Philadelphia Travel Guide 2021

2021 Philadelphia Visitors Guide

Diverse and historical, Philadelphia provides a wonderful place to visit or live. Home to some five million residents, Philadelphia is a thriving and bustling metropolis that includes many diverse restaurants, shopping experiences, cultural history, exciting entertainment, a thriving tourist industry, and lots of family fun. Billions of dollars have been spent to update and renovate the city’s Main Street districts, parks, buildings, and museums.

Philadelphia also boasts a high-quality transportation system, state-of-the-art schools, and a modern healthcare system. The “City of Brotherly Love” is one of the most ethnically diverse cities within the United States, with communities of Italians, Asians, Irish, African-Americans, and Eastern Europeans, among other ethnicities.

Philadelphia Fun Guide

Transportation in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia International Airport is one of the top 20 airports in the United States with hundreds of flights getting people into and out of the city efficiently. Center City, at the heart of Philadelphia, is at the center of AMTRAK’s Northeast Corridor, where visitors can catch a quick train to New York or Washington DC. Center City is also home to 62 trolley, bus, and high-speed rail lines that transport people quickly and efficiently, reducing their time in traffic

Events and entertainment in Philadelphia provide great fun throughout the year. Fireworks shows, outdoor concerts, art and music festivals, craft beer festivals, and exciting parades abound around the city. Philadelphia also hosts many historical museum exhibits, art shows, ballets, symphonic performances, and numerous other entertainment and cultural opportunities throughout the year. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Independence National Historical Park, the Liberty Bell, Independence Visitor Center, and National Constitution Center all reside in Philadelphia.

Many highly recognized institutions of higher education are located in the city of Philadelphia. Among them includes the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, Temple, and La Salle. The universities and colleges in the area provide quality educational opportunities, reasonable tuition rates, and numerous opportunities for scholarships in sports, academics, and the arts. The city’s elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools provide unparalleled academic excellence and even provide their students with their own laptops on which to complete their schoolwork.

Philadelphia has countless places in which to stay during a visit to the city and also has many housing choices for its residents. Historic townhouses, converted lofts, spacious houses, and modern apartments are plentiful in the city and are all very close to scenic parks and historic museums.

Philadelphia Downtown Hotels

Downtown Philadelphia, also known as Center City, is an eclectic mixture of historic attractions, outdoor sculptures, restaurants and nightclubs. Most of Philadelphia’s historic attractions, like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and the Betsy Ross House, highlight the city’s instrumental role in the founding of the nation. Most of Philadelphia’s attractions are within easy walking distance of one another; numerous walking tours are available. On-street parking is scarce but parking garages and public transportation are plentiful.

In addition to Philly’s iconic and oversize outdoor sculptures, more of the city’s world-renown art can be seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation, whose impressive new home is part of the Parkway Museum District. Visitors looking for a bite to eat will find everything from International restaurants to street vendors hawking the famous Philly soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. A stroll over one of the walkways that connect Philadelphia’s downtown to Penn’s Landing takes visitors to the Delaware River waterfront, home to many of the city’s upscale restaurants.

About Downtown Philadelphia

If you’re in the mood to explore some American history, try a trip to downtown Philadelphia. Center City Philadelphia, the third-largest downtown area in the country by population, bustles with cultural and historic sites you won’t want to miss.

Independence National Historic Park

The place to start is Independence National Historic Park, which takes up about 55 acres of the downtown district. Visitors can marvel over the Liberty Bell or stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Independence Hall

Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted within the rooms of Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention met in the late 1700s. Independence Hall, with its familiar red brick and white 18th-century facade and its clock tower and spire, stands across the street from the Liberty Bell Center.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell used to be in the steeple of Independence Hall, back when it was the State House of Pennsylvania and was rung to call people to meetings. Originally cast in England in the early 1750s, the bell was recast twice when it began to crack. It became a symbol of American freedom during the abolitionist movement, and shortly thereafter became a historic artifact which the city, at least for a while, would sometimes loan to exhibits. Many people have visited it over the years, especially since the U.S. bicentennial in 1976 when it was moved into its own space across from Independence Hall.

