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Top 3 Self-Guided Walking Tours from the Pennsylvania Convention Center

September 29, 2021

Explore art, history and local food with these self-guided walking tours starting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in the heart of Philadelphia.

If you are in between sessions or looking to fill a free afternoon, consult one of these self-guided walking tours — all based in the center of Philadelphia’s downtown. The Pennsylvania Convention Center’s central location makes it the perfect launch pad to explore Philadelphia’s outdoor art, historic sites, and most importantly great food. No matter your interest or the amount of time you have, Philadelphia offers something for everyone.

1. Explore Philadelphia’s Outdoor Art

Philadelphia has more than 4,000 outdoor murals and sculptures throughout the city, many of which can be found within walking distance of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Paint Torch, 1-minute walk

Claes Oldenburg's Paint Torch stands 51-feet high on Broad Street across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Photo by K. Privitera for PHLCVB.

First, head across the street from the Broad Street entrance of the Convention Center and you’ll be right in charming Lenfest Plaza, part of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and home to Claes Oldenburg’s “Paint Torch” sculpture. While you are there, you’ll want to stop in to visit PAFA’s spectacular gift shop, which carries unique gifts and locally made items.

Crown mural, 1-minute walk

Crown © 2020 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Russell Craig, Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Boulevard. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Then, head west out of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and turn left on Broad Street to find the Crown mural, which wraps around the Municipal Services Building.

Water Gives Life mural, 1-minute walk

Water Gives Life © 2018 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Eurhi Jones & David McShane, 1300 Arch Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Another mural is located directly across Arch Street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center is Water Gives Life by Eurhi Jones and David McShane, which celebrates the connection between Philadelphia rivers and local flora. If you have more time, experience the city’s dynamic outdoor art gallery via a Mural Arts Tour, such as the Mural Mile Walking Tour that spans 13th Street just south of the Covention Center.

City Hall and Dilworth Park, 4-minute walk

Dilworth Park. Photo by M. Fishchetti for Center City District.

If you have a break in between sessions or are looking for a good place to eat lunch outside, find a seat in Dilworth Park adjacent to Philadelphia’s City Hall. This is the perfect location for people-watching, entertainment, and iconic architecture. The park regularly hosts events throughout the year, so chances are good that you may be able to catch a live performance or shop from local merchants at a pop-up market.

Take a quick walk through City Hall to take in the stunning French Second Empire architecture. However, if you have more time, visit the City Hall Visitor Center, located in room 121 of the East Portal, and learn about the tours offered. You can join an interior tour and even travel to the top the clocktower for one of the best views of the surrounding city. NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interior and tower tours of City Hall are currently suspended. Exterior Tours are being offered on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

LOVE Park, 4-minute walk

LOVE Park. Photo by M. Zugale for PHLCVB.

After a stroll around City Hall, head across the street to see Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE statue in LOVE Park. While there, be sure to snap a selfie at one of Philadelphia’s most Instagram-worthy locales.

2. Have Lunch, Philadelphia Style

Reading Terminal Market, 1-minute walk

Vendors and customers in Reading Terminal Market. The historic market is a popular attraction for culinary treats. iStock Standard License.

A trip to Reading Terminal Market is a culinary walking tour on its own, so be sure to stop here. You’ll find more than 80 merchants selling fresh meats and cheeses, baked goods, confections plus the widest variety of restaurants under one roof. Locals love the traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak and the classic DiNic’s roast pork sandwich. In addition to local fare, lookout for a variety of international cuisines. Most vendors have counter seating — perfect for solo-dining — or grab a table in the open seating area at the center of the market.

Beiler's Donuts at Reading Terminal Market. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Not only does this local favorite have sandwiches, but also some of the city’s most popular sweets. Local dessert favorites include Termini Brothers Bakery for Italian specialties, Beiler’s for donuts and more treats. While deciding on the perfect dessert, walk around and shop for books, crafts, and other gifts. If you are looking for the perfect gift to take home, check out the Pennsylvania General Store – you can either leave with your purchase or have it shipped elsewhere in the United States.

3. Discover Historic Philadelphia

If you have even more time or a full afternoon free, then explore the historical sites of Philadelphia with this self-guided walking tour.

African American Museum in Philadelphia, 8-minute walk

Photo by P. Loftland for PHLCVB.

First, head east on Arch Street to the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the first museum built by a U.S. city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. The museum’s groundbreaking exhibits explore African American history and culture.

Independence National Historical Park, 15-minute walk

Independence Hall and President's House. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Continue walking east and you’ll find America’s most historic square mile, the Independence National Historical Park. There are almost two dozen historical sites that tell America’s history, and all are within walking distance of each other. Certainly, you’ll want to see the Liberty Bell and tour Independence Hall, but don’t miss the President’s House just outside of the Liberty Bell Center and Christ Church Burial Ground — where Ben Franklin is buried further north along 5th Street. On the northern end of Independence Mall, explore interactive exhibits devoted to the United States Constitution at the National Constitution Center. TIP: View our Historic District Itinerary additional ways to discover American history around Philadelphia.

Elfreth’s Alley, 19-minute walk

Elfreth's Alley. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Finally, head over to the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street and National Historic Landmark, Elfreth’s Alley. Stroll past 32 houses that date back to 1728, and enter the Elfreth’s Alley Museum at homes #124 and #126 for a look at the interiors of these historic homes.

While walking through this historic area you’ll also stumble upon unique storefronts and independent boutiques that feature work by local artisans, gifts, and tax-free clothes and shoes. Cap off your Old City adventure with a stop at Franklin Fountain, a fully restored, turn-of-the-century soda shop serving home-made ice cream. Don’t let chillier weather deter you – they also serve specialty hot drinks in the winter, including their own “Hot Milkshakes.”

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