The Philly Bucket List: 23 fun-filled adventures

Visitors admire the outdoor polar bear exhibit on the early spring day of April 3, 2017, at the Philadelphia Zoo, in Philadelphia, PA. The popular tourist destination, located just outside Center City Philadelphia, is America's first zoo and one of the best things to do in Philadelphia.

Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

By The Keystone Staff

June 14, 2024

Philadelphia is brimming with history, culture, and a vibrant community that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or art enthusiast, Philadelphia has plenty of attractions and activities to keep you entertained. Here’s a comprehensive list of things to do in Philadelphia.

Explore Historical Landmarks

Philadelphia is a city steeped in history, and its landmarks offer a fascinating glimpse into America’s past. Explore Independence National Historical Park, home to iconic sites such as Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted. Marvel at the Liberty Bell, an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy. Wander through the charming streets of Old City, where colonial-era buildings and cobblestone streets transport you back in time.

Visit the Betsy Ross House to learn about the woman who sewed the first American flag, or explore the Eastern State Penitentiary, once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about America’s heritage, Philadelphia’s historical landmarks offer a captivating journey through the nation’s past.

1. Independence Hall

Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted. The Hall, where the Independence National Historical Park is located, is a must-visit destination. The area offers a myriad of other historical sites and museums, many of which are free to explore.

Wander through the President’s House Site to learn about the complex story of slavery and freedom in the early days of the United States. Or, take a moment to reflect at the Benjamin Franklin Museum (admission fee required), dedicated to the life and legacy of one of Philadelphia’s most famous residents.

Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or simply looking for a meaningful way to spend an afternoon, Independence National Historical Park promises an enriching experience. A visit here is a must for any history enthusiast

2. Liberty Bell

Located near Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence and freedom. The Liberty Bell is one of the most recognizable symbols of the United States, and you can see it up close—for free—in Philadelphia. The bell used to hang in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now Independence Hall. On its very first ring, it cracked—it was then melted down and recast, though as we know, it eventually cracked again.

3. Betsy Ross House

Visit the home of Betsy Ross, where the first American flag is believed to have been sewn. The home is where the flag-maker Betsy Ross lived, who is the woman who is claimed to have sewed the first American flag. You can visit one of the nation’s most historic sites and see where the nation’s flag might have started!

4. Franklin Court

Explore the site of Benjamin Franklin’s home and his fascinating legacy in the interactive museum. Benjamin Franklin’s brick home once stood in Franklin Court. Franklin served in the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, and he later died in 1790. Although his home was torn down 22 years after his passing, the Franklin Court area now has a steel “ghost structure” to indicate where Franklin’s home once stood.

Visit Museums and Cultural Sites

Philadelphia is a cultural mecca, boasting an array of museums and cultural sites that showcase the city’s rich heritage and artistic diversity. Whether you’re interested in art, history, science, or culture, Philadelphia’s museums and cultural sites offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

5. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Famous for the “Rocky Steps,” this museum boasts an extensive collection of art from around the world. Get your steps in before and after visiting the fantastic and historical Philadelphia Museum or Art.

6. The Barnes Foundation

Home to an impressive collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings. The Barnes Foundation is an art collection and educational institution that fuses art and horticulture. The Foundation relocated to Philadelphia in 2012, and it’s definitely an experience.

7. The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is a leading science museum featuring interactive exhibits and a planetarium. Named after Benjamin Franklin, the science museum also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.

8. National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, featuring exhibits and activities related to American history. You can learn more about the constitution and how this document serves the American country. 

9. Eastern State Penitentiary

Tour this historic prison known for its grand architecture and notorious inmates. The Eastern State Penitentiary is a former prison that was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Today, you can visit the prison, learn more about justice education, and simply get a little spooked walking through the abandoned halls.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Philadelphia offers ample opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors amidst its urban landscape. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the scenic Schuylkill River Trail, offering picturesque views of the city skyline and lush greenery. Explore Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, with over 2,000 acres of trails, woodlands, and historic landmarks to discover. 

10. Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country, perfect for hiking, biking, and picnicking. Back in 1876, over 10 million people ventured to Fairmount Park for the nation’s Centennial Exposition. Today, the park remains a beautiful natural escape from the bustling cityscape of Philadelphia, and it’s the perfect spot to relax by the waterfront or near the wooded trails.

