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Philadelphia/Old City

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Philadelphia : Old City
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Philadelphia/Old City

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Philadelphia's Old City is home to a large number of historical sites, galleries, restaurants, and bars, and is known for its active nightlife and cultural opportunities.


Old City hosts a lot of nightlife activity: expect to see a young, professional crowd here on weekends. Penns Landing is on the waterfront, where you'll find the Comfort Inn, the Hyatt Regency and the Sheraton. Restaurants include the Chart House, Moshulu, Hibachi and La Veranda. Every New Years Eve and Independence Day, you will see crowds gathered on the Great Plaza awaiting the fireworks. Nearby is Festival Pier, where many concerts are held.

  • Penn's Landing is the waterfront area popular all year-round with an ice skating rink, concerts, and various city events. There are also many restaurants, hotels, and even a museum. Penn's Landing [37]
  • Old City is filled with art galleries, restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges. It is between Front and Fourth Streets to the east and west, and generally bounded by Race Street to the north and Walnut Street to the south. Old City [38] is easily where Philadelphia goes to party.


Get in

  • Driving: you can find parking structures and rates with the PPA Parking Finder. Parking along the streets in Old City is metered, scarce and frequently with a two-hour limit.
  • Bus service: Routes are available through the SEPTA website, as well as the PHLASH trolley that operates part of the year.
  • Subway: The Market-Frankford line has stops along Market St (2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th/Market-East)
  • Cabs are available throughout the city by hailing, as well.


Independence Hall

Independence National Historical Park and Visitor's Center, 6th and Market Streets, +1 215 965-7676, [1]. The visitor center is open daily 8:30AM-5PM. This national park, covering several blocks of Old City Philadelphia, includes some of the Philadelphia's most famous historic sites, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin's house and grave, and the house in which the Declaration of Independence was written. The park also includes a modern interactive museum, the National Constitution Center. The Independence Visitor's Center, where you must buy tickets to see Independence Hall, offers a wealth of information on historical sites and other attractions in the area. Costumed interpreters at the Visitor's Center are a great source of entertainment for children. The National Park Service provides a helpful map of the historical sites in the park. Free.

Sites within Independence National Historical Park

  • Independence Hall, Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th Streets, [2]. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM. The centerpiece of the park and arguably its most important building. Originally known as the Pennsylvania State House, this is where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and where the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787, among other momentous historical events. Visitors to the park are encouraged to take a tour of the interior of the building, which is furnished with period pieces. Timed tour tickets must be reserved in advance online or at the Visitor's Center in order to enter. Tickets reserved online have a $1.50 processing fee, but are free at the Visitor's Center. Admission is free.
The Liberty Bell
  • Liberty Bell Center, Market Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, [3]. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM. The Liberty Bell once rang out public announcements from above the Pennsylvania state house (now Independence Hall). It became a public symbol of freedom when it toured the country after the Civil War to help mend political and social divisions. Returning to Philadelphia in 1915, it is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center where visitors can get an up close look at the 2000-pound bell and its mysterious crack. Admission is free.
  • National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street, [4]. M-F 9:30AM-5PM, Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su Noon-5PM. This brand-spanking new museum, which opened its doors in 2003, bills itself as the most interactive history museum in America. A visit to the museum begins with a performance of "Freedom Rising," a multimedia presentation about the major themes and origin of the Constitution. Afterwards, visitors can experience the democratic process first hand and see exhibits like the 42 life-size bronze statues of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Fun for all ages. Upcoming special events and exhibits are posted on the Center's website. Tickets to the museum are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $8 for children ages 4-12. Active military personnel and children under 4 enter free.
  • Carpenter's Hall, 320 Chestnut Street, +1 215 925-0167, [5]. Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. The delegates from the first Continental Congress gathered in this building, built in 1770, and voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Afterwards, the Hall housed the first and second banks of the United States and was the site of the first bank robbery in America. Free.
The interior of Congress Hall
  • Congress Hall, 6th and Chestnut Streets, [6]. Daily 9AM-5PM. This smaller building to the right of Independence Hall is where the U.S. Congress met from 1790-1800 when Philadelphia served as the nation's capital. The Bill of Rights was ratified here, and it was the site of George Washington's second inauguration. A tour of the interior is a must, since much of the furniture and decoration is original. Free.
  • Franklin Court, 316-322 Market Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, [7]. Printing office and underground museum open daily 10AM-5PM; B. Free Franklin Post Office open M-Sa 9AM-5PM. This area contains the remnants of Benjamin Franklin's house (torn down 20 years after his death), the first Post office (still in operation today), a Postal Service museum, an 18th century printing office, and a Franklin museum. U.S. Park Rangers conduct printing demonstrations and performances of Franklin's "Glass Armonica." Great for kids. Free.
  • Declaration (Graff) House, [8]. W-Su 9:30AM-Noon. This is a reconstruction of the house built by Jacob Graff in 1775, where, a year after it was built, Thomas Jefferson rented two rooms and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Today, the first floor of the house contains exhibits and a short film about the Declaration, while the second floor where Jefferson lived has been recreated with period furniture. Free.
  • Christ Church and Burial Ground, 20 N. American Street (corner of 2nd Street and Market Street), +1 215 922-1695, [9]. Church visiting hours are M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM; cemetery is open M-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su Noon-4PM from March-November. Christ Church, the first parish of the Anglican church in Pennsylvania, was founded in 1695 and is still active today; the existing building dates from 1744. Many of the founding fathers worshiped here, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Francis Hopkinson and Robert Morris. Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin, are buried in the cemetery, located at the corner of Arch Street and Independence Mall East. The earliest grave dates to 1721. Visiting the church is free, but a $3 donation is suggested; tours of the cemetery are $2 for adults, $1 for students.
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, 3rd and Pine Streets, [10]. W-Su Noon-4PM. The house of this little-known freedom fighter and military engineer who designed fortifications for the colonists during the Revolutionary War is now open to the public. Visitors can watch a video of Kosciuszko's career in Poland and the United States, see his bedroom, and view exhibits commemorating his accomplishments. Audio materials are presented in English or Polish. Free.

