While there are numerous fun, educational activities and attractions, if you only have one day in Philadelphia, you want to make it count. From historic sites rooting our constitutional rights to magnificent artwork and gorgeous parks, Philadelphia has it all. Use our travel guide and tips below to make the best out of your day trip.
Getting Around the City
Foot Traffic & Ride-Sharing
Navigating the city doesn’t need to be daunting or expensive. In fact, Philadelphia is incredibly pedestrian-friendly, especially since the streets are designed in a grid pattern. Also, you can easily access ride-sharing apps such as Lyft and Uber to cut down on the city’s traffic and avoid parking.
Visitors can ride a purple PHLASH bus, which provides looped service downtown with multiple stops at popular destinations. Although you need to check for running times and dates, the ticket fare only ranges from $2 to $7 depending on your travel needs.
With several options, visitors can bike around Philly with ease. Rent a bike from a company like Wheel Fun Rentals or Fairmount Bicycles, or look into Indego’s bike sharing program. Further, it’s only $10 for a day pass with Indego.
SEPTA, or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, manages buses as well as the city’s subway and trolley system. If you’re not from a large or mid-size city, it can feel overwhelming, but there are only two subway lines if you choose that option. The Broad Street line runs north to south, whereas the Market-Frankford line (an elevated train), runs east to west. Furthermore, a ticket to ride costs $2.50, although you can buy a one-day Independence pass for $13, or $30 for a family pass that includes up to five people. Note that the bus routes can be more confusing and potentially less helpful when only visiting for the day. In addition, trolley routes operate from City Hall to the 30th Street Station.
Top Sites in Philadelphia
Independence National Historical Park
With only one day in Philadelphia, you must stroll through Independence National Historic Park. The park encompasses such historic treasures like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Essentially the birthplace of our republic, both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were discussed and signed within Independence Hall, and guests are even able to tour the very room! To visit, make reservations in advance online or via phone. In addition, guests can go to the Independence Visitor’s Center for a limited number of free tickets with specific entry times. Be warned that it is an incredibly popular attraction. Also, visitors will need to pass through a security checkpoint and should do so 30 minutes prior to the set tour time.
Liberty Bell Center
Once serving as the Pennsylvania State House bell, the Liberty Bell now stands as a symbol for freedom and civil rights in Independence Hall. Dating back to 1755, the bell did not become a symbol of freedom until the 1830s. Learn about the famous crack and how it traveled across the U.S. after the Civil War as you gaze at a living piece of American history. The Liberty Bell Center is free and open to the public.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
Learn more about Benjamin Franklin's achievements and legacy at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. The exhibits are separated into five rooms that reflect certain personality traits with videos, interactive screens and mechanics, and artifacts. Moreover, the "Library" area presents a video showcasing excerpts from his autobiography. The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily, and tickets cost $2 for kids ages four through sixteen and $5 for adults.
National Constitution Center
This highly interactive center features unique artifacts, including an original copy of the first public printing of the Constitution, hands-on activities, films, photographs, and more. For instance, guests can wander through Signer’s Hall to see life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers, as well as view an innovative journey of American history via the Freedom Rising theatrical production. Get tickets and learn more about the National Constitution Center at their website.
Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market has operated as the city's main market since 1893. Open daily from 8 am to 6 pm, you can easily wander through the market to obtain breakfast or lunch during your city tour. As one of our nation's oldest and most extensive public markets, visitors can find an expansive selection of locally-cultivated and imported produce, meats, baked goods, and more. Visitors can also shop for home goods as well as choose from an array of premium restaurants like Olympia Gyro.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts an impressive permanent collection of art as well as temporary exhibits from around the world. Guests of the museum can see works by notable artists such as Renoir, Matisse, O'Keefe, Warhol, and Rivera. You can take a guided tour or self-guided tour, as well as shop and dine in the museum's cafe. Admission prices vary per age and ID, but the best deal is to "pay what you wish" on the first Sunday of each month and every Wednesday evening.
Making the Most of One Day in Philadelphia
Because there are so many significant sites, you can't experience all of Philadelphia in a single day. However, with its countless museums, picturesque neighborhoods, and green spaces, guests are sure to have a fantastic time in the City of Brotherly Love.