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aboutPhiladelphia Travel Guide

Aug 17, 2018
by Logan Hunt

Info for Tourists & Travelers: Understanding Philadelphia

The nickname “City of Brotherly Love” was coined when William Penn, who founded the city, named it to reflect its Greek translation and roots. Penn’s idea was to build a place, being a Quaker, that anyone can practice their own faith openly and without persecution. The original capital of the country, it was also the 2nd biggest British Empire after London. Its history, tradition, and culture are hidden not too deep beneath the layers of events and celebrations they continue to celebrate today. It is an exciting, renowned melting pot of immigrant cultures.

downtown Philladelphia - Unsplash
Source: Unsplash - Devon Wellesley

Just like Penn intended, there are a lot of parks and green spaces to enjoy everywhere you turn in downtown Philly. As an ideal escapade from bustling city life, Philadelphia provides blocks of landscaped greens surrounded by public art, all of which can be clearly viewed from within your Philadelphia charter bus. Just to name a few: Franklin Square, Fitler Square, Washington Square, Rittenhouse Square or Logan Square.

Home to historic landmarks like Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence, it has inspired a smaller New Philadelphia in Ohio (30 minutes from Canton) which has a population of approximately 180,000.  Thanks to its rich history, culture and friendly people (except for when you’re supporting the opposite sports team, that is), the city revels in its own quirks. To sample what Philadelphia offers, look out for the following.

1. City of Firsts

You’re right if you think, being one of the pioneering cities in the country, that Philadelphia had the privilege of enjoying many historical firsts. It hosted America’s first independence, got to first explore the world of personal computers, ran the country’s first daily newspaper (The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser back in 1784), and its people enjoyed the country’s very first zoo! Not only did it build the country’s first hospital, it had the first medical school which, until today, is known for vast advancements in the medical sector. The stats don’t lie. One in every six doctors in the country received their training in Philadelphia.

Bring the Philadelphia charter bus to the following attractions if you’re interested in finding out more about how Philadelphia became the guinea pig for the countless industries that drove America forward.
  • The American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386
(215) 440-3400
Hours: Mon to Fri 9 am - 4.30pm
Benjamin Franklin and his Quaker botanist friend, John Bartram established the society way before the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to have a place where the scientific discovery was independent of Great Britain’s dominance. Today, it is an International research center with focuses on early American history, Native American ethnography, linguistics, digital innovation, and sciences.

  • Dox Thrash - Accomplished Painter and Printmaker

Dox Thrash became well-known because he produced countless paintings, drawings, and prints during his lifetime that reflected his life as an African American. It was a bold idea at that time. In the 1940s, after introducing the Carborundum printmaking technique, he continued developing his expertise in etching, drypoint, mezzotint, lithography and linoleum cut. We are sure you’ll enjoy the results of his countless experiments as much as he did. He remained active in the art scene until his death and you can view his masterpieces at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Woodmere Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

  • The First Bank of the United States

Independence National Historical Park - 128 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA
The city established its first bank during a nationally tumultuous time. Chartered in 1791 as a part of Alexander Hamilton’s reforms, it played a crucial role in setting the financial stage right for the country. Introduced in the country’s first capital, it had the Federal Government take over Revolutionary War debts, raise money for the new government and established the country’s first national bank and currency.
  • Bartram's Garden

5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 729-5281
Hours: Mon to Fri 10 am - 4 pm; Sat and Sun 10 am - 6 pm
The oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, the historic garden offers free admission for all. A little off-the-beaten-path, it’s a hidden gem and a sanctuary to those looking for a quiet place to relax, enjoy kayaking/paddling, picnic, or have a romantic date with their loved ones. Head out during sunset and you’ll be rewarded with countless Instagram-worthy pictures!

  • College of Physicians

19 S 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 563-3737
Hours: Daily 10am - 5pm
Library: By appointment only
A non-profit organization and oldest private medical society in the country, it features hundreds of years of the establishment’s history and advancements through its exhibits. Welcoming professionals and opening its doors to people of all ages and from all walks of life, it encourages the public to learn about both science and art.