Some historic sites in Philadelphia are associated with the Independence National Historic Park but are not located within its boundaries or the boundaries of Old City. These include the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church in South Philly, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at the Franklin Institute in Center City West, and the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in North Philly.

Important Historical Sites Outside the Park

The Betsy Ross House
  • Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street, +1 215 686-1252, [11]. Daily 10AM-5PM April through October; closed Mondays October through March. This house, more than 250 years old, was the home of Betsy Ross. In 1777, Ross sewed by hand the first American flag, with its distinctive circle of thirteen stars. Visitors may tour the house independently, or purchase an audio guide for $5, and afterwards "meet" Betsy Ross and other colonial craftsmen in the courtyard of the house. A fun, low-key activity for children. $3 suggested admission for adults; $2 children.
  • Elfreth’s Alley, off 2nd Street, between Arch and Race streets, +1 215 574-0560, [12]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su Noon-5PM; closed Monday. Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually inhabited street in the entire United States. The earliest dated house was built in 1702. The Alley comes alive in the summer, when historical reenactments take place regularly. Each house is privately owned, and visitors are not usually allowed to take a tour of the interior; however, the museum at numbers 126 and 124 is accessible to the public and offers a look at the lives of the houses' earliest inhabitants. Free; admission to the museum $5.
  • Fireman's Hall Museum, 147 N. 2nd Street, +1 215 923-1438, [13]. Tu-Sa 10AM-4:30PM, First Fridays 10AM-9PM. The restored firehouse was built in 1902 and today is a museum of firefighting owned by the city of Philadelphia. The museum exhibits include firefighting equipment, photographs, uniforms and fire marks from the 18th century to the present. Free.

Other Attractions and Museums

  • United States Mint, 151 North Independence Mall East, [14]. M-F 9AM-3PM M-F; summer hours M-Sa 9AM-4:30PM. Taking a self-guided tour of the first and largest US Mint in America is an interesting but often overlooked activity. The tour allows visitors to see how new money is made, and exhibits describe the history and coinage of the Mint. A gift shop sells commemorative and new coins. Please note that visitors will be asked to show government-issued ID before entering. Free.
The Real World House
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, 55 North 5th St, +1 215 923-3811, [15]. A museum devoted to the history of Jewish Americans. It has artifacts and films and much more that explores the Jewish culture through America.
  • The 'Real World' House, 3rd and Arch Streets. Fans of MTV's "The Real World" will recognize this former bank building, turned living space for the seven cast members of the show's 2005 season. Philly locals were not particularly welcoming, and one episode featured a cast member being assaulted at a nearby bar. Now the building, which stands next to the Betsy Ross House, is a gallery for the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

Museums at Penn's Landing

When it was built, I-95 effectively and disastrously cut off the Delaware river waterfront from the rest of the city. However, the walkways connecting Old City with Penn's Landing make it easy to get to the museums and sights on the water on foot. If you do make it over to Penn's Landing, here are some things to check out:

USS Olympia, still afloat after 110 years
  • Independence Seaport Museum, Penn's Landing at the end of the Walnut St. walkway, +1 215 413-8655, [16]. Daily 10AM-5PM. This museum has lots of interesting displays regarding the maritime history of Philadelphia, from colonial times through the days of slave-trading to the Industrial Revolution. Admission to the museum, which has some lively, but rather sparse exhibits, includes tours of the USS Olympia, built in 1892 and the oldest steel warship still afloat, and the submarine Becuna, used in the Pacific Ocean during WWII. Other highlights include a mockup of a navigation room and a place where you can view woodworkers handcrafting rowboats. Children will find touring the ships great fun, and adults may find the museum exhibits and the views of the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge interesting and relaxing. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7 children/students/military; Pay-what-you-wish admission on Sundays 10AM-Noon.