National Constitution Center

Besides the Liberty Bell Pavilion and Independence Hall itself, there are many other historic landmarks in downtown Philadelphia, including the First and Second Banks of the United States, a museum devoted to famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, and the U.S. Postal Service Museum. Visitors can also check out the National Constitution Center, which includes a film and interactive exhibits about the U.S. Constitution and its place in the past and present.

Philadelphia Weather

Philadelphia is an exciting and historic city, which makes it the perfect travel destination for business or vacation. Trying to determine the weather in Philadelphia can be a little tricky since it adheres to the reliably unreliable Pennsylvania climate. Typically, Pennsylvania sees four seasons throughout the year and these are general guidelines about the weather during each point of the year.

Winter

Winter in Philadelphia usually runs from late November until late March, with the average temperature falling around 40 degrees Celsius. Precipitation is common during the winter and can take many forms: rain, sleet, snow, and ice. To prepare for your trip, pack the usual winter clothes (gloves, hats and scarves), and also include a pair of waterproof boots (the warmer, the better), an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses for the occasional bursts of sun that reflect off of the snowbanks.

Spring

Usually, spring starts at the end of March or the beginning of April and lasts until the end of May. The average temperature is around 65 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect temperature for a t-shirt and pair of jeans. There is an abundance of rain in the spring, so pack a light jacket and umbrella. The weather during this time of year is subject to change at a moment’s notice, so having an extra sweater, and even a pair of shorts isn’t a bad idea. Spring in Philadelphia is often very pleasant with blue skies and crisp air.

Summer

Starting in early June until the middle of September is summer in Philadelphia. The average temperature is around 80 degrees Celsius and there is little to no precipitation during these months. This great weather allows you to get out, walk around, and explore the beautiful sites in Philadelphia, or “Phili” as the locals say. Bring your shorts and t-shirts, and make sure to ask if your hotel has a pool some days are scorchers!

Fall

Fall is hit or miss in Pennsylvania in general. The usual rule of thumb is that fall arrives at the end of September until early November; however, sometimes the summer lasts longer and winter comes sooner. When there is a fall season in Philadelphia it is beautiful. The average temperatures run between 65 and 70 degrees Celsius, and generally, the rain showers are few and far between. Although a light jacket might be necessary at night, jeans and a t-shirt are perfect attire for touring the city during the day.

Philadelphia Transportation

As the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia boasts the best transportation network in the state. The “City of Brotherly Love” is conveniently accessible by several major highways. Interstate 95 connects Downtown Philadelphia with every state on the east coast of the United States. Running for nearly 2,000 miles, I-95 connects all regions between southeastern Florida and Northeastern Maine. Interstate 95 offers a convenient 2-hour drive between Pennsylvania’s biggest city and the New York Metropolitan Area, the most populated region in the Northeast. Interstate 476 links Philadelphia with other major cities in Pennsylvania such as Allentown and Scranton. Interstate 76 offers a convenient drive between Philadelphia and the state’s capital city of Harrisburg. Additionally, I-76 runs westward and leads to Pittsburgh, the second biggest city in Pennsylvania.

Public transit in Philadelphia is provided by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. SEPTA operates more than 120 total bus routes throughout the city and the surrounding communities. SEPTA also controls an extensive network of local and commuter rail transportation throughout Philadelphia.

The Market-Franford Line, also known as the Blue Line, runs between the Frankford Transportation Center and 69th Street Transportation Center. The Broad Street Line, also known as the Orange Line, offers service between Fern Rock Transportation Center and AT&T Station near the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. These two rapid transit rail lines offer the best opportunities for navigating the most popular and busiest parts of Philadelphia. SEPTA also operates several Subway-Surface Trolley Lines that circulate throughout Philadelphia. Route 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 offer quick access to more than a dozen stops throughout the city.

