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10 Things to do in Philadelphia for first timers

Philadelphia might not be the most populated city in America. It’s also not one of the most popular ones either but it should be. Philadelphia has plenty to offer for anyone. From hip stops to just the coolest hang outs and how could we forget some of the most historical places in America. 

Philadelphia is where the United States first started back in 1776. If Philly isn’t on your list of places to visit, it needs to be. You just don’t know what you are missing out on. Don’t worry though, we are here to help.

We put together a list of 10 things to do in Philadelphia for first timers. Even if this isn’t your first time visiting the city of brotherly love, we might have something you didn’t know about. So what are you waiting for? Get scrolling and check out our ten must do’s in Philly.

Visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

I don’t know how you can visit Philadelphia without paying a visit to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is just one of those symbols of American Freedom. Independence Hall is where the Constitution was signed back in 1776. 

No visit to Philly is complete without a stop here. If you are coming from out of town or even more local, a visit to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is a must. I haven’t been in Independence Hall for years but I usually go inside to see the Liberty Bell once a year.

Take a stroll along the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing

The Delaware River isn’t known for its beauty but down along Penn’s Landing it is a different story. The area is full of amazing things to do and check out. Grab the skates (Ice or Roller depending on the time of year) and hit up the Blue Cross RiverRink. Take in a little maritime history at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Take a stroll through Spruce Street Harbor Park and play a game of bean bags or build with some giant legos. You won’t find a better place to relax in the city when you are laying around on one of the hammocks throughout the park. Make sure you stay for the light show at night. 

Go high at One Liberty

On the 57th floor of One Liberty Place you will witness the best view of the city. The Observation deck gives you a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. See the surrounding suburbs of Bucks, Montco, and Chester counties. Look over the mighty Delaware River. 

There are other spots in Philly that can give you that birds-eye-view but none are quite like the view you get from One Liberty Observation Deck. 

Have a Real Philly Cheesesteak

When I was in the military I went with a buddy of mine to his home town in Georgia. We ended up going out to eat at a local diner and I saw on the menu a Philly Cheesesteak. I had to try it and see what it was like in another part of the country. 

It was a piece of steak (maybe ½ inch think) with cheese and onions on a long roll. Needless to say, that wasn’t a Philly Cheesesteak. No where in the US makes a Philly Cheesesteak like they do in Philly. If they did, it wouldn’t be so special. 

It’s all about the meat, cheese, and roll. But it is really about the roll. Unless other areas of the country are getting Philadelphia rolls flown in. It just won’t be the same. 

There are so many places throughout the city you can go to. Everyone wants to check out Pat’s and Geno’s. They might be the most popular ones but don’t skip out on Tony’s or Steve’s.. 

Be like Rocky

Who doesn’t dream of being like Rocky Balboa running up the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps? Don’t worry you won’t be the only one doing it either. Heck, even my daughter, who hasn’t seen the movies yet (she’s only 9 but will be watching them soon) has done it. 

I am not even sure how she knew about running up the steps. Maybe it’s something that everyone from the Philadelphia area just has in their blood. 

Visit the Love Statue

Philadelphia is known for many things and one of the most well known is the Love Statue. You can’t really visit the city without checking it out in Love Park. Around Christmas time this park turns into a cute little Christmas Village. 

Visit the four squares

Logan Square looking towards city hall

The four squares (Logan, Rittenhouse, Washington, and Franklin) were the idea of William Penn. Just like in the 1700’s, the open spaces are just as popular today. Each square has its own feel and uniqueness. 

Rittenhouse Square (Southwest Square) is considered the most vibrant of the four. Logan Circle (Northwest Square) offers a great view of City Hall and is right by the Franklin Institute, Barnes Foundation, and Academy of Natural Sciences. 

Washington Square (Southeast Square) is considered to be one of the best places in the city to have a spooky encounter. Many bodies were buried here over the years from British and American Revolutionary War soldiers to the cities poor in the early history of Philadelphia. Franklin Square (Northeast Square) is said to be located near the site where Ben Franklin flew his kite. This square is popular for families with it’s mini golf course, playground, fountain, and carousel. 

Check out what is happening at Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market is one of the largest and oldest public markets in America. Opened in 1893 and still continues to offer the best selection of locally grown products. You can find just about anything at the market. 

Reading Terminal Market might just be one of the best places in the city to grab a bite to eat while you are out exploring for the day. Check out Carmen’s, Loco Lucho’s, Spataro’s, and of course, DiNic’s. 

Visit City Hall

Up until 1985, City Hall was the tallest building in Philadelphia. There was a gentleman’s agreement that held firm to not have any building taller than the brim of William Penn’s Hat on the towering statue of him that sits atop City Hall. The building is also the tallest freestanding masonry building in the world. 

Take in the History

Philadelphia is full of History. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution, to one of the oldest continuously inhabited roads in America at Elfreth’s Alley. There is so much to see and do in the City of Brotherly Love that you will want more than a weekend to soak it all in. Check out the Philadelphia Mint, Museum of the American Revolution, Tun Tavern Location (Semper Fi Devil Dogs), Betsy Ross House, Franklin’s Grave, and many, many more. 


Perhaps one of the best parts of a visit to Philadelphia is that all the things we just listed are within walking distance with one another. Philadelphia is a very walkable city. Around Independence Hall it will almost feel like you are walking back in time. So much has changed around the city but so much has stayed the same. 

You could do everything above in one day but I would suggest you do it over the weekend. Philly is a wonderful city to explore. Plus we have some of the best food on the East Coast. Philadelphia can give any major city a run for it’s money. So when are you going to plan a trip to Philly?

Have you ever visited the city of brotherly love? Let us know in the comments below. Make sure you come back once you visited and let us know what you think and places you think should be on the list.

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Thank You everyone who has commented and followed us. It means a lot and helps us continue making post, photos, and guides for you. Till our next post….. Have a great day!

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