Itinerary: American History

From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the ringing of the Liberty Bell to the first presidential executive mansion, above, Philadelphia is where our nation began


The Birth of Our Nation

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From historic reenactments to the site of an important Revolutionary War battle to the oldest continuously inhabited street in Philadelphia, the city known as the “Cradle of Liberty” has something for every history buff.

 

  • Half-Day Itinerary

Start your day with a visit to Philadelphia’s newest attraction, the Museum of the American Revolution, for a primer on the birth of America and an overview of the historical sites located throughout the Philadelphia region. Then, make your way to nearby Independence National Historical Park – America’s most historic square mile – where you can choose from among the Liberty BellIndependence Hall, the President’s House Commemorative Site and the National Constitution Center.

Have lunch at City Tavern where costumed servers will bring you authentic Colonial dishes. Or, for an open-air tradition that spans more than 125 years, grab some fresh produce, bread and gourmet cheese at the Italian Market in South Philadelphia.

Listen to an informative talk by a historian at Christ Church and see where George Wasington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross worshipped. See the nation’s first post office and print shop at Franklin Court and then stroll Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited street in America. Or delve deeper into the history of African American people at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, or explore the experience of Jewish people in America at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

 

  • Make It a Full Day

Visit Fairmount Park and its 18th- and 19th-century mansions and then tour the mansions of historic Germantown and the nearby Victorian gardens of Morris Arboretum.

Don’t miss the Johnson House Historic Site located in historic Germantown. Built in 1768, it was home to three generations of a Quaker family who worked with both European and African Americans to end slavery and improve living conditions for freed African Americans. It is also Philadelphia’s only accessible and intact stop on the Underground Railroad.

Have dinner in Chestnut Hill, a National Historic District north of Center City, where you’ll find more than 200 boutique shops, art galleries, antique stores, cozy cafes and fine restaurants.

 

  • Make It a Weekend: Day 2

Tour Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia’s famous prison-turned-museum that once held Al Capone and “Slick” Willie Sutton.

Try some fresh, local cuisine from some of the 80 merchants at Reading Terminal Market, an authentic 118-year-old farmers market in the heart of Center City.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Independence Hall with an Independence After Hours tour.

 


MORE AMERICAN HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Battleship New Jersey Memorial & Museum: Tour the Navy’s most decorated warship and visit simulated operations areas spanning five deck levels.
  • Betsy Ross House: Visit the house of Betsy Ross – the Philadelphia patriot believed to have made the first American flag – and see how working-class people lived in Colonial Philadelphia.
  • The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia: See more than 20 sites on a 75-minute walking adventure through Historic Philadelphia. Group tours year round.
  • Fireman’s Hall Museum: Located in a restored firehouse, the Fireman’s Hall Museum features all the history and heroic moments of firefighting in Philadelphia. Visitors can peruse the museum’s various exhibits and attend its public programs.
  • Historic Houses of Germantown: See where the Battle of Germantown was fought during the American Revolution, where the first American edition of the Bible was published, and more.
  • Independence Seaport Museum: Explore the region’s maritime heritage with interactive exhibits, magnificent ship models and more than 14,000 artifacts. Visit Admiral Dewey’s 1892 cruiser Olympia and the World War II submarine, Becuna.
  • Lights of Liberty Show: Experience the drama of the American Revolution as it happened, where it happened. Five-story projections on historic buildings and wireless headsets equipped with 3-D sound bring Colonial Philadelphia to life.
  • National Liberty Museum: Celebrate American heroes and the ideals of freedom at this museum honoring more than 1,000 outstanding individuals of all ethnic backgrounds.
  • Once Upon A Nation: The sights and sounds of Colonial Philadelphia come alive through a cast of storytellers who take to the streets sharing Philadelphia’s rich past through interesting tales.
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park: Visit this historic site and recreation area where General George Washington and his troops survived the famed encampment of 1777-78.
  • Washington Crossing Historic Park: Visit this 500-acre site and recreational area where General George Washington led his troops across the Delaware River for a pivotal battle.

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