With 42 million annual visitors, Philadelphia’s top attractions get a lot of well-warranted attention. Ever wonder which of the area’s spots get the most visits per year?
We’ve put together a guide (based on visitor numbers from 2016) of the most popular spots to put on – and check off – your to-do list, from food paradise Reading Terminal Market to iconic and beloved historical landmarks like The Liberty Bell Center to top art museums like the Barnes Foundation.
Whether you’re planning your first trip to Philadelphia, making a return trip or already live here, this guide will ensure you hit all of the can’t-miss attractions for which our city is known.
The number one most visited attraction in Philadelphia is Reading Terminal Market, the city’s famous indoor food paradise that’s a one-stop shop for everything from local produce and delicious sandwiches to artisanal cheeses and desserts. Close to seven million people(!) visited the market last year and for good reason – it’s amazing. Check out our guide on 10 great things to eat at the market before you go.
Where: Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch streets
Known as the birthplace of American democracy, Independence National Historical Park (INHP) is located on the site of many of the seminal events that carried the nation through its founding as a global leader of democratic ideals. INHP welcomed more than 5 million visitors(!) in 2016. Will you be one of the millions to visit this year?
Where: Independence National Historic Park, 6th and Market streets
SugarHouse Casino features 1,891 slots, more than 100 table games and a 28-table poker room. The seven restaurants and bars, a multi-purpose event space and a seven-story parking garage help make the attraction one of Philadelphia’s premier entertainment destinations, attracting 3.6 million visitors in 2016.
Where: SugarHouse Casino, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue
No battles were fought in Valley Forge, but the time the Continental Army spent here went down as one of their most trying periods. Exhibits and artifacts in the Visitor Center, replicated huts and the original headquarters tell the story of the pivotal winter that George Washington and his troops endured. The 3,500-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park also includes trails and picnic areas and draws nearly 2.5 million visitors each year.
Where: Valley Forge National Historical Park, 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia
If you have questions during your trip to Independence National Historical Park (mentioned above) or to Philadelphia in general, the Independence Visitor Center is the place to get them answered. The go-to starting point in the area for many visitors, the visitor center welcomed a total of about 2.4 million people in 2016.
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street
Many of the visitors to Independence National Historical Park (mentioned above) line up to see the Liberty Bell, one the park’s most most famous attractions that drew more than 2.3 million people last year. See the famously fractured bronze bell and snag a nice view of Independence Hall through the glass windows that look out over the park.
Where: Liberty Bell, N. 6th & Market streets
Peddler’s Village offers small town, colonial charm just one hour from Center City Philadelphia. With festivals for every season, stores for every type of shopper, a 71-room inn and the just-for-kids Giggleberry Fair, it’s no wonder the place drew 2 million visitors last year.
Where: Peddler's Village, 41 Peddler's Village Road (Routes 202 and 263), Lahaska
About 2 million people a year head to Phillies home games at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. Add to that a couple huge concerts in the summer — artists like Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen have played there — and Citizens Bank Park is easily one of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia. The park is also open for tours year-round. And while you’re there, don’t forget to hit up some of the awesome concessions like Federal Donuts, Tony Luke’s, Bull’s BBQ and more.
Where: Citizens Bank Park, Citizens Bank Way and Pattison Avenue
Longwood Gardens garners close to 1.4 million visitors each year with its dazzling displays that elevate horticulture into an art. Longwood boasts 1,077 acres filled with 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, 11,000 different types of plants and picturesque meadows and woodlands. Plus, after two years of restoration, the Main Fountain Garden made a grand debut in spring 2017, with 1,700 jets and streams that soar as high as 175 feet in the air.
Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
At the Philadelphia Zoo, visitors will discover Zoo360, the world’s first system of see-through mesh trails that cross over pathways, connect habitats and encourage animals to travel and explore throughout the campus. Other wild highlights of America’s first zoo: Key Bank Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve and KidZooU, a wildlife academy of dynamic displays, rare breeds and hands-on experiences. Last year, the Philadelphia Zoo drew approximately 1.1 million visitors to its animal oasis.