2. A vibrant art scene

Based on its founders’ beliefs on how Philadelphia is to be like for its residents, the city’s chapter on creative arts never closed its doors. In fact, it has only grown. It has ever-inventive ways to express and create itself on various platforms ranging from official museums to galleries, underground art scenes to grand theaters. Philly has more public art than any other cities in the country and is home to an impressive array of impressionist paintings and sculptures comparable to those in Rodin Museum, Paris.

Throughout the year and city, the art fair is a mainstay; every weekend, there’s a hosting of an artist’s works of art, be it photography or painting all around Philly. The Avenue of the Arts, known as Broad Street located just a short walk from City Hall, is home to a large cluster of performing arts venues where plays, musicals, film festivals and educational programs are organized.

You know art is a big deal here in Philly just by looking at the thousands of murals there are around you as you take a languid stroll downtown. The murals are the reasons for its nickname, the “mural capital of the United States”. And if you like odds and ends, and the weirdness of human life, drop by Mutter Museum. You need to have the stomach for things like parts of Einstein’s brain and a book with human skin as its cover.

Here’s a short list of art attractions not too far from downtown Philly to research on while you’re planning your trip to this amazing city.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100
Admission: $20 for Adults, $18 for Seniors (65+), $14 for Students with ID, Free Admission for Members and Children age 12 and younger
Hours: Tue to Sun 10am - 5pm; Wed and Fri 10am - 8.45pm; Closed on Monday
The art museum has got a long history considering that it was chartered in 1876 as a part of the Centennial Exposition. It’s an iconic landmark locals know fondly only as “the art museum”. Since it boasts of one of the country’s largest collection of permanent art collections from all around the world, you will be wowed.

  • The Center For Emerging Visual Artists

237 S 18th St #3A, Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 546-7775
The center hosts the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, also known as POST, whereby it brings aspiring artists out to explore the countless studio spaces around town every October. So, bar bad timing, join them during the tours to talk to artists, exchange ideas with like-minded people or sign up for workshops. The event is free and supports the local art scene.

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

118-128 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Hours: Tue to Fri 10am - 5pm; Sat and Sun 11am - 5pm
Admission: $15 for Adults, $12 for Seniors 60+, $12 for Students with ID, $8 for Youth age 13 - 18, Free Admission for Children age 12 and younger
The oldest art school in the United States (we DID say Philadelphia is a city of FIRSTS), its unparalleled collection of artwork range from 19th-century pieces from Thomas Eakins to modern contemporary paintings from Nancy Graves. It may be a little quieter than PMA but it has no shortage of events all year round! It’s peaceful and inspiring at the same time.

  • First Friday

Old City, Philadelphia
Mark your calendars on the first Friday of every month from 5 pm to 9 pm to dive into a world of the art showcased by a lineup of exhibits, talks, seminars, and exhibits. Over 40 galleries open their doors for free to art lovers from all walks of life and even if you’re just wandering around the streets of Old City, they’ll be right under your nose and it's tons of fun!
  • Twenty-Two Gallery

236 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 772-1911
Oil paintings, watercolors, photography, sculptures, intricate handmade items - you name it, it’s on display. It a major launch pad for 22 artists to get eyeballs for their works of art. Founded by the main man of the house, Shawn Murray’s grandfather, Bruce Murray, there's an archive that dates as far back as 5 decades ago. On the 2nd Friday of the month, they run a refreshing reception from 6 pm to 9 pm to introduce newly added pieces while supporting the local Philadelphia art scene.

Jazz Up Your Philly Trip with Artsy Treats from the Latest Events
For more of the latest happenings in the Philly art scene, you can always pop by Theater Philadelphia where there’s a comprehensive and updated calendar to look up.

3. History

Philly is pretty proud of being the first established American city and there are good reasons for that!

