Philly manages to blend the glamour and high-class attractions of New York with a small-town charm and is one of the best places in the country to uncover the early history of the USA. Since its early foundation by Quakers up until 1790 when Washington DC was founded, Philadelphia was the capital of the nation and the redbrick buildings of its centre still recall the graciousness of this period. This colonial legacy is almost unrivalled in the States while its museums, universities and research laboratories are certainly world-class. Alongside the historic attractions and museums sits an exciting gastronomic and craft beer scene as well as a packed programme of annual festivals and events.
Things to Do
The Old Town of Philadelphia is a beautiful place to start any visit, rewarding you with narrow cobbled alleys, lovely squares and attractive architecture along with plenty of churches and museums to dip into. In contrast, the Centre City West has a soaring and totally modern skyline of skyscrapers, while the waterfront of the Delaware River delivers plenty to do both day and night.
The beginning of the USA
One of the most-visited attractions is the Independence National Historic Park, which is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the Constitution Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Within the park, 20 historic buildings are open for visiting.
Shopping with a history
Reading Terminal Market has been going strong since 1893 and today features over 80 concessions, some of which have been trading for over a century. The market is home to food and artisan products as well as restaurants. There are also some Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish vendors in the market.
Fun for the whole family
The whole family will love Philadelphia Zoo, the first to open in America. Environments such as the McNeil Avian Centre, the PECO Primate Reserve and Cats Falls are award-winning, while animal highlights include the white rhino, polar bears and endangered Amur tigers.
Calendar of Events
Science, food, tech, gardens and culture are just some of the areas of interest covered by the Philadelphia's packed events programme. Whether you dip into gorgeous gardens, sample new craft beers or try your hand at the latest electronic and technological gadgetry you'll be spoilt for choice whatever time of year you visit.
XPoNential Music Festival. Every July this huge event is held on the Camden Riverfront with its waterfront views and lush gardens. Three days, three stages and dozens of local artists provide musical fun aimed at all ages.
The Fringe Festival. Covering 17 days in September, the Fringe Festival spreads itself right across the city giving everyone access to innovative and experimental performances while the Delaware River waterfront plays host to nightly food, drink and music.
Opera on the Mall. Also held in September, Opera on the Mall has been taking place for seven years. Take the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a picnic while watching live screenings of operatic performances screened on Independence Mall.