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Three Days of Historic Fun

A trip back in time to revisit the beginnings of our nation’s history

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Credit: B. Krist for GPTMC


You are about to embark on perhaps the most extensive and fun American history lesson you’ve ever experienced! It will take you back three centuries and span three Pennsylvania counties: Philadelphia, Montgomery (including Valley Forge), and Chester (includes the Brandywine Valley).

You’ll be visiting the sites where some of our nations’ most important meetings have taken place, and you’ll walk on the land where some of the most significant battles have been fought. You will want to put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes, grab a friend, and discover the fun side of history in Philadelphia!

Friday 12 noon

Colonial Cuisine

Philadelphia is a food-loving town, so you’ll start your historical weekend with a historical lunch. City Tavern, an alehouse built circa 1773 (the existing tavern is a reconstruction, built for the 1976 Bicentennial), features authentic colonial dishes served by staff in period costumes. Among the tap selections is a beer brewed from Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe!

138 S. 2nd Street
City Tavern
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 1:30 p.m.

A Different Kind of Mall

And now, to the sites! Start at the Independence Visitor Center, located at the center of historic Independence Mall, and pick up a walking map and free timed tickets for Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

Independence National Historic Park, a square mile packed with more history and culture than any other, is just across the street. You can tour the area on your own or look for the park rangers, who will walk and talk you through the historic 45-acre district. You can even take a horse and carriage ride and travel the cobblestone streets as our forefathers did. Pick up a carriage along 5th Street near Independence Hall.

6th and Market Streets
Independence Visitors’ Center
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 2 p.m.

The Hall of the Rising Sun

The guided Independence Hall tour, offered throughout the day, leads visitors through this elegant brick building, whose walls witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, as well as the ratification of the Articles of Confederation uniting the 13 colonies. Clearly visible is George Washington’s famous “rising sun” chair, where he sat for nearly three months in the summer of 1776.

From Independence Hall, cross Chestnut Street to the Liberty Bell Center. As groups of visitors gather, park rangers retell the history of the bell, which cracked at its first ringing in early 1753.

500 Chestnut Street
Independence Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 3:30 p.m.

House Calls

Take the picturesque walk to Elfreth’s Alley and enjoy a look at the charming brick homes that line the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street. Those who are curious about the residences can head inside the Elfreth’s Alley Museum for some history.

Just down the street is the Betsy Ross House, home of the seamstress who created the first American flag. In addition to a self-guided tour of the cozy, restored colonial and courtyard, children’s activities and entertainment are featured daily.

126 Elfreth’s Alley
Elfreth’s Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 4:30 p.m.

Historic Heroism

Young and old alike will get a thrill out of a visit to the Fireman’s Hall Museum, which is housed in a retired 1902 fire station. Visitors can marvel at hand engines and pumpers used by firefighters as far back as 1730.

In nearby Christ Church, you can sit in a pew that Betsy Ross herself — or George Washington or Benjamin Franklin — might have occupied while worshipping there.

147 N. 2nd Street
Fireman’s Hall Museum
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 6 p.m.

Supper’s On!

After the busy day you’ve put in, you’re surely ready to relax over a nice dinner. Old City’s streets are filled with great with restaurant options. In the mood for Italian? Try Pizzicato, a family-friendly, casual Italian restaurant with lots of outdoor tables. For the foodies in your party, try the nationally recognized Amada, a Spanish-style tapas place (reservations are strongly recommended).

248 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday 9 p.m.

Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins

If you’re up for squeezing one more activity into your day, get tickets for the Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, a candlelight walking tour that combs Independence National Historic Park and Society Hill for chilling stories. The tours run from April through November, though the ghosts of Benjamin Franklin and other Founding Fathers are said to roam the streets all year!

5th and Chestnut Streets
Ghost Tours of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Saturday 9 a.m.

A Philadelphia Classic

Reading Terminal Market is one of the country’s oldest continually operating public farmers’ markets. Not only the does the market offer an eye-popping assortment of produce, meats and cheeses, it’s also home to a number of tasty prepared food vendors. Have breakfast at the counter of the Dutch Eating Place or settle into one of the cozy booths at the Down Home Diner.

12th and Arch Streets
Reading Terminal Market
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Saturday 10 a.m.

Window Shopping

Heading west of the historic area on Market Street, you’ll arrive at Center Square, Broad and Market Streets — site of Philadelphia’s City Hall. On weekdays, you can take a 90-minute guided tour of the majestic building, the world’s tallest masonry structure (510 feet) without steel reinforcements — as well as its tower, which is topped by a 37-foot-high, bronze statue of William Penn. On weekends, it’s still a marvel to be seen, even if you can’t ride to the top.

Once you cross Broad Street, go two blocks south to Walnut Street. Take a break from yesterday’s action-packed history lesson with some shopping in the fine stores that line Walnut, or by relaxing on one of the many wooden benches along beautiful Rittenhouse Square, located at 18th and Walnut Streets. Try to find a spot near the lovely reflecting pool and fountain.

