As the nation’s former capital, Philadelphia was at the center of the early years of democracy in the newly-formed United States. History-focused walking tours typically explore the mall, emphasizing sites where pivotal moments in American history took place. Such tours tend to visit Independence Mall landmarks including Independence Hall (just south of the mall), where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed; the Liberty Bell, rung to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence; and Congress Hall, former home of the US Congress.
Things to Know Before You Go
Entry to Independence Hall is free but requires timed guided tour tickets reserved in advance. Get them at the Independence Visitor Center or online.
The only public restrooms in the immediate area are located inside the Visitor Center.
Independence Mall is wheelchair-accessible and welcomes service dogs.
Visitors must pass a security screening to visit the buildings—arrive early to allow an extra 20–30 minutes for this.
How to Get There
Bounded by Chestnut, Race, 5th, and 6th Streets, Independence Mall is centrally located, within walking distance of many major hotels, and well-connected by public transportation to all major points of the city. The closest subway (SEPTA) station is 5th Street Independence Hall Station, a 2-minute walk away. If you’re driving, you’ll find the most convenient parking lot below the Visitor Center.
When to Get There
You can visit any time of day, year-round. The Visitor Center is typically open from mid-morning to early evening, as are attractions including Independence Mall and Congress Hall. All are very popular attractions, particularly with school groups, so try to time your visit to early in the morning to avoid crowds.
President’s House Site
When President George Washington lived on Sixth and Market Streets in the 1790s, he called his elegant three-story brick mansion “the best single house in the city.” The nation’s first executive mansion was demolished in 1832, but you can visit the remains, known as the President’s House Site, where a permanent outdoor exhibit explores the story of the mansion, the presidents who lived there (John Adams was the second), and the nine enslaved people who served them.
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