The SEPTA regional rail service connects Philadelphia with neighboring communities in five counties within Pennsylvania including Philadelphia County and Montgomery County. Additionally, there is regional rail service to southwestern New Jersey to West Trenton and Trenton. SEPTA operates more than a dozen total regional rail lines that stop at more than 100 total stations. Amtrak offers long-distance rail service in Philadelphia. The 30th Street Station is served by more than 10 Amtrak lines including the Acela Express and Northeast Regional. As the main rail hub in Philadelphia, the 30th Street Station is also served by the SEPTA regional rail and rapid transit network and also by the New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line.

Philadelphia International Airport welcomes more than 30 million passengers each year into the Philadelphia area. This airport is a major hub for US Airways, which offers direct flights to more than 100 total destinations within the United States and overseas. Philadelphia International Airport is accessible via the SEPTA Airport Line.

Philadelphia Attractions

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art was founded in 1876 and currently houses thousands of pieces of the finest artwork found in any art museum in the world. The museum is well-known for its extensive collection of armor that is one of the largest such collections in the United States. The museum’s European collection features the work of Rodin and the work of many artists from the Impressionist school. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is open every day except Monday.

Barnes Foundation

Another great place to view art in Philadephia is the Barnes Foundation. This museum was founded by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in order to display his large collection of artwork that he acquired over many years. This museum is noted for its collection of the work of modern artists notably the work of Cezanne and Matisse. Barnes also has an extensive collection of decorative metalwork and African art. The Barnes Foundation is open every day except Tuesday.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Edgar Allan Poe lived in the city of Philadelphia for a period of six years during which time he wrote some of his most famous stories. The home where he lived in Philadelphia is now the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. Visitors to this site can view a video presentation about Poe’s life, work, and influence upon his fellow writers. After the video, visitors may tour the entire house including the basement that is said to have inspired Poe to write his scary story “The Black Cat.” This historic site is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall was the meeting place of the Second Continental Congress during the time of the American Revolution. This famous building was also the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Inside Independence Hall, visitors will see the old Assembly Room that is furnished in an exact manner it was in when America’s founders debated the future of a new nation. Tickets must be obtained to view this site except during the months of January and February.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo was the first zoo in the United States. Today, the zoo contains more than 1,000 animals. Zoo visitors can view rare animals like the maned wolf and more familiar species like lions and tigers. Several rides for children are located throughout the zoo grounds. The Philadelphia Zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Philadelphia Dining

When visiting Philadelphia take advantage of all of the great dining opportunities that Philadelphia offers. You’ll find that you can select from a large variety of restaurants that will please your appetite for whatever you are hungry for.

Butcher and Singer

Butcher and Singer offer a fine dining experience that will provide you with the charbroiled steak of your choice cooked to perfection. You might also choose to have chops cooked the way that you like them. If you’re in the mood for seafood, consider a cold-water lobster or Shrimp and Crab Louie to make your meal a memorable experience. You can also enjoy your choice of fabulous desserts to complete your meal.

Sole Food

Sole Food is another place that will offer a fine dining experience with a menu that consists of Tuna Tartar, Scottish Salmon, Pocono Trout and Rib Eye just to name a few. You can follow your meal with a great dessert such as Belgian Chocolate Praline Crunch or Cinnamon Churros. You’ll also find a great wine list that allows you to have the best wine to compliment your meal choice.

Caribou Cafe

The Caribou Cafe also offers a fine dining experience where you can dine on fine cuisines such as Grilled Salmon Frites, Steak Frites and Steak De jour. You’ll find that you can also choose from soups, salads and sandwiches that will create a delicious meal. They have an excellent wine list to go with your dinner selection as well.

