Want to mingle with Thomas Jefferson? Snap a selfie with Benjamin Franklin?
Philadelphia’s Historic District is filled with fun opportunities to meet some of our nation’s most prominent history-makers and hear their stories firsthand – or at least as close to firsthand as possible.
Discover how to experience the Historic District yourself using our guide to ongoing living history happenings. From beer-filled Colonial Tippler’s Tours for the 21-plus crowd to witty puppet shows for the kiddos at Carpenters’ Hall, there are plenty of hands-on experiences for sightseers of all ages to enjoy.
Read on to learn about them all.
Visit the iconic home of Betsy Ross and America’s most famous flag-maker will be there, outfitted in her dress and bonnet ensemble, to chat about her role in making the first American flag. During the tour, visitors can talk to Betsy herself and hear the story of why she took on the potentially treasonous task when George Washington came knocking and the time-saving trick she shared with the great general. And, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, kids can even help Betsy raise the flag during a daily hoisting of Old Glory.
Where: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” From Memorial Day through Labor Day, head to Independence Square (located behind Independence Hall) to hear moving readings of the Declaration of Independence by reenactors . Click “read more” for an up-to-date schedule.
Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
The over-21 set can sing along to 18th-century drinking songs, enjoy stories of the drinking traditions of Colonial times and sample spirits and snacks as they ramble through the Historic District with a Colonial guide. Tippler’s Tour-goers visit local watering holes while learning important information along the way, like Benjamin Franklin’s names for a drunk person (including “nimptopsical” and “tipsicum grave”).
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 1 N. Independence Mall W.
Throughout the Historic District, 13 Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches feature free, five-minute tales and secret stories told by uniformed, professional storytellers. Learn fascinating details about some of the nation’s earliest “celebrity” citizens in the places where the history actually happened.
Where: Carpenter's Historic Hall, 320 Chestnut Street
City Tavern offers a historic dining experience, complete with Colonial haute cuisine, costumed waitstaff and Colonial-era drinks and desserts. The restaurant is housed in a replica of the 1773 restaurant where the Founding Fathers once gathered.
Where: City Tavern, 138 S. 2nd Street
The Independence After Hours tour is populated with Colonial characters who bring history to life at top landmarks in the Historic District. The evening begins with a delicious three-course meal at the historic City Tavern, where Colonial townspeople entertain guests. The Colonial host then “sneaks” everyone into the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) by talking his way past the vigilant night watchman. Once inside, visitors witness several Founding Fathers deep in discussion over the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Throughout history, Philadelphia has been filled with bright thinkers and creators, not all of whom are household names. Visit the Independence Visitor Center for a chance to meet a History Maker, the lesser-known historic figures who lived right here in Philadelphia, like acclaimed portrait artist James Peale and Secretary of War Henry Knox.
During the late 1700s as many as 30 to 50 men and women, including such well-known figures as Betsy Ross, attended meetings at the Free Quaker Meeting House, the home of an unusual group of “fighting” Quakers who rejected the principle of pacifism to partake in the Revolutionary War. Visit this historic house of worship on Saturdays and Sundays to meet members of the congregation, as portrayed by costumed reenactors, and learn about their impact on Colonial Philadelphia.
Where: Free Quaker Meetinghouse, 500 Arch Street
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Carpenters' Hall (@carpentershall) on Mar 19, 2016 at 11:57am PDT
A post shared by Carpenters' Hall (@carpentershall) on Mar 19, 2016 at 11:57am PDT
Before the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, there was the First Continental Congress. In 1774, delegates from 12 colonies gathered at Carpenters’ Hall and voted to support a trade embargo against England, one of the first unified acts of defiance against the King. The building still stands tall and welcomes visitors inside every Saturday during the summer for a special meet-and-greet with figures from our nation’s history, including Secretary of War Henry Knox.
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.