After running away from home at 17, Benjamin Franklin launched into helping build the foundation of the city. Starting from the city’s fire department (remember, a fire was the biggest environmental challenge back then), he fueled the fire for construction in the form of schools, the University of Pennsylvania, roads, streets, home, civic organizations, churches, museums, parks, and parkways. His passion was so massive that his name was splattered across the fronts of buildings ranging from malls to stadiums, residential areas to businesses.

Since the city was around since 1682, it naturally attracted new residents and immigrants, cementing it as an important cultural hub of the country. It’s something even the Liberty Bell and Declaration of Independence can’t tell and show you. Although it is no longer the biggest city, it holds the sixth position in terms of population and remains the 40th most populous city in the world. Since there’s so much history packed into every alley, street, and corner of Philadelphia, historians would argue that it is the country’s REAL birthplace.

And if you want to sample some of that historical can-do spirit and their lifestyles, check out the following attractions. You won’t regret it.
  • The Rodin Museum
    2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
    Hours: Wed to Mon 10am - 5pm; Closed on Tue
    Admission (suggested): $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors 65+, $7 for Students with ID and Youth age 13 - 18, Free Admission for Members and Children age 12 and younger
  • The Barnes Foundation
    2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
    (215) 278-7000
    Hours: Wed to Mon 11am - 5pm, Closed on Tue
    Admission: $30 for Adults, $28 for Seniors 65+, $5 for College Students and Youth age 13 - 18, Free Admission for Children age 12 and younger, Free Admission for K-12 Teachers on Sundays
  • Please Touch Museum
    4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131
    (215) 581-3181
    Hours: Mon to Sat 9am - 5pm, Sun 11am - 5pm
    Admission: $19 for Adults and Children age 1 and older; $3 for Carousel Rides, $5 for Unlimited Carousel Rides
  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia
    701 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
    (215) 574-0380
    Hours: Wed to Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 12pm - 5pm
    Admission: $14 for Adults, $10 for Youth age 4 - 12, $10 for Students with ID, $10 for Senior Citizens. Call for Group Rates
  • National Museum of American Jewish History
    101 S Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106
    (215) 923-3811
    Hours: Tue to Fri 10am - 5pm, Sat and Sun 10am - 5.30pm
    Admission: $15 for Adults, $13 for Seniors 65+, $13 for Youth age 13 - 21/Students with ID, Free Admission for Children age 12 and younger and Active Military with ID
  • Penn Museum
    3260 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
    (215) 898-4000
    Hours: Tue to Sun 10am - 5pm, First Wed 10am - 8pm, Closed on Monday
    Admission: $15 for Adults, $13 for Seniors 65+, $10 for Children age 6 - 17, Free Admission for members, Active Military/Children age 5 and younger/PennCard holders
    Entrances: The Daniel G. Kamin Entrance, Kress Group Entrance, The Trescher Entrance
  • National Constitution Center
    525 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
    (215) 409-6700
    Hours: Mon to Fri 9.30pm - 5pm, Sat 9.30am - 5pm, Sun 12pm - 5pm
    Admission: $14.50 for Adults, $13 for Seniors 65+, $13 for College Students with ID, $11 for Military Veterans/Youth age 6 - 18, Free Admission for Children age 0 - 5/Active Military/Members
  • The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
    6825-31 Norwitch Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19153
    (215) 365.7233
    Hours: Tue to Fri 10am - 6pm, Sat and Sun 10am - 4pm
  • Rosenbach Museum and Library
    2008 Delancey Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19103
    (215) 732-1600
    Hours: Tue and Fri 12pm - 5pm, Wed and Thur 12pm - 8pm, Sat and Sun 12pm - 6pm, Closed on Mon
    Admission: $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors 65+, $5 for Students and Children, Free Admission for Members and Children age 5 and younger
  • The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
    1300 Locust Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
    (215) 732-6200
    Hours: Tue 12.30pm - 5.30pm, Wed 12.30pm - 8.30pm, Thur 12.30pm - 5.30pm, Fri 10am - 5.30pm
    Admission: $8 per person
    Note: Children under Grade 6 are not permitted into the library unless with an accompanying adult

