s government for over 100 years. You’ll find one of the best perspectives of City Hall from South Broad Street on the Avenue of the Arts.
Where: View of City Hall from South Broad Street, South Broad and Locust streets
#3 Explore the South 9th Street Italian Market.
Dating back to the 1880s, the South 9th Street Italian Market is the nation’s oldest continuous outdoor market. It holds a wealth of iconic curb-side stands that showcase fresh fruit and vegetables from fourth- and fifth-generation merchants. While Italian immigrants originally dominated the shopping district, many of today’s vendors hail from all parts of the world, bringing a plethora of interesting ingredients to take home following each trip.
Where: South 9th Street Italian Market, 919 S. 9th Street
#2 Admire the quiet beauty of Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River.
A National Historic Landmark, Boathouse Row consists of 10 charming boathouses on the banks of the serene Schuylkill River. These structures have been associated with rowing since the 19th century, and the boat clubs that occupy them have produced many Olympic champions. Get an up-close view of the houses during a stroll along the Kelly Drive path or head over at night, when glittering lights framing the boathouses create idyllic reflections on the river’s surface.
Where: Boathouse Row, 1 Boathouse Row
#1 Visit the famous LOVE sculpture.
One of the City of Brotherly Love’s best-known landmarks is Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, located in John F. Kennedy Plaza (or LOVE Park, as it is referred to by many). After snapping a pic in front of the iconic sculpture, make your way over to Sister Cities Park to see its bilingual reinterpretation, the equally-impressive AMOR sculpture.
Where: LOVE sculpture, 1515 John F. Kennedy Boulevard