Where: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue
One of the original five squares in William Penn’s plan for the city, Franklin Square, which drew 1.1 million visitors in 2016, is now a modern and fun family park, with a Philly-themed miniature golf course, a restored marble fountain, playgrounds and an old-fashioned carousel featuring famous Philly horses. And when hunger strikes, SquareBurger (open seasonally) delivers with awesome burgers, fries and shakes, including Cake Shakes made with Philadelphia’s own Tastykakes.
Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
As one of the leading science centers in the country and a prominent educational and cultural resource for Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute seeks to showcase the science involved in every aspect of life, from sports to space and beyond. A rotating roster of special exhibitions add to the Institute’s 11 hands-on permanent exhibits, such as the highly interactive Your Brain, the newly reimagined SportsZone and the Giant Heart, a walk-through human corpuscle that would fit someone 220 feet tall. Drawing over a million visitors in 2016, the educational space is also home to the Fels Planetarium, the Tuttleman IMAX® Theater and the Joel N. Bloom Observatory.
Where: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street
The Philadelphia Museum of Art was forever immortalized in the classic Rocky film franchise. While the “Rocky Steps” draw a stream of visitors who want to reenact Stallone’s on-screen training regimen, the museum is even more impressive inside. The astounding art collection here comprises art from across the globe and through the ages — including Renaissance, American, Asian, impressionist and contemporary masterpieces —to make the museum one of the most important art destinations in the country. Last year, more than 775,000 visitors came to take in the museum’s seemingly endless body of work.
Where: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
A post shared by Jaime Porta (@jaimeporta) on Aug 9, 2017 at 6:52am PDT
A post shared by Jaime Porta (@jaimeporta) on Aug 9, 2017 at 6:52am PDT
The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps are two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia. We don’t have an exact visitor count, but if we did, it would likely be near the top. Visiting the statue, running up the steps and taking a picture at the top is pretty much a must on your first visit to Philly. It’s a rite of passage.
Where: Rocky Statue and Rocky Steps (to the right of the base of the Art Museum steps), 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Another popular spot in Independence National Historical Park (mentioned above) is Independence Hall, home to the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Independence Hall is one of only 23 World Heritage sites in the U.S. More than 750,000 people visited the hall in 2017.
Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
At the only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, visitors can begin their journey with Freedom Rising, a 17-minute, live theatrical production about the American quest for freedom. Then, the National Constitution Center invites its more than 650,000 annual museum-goers to explore the interactive main exhibition, The Story of We the People, before enjoying a Founding Fathers photo opportunity in Signers’ Hall, featuring 42 life-sized statues of the delegates who were present for the signing of the Constitution.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Recognized as one of the nation’s top children’s museums, the Please Touch Museum offers children and families play-based learning experiences across more than 60,000 square feet of interactive exhibits in Fairmount Park’s National Historic Landmark Memorial Hall. Special temporary exhibitions, hands-on daily programming, original theatrical performances, art-making creative spaces and more are all included with general admission, helping to bring 480,000-plus visitors to the museum last year.
Where: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic
This former prison introduced Americans to a new form of housing inmates: solitary confinement. Al Capone and Willie Sutton were among the 75,000 inmates who spent time at Eastern State Penitentiary, which today draws nearly 400,000 people per year to explore its gorgeous Gothic architecture. Self-guided tours, a once-daily guided tour and a Halloween haunted house, along with exhibitions and special events, make the massive prison a favorite among those who dare to enter.
Where: Eastern State Penitentiary, 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue
Located on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings in the world, with a jaw-dropping 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos, along with works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat and Modigliani. The captivating collection also includes American paintings and decorative arts, metalwork, African sculpture and Native American textiles, jewelry and ceramics — all presented in Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ distinctive arrangements in 26 intimate rooms. The impressive collection brought more than 250,000 visitors to the museum in 2016.
Where: Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
At more than 200 years old, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University serves as America’s oldest natural history museum, bringing nearly 250,000 people to visit in 2016. Those of all ages can get face-to-face with towering dinosaurs, wander through a tropical garden filled with live butterflies, meet live animals and see three continents of wildlife in their natural habitats.