First Friday

If you happen to be in Philadelphia on the first Friday of the month, you must attend First Friday. From 5PM-9PM, the small art galleries of Old City (most of which can be found in the area between Front and 3rd Streets, and Vine and Market Streets) open their doors and offer visitors free wine and snacks as they wander through rooms filled with new artworks. But the art is only half the story. First Friday is an ideal time to watch the different communities living in Philadelphia mingle, enjoy street performances, and watch the sun go down over the city. It's Philadelphia at its best. [39]


  • Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St, +1 215 922-1122, [17]. The Arden contains a 360-seat mainstage theatre and a 175-seat studio theater. The company produces five or six plays each season, with an additional two plays for children. The Arden has received 44 Barrymore awards and was named Philadelphia Magazine's pick for children's theatre in 2007. $29-$48.
  • Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, +1 215 925-9914, [18]. "The Bride," as it is known, was founded in 1969 and is dedicated to producing and showing works generated by points of view that are "outside the mainstream," according to the center's website. The center contains a gallery and a 250-seat theater, where shows such as "Jazz on Vine," Philadelphia's oldest continuously running Jazz series, are performed. The Bride also hosts innovative dance and world music performances. A Philadelphia treasure.


In addition to myriad art galleries, Old City boasts design studios and very modern furniture stores.

Also, it is the restaurant-supply outlet center of the city

  • a.k.a. Music, 27 N 2nd St (between Market and Arch), +1 215 922-3855. M-Th 11AM-8PM, F-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Lots of hard-to-find releases in all genres from rock & Indie to jazz & experimental. Good vinyl selection, too.
  • The Book Trader, 7 N 2nd St (at Market), +1 215 925-0517 (), [19]. Daily 10AM-10PM. Large selection of used books and a couple friendly cats.
  • Shane Candies, 110 Market Street, +1 215 922-1048. The oldest candy store in the country (or so they claim), this is an original store that has been in this location since 1876. Not only is all the interior decor unreconstructed but most of the candies are made the same way as they have for generations, without preservatives. Plenty of seasonal candy choices but they are best known for their buttercreams.


  • Amada, 217 Chestnut St, +1 215 625-2450, [20]. M-Th 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-11PM, F 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-1AM, Sa 5PM-1AM, Su 5PM-10PM. Excellent Spanish tapas cuisine; the standard against which all other tapas bars in the city must measure themselves. A large Spanish wine selection along with an enormous variety of tapas, some in traditional Spanish style. Also has an excellent cheese plate, great service, and is a good place for people-watching. Reservations are basically mandatory. $20-$30 for entree.
  • Buddakan, 325 Chestnut St, +1 215 574-9440, [21]. M-Th 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-11PM, F 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-Midnight, Sa 5PM-Midnight, Su 5PM-11PM. One of the more well known restaurants in Philadelphia, it has a fairly good wine list and a focus on Asian food (many varieties). It is often considered one of the top ten to fifteen restaurants in Philadelphia. $25-$35 for entree.
  • Continental, 138 Market St, +1 215 923-6069 (fax: +1 215 923-8818), [22]. M-W 11:30AM-3:30PM and 5PM-11PM, Th 11:30PM-3:30PM and 5PM-Midnight, F 11:30AM-3:30PM and 5PM-1AM, Sa 10AM-4PM and 5PM-1AM, Su 10AM-4PM and 5PM-11PM (bar open until 2AM).
  • Eulogy Belgian Tavern, 136 Chestnut Street, [23]. M-W 5PM-2AM, Th-Su 11AM-2AM. A slice of Belgium cuisine: Mussels & Fries, etc. Also a huge variety of beers (Belgian or otherwise) on draft or bottle.
  • Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St, +1 215 627-1899 (), [24]. An early 1900s-style ice cream saloon with tin ceilings, antique soda dispensers, belt-driven ceiling fans, and servers in period attire.
  • La Famiglia Ristorante, 8 South Front St, +1 215 922-7803, [25]. Philadelphia's Best Italian Restaurant serving customers since 1976. Enormous wine cellar.
  • Karma, 114 Chestnut St, +1 215 925-1444, [26]. M-Th 11:30AM-2:30PM and 4:30PM-10PM, F 11:30AM-2:30PM and 4:30PM-11PM, Sa Noon-11PM, Su Noon-10PM. Excellent Indian cuisine, with a particularly exquisite lunch buffet; dinner specialties include standard Indian dishes as well as some modernized dishes; the focus is on the classics, however. Reservations are recommended for dinner. $10-$20 for entrees, buffet is around $10.
  • Morimoto, 723 Chestnut St, +1 215 413-9070, [27]. Japanese fusion cuisine from Masaharu Morimoto, famous as Iron Chef Japanese and currently on Food Network's Iron Chef America. Reservations are strongly recommended; dress is upscale casual, jackets are not required