11. Schuylkill River Trail

This scenic trail is ideal for walking, running, or cycling along the river, and it extends 120 miles, spanning from Frackville up to Philadelphia. Along the Schuylkill River Trail, you can take in everything from rural settings to urban landscapes. Most of the trail previously existed as an abandoned railroad line, but today, over 75 miles of the trail is paved, making it the perfect place for your next bike ride.

12. Philadelphia Zoo

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the first zoo in America, which is home to over 1,300 animals and beautiful gardens. The Philadelphia Zoo opened its doors on July 1, 1874, and it’s been a hub ever since. Even more, the zoo is the first place to have successful orangutan and chimpanzee births in the United States. Check out what the Philadelphia Zoo has to offer!

13. Morris Arboretum

This lush, 92-acre garden is home to a diverse collection of trees, flowers, and sculptures. Morris Arboretum is open daily for exploration and admiration. Enjoy the garden’s various exhibitions year round.

Experience the Arts

From street art murals adorning buildings throughout the city to vibrant festivals celebrating music, dance, and culture, Philadelphia’s arts scene offers endless opportunities for inspiration and discovery.

14. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Catch a live performance ranging from classical music to Broadway shows at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Named after Sidney Kimmel, the performing arts center premiered its debut season in 1991, and it regularly offers programs and performances. During the summer, families with children can also participate in its summer camps.

15. Walnut Street Theatre

Walnut Street Theater is America’s oldest theatre, offering a range of productions from classic to contemporary. Dating back to 1806, the Walnut Street Theater has been in operation for over two hundred years, and it continues to be a popular destination for theatergoers. Each year, the theater releases its season of plays and musicals that are sure to keep you entertained all year long.

  1. The Philadelphia Orchestra

Attend a world-class performance by one of the most renowned orchestras in the world. The Philadelphia Orchestra regularly has free performances, making it the perfect destination for the music lovers amongst us.

17. Magic Gardens

Magic Gardens is an outdoor mosaic art installation and gallery created by artist Isaiah Zagar. This non-profit provides the largest work of mosaic art, and it spans three city lots. Magic Gardens includes both indoor and outdoor galleries, making it the perfect art environment for exploration.

  1. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Fans of the creepy and macabre should enjoy this historic site in Philadelphia, a former rental home of gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe. The author and poet lived in Philadelphia between 1838 and 1844. The site, which is free to visit and is run by the National Park Service, includes exhibits about Poe’s life and work, a basement that looks like the one in the short story “The Black Cat,” and a large raven statue in homage to Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven.”

Unique Philadelphia Experiences

Whether you’re wandering through historic neighborhoods, sampling local delicacies, or immersing yourself in the city’s cultural heritage, Philadelphia offers a wealth of unique experiences waiting to be discovered. 

19. Please Touch Museum

This interactive children’s museum is designed to inspire learning through play. Your kids won’t want to leave the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, where the possibilities for educational fun are numerous. They can race sailboats in water currents, play hopscotch on clouds, and become architects, doctors, or shop keepers in City Capers.

20. Mütter Museum

The Mütter Museum is a medical museum with a unique collection of oddities and historical medical instruments. The museum has a mixture of medical history and science exploration, and during your visit, you can explore a collection of anatomical specimens, wax models, or antique medical equipment. 

Shop and Stroll

21. Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is a beautiful park surrounded by upscale shops, cafes, and restaurants. Founded by William Penn in the 17th century, Rittenhouse Square is the heart of Philadelphia’s city center. Rittenhouse Square is home to some of the best fine dining experiences in the city, but it’s also a lovely place to just walk around and take in the sights.

22. South Street

South Street is a vibrant street known for its eclectic shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. This part of Philadelphia has been considered the edgiest street in the city, meshing groups and cultures. If you’re on the hunt for a statement piece or a real Philly cheesesteak, South Street is where you want to be.

23. Old City

Walk through the historic district and visit unique galleries, shops, and restaurants of Old City. Located next to Independence Mall, Old City still exudes the charm of the 18th century with its cobblestone streets and historic architecture. You can check out all of the historic sites nearby, and then head to Old City for boutiques, great food, and an eclectic blend of galleries and experiences.

Philadelphia is a city that seamlessly blends its rich historical heritage with a modern, vibrant culture. No matter what your interests are, you’ll find plenty to do in this dynamic city. Enjoy your visit to Philadelphia!

READ MORE: The best 5k races in Philly this summer


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