With so much to do and see, Philadelphia is not just a day trip destination. Multiple days are necessary to take in all that the City of Brotherly Love has to offer.
One of the USA’s oldest and most unique major cities, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is widely known for its significant role during the American Revolution, but this historical city is also home to some of the country’s most colorful and interesting art experiences. Masterpieces spill out of Philadelphia’s world-class museums and galleries, filling the streets, buildings, parks and public spaces with beauty. Philadelphia was recognized as the first World Heritage City in the USA and plays host to hundreds of attractions and tours, from public art installations and Independence Hall to renowned institutions and stunning green spaces.
Art Experiences Only Found in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has a history as a city that invests in art, with programs aimed to bring creativity and beauty to the masses through thousands of masterpieces that are easily explored by the city’s public transit, bike lanes and walkable streets. Mural Arts Philadelphia is the largest public art program in the USA, currently comprising over 400 works of community-based public art with 50 to 100 new projects added each year, helping cement Philadelphia's nickname of the “Mural Capital of the World.” Take in the breathtaking artworks on your own, or join a self-guided tour via trolley, train or Segway. Elsewhere around the city, view and learn about the neighborhood-focused works commissioned by the Association for Public Art – the USA’s first private entity dedicated to public art. Enjoy free audio tours and informational signs that unlock the history behind long-standing sculptures, fountains and horticultural works. Philadelphia was the nation’s first city to require most property developers to contribute around 1% of a project’s construction budget to commission a new piece of art – a further testament to the city's dedication to the arts. The program, called Percent for Art, has led to the creation of over 650 works that are on display throughout the city. Other can’t-miss artsy attractions include the funky Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, LED light installations at Spruce Street Harbor Park and the ever-evolving, Instagram-friendly exhibits of Wonderspaces.
Visitors to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens enjoying the quirky installation
World-Class Institutions in this Artsy Haven
When you’re not enjoying Philadelphia’s award-winning restaurants or chatting with locals at a beer garden, be sure to visit the city’s Museum Mile. Lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it includes an impressive lineup of art museums and cultural treasures. Ascend the grand steps made famous in the 1976 film “Rocky” and peruse over 9,000 fascinating objects and centuries-old paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rodin Museum houses one of the largest collections of works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin outside of Paris, while the Barnes Foundation nearby contains the largest private collection of impressionist and post-impressionist pieces in the world. Don’t miss the exciting works on display from regional and international artists at the Moore College of Art and Design. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first art museum and art school in the USA and houses permanent and traveling collections in the National Historic Landmark building. The Calder Gardens will open soon, featuring the dynamic mobiles and other works from American sculptor Alexander Calder. The city is also home to multiple free art institutions like the Museum for Art in Wood, The Clay Studio, The Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art.
A patron admiring paintings at The Barnes Foundation
Spots that History Buffs will Love
No exploration of the rich and turbulent history of the USA’s earliest days is complete without a tour through Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Independence Hall is the birthplace of democracy in the USA and the location of the signing of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Take a guided tour through the legendary building before snapping a picture in front of the Liberty Bell – a world-famous symbol of American independence. Other sites throughout the park include Congress Hall, Declaration Hall, the President’s House, Franklin Court and the National Constitution Center, and most are free to enter. As the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the country, Elfreth’s Alley is a picture-perfect location for an afternoon stroll. Not far down the road, the Museum of the American Revolution awaits with exhibits and artifacts from the Revolutionary Period. A haunting reminder of the city’s criminal past, the crumbling remains of the Eastern State Penitentiary were once home to infamous lawbreakers like Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton. Visit during the day or come during the Halloween season for hair-raising haunted house experiences throughout the 4-hectare abandoned prison. You’ll also want to make time for the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Penn Museum.
Tour guide talking about the Liberty Bell at Independence National Historical Park
Start your adventure by flying into Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), only a 20 minute taxi or train ride away from the Center City neighborhood. Philadelphia is connected to most major US cities by bus, train and airplane. An impressive public transit system will take you anywhere you want to go within the city.
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