What to see in Philadelphia? A pearl made in the USA

08 Dec 16:21

Philadelphia, usually known as Philly, is one of America’s most historic cities. The American Declaration of Independence was signed right here, and Philadelphia served as the country’s capitol from 1790 and 1800. Several nationally renowned universities, notably the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, are also located in the city. Despite this, it appears that most Italian visitors choose to visit other cities rather than Philadelphia. Nonetheless, this is an excellent visit for anybody interested in history or in discovering the more European side of the United States. As a result, in this post, we will help you pick what to see in Philadelphia and learn more about its history.

Where is Philadelphia located? How to get there?

Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the United States and the biggest in Pennsylvania. It has a population of 1.6 million people, and its metropolitan area stretches all the way to Delaware and New Jersey. A true metropolis on the East Coast of the United States, it is thus quite accessible.

  • If you are driving to New York, you can easily reach Philadelphia in 1 hour and 40 minutes by using I-95. If you don’t have a car, you may also ride the Amtrak Acela Express, which takes little under 2 hours.
  • From Washington, DC, it’s just as easy to go to Philadelphia. If you have a rental car, I-895 and I-95 will take you there in 2 1/2 hours. If you prefer the train, the trip with Amtrak Acela Express takes little over an hour and a half.
  • Philadelphia is served with a sophisticated international airport due to its prominence. American Airlines serves Philadelphia International Airport as a significant hub, with direct flights between Rome and Philadelphia.

When to go to Philly?

The city’s climate is typically comparable to that of other cities on the United States’ East Coast. The seasons in Philadelphia often look like this:

  • Summer (June-August): Average summer temperatures vary from 20 to 27° C. Despite this, humidity may influence perceived temperature, and rainfall is common. Keep an eye out for rising hotel rates throughout the holiday season.
  • Autumn (September-November): Autumn in Philadelphia is a sight to behold. On the one hand, the leaves are tinted with crimson, and the city’s numerous green spaces are lovely to explore. However, keep in mind that temperatures begin to fall in autumn. If temperatures are still about 20°C in September, they typically fall below 10°C in November.
  • Winter (December-February): Despite the chilly weather, visiting Philadelphia in the winter is still viable. However, keep in mind that the average temperature is roughly -7°C, with temperatures occasionally reaching -20°C. Snowfall is also possible on a regular basis. On the other side, if you want to save money, this season’s hotel rates are the lowest of the year.
  • Spring (March-May): Spring is without a doubt the greatest time to visit the city. Temperatures in March might be near freezing, but gradually rise to 15-20°C. Obviously, this is also the most costly and congested time of year to visit the city.

What to see in Philadelphia: the Old City

Philadelphia has a lot to offer in terms of historical and cultural attractions. The Old City, or Città Vecchia, is arguably the city’s beating heart, distinguished by its traditional red brick structures. There are also many attractions here that are directly tied to independence and the American Revolution.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall, previously the site of Philadelphia’s Congress, is the city’s most well-known landmark. In fact, under the guidance of Thomas Jefferson, the first American settlers signed the Declaration of Independence right here in July 1776.

Following the signing of the agreement, the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from the United Kingdom. Independence Hall is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 2.5 million tourists each year.

The monument is situated in the same-named park, Independence National Historic Park. If you are staying in the city centre, you may simply walk there. Take care to purchase the correct ticket:

  • From March to December, you must purchase a ticket for a certain time. Adults pay $5, children aged 4 to 16, and children under 4 are free.
  • In the remaining months, the ticket is good at any time of day.
  • Instead, admittance is free on Thanksgiving Day, December 24th, and July 4th.

Also, keep in mind that admission is only available via a guided tour lasting 30-40 minutes. During the tour, the guide will give you with historical information to help you better comprehend this pivotal moment in American history.

Visit the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell, or “Campana della Libertà” in Italian, is also one of the most important symbols in American history. This bell was initially rung at the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the people. The copper and tin bell, which was installed in Philadelphia in 1751, was made in London at the Whitechapel foundry.

Liberty Bell

When you visit it, you will undoubtedly notice the massive fracture that defines it. Nobody knows what caused it, although it was most likely caused by normal wear and tear. Despite efforts to fix it on George Washington’s birthday in 1846, the crack widened.

The bell is housed within the Liberty Bell Center, which is open to the public. Once inside, you may also view various images and panels about the city and the United States’ history. The main drawback is the long line to enter the site owing to security checks at the gate.

Betsy Ross House

Another symbol of the United States’ battle for freedom may be seen at 239 Arch Street. According to legend, the weaver Betsy Ross resided and worked at this home. Betsy would weave the first American flag in 1776, which had a star for each of the Thirteen Colonies.

Today, this mansion serves as a museum, educating tourists about the history of one of the oldest communities in the United States. The apartments have been decorated and kept to portray life as it was during Betsy Ross’ time. Simultaneously, you will have the opportunity to interact with masked performers who portray situations from ordinary life in the eighteenth century.

