Rich with history and contemporary culture, Philadelphia is a vast city with so much to enjoy and explore. When you’re coming here for a short time, it’s tempting to play the casual card and ignore the must-see attractions in town. And regardless of what the cool crowd says now degrading being a “tourist,” we firmly believe it’s valuable to seek out some touring companies who can show you around, and offer context from experts on the city.
From exploring the vast collection of historical sights to getting into the city’s culture and flavor, here are some recommendations on how to be the best Philadelphia tourist you can be.
As a hub of Revolutionary events and history, Philadelphia is one of the best places to dive into American history as a tourist. There are a couple tourist companies who organize explorations of this facet of the city’s makeup that we enjoy most. We’re quite partial to The Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia, which takes you through must-see attractions like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Another historical tour you can take of the city is The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia. The 75-minute experience includes over 20 historic sights including those mentioned for The Founding Fathers Tour, as well as the site where the Constitution was written. The well-informed guides on this tour offer tons of interesting context and background throughout the experience.
When you get your fill of history, and begin to crave something more contemporary, take a minute to explore the groups facilitating cultural tours around town. The South Philly Culture Tour is one of our favorites, as it keeps groups small and explores some of the most unique and vibrant locations in town.
Guides leading this three-and-a-half-hour excursion take groups on a tour of public art, markets, and lesser-known gems of Philadelphia. The tour highlights include visits to the Magic Gardens Mosaic Gallery, and the world-famous 9th Street Italian Market. Along the way, you’ll see murals by local artist Isaiah Zagar, and recreate an iconic scene from the classic, locally-based film Rocky.
If you come to stay at The Independent Hotel in Philadelphia, you’ll fast realize that we are major proponents of the arts. The City of Brotherly Love has long been home to some of the best cultural institutions in the world. We recommend visiting as many as you can during your stay in Philadelphia, either taking official guided tours, or having some time to explore on your own.
You can head to the third-largest museum in the country at The Philadelphia Museum of Art to explore its encyclopedic collection of Renaissance, American, and Modern works. (In addition to all of the great art, you can also run up the Rocky Steps out front.) Other institutions worth touring and exploring include the Rodin Museum, the Barnes Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Read more about Philadelphia’s best museums here.
Be sure not to deprive yourself of the wealth of unique local flavor spicing up Philadelphia’s restaurants when exploring our city. The Philadelphia Iconic Foods Tour is a guided exploration of some of the best establishments to enjoy locally-specific dishes like tomato pie, soft pretzels, and Philly cheesesteaks. The two-and-a-half hour experience comes with historical insights, and tons of delicious bites.
Planning a visit to the City of Brotherly Love? Check out The Independent Hotel’s blog for our favorite recommendations of what to see and experience in Philadelphia.