If you need to cool down, try an iced coffee from La Colombe, just off the Square on 19th Street. If you want more museums instead of shopping, we recommend checking out the “Rosenbach Museum”/museums-attractions/philadelphia/the-rosenbach-museum-and-library/ on Delancey Street. They are currently exhibiting a retrospective on Maurice Sendak that will be available until May 2009.

Broad and Market Streets
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Saturday 12:30 p.m.

Al Fresco Eats

There are a number of options for lunch in the Rittenhouse Square area. If you are in the mood for an al fresco sandwich, Di Bruno Bros. at 18th and Chestnut serves up a number of delicious Panini sandwiches. If you’re looking for table service, we recommend Parc, the newest arrival from Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr.

1730 Chestnut Street
Di Bruno Bros.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Saturday 2 p.m.

Time to Get Cultured

Now you’re going to stroll up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the historic and imposing Philadelphia Museum of Art (you can take a cab if the weather is too muggy or chilly). Run up its front steps like Rocky did in the 1976 film, then explore the museum’s collections or a special exhibit (tickets will be required for the special exhibits). The museum recently opened an addition across the street – the fashion and modern design-fueled Perelman collection — so there’s even more to see.

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Saturday 5 p.m.

Cocktail Hour in Fairmont

It’s been a long day of shopping, eating and museum-wandering, so you might just be ready for a drink. Wander up into the Art Museum neighborhood to a cozy little bar called Bridgid’s. Grab a seat at the curved bar and order one of their specialty Belgium beers. You stay here for dinner if you’d like or you can walk a few more blocks up to Jack’s Firehouse for upscale pub food (including some good options for vegetarians).

726 N. 24th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Saturday 8 p.m.

On with the Show!

Be sure to finish dinner by 7:00 p.m. if you want to catch a show! The Arden Theater Company, the Wilma Theater and the Walnut Street Theater are only three of many venues offering live performances to the Philadelphia community. Consult our Calendar of Events for theater listings and show times.

40 N. 2nd Street
Arden Theater
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sunday 9 a.m.

Leaving City Limits

After a satisfying breakfast at or near your hotel, it’s time to leave the city behind to explore some famous historical sites beyond its boundaries. Your first destination is Valley Forge National Historical Park, commemorating the resolve and endurance of Washington’s Continental Army, who emerged from their brutal winter at Valley Forge (1777-78) and overcame several defeats (Battles of Brandywine, White Horse, and Germantown) to secure a victory over the British.

After a short (approximately 35 minutes) drive from Philadelphia to Valley Forge, begin at the newly renovated Visitors Center and ask for a park map. You can choose to do a self-guided or scheduled driving tour — or opt to walk.

1400 N. Outerline Drive
Valley Forge National Historical Park
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Sunday 12 p.m.

Breakfast in the Afternoon

Now it’s on to Chester County and the Brandywine Battlefield Park, located in the heart of Chadds Ford, PA.

But first: You’re probably hungry after the morning’s tour, so stop into nearby Hank’s Place, a diamond-in-the-rough luncheonette boasting “Home Cooking at Its Best” — and at fantastic prices! (Remember, it’s never too late to order pancakes; locals say breakfast at Hank’s is the best around!)

US 1 and Route 100
Hank’s Place
Chadds Ford, PA 19317

Hotels + More

The Basics


If you’re traveling from New York, New England, DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg, etc., Amtrak is easy – Book online at Amtrak or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.


If you drive here, stash your car off-street until you leave. Though you might enjoy an occasional cab, trolley or carriage ride, there’s nothing you can’t reach on foot. Parking regulations are enforced in the historic area, and you may find yourself getting towed with un-municipal efficiency.

Start at the Center

The Independence Visitor Center (IVC) — the exclusive pick-up location for free tickets to Independence Hall — offers personalized trip-planning services, free WIFI, brochures and maps, informational exhibits and films, a gift shop, two cafes and tickets to all major tours and attractions in the Philadelphia region. Located at 6th & Market Streets across from the Liberty Bell, the IVC is your one-stop-shop for tickets, souvenirs, itinerary planning, maps and more. Stop at the IVC when you arrive in Philadelphia, or call 800-537-7676 to speak to a live concierge.


You can’t get much closer to the action than the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, which combines modern design, sustainable practices and a sleek restaurant/bar (Square 1682) to make your Philly stay all the more swanky.

The Independent, meanwhile, is a new boutique hotel right in Center City. Each guest room features its own unique design, while the building — an example of Georgian-Revival architecture — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Philly Overnight® Hotel Package is a popular getaway — and a terrific deal. It’s available throughout the year and gives you free parking (worth $50 or more) and special offers and discounts – in addition to deluxe accommodations in Center City Philadelphia. Check out the package, then pick your favorite hotel.

More food and drink, please!

Of course, what we’ve recommended is just a sample of the amazing range of food and drink in Philadelphia. Take a closer look at the city’s Dining and Nightlife offerings and pick your favorites.

117 S. 17th Street
Hotel Palomar Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 19103



Center City, Philadelphia, Valley Forge Park, and the Brandywine Valley


Walking, trolleys or cabs through Center City; 30-45 minute car ride to Philadelphia suburbs


Three days and two nights of exploring history and culture


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