Spotlight on Philadelphia

Philadelphia Skyline (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC.)
Philadelphia’s skyline (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC.)

This week, Recommend puts a special spotlight on Philadelphia. Although we don’t highlight the top 10 spots to find a killer (and authentic) Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich—but if you’re curious, you can find that list here—we do feature a few must-do attractions and places to stay if your clients are interested in experiencing this historic city nestled by the Delaware River. “People know Philly for amazing history, great food, and the arts. But they’re surprised by the little things—the murals, the walkable little alleys, the views from each river, the owner-operated boutiques, the architecture, and how friendly people are,” says Cara Schneider, media relations director, VISIT PHILADELPHIA.

Things to Do

Independence Hall: A visit to Philadelphia isn’t complete without a tour of Independence Hall. It was here that our Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776; 11 years later, representatives from a dozen states met here to lay the framework for the U.S. Constitution. The building is the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park, and guided tours are available to visitors year-round.

Liberty Bell: The iconic Liberty Bell, weighing in at 2,080 lbs, was originally cast in Great Britain and recast in 1753 in Philadelphia to adorn the State House. It was the bell’s 44-lb. clapper that caused it to crack on its first use—although the bell was recast twice, the flaw remains on view even today.

The Liberty Bell—an iconic symbol of freedom.
The Liberty Bell—an iconic symbol of freedom.

The Franklin Institute: This popular Philadelphia museum offers hands-on education in the fields of science and technology. This past June, The Franklin Institute opened the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, a 53,000-sq.-ft. addition with a permanent exhibition entitled Your Brain. The exhibition offers 70 interactive experiences all dedicated to our most vital organ while teaching visitors about the inner-workings of the brain and the nervous system.

Independence Seaport Museum: Housing a collection of art and artifacts from the diverse maritime history of the Greater Delaware Valley, the Independence Seaport Museum is also host to historical exhibits like the SS United States: Charting a Course for America’s Flagship exhibit, running until Sept. 14. Known as the cruise ship to the stars, the SS United States transported entertainers, celebrities, socialites and royalty across the Atlantic. The exhibit explores the ship’s past and challenges, as conservation groups try to save this American icon.

Philadelphia Zoo: Almost every great city has a great zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo is no exception. The park recently opened its new overhead outdoor trail system called Big Cat Crossing. The see-through mesh trail system allows visitors to see lions, tigers, jaguars and other large cats roam 14-ft. above the ground. The new animal experience is part of an innovative, campus-wide trail system, designed for a wide variety of species housed at the zoo, and made to enhance the overall zoo experience for visitors.

Where to Stay
The Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia is located within walking distance of kid-oriented museums, and also offers toys and complimentary baby and toddler essentials for families checking in. The five-star, 357-guestroom hotel also features a spa and lap pool. The 150-guestroom Omni Hotel at Independence Park is located within walking distance from the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Benjamin Franklin House. Another great choice for families, this Omni property offers kids a free backpack filled with goodies when they check in; a turndown of milk and cookies in the guestroom on the first night; and kids can even borrow a rolling backpack filled with toys, books and games.

The Your Brain exhibit at The Franklin Institute.
The Your Brain exhibit at The Franklin Institute.

All Access Philly
The Philadelphia Pass grants access to over 35 city attractions along with discounts and special offers at select shops and restaurants in the city. The pass also includes a free pocket-sized, 100-page guidebook with detailed maps and discounts for shopping, dining and tours, and can be purchased for 1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive day visits. Here’s a tip for your clients: If they search for the Philadelphia Pass sign at popular attractions, they can avoid waiting in line.

For more information about things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages, visit and, Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog.