Welcome to Philadelphia’s Historic District, the birthplace of the nation and the first World Heritage City in the U.S., as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC).
The Historic District, spanning from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine Street to Lombard Street, is rich in history — after all, this was the heart of Philadelphia’s original city.
But it’s also home to buzzed-about restaurants and beer gardens, owner-operated boutiques, pushing-the-boundaries art galleries and more.
Read on for our guide to Philadelphia’s Historic District.
The bell that was later named the Liberty Bell was initially used to call the Pennsylvania Assembly to meetings. It was soon adopted by abolitionists, suffragists, Civil Rights advocates, Native Americans, immigrants, war protestors and others as their symbol. Visitors can tour the Liberty Bell Center for free year-round. The Liberty Bell Center is part of the U.S. National Park Service and Independence National Historical Park.
In Independence Hall in 1776, the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence and, 11 years later, write the U.S. Constitution. Guided tours of the hall are available to visitors year-round. Free, timed tickets are required and can be picked up at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market streets. Tours can sell out before noon, so plan accordingly. Independence Hall is part of the U.S. National Park Service and Independence National Historical Park.
More About Independence Hall
The all-in-one Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market streets serves as a clearinghouse of information and a box office for free timed tickets to Independence Hall. It’s also the spot to ask real, live experts for Philly tips.
More About Independence Visitor Center
There are 266 World Heritage Cities around in the world, but the first World Heritage City designation in the United States was awarded to Philadelphia in 2015.As the home of Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, and the city where democracy was established to form the United States of America, Philadelphia’s history is profoundly critical to world culture.
Getting Here: The Historic District is conveniently located in the center of Philadelphia, from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine Street to Lombard Street.
Parking: There are a number of parking garages and lots available in the Historic District, including at the Independence Visitor Center, the National Constitution Center and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Check the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s site for more info on garage parking. On-street parking is also available in the district.
Walking: Foot-power is the best way to discover the side streets and quaint alleys of Philadelphia’s Historic District. Fortunately, navigating the city is easy. Numbered streets run north/south, and named streets run east/west.
PHLASH: Tour all of Center City on the purple Philadelphia PHLASH Downtown Loop, running every 15 minutes in season and making four stops in the Historic District. Get your tickets at the Independence Visitor Center or pay on board.
Indego: Indego, the pay-as-you-go bike-share program with eight locations in the Historic District, makes cycling a fun way to see the city.
SEPTA: SEPTA’s Market-Frankford public transit line stops at 2nd Street near the waterfront attractions and at 5th Street by the historic sites, and more than a dozen buses run through the area.
— Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia
The birthplace of the nation is rich in history. But how do you decide exactly what to do?
Consider this your essential 24-stop guide to Philadelphia’s Historic District, from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to Franklin Square and Penn’s Landing.
Philadelphia is a city of vibrant neighborhoods bordered by a region of charming towns, with each area owning a distinctive personality. Explore the neighborhoods and towns in and around Philadelphia — their storied streets, interesting attractions, buzzed-about restaurants and year-round happenings.
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