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Three-Day Historic Philadelphia Itinerary

At ease. Go off-duty and explore Historic Philadelphia.

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No matter where you are from, if you are in the military your roots are here. The Army, Navy and Marines were all created right here in Philadelphia and if they hadn’t been so busy declaring independence from England, they probably would have had the foresight to start the Coast Guard and Air Force here, too.

And all along the cobblestone streets of Historic Philadelphia you can find sites and landmarks that played a role in shaping the freedoms you defend everyday.

So after you check into your hotel in Historic Philadelphia, slip out of those spit-shined oxfords and slide into some comfy shoes. Because Historic Philadelphia city is easily walkable, you won’t need your car to get around. Oh, and that little * you see means just show your military ID for special savings.

Day One – Overview

Start your afternoon off with a little history and a lot of fun on the Ride the Ducks tour.

Designed after the famous WW II vehicles, the amphibious Ducks tour winds along the cobblestone streets of Historic Philadelphia, meanders down funky South Street and passes numerous landmarks before splashing into the Delaware River for the grand finale.

Come dinner time, head to the City Tavern, the Founding Fathers’ favorite gathering spot during the First Continental Congress and throughout the Revolutionary War. Restored to its 1773 design, the menu, which served by waiters in colonial garb, is inspired by 18th century colonial cuisine.

Later in the evening, if patriotic fervor inspires you to sing, why not do it during 1776: The Musical. On Friday evenings through Labor Day, the sing-along movie experience lets the whole gang be part of the show, complete with props and everything you need for a hysterically, historical experience.

Day Two – Must See’s

You’ll need a hearty breakfast to get through the day so start your Saturday with the all-you-can-eat Breakfast with Ben at the Independence Visitor Center where you can chat with America’s most famous Founding Father and founder of Philadelphia’s first militia.

While you are at the Independence Visitor Center, pick up your free tickets for a tour of Independence Hall but before you line up, take a few minutes to pop into the New Hall Military Museum.

A recreation of the original 1791 headquarters of the Secretary of War Henry Knox, this tiny museum exhibits weapons and uniforms from the army and navy and features an exhibit “Marines in the Revolution.”

As you approach Independence Hall, you’ll notice a statue honoring Commodore Barry, known as the Father of the American Navy. Once inside, you’ll see where the Founding Fathers declared independence and officially approved the establishment of the Army, Navy and Marines to protect and defend those freedoms.

One more stop before lunch. Standing proudly in the shadows of Independence Hall is the Liberty Bell Center, home to the Liberty Bell. Exhibits and videos let you follow the Bell’s history from its first crack to its role as an international symbol of freedom.

Each of William Penn’s four original squares still offer a leafy green refuge from the bustle of city life.

In Washington Square, at 6th and Walnut Streets, you can pay homage to fallen comrades at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

But if the kids need to blow off some steam, stroll over to Franklin Square, voted one of the best America’s play areas for kids. Pull up a shady spot under a tree while they take a spin on the carousel, shoot a game of mini-golf or climb on the modern playground equipment. Then when they are done playing, everybody can feast on a juicy burger or salad at the new snack stand SquareBurger.

It’s right there in the Preamble of the Constitution. “Provide for the Common Defense.” Explore the role the military has played in protecting America’s freedoms at the National Constitution Center, America’s most interactive history museum.

Vote on judicial cases, cast your ballot on legislative issues, take the presidential oath of office or add your name as a signer of the Constitution. Be sure to check out the photo montage of military uniforms and listen in to the readings of servicemen’s and women’s letters home written during times of war.

Are the troops hungry? Fortunately there are lots of dining options to satisfy any craving.

The unmistakable aroma of LaScala’s Old World Italian cooking will whet everyone’s appetite, including the kids who can select items from a menu chosen just for them.

Dinner can turn into an international escape for couples who have adventurous palates. Cuba Libre’s authentic Cuban cocktails whet the appetite for their island-influenced menu and Fork adds a continental flair to American cuisine.

Day Three – Down to the Waterfront

Up and at ‘em. There is still a lot to see but first . . . brunch.

Jones restaurant’s Brady Bunch-inspired looks and comfort food inspired menu will start the day right for the whole family with brunch items that include chocolate chip waffles, mushroom and cheese omelets or their signature mac and cheese. Yum.

For the over-21 set, indulging in a champagne brunch on the decks of the Moshulu, a three-masted schooner that has found a second life as a floating restaurant, is the best way to start the day.

Ahoy there. This morning, your destination is Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River Waterfront.

Sailors and landlubbers will find lots to float their boat at the Independence Seaport Museum. Hands-on exhibits let you step into a fantasy garage and experiment with wind, water and boat shapes.

Permission is granted to board two historic ships docked in the adjacent marina.

On the bridge deck and pilot house of the Spanish-American War ship, the Cruiser Olympia, you can almost hear Admiral Dewey shouting orders during the Battle of Manila Bay. The world’s only steel warship is a treasure of naval history showing the officers quarters, sailors sleeping hammocks, barbershop and operating room and the ship’s eight-inch canon.

The Submarine Becuna submarine isn’t for the claustrophobic but it is for the adventurous. After numerous dangerous missions during World War II, the Korean War and Viet Nam War, the sub’s close quarters, the radio room, sailors’ mess, torpedo heads and tightly spaced bunks, offer a glimpse into the risks and hardship endured by those who served.

When you return to dry land, check out a few military landmarks.

You’ll spot a historic marker located along the 100 block of Front Street noting the location of the original Tun Tavern where the first Marines were recruited in 1775.

Farther along at the corner of Front and Dock Streets, you can also find the Philadelphia VietNam War Memorial honoring local servicemen and women who were lost during that conflict.

Before you hit the road to head home, there is one more stop.

Don’t leave home without it. A traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak or hoagie, that is. Whether you order “wit” (translation: with onions) or “witout,” Campo’s Deli on Market Street serves up the local specialties that are big enough to share.

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