The Spirit of Philadelphia offers narrated 2-hour lunch and dinner sightseeing cruises on the Delaware River. Cruises depart from Columbus Boulevard and Lombard Circle at Penn's Landing; phone (866) 394-8439.
The heart of historic Philadelphia lends itself to a walking tour. A stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets among restored Georgian and Colonial buildings is the best way to discover the essence of the city and to assimilate its 18th-century atmosphere during your vacation. A good way to see historic Philadelphia is to combine the walking tour with stops at the attractions along the way. The names of sites listed in detail in the Attractions section are printed in bold type. Even if you do not tour a listed site, reading the attraction listing when you reach that point will make the tour more interesting. This tour takes approximately 5 hours, which allows for a leisurely pace.
Start at City Hall at Centre Square. Walking east on Market Street, you pass Macy's department store on the right. If you're in this area on a weekday morning, stop in for the 45-minute 11 a.m. tour of the historic Wanamaker building ($12); phone (215) 241-9000, ext. 2408. Advance reservations are recommended.
Continue east on Market Street to 7th Street, where you will find the Declaration House.
Head over to 6th Street for a stop at the Liberty Bell Center, which houses the famous symbol of American freedom. From there, walk across Chestnut Street to Independence Hall, a destination everyone should visit during a trip to Philadelphia.
Within the next 3 blocks of Chestnut are numerous historical buildings that are part of the Independence National Historical Park. They include Congress Hall and Old City Hall, which flank Independence Hall; Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery; the New Hall Military Museum; Carpenters' Hall; Todd House; and the Bishop White House.
Facing Independence Hall is the renovated Philadelphia Bourse. The historic merchants' exchange now houses shops, restaurants and an information center on the first floor.
Just east on Chestnut Street is a path leading to Franklin Court, where a steel frame suggests the shape of Franklin's home, destroyed in 1812. Traces of the original foundation are visible.
From Franklin Court, exit onto Market Street and walk east to 2nd Street. Take 2nd Street north to Christ Church, on the left. Continue north 1.5 blocks, then stroll through Elfreth's Alley on the right. The 6-foot-wide alley is an interesting destination lined with a number of quaint, modest houses from the early 1700s. Farther north on 2nd Street is Fireman's Hall Museum, a museum depicting the history of fire fighting in America with memorabilia, graphics, films and antique equipment.
AAA/Photo submitted by Denise Campbell
From this point turn around and return to Arch Street. Turn right on Arch Street and walk a half-block to the Betsy Ross House, on your right. After a visit, proceed west and cross 3rd Street toward the Historic Arch Street Meeting House, a Quaker gathering place since the early 1800s, which is on the left. The next block is occupied by The United States Mint, where pocket change and commemorative coins are made.
AAA/Photo submitted by Denise Campbell
To end the tour, walk south to Market Street on 5th Street. You will pass the Free Quaker Meeting House on the right. Once on Market Street you can rest your feet, relax and refresh at one of the many restaurants in the area. At City Tavern, tucked away at 2nd and Walnut, diners experience a taste of the Colonial past. The 1792 building was once an unofficial meeting place for the First Continental Congress.
Another excellent area for the visitor on foot is Penn's Landing, which hosts concerts, events and other things to do in Philadelphia during summer. Catch a glimpse of Philadelphia's nautical past at the Independence Seaport Museum, home to the World War II submarine Becuna. The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Spruce Street Harbor Park, Columbus Boulevard and Spruce Street, also are at Penn's Landing.
Pennsylvania Quest for Freedom: Philadelphia, features stops showcasing African-American history, including the Underground Railroad. Brochures can be picked up at the Independence Visitor Center and at many of the tour's sites.
The Historic Philadelphia Center offers brochures about the Once Upon A Nation storytelling program. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are 10 benches scattered throughout historic Philadelphia where passersby can stop to listen to stories about historic sites and influential people from the past.
Philadelphia boasts nearly 4,000 murals, with some 1,800 on display, so check some out while you're in the city. Forty murals in Center City make up Mural Mile; a plaque at each stop describes the work.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Pennsylvania's statewide sales tax is 6 percent. An additional 2 percent is collected by Philadelphia County, as is an 8.5 percent hotel tax.
Aria Health (Torresdale Campus), (215) 612-4000; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, (215) 662-4000; Methodist Hospital, (215) 952-9000; Pennsylvania Hospital, (215) 829-3000; Roxborough Memorial Hospital, (215) 483-9900; Temple University Hospital, (215) 707-2000.
Philadelphia International Airport
Hertz, at the Philadelphia International Airport, (215) 492-7205 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
Amtrak trains pull into both the main 30th Street Station terminal at 30th and Market streets and the North Philadelphia Station at N. Broad Street and W. Glenwood Avenue. If your destination is mid-city, disembark at 30th Street Station. Phone (800) 872-7245, or TTY (800) 523-6590.
The major bus terminal is Greyhound Lines Inc., (215) 931-4075, at 10th and Filbert streets. Peter Pan Bus Lines, (800) 343-9999, also serves the city. New Jersey Transit buses, (973) 275-5555, depart for southern New Jersey and shore points.
Yellow Cab Co., (215) 333-8294, charges a $2.70 base rate plus $2.30 per mile. A fuel surcharge also may be added. One-way fares between the airport and central Philadelphia locations are a flat $49 fee.
A system of buses, trolleys, subways and regional rails serves Philadelphia. Operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), buses, trolleys and subways charge $2.50, plus $1 for a transfer; exact change is required. Senior citizens ride free. Regional rail fares vary by zone; phone (215) 580-7800 for fare information. RiverLink Ferry offers ferry service from Penn's Landing to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J.