I recently had one day in Philadelphia to tourist it up- and boy did I! Here’s how you can make the most of your one day in Philadelphia as a big ol’ tourist. This easy touring plan will help you get the most out of the City of Brotherly Love!”
I’m not a normal travel writer as you probably can guess.
Don’t give me the “visit like a local”- I’m a tourist and proud of it! I’m all about hitting up the most touristy hot spots when I first visit a new city.
Since we moved to the East Coast, I’d been dying to explore Philadelphia like a tourist. Thanks to my kiddo’s crew team participating in a regatta up there, I had my chance! Here’s my one day in Philadelphia touring plan so you can get the most out of your one day trip.
One Day In Philadelphia to Tourist It Up!
I’m a lover of all things touristy, and my quick trip to Philadelphia was the perfect time to get my history nerd ON.
I love how you can walk the same streets as Ben Franklin and stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Places like Philly let me fly my history fangirl flag high!
If you’re heading into Philadelphia for a one-day trip, here are my suggestions of the top tourist experiences you don’t want to miss.
FYI: Parking In Philadelphia Is Not Cheap
I might have made a rookie mistake here, but I had to drop one kid off at the river and get the others all over Philly, so I drove into the city.
The biggest expense of the day: parking. #Ouch
It wasn’t pretty. The good news is there were lots of parking options around, so I didn’t have a problem finding safe spots. But I did spend almost $60 on parking ALONE that day.
So don’t be me: plan better, maybe stay in downtown Philadelphia so you can walk to most of these places. Possibly consider using Uber/Lyft or the public transportation system.
One Day in Philadelphia Tourist Tip: Get Your Independence Hall Tickets Early
Even if you aren’t a huge history geek, you can’t come to Philly and skip out on the Independence Hall Tour. It would be- well- un-American of you.
So go- it’s not too long, it’s easy to get get to, and even your kids will not complain too much about this one. Pro-tip: if you need to prep them a bit, you can cheat and watch the classic (don’t @ me- it’s a freakin’ CLASSIC!) [affiliate link] movie National Treasure before you go.
I was in history geek heaven!
Where Is Independence Hall?
The address is 520 Chestnut Street if you want to plug it into your navigation app. But it’s super easy to find!
It’s located on Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th street. You do need to go through security (bags will be checked and you’ll walk through a screener).
Independence Hall Hours
Through September 2, 2019: Open daily 9 am to 7 pm (no tickets required after 5 pm)
September 3, 2019 – June 2020: Open daily 9 am to 5 pm
Does It Cost Anything To Tour Independence Hall?
Short answer: nope! It’s a free tour provided by the National Parks Service.
Longer answer: yes, just a smidge, but probably worth the cost. If you want to secure your tour tickets in advance, you’ll pay a small processing fee to do so.
Do You Need Tickets To Tour Independence Hall in Philadelphia?
You do! It’s a free TIMED tour, which means you’ll want to arrive at the Independence Visitor’s Center early to nab your tickets. This is located at 6th and Market Streets. And it’s the only place to walk up and get your tickets- so make this your FIRST Philadelphia stop.
We arrived at the Visitor Center at 9:30 am in early May and the next available tour for our party was at 4:20 PM. Keep that in mind as you plan!
If you want to sleep in or just want to pick the timing of your tickets, you can order online in advance. This is where you will pay a small processing fee, but hey, if you want to get in at a certain time, this is completely worth the cost.
Visit The Liberty Bell (It’s Free And Across the Street!)
This was an easy option for me: free and historic and I can make my kids pose & smile in front of one of the most photographed icons in the country?
Where is the Liberty Bell?
6th and Market Streets.
It’s right across the street from the Independence Visitor’s Center, where you just picked up your Independence Hall tickets.
There’s almost always a line, but I promise it moves fast. We actually went twice because I deleted the first set of pictures on accident (sorry kids!) and the afternoon trip had a much shorter line.
Liberty Bell Hours: One Day in Philadelphia Tour Plan
It’s open daily from 9 am to 7 pm.
Do You Pay To See The Liberty Bell?
Nope! This one is totally free and worth making a stop for on your one day in Philadelphia tour.
One Day In Philadelphia: A Salute to All Founding Fathers, But Mostly Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was not a president, but he was instrumental in shaping and creating the United States of America.
He was also a long time Philadelphia resident during this time, and Philly loves him. And what’s not to love? This guy was an inventor, a writer, a printer, a politician, a statesman, and a diplomat.
So when in Philadelphia for the day, be sure to hit up a few Franklin hot spots so to speak.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia
After we saw the Liberty Bell (the first time anyway) we headed over to the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
It’s located on the grounds of his old residence, but sadly that house is no longer standing. But they have taken pains to give you an idea of what it was like to be Franklin, coming and going from his residence.
