Fall is a fabulous time to visit Old City Philadelphia! Now that the summer heat is behind us, it’s blue skies and pleasant breezes—perfect for exploring the neighborhood on foot. Check out our guide below for the best to see, eat, and do with 8 hours in Old City Philadelphia!
Bonus: Our day starts at 9 am, for those who have already fueled up at their hotel. If you’d rather eat in the neighborhood, check out High Street on Market, which offers delicious coffee and breakfast sandwiches starting at 8 am! 308 Market Street.
9am: Start your day on Independence Mall, which is home to the trifecta of free Philadelphia attractions: the Independence Visitor Center, the Liberty Bell Center, and Independence Hall. Our recommendation is to start at the north end of the mall and stop in this order:
- Independence Visitor Center: This is the official welcome center of Philadelphia, which will help you get your bearings and learn about what’s in the neighborhood. This can be a fairly quick stop, but don’t miss the interactive digital wall for exploring the sights (and getting a cool photo op). This is also the place to pick up your free, timed tickets to Independence Hall, so be sure to stop here first if you haven’t already reserved Independence Hall tickets online. 599 Market Street.
- Liberty Bell Center: This is the spot to see America’s most famous bell with your own eyes. No tickets are required here, so plan this stop around your timed Independence Hall tour. Once you get through the security line (it’s airport-style, so be prepared), explore the interactive exhibits leading the way to the glass atrium where the bell is housed. 526 Market Street.
- Independence Hall: As we mentioned above, admission is free but you do need a timed ticket to tour Independence Hall. You can reserve online in advance, or just swing by the Independence Visitor Center in person. Once on your tour, you’ll see the room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed and learn about the amazing history of our country. 520 Chestnut Street.
12pm: Time for lunch! Find a meal for every palate at the Bourse Food Hall. More than 30 vendors pack this historic building located right on Independence Mall. From poke to pizza, pork buns to pastries, you can’t go wrong here. 111 S Independence Mall E.
1pm: For the afternoon, you have options! Looking for more history? Head to the National Constitution Center. Rather spend more time outside, or let the kids run off some steam? Hit up Franklin Square Park, instead:
- National Constitution Center: History buffs won’t want the miss the world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. Interactive exhibits include a multimedia live performance of Freedom Rising that brings history to life via theater-in-the-round. Pose for photos with the life-size bronze statues of all 42 signers of the Constitution, and join in Hail to the Chief, a lively presidential trivia competition. Adult tickets are $14.50; children 6-17 are $11. 525 Arch Street.
- Franklin Square: We’ve sung the praises of Franklin Square in our article about Free Things to do in Philadelphia, but let us brag about this beautiful park once more. There’s an awesome fountain show performance on the half hour from noon until 2 pm, plus center city’s only carousel, Philadelphia-themed mini-golf, and a playground for the kids. 6th & Race Streets.
3pm: From 6th and Race, it’s just a 10-minute stroll to Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest residential street. Step into history as you walk the cobblestone streets beside thirty-two Federal and Georgian homes that will transport you to Philly’s earliest days. If you’re looking for picturesque photo-ops, this is the street for you. Elfreth’s Alley between Front Street and 2nd Street.
3:30pm: Old City is known for having some of the best shopping in the city, with boutiques and galleries offering items you won’t find anywhere else. Leave Elfreth’s Alley on the 2nd Street side, hang a left and stroll down 2nd all the way to Market—you’ll pass plenty of art galleries and The Book Trader, a great used book store. Then turn right and take Market to 3rd Street—while on Market, check out the funky accessories at Smak Parlour. Then make one more right and complete the loop by taking 3rd street back up to Arch. On 3rd, make sure to stop in to Philadelphia Independents for a local, handmade gift to bring home.
5pm: It’s officially been an amazing 8 hours in Old City Philadelphia! Call it a day—or top off your adventures by heading south on 2nd St. to check out the Khyber Pass Pub (just “the Khyber” to locals). No frills here, just cold beer, an extensive whiskey list, and tasty barbeque.
Visiting Philadelphia this fall? Stay at one of our 53 Philadelphia hotels for an unforgettable trip to the City of Brotherly Love!
*Header photo by David Cruz , courtesy Visit Philadelphia.