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Christ Church is where colonial America made its historic break with the Church of England. Just a few blocks away is the church’s burial grounds, where visitors can view the graves of Benjamin Franklin and his wife as well as those of several signers of the Declaration of Independence and other early American leaders. In 2016, the sites drew more than 200,000 visitors.
Where: Christ Church, 20 N. American Street
In locations throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District, modern-day visitors get the chance to experience Colonial times through immersive experiences that include period dinners, pub crawls and re-enactments. Storytellers also recount lively tales at the 13 Once Upon A Nation benches sprinkled throughout the district. The area’s rich historical attractions drew close to 195,000 visitors last year.
Where: Historic District, 6th and Race streets (locations vary for each attraction)
Home to more than 190,000 visitors in 2016 and the birthplace of the first Stars and Stripes, the Betsy Ross House is alive with the sights and sounds of the 18th century. Visitors here find out much more about the famous seamstress (who was actually an upholsterer and rare female business owner) than any school history book tells.
Where: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street
The Penn Museum attracted close to 200,000 visitors last year with its 15-ton Egyptian sphinx, surrounded by massive columns from the Palace of the Pharaoh Merenptah — all circa 1200 B.C. The sphinx is part of a renowned international collection that also includes Egyptian mummies, Chinese Buddhist and ancient Greek sculptures, monumental steles from the ancient Maya and evocative African masks.
Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
The Mütter Museum is a riveting storehouse for the anatomically strange. The museum’s display of 20,000 provocative items is designed to give a beneath-the-surface perspective of what physicians study. Inside, you’ll find a wide smattering of abnormal body parts preserved in fluid, skeletal formations including that of a 7-foot-6-inch man, diseased and enlarged organs and more fascinating specimens. No wonder more than 150,000 people came to explore the museum last year.
Where: Mütter Museum, 19 S. 22nd Street
The 92-acre Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood offers an ever-changing landscape that enticed more than 135,000 people to visit its complete with colorful gardens, champion trees and beautiful fountains in 2016. Nationally award-winning exhibit Out on a Limb takes visitors 50 feet up into treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing. An outdoor Garden Railway features a miniature world with model trains on a quarter-mile track, open in summer and during winter holidays.
Where: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
Independence Seaport Museum focuses on the importance of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers to Philadelphia. Along with displays that chronicle the city’s contributions to naval and commercial maritime history and several interactive activities, the attraction — which drew more than 100,000 visitors in 2016 — offers folks the rare opportunity to board and explore two National Historic Landmark ships, the Cruiser Olympia and the Submarine Becuna.
Where: Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard
The bucolic settings that inspired much of the art on view in the Brandywine River Museum of Art‘s galleries — rolling hills, verdant meadows and a flowing river — surround this popular attraction, which brought nearly 100,000 visitors last year out to the countryside of Chadds Ford. For many, the landscape is synonymous with Andrew Wyeth, whose work is exhibited here alongside a collection of American art that includes works by N.C. and Jamie Wyeth. The museum also offers guided offsite tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio and Kuerner Farm.
Where: Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffman's Mill Road, Chadds Ford
While exploring the Battleship New Jersey museum and memorial, visitors can enjoy interactive exhibitions that display artifacts from the ship’s past. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is part of the Turret II guided tour. Last year, 88,000 visitors went to explore America’s most decorated battleship, which also hosts special events and overnights.
Where: Battleship New Jersey, 100 Clinton Street, Camden, NJ
The drama unfolds exhibit by exhibit at the brand-new Museum of the American Revolution, which has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in the city since its opening in April 2017. Just two blocks from Independence Hall — the command center for the Revolution — the newest addition to America’s most historic square mile documents the strategic wins, crushing losses and world-altering consequences of the war for We the People. Visitors learn stories of well-known and everyday people who experienced the tumult through galleries, engaging films and a collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, diaries and works of art.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through September 3, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the Museum of the American Revolution, free tickets for a ride on the Ferris wheel and roller skating at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, a $25 CHeU Noodle restaurants gift card, free mini-golf and a carousel ride at Franklin Square, free passes to ride the PHLASH Downtown Loop and a $10 Lyft credit.
Explore the City of Brotherly Love's iconic and can't-miss experiences