Old City is packed with restaurants, bars and smaller clubs from Front to 3rd Sts. and Race to Chestnut Sts. with the most concentration on 2nd and 3rd Sts. between Chestnut and Market Sts. Well-dressed attractive professionals crowd the sidewalks all night on the weekends, with the occasional celebrity too. Most of the venues are upscale, dressy and comparatively expensive with DJs and without; watch out for door policy and sometimes a line. There are too many to name and they're all right there, just look into the front windows to decide. You can also find more laidback drinking holes like Skinner's, Sugarmom's and Rotten Ralph's. Upstairs At Nick's and The Khyber both have bands and special events. For a quieter drink, try Race Cafe or Continental. For dance music connoisseurs, try Fluid on 4th near South St. Perfect dance spot bringing in legions of international DJs spinning Techno, Hard House, etc...Slammin'. Cabs are everywhere at 2AM (closing time)

For a great (strong) cup of coffee try Old City Coffee on Church Street between 2nd and 3rd just north of Market.

  • Shampoo, Willow Street between 7th and 8th Streets, +1 215 922 7500, [28]. 9PM-2AM. One of the most prestigious clubs in Philly especially on Sunday nights. With a foam pit and hot tub there is something for everyone. It has four different rooms with different types of music in each room. If your 17 or older you want to be here on Sunday nights. varies.
  • Club 27, 27 South Bank St, [29]. 9PM-2AM. Club 27 is a popular night club for younger people in Philadelphia. If you are 17 or older go to Club 27 on Saturday and Thursday nights. It is very easy to get to and is very close to many restauraunts in the Old City area. It is also about a block away from the Frankford-Market street line. With different specials and many different concerts and celebrity guests, it is one of the hot spots for kids 17 and older.
  • The Roxxy, 939 N Delaware Ave, +1 215 931-0101, [30]. 9PM-2AM. Friday nights at The Roxxy areone of the hottest places to be in Philly for 17 and older. Parking is available close by. You have to get there early though because if you do not you will be waiting in a line for a good amount of time. Many celebrities and music artists perform there. In the summer they have a pool in the club. It is one of the best places to be on a Friday night.



  • Apple Hostels of Philadelphia (HI-Philadelphia), 32 S Bank St, +1 215 922-0222 (), [31]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Located less than 3 blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, this HI-affiliated hostel has free wireless internet and high-speed internet kiosks, free bed linens, no curfews, no lockouts. Affordable, clean hostel with loads of free activities, friendly & knowledgeable staff and plenty of outside tours you can book at the reception desk that's open 24 hours. This hostel only accepts international travelers and American college students as guests. Beds start at $28.


  • The Thomas Bond Inn, 129 South 2nd Street, +1 215 923-8523 (toll free: +1 800 845-2663, fax: +1 215 923-8504), [32]. The Thomas Bond Inn has been rated one of the top 25 best historic inns by American Historic Inns. It over looks Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park and the Delaware River. It has lovely Colonial furnishings and bountiful breakfast. There is wine and cheese and cookies in the evenings. $105-$190.
  • Holiday Inn - Historic District, 400 Arch St, +1 215 923-8660, [33].


  • Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, 201 South Columbus Blvd, +1 215 928-1234, [34].
  • Sheraton Society Hill, One Dock St (2nd and Walnut Streets), +1 215 238-6000, [35]. Established in 1986, it takes you back in time to the days of colonial Philadelphia. The hotel is located amidst lush landscaping and cobblestone streets in the most historic square mile in America and just four blocks away from Philadelphia's renowned Independence Hall.
  • Omni Hotel at Independence Park, 401 Chestnut Street, +1 215 925-0000 (, fax: +1 215 925-1263), [36]. This hotel overlooks the Independence National Historic Park and is within walking distance of the Liberty Bell, U.S. Mint, Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin House.


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