Philadelphia, “The Cradle of Liberty,” is where patriots met and crafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, where George Washington and all the delegates of the First Continental Congress dined at City Tavern, and where Benjamin Franklin lived and worked.
Whether this is your first visit or your 10th, there’s something very special about visiting Independence National Historical Park and Old City. Before you plan your itinerary, book a few nights in an InterContinental Hotels Group hotel near Old City so you can fully enjoy the experience.
Touring the Historic Area
The best place to begin your tour is at the Independence Visitor Center which is located at 6th and Market Streets. Here you can pick up your free timed-entry ticket to tour Independence Hall (March through December) and be able to ask park rangers any questions you may have about the area. There are a limited number of tickets available every day, so try to get to the Center as close to its 8:30 a.m. opening time as possible. Two films are also shown here: “Independence” and “Choosing Sides.”
Independence Hall, where the rebellion against England was debated, and ultimately where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, should be first on your list, followed by the Liberty Bell located just across the street. It’s the nation’s most powerful symbol of freedom.
Learning About Benjamin Franklin
There’s a lot to see in Old City. One area I suggest is Franklin Court, which offers a fascinating look at the philosopher, author, inventor, publisher and statesman. In the courtyard is a ghost house representing where his house stood. Underground is a museum filled with Franklin’s possessions and inventions including bifocals, the Franklin stove and swim fins.
At one end of the courtyard is a postal museum and the B Free Franklin Post Office. Franklin was the first Postmaster General.
The National Constitution Center is another excellent attraction in Old City. You will leave here with a new appreciation for the Constitution and the men who crafted it. Enjoy the interactive displays and the theatrical production. Don’t miss Signer’s Hall, which features 42 life-size bronze statues of the founding fathers.
You’ll want to visit the President’s House Site, where both George Washington and John Adams spent most of their presidencies before the White House was built in Washington, DC. There’s also the Declaration House where Jefferson lived while drafting the Declaration of Independence, the National Museum of American Jewish History; the African-American Museum in Philadelphia, the Carpenters’ Hall where the First Continental Congress met in 1774, Elfreth’s Alley, and the Betsy Ross House.
Every building, every block, and every street brings to life our nation’s beginnings; it’s a destination for every American.
Planning Your Trip
Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the United States. Like any big city, it’s often hard to navigate unfamiliar streets and find a place to park. The best way to explore is on foot. Staying in or near the historic district is the best, least stressful way to enjoy your visit.
There are several excellent hotel options for visitors to the city. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia is located right in the Old City just one block from Independence Hall. Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia – Penns Landing is close to Old City and offers complimentary shuttle service to the historic area.
Photos courtesy Philadelphia Convention and Visitors BureauTags: American History, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia