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3 Days in Philadelphia for First Timers

Organisiert von Claire Bullena writer who grew up around Philly.

Philadelphia packs more than 300 years of history (not to mention a National Historical Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) into one buzzy and walkable city. From icons such as the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, many of the United States’ most important early monuments can be found right here in the City of Brotherly Love.

I discovered all this as a middle schooler, when my family relocated to the Philadelphia area from California. Growing up in Philly meant field trips to the National Constitution Center to learn about the Founding Fathers and the Philadelphia Museum of Art—plus plenty of culinary adventures at Reading Terminal Market. To see the best of the city in one trip, here are my recommendations for a 3-day Philly excursion.

In Philadelphia, summers scorch while winters freeze—prepare for seasonal extremes.

If you only have time for one thing, make it Independence National Historical Park.

Day 1

In Philly, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to get your bearings and see Center City’s neighborhoods and major monuments on a time-saving loop. Glimpse highlights ranging from the Philadelphia Zoo and Chinatown to Love Park, and learn city history via the live, on-board narration.

Once you’ve gotten your Philly overview, it’s time for a closer look. On a walking tour of the charming, brick-lined Old City, you’ll see the Liberty Bell, the UNESCO-listed Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the US Constitution was drafted), and the Betsy Ross House.

Day 2

Erudite Philadelphia is home to dozens of museums, from the National Constitution Center to the Franklin Institute. But the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with its masterpiece-packed collection, is the real gem. Its exterior is almost as famous as its interior, thanks to the Rocky films, which immortalized its steps.

Take your appetite on a 30-minute stroll (or 5-minute cab ride) down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to a Philadelphia food tour. Philly is home to a renowned restaurant scene, though it’s equally celebrated for hearty classics like cheesesteaks and hoagies. The indoor Reading Terminal Market offers a delicious introduction.

Day 3

One of Philadelphia’s most famous landmarks is just outside the city. Valley Forge National Park is where George Washington’s troops wintered from 1777–1778 during the Revolutionary War, and many key artifacts—from log cabins to the National Memorial Arch—can be viewed today. Head off from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City for seamless transit.

Once you’re back in town, it’s a quick stroll from Center City to South Philadelphia, one of the city's most dynamic areas. From the joyfully frenetic stretch that is South Street to the Italian Market (a top foodie destination), there’s plenty to discover here.

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