Moshulu

Moshulu will satisfy anyone’s hunger for great Asian food. They offer a menu that will excite your taste buds with great dishes such as Sushi and Salumi made in house. They also have delicious American dishes on the menu such as Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops and New York Strip Steak. For your choice of sides, they offer steamed asparagus, roasted wild mushrooms and even Mac n Cheese topped with bread crumbs. You will find that they also offer a large selection of soups, salads and appetizers.

Parc’s

Parc’s will also provide you with a great dinner lunch or breakfast and you’ll find a large variety of foods on their menu. For dinner, you might choose the rotisserie duck or the 1/2 roast chicken. For lunch, you can select Steak Frites or Spaghetti Bolognese. If it’s breakfast that you choose to have at Parc’s you can choose pancakes, omelets or even French toast. You’ll find that they have a wine menu as well as a dessert menu to please you also.

Philadelphia Events

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most historically relevant cities in the United States, which is why so many people choose to visit it each year. People who visit Philadelphia enjoy the city’s historic landmarks, and they love energizing themselves with some of the city’s unique culinary offerings. However, Philadelphia has much more to offer than history. The city is home to a number of fantastic events that can inform visitors about the distinctive culture and traditions of the region.

9th Street Italian Market Festival

Springtime visitors to Philadelphia are encouraged to attend the annual 9th Street Italian Market Festival. This event attracts large numbers of Philadelphians, and it involves the closure of several city blocks. For those who are entranced by food, this event might be the highlight of the Philadelphia events calendar. Specialty food vendors display fresh meats and cheeses, and restaurants extend their table services to the streets. The festival also features live cooking demonstrations, musicians and much more.

Independence Day Parade

Since Philadelphia is considered by many to be the birthplace of the United States, visitors who find themselves in the city during the Independence Day holiday should consider attending the July 4th festivities in the city. Each Independence Day, the city closes the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to traffic and turns it into one of the largest party venues in the country with live music, great food and more. Once the sun sets, visitors can turn their gazes toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world.

To begin the Independence Day festivities, visitors should consider lining up along the route of the city’s annual Independence Day Parade. The parade features participants from around the country, and it attracts a number of special guests. To guarantee a great spot along the route, parade-goers are encouraged to line up before the event’s 11 a.m. start time.

DesignPhiladelphia festival

Fans of art and design enjoy visiting Philadelphia in the fall for the annual DesignPhiladelphia festival. This festival takes place throughout the city, and it features more than 120 distinct events designed to showcase the city’s passion for art and design. The event features the works of more than 500 artists, and it is the largest such event in the country.

Philadelphia Auto Show

Winters in Philadelphia can be cold, but that doesn’t stop visitors and residents from coming out for the Philadelphia Auto Show, which occurs each January. Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the show features more than 700 unique automobiles. From classic cars to vehicles of the future, automobile enthusiasts have the chance to see a wide range of machines in one spot.

Family Fun near Downtown Philadelphia

For many families, a trip to Philadelphia starts with a visit to Independence Square. The area has been called the most historic square mile in the United States. Independence Hall, a favorite tour, is the place where the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. Nearby, in its own building, the Liberty Bell is seen by two million visitors each year. Near the Hall, families will find The African American Museum, The Constitution Museum, and The Civil War & Underground Railroad Museum.

Franklin Institute

In the rotunda of the Franklin Institute, visitors can see a 20-foot high statue of Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia’s most famous inventor, writer, and early political figure. The Franklin Institute offers many scientific exhibits on flight, nature, electricity, trains and more. Memorable exhibits include a giant human heart that kids can explore and the multi-media Space Command exhibit. The Franklin Institute also offers a planetarium and an IMAX theater with special IMAX science movies.

