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Guide to Historical Philadelphia

The first capitol of the United States, Philly is full of history. The flag, the Constitution, and that special bell are
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.4 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  For a mile walk with history at every corner, head to the Independence Mall and Old City sections of Philadelphia. You can roam the... more »

Tips:  Parking: There is on the street, kiosk-paid parking, but that's limited to 2 hours ($5) per transaction, not nearly enough to tour all... more »

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Points of Interest

Any tour of historic Old City Philadelphia should start here, at the Independence Visitor Center. That's true for two reasons. First, you can gather pamphlets about the various historic sites you'll be visiting. Second, concierge staff can help make sure you see exactly what you want to see as you move along the tour.

But the most important... More

After picking up everything you'll need at the Visitor Center, head toward Congress Hall. This simple Georgian structure, constructed in 1787, housed the country's first Congress back in 1790 through 1800 and has been restored to its appearance at that time. That's when the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans were the country's political... More

Head back Chestnut to check out Independence Hall, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Philly. In this brick Georgian-style building (built in 1732), both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. So this site, the former Pennsylvania State House, could be considered the true birthplace of America.

Take note... More

Unlike most of the other stops on the tour, the Liberty Bell Center is a relatively newer building, part of the 1995 redo of Independence Mall. (The other new buildings are the National Constitution Center and the Visitor Center, in case you're curious.) The bell, which first rang freedom from the tower of the Pennsylvania State Hose (now known as... More

First the disclaimer: The original copy of the United States Constitution is not at the National Constitution Center. You'll have to travel to the National Archives in Washington DC for that.

But the Center does offer the nation's largest interactive history museum, with hundreds of hands-on opportunities and multimedia presentations designed to ... More

Continue down Arch Street toward 3rd, passing the Christ Church cemetery, burial grounds for Benjamin Franklin, on the right. (There is a small admission charge for the grounds, but if you're just interested in a pic of Ben's final resting place, that's easily attainable from the gated area at the corner). The next stop on this tour - the Arch... More

After leaving the Meeting House, continue down Arch Street and cross the street to reach 239, popularly known as the Betsy Ross House.

Betsy Ross never owned this house. It was a rental, where Betsy and her husband John lived and ran their upholstery business. She actually lived in this Georgian style home from 1773 to 1786. She was raised a... More

If Philadelphia is the city most closely associated with our country's independence, then the person most closely associated with the city would have to be Benjamin Franklin. More than just the guy who flew a kite in the rain, Franklin was a skilled diplomat and statesman, an innovative inventor and scientist - and a publisher by trade. He was... More

William Penn founded Philadelphia as a "Holy Experiment," a city where many cultures and religions could live together peaceably. So churches were essential in the early days of the city. So many revolutionary leaders worshiped at Christ Church on American Street that it became known as "the nation's church."

Head back up... More

Leave the church and head down Second, then cross Arch and head to Elfreth's Alley (on the right hand side). This is the last point of interest in this tour, and the nation's oldest residential street.

This neighborhood, currently consisting of 32 row homes, was first created in 1702. The houses still in existence were built between 1728 and 1836... More