The Betsy Ross House admission price (also accessible online) is as follows:

  • Adults: $5 or $8 with audio guide (English only).
  • Children, elderly, military personnel, and students pay $4 or $7 with an audio tour.

Elfreth’s Alley

Finally, we arrive at Elfreth’s Alley, a true Philadelphia treasure. Many consider this little street to be the oldest in the whole United States. It is undoubtedly one of the tiniest, and finding it on a map of Philadelphia is much more difficult. However, we can assist you:

The roadway, which has been meticulously kept, dates from 1706. Instead, the 32 red brick buildings with colourful doors were constructed between 1728 and 1836. Walking along Elfreth’s Alley will undoubtedly transport you back in time. Take photographs with caution. The street is still inhabited today, and it is critical to respect the residents’ privacy.

You can tell how traditional it is in this photo taken from the site that grooms the street, Elfreth’s Alley;

Elfreth’s Alley

You can also go to the following places while walking down Elfreth’s Alley:

  • Elfreth’s Alley Museum: Don’t miss this important testimony of 18th century daily life if you visit the city between April and October. The museum is open from 12:00 to 17:00 on Fridays and Sundays for a $3 admission fee.
  • Today is FETE Day. Elfreth’s Alley hosts workshops, markets, and colonial games once a year in early June to commemorate the street’s history.

Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its surroundings

Leaving the city’s historic area and heading towards Fairmount, you may visit one of the most important museums in the United States. The Philadelphia Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1876, as part of a centennial exhibition commemorating the hundred years of American freedom.

Since then, the museum has drawn millions of visitors and now houses over 240,000 works of art, including paintings, photos, and textile art. The museum’s collection of art spans more than 2,000 years, from current to ancient Egyptian. Degas, Picasso, Chagall, Van Gogh, and Mir are among the artists featured.

Finally, the admission fee is as follows:

  • adults: $25;
  • over 65: $23;
  • students: $14;
  • under 18: free;
  • on the first Sunday of the month and on Wednesday after 17.00 you can access the free offer.

The famous Rocky Steps

Perhaps not everyone is aware that the 72 steps going up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s entrance are a significant draw. Fans may recall the memorable scene in which Rocky Balboa rushes up this staircase and agrees to chase his goal.

Boxing and Rocky Balboa fans have made it a pilgrimage site since then. Spend a few minutes in front of the stairs and you’ll witness scores of visitors sprinting and snapping photographs.

Even if you are not a fan of the Stallone series, we recommend that you spend some time at this attraction. In fact, you can get a great view of the Philadelphia skyline from here.

Rocky ‘s Statue

The Rocky Balboa Memorial Statue is another must-see for boxing and pop culture fans. Sylvester Stallone commissioned this 2-ton bronze statue in 1982 to shoot the Rocky trilogy.

Following the completion of filming, the city government opted to relocate the monument to the bottom of the stairway. It will be on your left as you depart the art museum. If you want to take a picture with Rocky, expect a ten-minute wait: there are many tourists who visit it every day.

Eastern State Penitentiary : Al Capone’s prison

One of the most dreaded jails in the United States may be found in the Fairmount area. The jail first opened its doors in 1829 and closed them in 1971. It was a novel structure at the time. The goal of Eastern State Penitentiary was to overhaul the whole country’s prison system.

Eastern State corridor

This framework, in reality, claimed to foster a rehabilitation system for convicts rather than the old punishing one. For this reason, an isolation system was built, which led to the collapse of the structure, which became overcrowded.

Here are some things not to miss when visiting the famous US penitentiary:

  • The hole, literally the hole, or Klondike, provides a horrific example of a cell utilised for punitive isolation of inmates.
  • Al Capone’s cell, where he spent eight months in 1929. The look of the cell reveals the excellent treatment received by the prominent mobster at the time.
  • Cellblock 7, the most modern section of the prison, with its distinctive cathedral vault.

The admission fee is $14 for adults and $10 for youngsters. Eastern State is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More things to see and interesting activities in and around Philadelphia

If you still have time after seeing the city’s top attractions, there are a few more things to do in Philadelphia:

  • Brunch at the Italian Market: This outdoor market in South Philadelphia is a hallmark of the city’s Italian-American culture. At the same time, this neighbourhood is well-known for its unique restaurants, which are ideal for a Sunday brunch.
  • Visit Amish communities: A couple of hours outside of town in Pennsylvania, you may visit typical Amish farms. The communities around Lancaster, for example, are excellent places for a trip on the historic community carts.
  • A day at the stadium with the Philadelphia Eagles or the 76ers: if you enjoy sports, you must attend at least one of the city’s team games. The NFL season runs from August to February, whereas the NBA season runs from winter to spring.

Conclusions: many good reasons to visit Philly

Although it is not yet well-known among Italian tourists, Philadelphia is the throbbing heart of American history. We can only propose that you visit if you want to learn about the country’s more European aspect and colonial heritage.

Philadelphia has much more to offer than historical landmarks. As can be seen, there is no shortage of things to do in Philadelphia. From Rocky’s iconic stairs to Philadelphia 76ers games, we’re confident that this city will not disappoint.


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