The Gazela

Along the riverfront, families will find ships to tour. The Gazela is a 177-foot wooden square-rigger that is still in use. The USS Becuna, a 318-foot guppy submarine, once was home to 88 men. The USS Olympia is a Naval ship dating back to the Spanish-American War. The Independence Seaport Museum, housed in a whimsical ship-like building, has interesting exhibits about the importance of boat travel. Many families also enjoy taking the ferry to the unique Camden Children’s Garden and the Adventure Aquarium. The Aquarium has many ocean exhibits and an African exhibit complete with hippos.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers many family-friendly exhibits, including a remarkable collection of armor and several reconstructed buildings. These include a Japanese teahouse, a 16th-century Indian temple hall, and a Chinese palace hall. The famous statue of the fictitious prizefighter, Rocky Balboa, is near the front steps. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology houses an extensive collection that includes Egyptian mummies and a 13-ton granite Sphinx. The Rodin Museum is home to the famous sculptor’s many works. Rodin’s The Thinker is at the entrance to the newly restored building and grounds.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo features 1,300 animals on over 40 acres. Favorites include penguins, polar bears, kangaroos and giraffes. There are many special habitat areas such as Niagara Big Cat Falls, the African Plains, and the Primate Preserve. The Please Touch Museum includes many exhibits aimed at younger children. Two favorites for kids of all ages include the playable Walking Piano and the Woodside Park Carousel.

Shopping near Downtown Philadelphia

Some of the best shopping opportunities in Philadelphia are available in one of the city’s trendiest districts. Rittenhouse Row boasts dozens of shops and boutiques that sell designer apparel, jewelry and other fashionable items. High priced denim, leather, handbags and shoes are some of the hot items that are sold in the Rittenhouse Row district. Rittenhouse Row is a district that is roughly located north of the green space at the public Rittenhouse Square park. A walk along Walnut Street offers great window shopping opportunities for both men and women. However, Rittenhouse Row doesn’t offer as many opportunities for buying children’s items. Chestnut Street and Market Street also have some of the shops that are considered to be part of Rittenhouse Row. The high-end shops and businesses in this district are also mixed with drug stores, convenience stores and other local shops.

Market Place East

The Market Place East is another popular shopping venue in Philadelphia. Located just south of Franklin Square, the Market Place East is housed in a historic building that once served as the flagship location for the Philadelphia based Lit Brothers department store. The adjacent Gallery at Market East is an indoor shopping mall that is considered to be an extension of the historic Market Place East center. Overall, the Market Place district offers more affordable bargains when compared to Rittenhouse Row. Additionally, the Market Place district has multiple shops that sells children’s items.

Historic Antique Row

The Historic Antique Row offers some of the most unique shopping experiences in Philadelphia. Located along Pine Street, the Antique Row is a small district that is lined with antique shops and other small retailers. This shopping area is great for buying gifts, decorations, artwork and other crafty items not available in modern retailers and shopping malls.

Jeweler’s Row in Philadelphia

Jeweler’s Row in Philadelphia invites shoppers to find some of the best precious metals and stones in the city. Dozens of jewelry businesses line up Sansom Street and the surrounding streets. Diamonds rings, gold necklaces, gemstone earrings and other unique jewelry pieces can be easily found in this specialty shopping district of Philadelphia.

Some of Philadelphia’s busiest venues also offer great shopping opportunities. The Marketplace at the B/C Terminal connector section in Philadelphia International Airport features more than 30 total retail shops that sell items in more than a dozen different categories. Other shops are also available in the other terminals at the airport.

Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field and Wells Fargo Center at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex sell cool official sports merchandise. The venues for the Phillies, Sixers, Eagles and Flyers have shops featuring jerseys, memorabilia and other great items for sale.

Map of Hotels in Philadelphia

  1. Philadelphia International Airport – Find hotels Near Eastwick Southwest and Bartram.
  2. Philadelphia Downtown – Find hotels Near Filter Square and Society Hill
  3. University of Pennsylvania – Find hotels Near Dunlap and West Powelton
  4. Tinicum Township -Find hotels Near Folcroft And Bartram
  5. Cooper River Lake – Find hotels Near Collingswood and Woodline
  6. Bellmawr – Find hotels Near Haddon Heights and Audubon