Diverse and dynamic Philadelphia has plenty to offer visitors, from centuries of history and top-ranked museums to trendy neighborhoods and exceptional restaurants. Three days gives you enough time to get acquainted with its charms. Here's what you should see on a 3-day visit (including enviable day-trip possibilities).
Few American cities can rival Philadelphia when it comes to history. After all, it was in the City of Brotherly Love that Founding Fathers like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington once lived and wrote. To follow in their footsteps, begin with a walking tour of Independence National Historical Park, located right in Center City. You’ll see key sights like Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed), the Liberty Bell, and the National Constitution Center. Once you’ve had a close-up look, join a hop-on hop-off bus tour to see more of Philadelphia’s important sights, from City Hall to Chinatown. In the evening, keep the history theme going with a trip to Old City: this centuries-old part of town is known for its red-brick streets, tasty BYOBs, and cozy taverns, where you can treat yourself to a nightcap after a day’s worth of adventuring.
Philadelphia may be a history lover’s dream destination, but the city also offers a one-of-a-kind cultural pedigree. Enjoy a pleasant start to the day when you book admission to one of the city’s excellent museums. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the most-visited in town, while the Barnes Foundation boasts an enviable collection of Impressionist works. Once you’ve had your fill of masterpieces, make your way to Rittenhouse Square, where you can browse the shops along Walnut Street, dine at one of the neighborhood’s well-reviewed restaurants, or enjoy people-watching in the square. In the evening, see another side of town by venturing to one of the city’s trendy, outlying neighborhoods. Passyunk Avenue and the Italian Market in South Philly are both dining meccas, and are visited on many food-themed tours, while Fishtown in North Philadelphia offers a taste of hipster life.
Tempting as it might be to stay put, three days offers enough time to plan a day-trip from Philadelphia—and there are plenty of nearby destinations to tempt you beyond city limits. For a bucolic counterpoint to the urban buzz, head out to Lancaster County, roughly 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of town. Visit the Amish and Mennonite communities that famously call the region home to explore local craft shops and homesteads, enjoy a traditional Amish smorgasbord, and go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Given Philadelphia’s convenient position along the East Coast, New York City and Washington DC are also popular destinations for day-trippers.