Where is the Benjamin Franklin Museum Located?
317 Chestnut Street.
You’ll find this one tucked back off the main street a bit. It took us a few times around the block to spot the entrance, but we also didn’t ask anyone (so just ask if you feel lost!)
It’s located in Franklin Court and the entrance to the courtyard is from Market or Chestnut Streets, between 3rd and 4th Streets.
Benjamin Franklin Museum Hours and Costs
This museum does cost a little bit, but my kids agreed that it was worth it!
There’s a lot of hands-on things for them to do, touch, feel, and the exhibits are set up with Franklin’s humor in mind. We spent a good 90 minutes exploring (and could have spent longer- but we were on a bit of a time crunch and needed to eat!).
Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Closed at 3 pm on Christmas Eve. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
$5.00 for adults
$2.00 for children, ages 4 through 16
Children ages 3 and under are FREE
Put Benjamin Franklin’s Grave Site On Your One Day in Philadelphia Tour
We literally made this one a drive-by because the kids were STARVING (ok, I was too) and it was starting to get late in the afternoon.
The good news is that you can actually visit Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite as you walk down the street. His burial plot is close to the fence at Christ Church Burial Ground, so you don’t even have to go inside if you don’t have time or don’t want to pay the fee.
As Franklin famously said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” So you aren’t cheap if you don’t pay to go in, you’re just being very Franklin-esque!
Where is Benjamin Franklin’s Grave Located?
Christ Church Burial Ground
50 N Independence Mall E
Philadelphia, PA 19106
You’ll find the entrance on 5th and Arch Streets.
Does It Cost Anything To Go Inside Christ Church Burial Ground?
- $1 Children (ages 5–12)
- $3 Adults
Admission Fee with Guided Tours (2019)
- $3 Children (ages 5–12)
- $8 Adults
Bring a penny and toss it on the stone!
One Day In Philadelphia: Eat Lunch In Reading Terminal Market
I asked friends on Facebook for Cheesesteak recommendations and they all screamed at me to go to Reading Terminal Market for DiNic’s Roast Pork sandwich instead.
So. That’s what I did- and I had no regrets!
Reading Terminal has a host of food options for the hungry spending one day in Philadelphia. I can tell you the sandwich was delicious- and huge- so my kids each got a section. And they also agreed: huge and delicious.
But if you want a Philly Cheesesteak, you need to know how to order. Apparently, there is a way to do this right.
“One whiz wit’, one provolone wit’out” means you want one cheesesteak with cheese wiz and grilled onions (wiz and wit) and one cheesesteak with provolone cheese without onions.
You are welcome.
Run the Rocky Steps at The Philadelphia Museum of Art
After you eat, you’ll want to burn off a few calories. And why not do so by recreating one of E! Entertainment’s 101 Most Awesome Moments in Entertainment?
You don’t have to run the whole city like Rocky famously did, but you absolutely should put this run up the 72 “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on your one day in Philadelphia tour plan.
And don’t forget to head over to the Rocky Balboa statue (just to the right of the steps) for your picture with the Champ afterward.
And do a better job than I did on preparing the kids for this! Only my oldest had any clue who Rocky was or what on earth I was doing here.
My daughter was like- um, who?
We gotta get a Rocky movie-cation scheduled, stat!
Where Are the Rocky Steps Located?
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Kelly Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130
How Much Does It Cost To Run The Rocky Steps?
Nothing but your own sweat!
Also, my legs did feel the burn the next day because: out of shape, yo! But worth it. So worth it.
Super cheesy, super touristy, and super fun!
And don’t worry: you will not be alone in this endeavor. There were at least 15 others running up the steps during our quick stop, so this is definitely a touristy thing in Philly.
Visit the Franklin Institute (And Do So Before Labor Day!)
We love science museums and we really wanted to spend a lot of time here.
But it was not to be since we were working on this one day in Philadelphia timeline! So- go back, for sure when you have time- and soak in all the cool exhibits offered here.
We had eyes for the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit and received complimentary tickets to check it out.
So. So. SO cool, y’all!
If you are a Marvel Fangirl (even a new one!) you really need to check this place out before it moves on.
One Day in Philadelphia: Where is the Franklin Institute Located?
271 North 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
What Hours Are They Open and How Much Is the Franklin Institute?
*Additional Fee **Last admission at 3:30 pm
You’ll want to purchase tickets in advance since this museum is very popular- especially the Marvel exhibit.
Adults: $23, Children: $19
There is an additional fee for the Marvel portion of the museum.
There is so much more to do and see in Philadelphia, but if you have one day to hit some hot spots, here’s what you need to get you around the city.
I hope this one day in Philadelphia tour plan helps you see the highlights of the City of Brotherly Love!
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)