As America’s first World Heritage City (as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities), Philadelphia’s Historic District offers a stunning setting for photos that both celebrate the past and embrace the present.
Whether you travel with a suitcase full of camera equipment or prefer your easy-to-use smartphone, it’s time to let the world see the Historic District through your personal lens.
Read on for our guide to the prime photo material – and adventures – to be had in Philadelphia’s Historic District.
As one of the nation’s most symbolic pieces of history, the Liberty Bell still resonates as an excellent photo opportunity. Surrounding it, soaring glass walls offer dramatic and powerful views of Independence Hall, situated just across the street. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed at the grand historic building – dating back to 1732 – making this a spectacular backdrop to any Liberty Bell photo.
Where: Liberty Bell Center, 526 Market Street
Spruce Street Harbor Park has been lauded as one of the best urban parks in the country. The colorful rope hammocks that drape from tree to tree provide a fun backdrop for Philly photos. Snap a shot of your crew to capture the larger scene at Spruce Street Harbor Park, or post a selfie of yourself relaxing in a hammock to make your friends jealous.
Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Columbus Boulevard
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What’s better than kicking back in a comfortable Adirondack chair next to a picturesque river? Getting your picture taken in a giant one at Blue Cross RiverRink or at Spruce Street Harbor Park. When you need a break from lounging in a hammock or roller skating, this photo op should be your next stop.
The small incline near the Independence Visitor Center may not catch your eye at first, but it happens to offer one of the best spots to get a clear view of Independence Hall, creating an elevated spot from which to take outstanding photos of Independence Mall.
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street
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The historic magnitude of Independence Hall comes together in the Assembly Room, where the Founding Fathers debated and and signed the Declaration of Independence and, 11 years later, the U.S. Constitution. If you’re standing at the back of your tour group, don’t worry — you’ll be able to get an unobstructed view once the crowd thins.
Where: Independence Hall, 1 N. Independence Mall W.
As you stroll through Philadelphia’s Historic District, keep your eyes peeled for 18th- and 19th-century re-enactors who bring history to life all over the neighborhood. For the best chance of snagging a photo with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and others, hang out near The Betsy Ross House, the Free Quaker Meeting House, Independence Visitor Center or Carpenters’ Hall.
Where: Signer's Garden, 434-498 Chestnut Street
At the Delaware River Waterfront, Race Street Pier juts out almost directly below the beautiful Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The pier offers gorgeous views all day, but it’s worth waking up early to get an unforgettable shot of the sunrise. Afterwards, take a stroll across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, lined with a walking path perfectly suited for capturing views of the river and the city skyline.
Where: Race Street Pier, Columbus Boulevard & Race Street
Is there a better way to capture the historic spirit of the neighborhood than by snapping a pic of Elfreth’s Alley, a street that seems frozen in time? Named for blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth, this tiny cobblestone road remains much the way it looked when it was first built in the 18th century, making for a fantastic photo op.
Where: 126 Elfreth's Alley
At the National Constitution Center, stand among Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the rest of the Founding Fathers, who are poised to debate the very document we live by today. Signers’ Hall features life-sized bronze statues of the 42 men who signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Provolone and mushrooms? Wiz wit? Pick your pleasure and chow down on one of Philadelphia’s most famous culinary creations: the cheesesteak. Head to a local spot like Campo’s Deli or Sonny’s Famous Steaks and snap a pic before you start eating your sandwich – chances are it won’t last long after you take your first bite.
Where: Campo's Deli, 214 Market Street
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The Independence Visitor Center is an all-encompassing resource for sightseeing information, and if you’re looking for a place to snap a fun photo, you’ve come to the right place. Sit, stand or climb on the bright red XOXO statue in the lobby for a perfect Philly memento.
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 1 N. Independence Mall W.
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All summer long, kids can pick up a (wooden) rifle and learn musket and marching etiquette much like the Continental Army would have engaged in back in the 18th century. Snag a spot next to one of the costumed re-enactors for a great photo-op.
Where: Second Bank of the United States, 420 Chestnut Street
Honoring America’s war for independence, the Museum of the American Revolution is packed with eye-catching exhibits, and the display of cannons out front makes a fantastic photo op with the museum’s facade in the background.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Named after George C. Morgan, a construction worker who is said to have been the first person to cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Morgan’s Pier opens for business each spring. This al fresco eatery and bar offers stellar river views with the famous bridge in the background.
Where: Morgan's Pier, 221 N. Columbus Boulevard
For a spot with seemingly endless photo opportunities, head to Franklin Square, one of William Penn’s original five planned urban parks. The photo-ready attractions on site include a Philly-themed mini golf course, a working fountain and the famous Parx Liberty Carousel.
Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
John Barry, the father of the American Navy, stands larger than life in Independence Square near Independence Hall. For a picture with the iconic clock tower in the background, say cheese in front of his statue. Or, for an added dose of fun, gaze into the distance and point to mimic Barry’s pose.
Where: Independence Square, 111 S. Independence Mall W.
Originally launched in 1892 and now stationed at the Independence Seaport Museum, the Olympia is the nation’s oldest floating steel warship. While you’re aboard the massive ship, snap a pic alongside a member of the “crew” — a group of passionate volunteers in period maritime costume.
Where: USS Olympia, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard
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Whether you ice skate (at Winterfest) or roller skate (at Summerfest), a spin around the Blue Cross RiverRink is a not-to-be-missed photo op. Point the camera east for a Delaware River backdrop or shoot looking north for views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia has always been a city of seafarers. While you’re here, take to the water in a swan boat. Available to rent through Paddle Penn’s Landing at the Independence Seaport Museum, these colorful paddle boats beg to be photographed. Even novice boaters can partake in the fun and try out their sea legs in a section of the river removed from water traffic.
Where: Penn's Landing, 101 N. Columbus Boulevard
As the story goes, in 1776 a widow named Betsy Ross made history by designing and sewing the first American flag. Visitors can stop by the famous seamstress’s former home to watch her raise her almighty flag, and kids can get into the picture by volunteering to help with the process. Flag-raising festivities take place in the warmer months from 10-10:15 a.m. daily.
Where: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street
In the lobby of the Curtis Center, more than 100,000 individual pieces of glass make up Dream Garden, a 49-foot-wide work of art. Due to the nature of the medium and the atrium’s natural light, the masterpiece photographs differently as the sun moves throughout the day.
Where: Curtis Center, 601 Walnut Street
You needn’t venture to Las Vegas or Seattle to pose alongside a larger-than-life glass installation from Dale Chihuly. The artist’s eye-catching Flame of Liberty is on permanent display at the National Liberty Museum, representing the fragile nature of our freedoms.
Where: National Liberty Museum, 321 Chestnut Street
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.