Who says #hiphop can’t be educational? Meet @hiphopfundamentals, a diverse team of Philly B-boys dedicated to spreading hip-hop as an academic tool. It’s not too late to drop in for PECO Free First Sunday Family Day! We’re here through 5 pm. This month, we’re featuring an array of voices and presentations that will enrapture and delight audiences of all ages.⠀ ___________________________________⠀ 💃 Check out today’s Instagram stories to see more dance performances by @cagempowering and Khalil Munir! ___________________________________⠀ 🔎 Learn about the unique stories behind African artifacts from The Tribal Home’s owner, Karen Riggs. ⠀ ___________________________________⠀ 🎥 Final weeks to view, Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema. Catch it before it closes on September 3! ⠀

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Tomorrow, join us for performances by @KyoDaiko, a Philadelphia-based, community taiko group, at our Japanese Culture Family Festival! Get more info here:

A post shared by Please Touch Museum (@pleasetouchmuseum) on

Want to be a collections intern at the Rosenbach this summer? The deadline to apply is April 17!

A post shared by The Rosenbach (@therosenbach) on

4. Food

If you’re not a local, you’ll be spotted the moment you are ordering food in a restaurant, especially when it’s traditional cheesesteaks. Make it quick and to-the-point because if you linger a little longer, think a little harder, you’ll be caught out...not that it means anything. If you want to eat like a local, there’s nothing like digging into a scrapple, also known famously as Pennsylvania Dutch, Pannhass or pan rabbit. For your sweet tooth, don’t forget to sample a local soft pretzel, Tastykake snack, hoagies or water ice.

Bottom line is this: if you come during your group travel with an open heart and mind, you’ll never run out of quality food and cool Philly-versions of everything. Everything from seafood to sushi has been given a local makeover and it is fun! The good news is that you don’t have to pay a King’s ransom to sink your teeth into heartening soul foods. In fact, if you pop by a shopping mall, you’ll have everything from Italian to French, American to Polish waiting for you! Food, in combination with historical and cultural attractions, has transformed Philadelphia from a seriously traditional city into a mixed bag of good stuff.

Pop by the following restaurants during your Philadelphia group trip to sample authentic Philadelphia food if you believe that the heart is where the stomach is (as the saying goes)

hearty soups, unique Philly cuisine to sample in downtown Philadelphia
Source: Angela Pham, Unsplash

5. Sports

Philadelphians are amazing people until you start supporting the opposing sports team or holding the line up at a restaurant. The fans of Philadelphia Eagles were notoriously known to be one of the country’s rowdiest crowds, bringing on its own courtroom and jail for misbehaving fans! True story.

Being one of the most popular College Towns in PA, it proves that whenever there’s a game on, you can expect a passionate display of support, lots of guffaws and maybe some drama. It is, after all, home to the University of Pennsylvania, one of the leading educational organizations in the country. Sidestep vomiting and individual raucous expressionism if you’re not into the scene but getting into the whole sports scene is a very Philly thing. Fans from other sports teams like the 76ers, Flyers, Philadelphia Union and their Major League Soccer team also won’t stand idly by when fans and teams are ‘attacked’.  It’s in most Philly people’s DNA, as with many other people in major cities in the United States. It’s safe to say that these fans are not playing around when it comes to sports.

🦅 #FlyEaglesFly

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Within the Greater Philadelphia area, college students (or people young at heart, to put it mildly) would throng to watch sports teams from La Salle University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University and Villanova University go head-on against each other. Watch out whenever NYC and Pittsburg come into town, though, because their rivalry is unmatched. There’s even a healthy thing going on in its lacrosse, ice hockey, and the racing scene.

While you’re looking for coaches for rent in Philadelphia, pop by websites like Philly Fun Guide for the latest sporting events around Philadelphia

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