Philadelphia Tourism Suggestions
Philadelphia is one of the great cities of America, with a long list of attractions that can keep you enthralled for a week. Enjoying a favorable location on the banks of the Delaware River, Philadelphia was once the capital of the United States and offers a colonial core (known as Society Hill) filled with dignified brick rowhouses and pocket parks.
The most famous building here is Independence Hall, with the Liberty Bell nearby. Eight blocks further west is City Hall (topped by a statue of William Penn) and the Arts District heading south along Broad Street. A few blocks further west is stately Rittenhouse Square and the fashionable shops of Walnut Street. You might also consider visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, Temple University (two miles north of City Hall) and the University of Pennsylvania (a mile west of downtown on the west bank of the Schuylkill River).
To visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, here are several tips. Entry to Independence Hall is solely by guided tour. From March through December, you must pick up a free timed ticket at the new Independence Visitor Center, in Independence Mall at the northeast corner of Market and 6th Streets. It is wise to make a trip to the Visitor Center early in the day (it opens at 8:30 AM) to get your tickets, even if you want a tour later in the day. Especially in the warmer months, tours tend to fill up quickly.
In 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved from Independence Hall to its own glass pavilion just a block north. More recently, it has been moved again, to a larger building adjacent to the 1976 pavilion. Tickets are not needed. (Be prepared to pass through security checkpoints for both Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.)
The Philadelphia Flower Show (March) is the both the oldest in the U.S., dating from 1829, and the largest in the world (among indoor shows), drawing over 275,000 visitors each year. It is an outstanding event, which attracts visitors from hundreds of miles away. The show is produced by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the first organization of its type in the nation, founded in 1827. See See www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org
NOTE: Crowds are lightest on weekdays after 4 PM. Advance tickets are available online (leave adequate time for mailing) or at a variety of locations from New Jersey to Virginia. Check the horticultural society website for details. You can save by buying in advance rather than at the door.
Many fine universities (including Haverford and Bryn Mawr) lie along the "Main Line", the train line heading west of Philadelphia.
Those motivated to see Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the Philadelphia area may wish to visit the following two sites:
Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, PA, north of Philadelphia, is a National Historic Landmark and the only synagogue designed by Wright. He accepted the commission for this project in 1953. Working closely with the congregation’s rabbi, Mortimer J. Cohen, Wright developed a soaring glass-enclosed space mean