As the official visitor center of greater Philadelphia and gateway to Independence National Historical Park, the Independence Visitor Center provides a welcoming first impression to 2.5 million visitors each year. To provide an informative, interactive and 21st-century orientation experience, the Visitor Center underwent a $15 million renovation, which will be complete just in time for summer 2019. Renovations and upgrades include:
Occupying the former Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House on North Broad Street, the Met Philadelphia has transformed from the 1908 Oscar Hammerstein-designed building into a modern performance venue. Over the years, the opulent space has served many purposes beyond its original—including a movie theater, sporting center, vocational school, gospel concert hall and finally a church. The historic building received a $56 million facelift and is now the city’s largest performance stage and theatrical auditorium. The theater reopened in December 2018 and is managed by Live Nation.
The warehouse on centuries-old Municipal Pier 9, just south of Race Street Pier, has been redeveloped into a sprawling mixed-use public space. Much of the original structure has been preserved, including the original stone headhouses and exposed ceiling beams, creating a cool, industrial vibe. Cherry Street Pier is a collaborative creative space for artists and entrepreneurs, includes an open-air garden, performance space, food vendors, pop-up shops and more for visitors.
Take a stroll, ride a bike or just relax on one of the many swinging benches along the Rail Park. Phase one of this three-mile linear park was recently
completed, with a quarter-mile now open daily and free to the public from 7 a.m.–10 p.m. The park is transforming unused rail lines into a beautiful public space that can host pop-up beer gardens, art exhibits, community programming and more. Future phases include additional elevated sections that offer standout city views as well as a walled, below-street-level section and a tunneled portion with vaulted brick ceilings and open air shafts providing natural light. The Rail Park’s entrance at 1300 Noble Street is wheelchair accessible and just steps from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. A second staircase entrance can be found on Callowhill between 11th and 12th streets.
Philadelphia’s maritime museum welcomes a new 4,000-square-foot permanent exhibition that explores the Delaware River Watershed and the sophisticated science used to study it. Enjoy multiple interactive experiences such as the watershed map, Citizen Science Lab and Fisharium, to better understand the watershed and threats to it. The exhibit’s programming also connects to the museum’s recently expanded dock on Penn’s Landing.
Once home to the country’s first commodities exchange, the historic Bourse has been transformed into a hip food and shopping destination in historic Old City. The 1891 Beaux Arts building received a $40 million facelift to accommodate new, local artisanal food, drink and retail vendors and outdoor seating. The four anchor tenants and 29 food stall vendors will offer diverse eats like poke, tacos, juices, ramen, Halal Egyptian fare and Filipino comfort food. You can also sample spirits and cocktails from the region’s Bluebird Distilling.
One of the original five public squares built by Pennsylvania founder William Penn, Franklin Square is a popular spot for families, with its sprawling playground, Philadelphia-themed mini golf course and fast-casual dining spot SquareBurger. Debuting this summer is a new light and music show at the square’s iconic fountain, with waterworks, LED lighting and five water effects (think geysers and air-powered nozzles). The free
shows will run day and night.
Crowning the new Comcast Technology Center — the tallest building in Philadelphia—is the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, slated to open in 2019. One of the tallest hotels in the U.S., it will have 219 guest rooms, including 39 suites, with a luxury spa and indoor infinity pool on the 57th floor and an express glass elevator that will bring guests directly to the property. Also on-site are restaurants from James Beard Award-winner Greg Vernick and Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose fine-dining spot on the 59th and 60th floor will include floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic city views. Designed by legendary architect Norman Foster, the CTC has a five-story winter garden and 120-foot illuminated lantern that sits atop the building.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.