Visit Philadelphia

If you’ve never been to Philadelphia, you need to add it to your list of must-visit cities. Famous as the City of Brotherly Love, Philly seamlessly blends the historic, the modern, and everything in between. The locals are friendly, the city itself is wonderful to explore on foot, and the subway/but system (SEPTA) is easy to navigate. On our visit, we spent some time on the beaten track, but also found plenty of time to get off it. Here are some of our recommendations. For more, or to plan your trip, check out Visit Philadelphia,

The Franklin Institute

automaton at franklin instituteThis science museum is amazing and has something for everyone in your family. You’ll find hands-on exhibits where you can learn about gears, power, physics, and static electricity; a heart that’s big enough to walk through; virtual reality immersive experiences; an escape room; a planetarium; and even some look-but-don’t-touch marvels, including our absolute favorite, the Maillardet Automaton—a fascinating machine that was the inspiration for the movie Hugo and the book it’s based on, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Arrive early and plan to spend most of the day here.

Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

mutter museumThis remarkable collection of medical oddities includes a slice of Albert Einstein’s brain, wax models of every conceivable disease, a death cast of the “original” Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, and preserved specimens of two-headed babies and a variety of diseased or deformed body parts. There’s also a 2,374-piece collection of objects removed from the airways and digestive tracts of Philadelphia’s own Dr. Chevalier Jackson. These include pins, nails, coins, toys, wire, and more.

Pizza Brain

star trek pizza cutterThis small-ish, off-the-beaten-track pizza place is also the home of the world’s largest collection of pizza-related items (and they’ve got the Guinness World Record to prove it). You’ll find articles on the history of pizza in the U.S., record albums, ads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, pizza-themed games, and even a Starship Enterprise pizza cutter.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

magic gardenIsaiah Zagar has been making his own brand of whimsical, eclectic, colorful, and wildly creative mosaic art in Philly since the late 1960s. Using handmade tiles, broken mirrors, bottles, bowls, figurines, and other materials, he decorates both the inside and outside of his creations. This installation covers half a city block and includes an outdoor labyrinth.

Independence National Historic Park

liberty bellThere’s a lot of history in Philadelphia, including Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution signed; and the Liberty Bell Center, which houses the famous cracked bell and a nice exhibit on the not-always-pleasant history of liberty in the U.S.

Bury the Hatchet

axe throwingImagine darts, but with axes. It may sound a little intimidating, but it’s easy to learn and lots of fun. Your experience starts with a lesson in the basics of throwing and scoring, followed by some friendly games. An instructor will be with your group for your whole visit to keep score, and, most importantly, to keep everyone safe. Ages 14+.

Rocky Steps and Statue

If you’ve seen the “Rocky” movies, you no doubt remember the stairs triumphantly Rocky runs up to let us know that he’s in tip-top shape and ready to meet Apollo Creed. If you don’t feel like running up all 72 steps, you can take a picture in front of the Rocky statue at the bottom.

Reading Terminal Market

At some point on your trip, you’re going to want to eat, and this repurposed train station has every type of food, from Amish to Ziti. Don’t forget the marzipan.