January 19, 2018

31 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions In 2017

Philadelphia's Busiest Museums, Historic Sites & More, According To The Philadelphia Business Journal & VISIT PHILADELPHIA

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The Big Cat Crossing at the Philadelphia Zoo enables visitors to view lions, tigers, jaguars and other animals. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Independence Hall, a centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia's Historic District. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The National Museum of American Jewish History tells the story of Jewish Americans from early settlers to modern-day history-makers. Photo by M. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The Barnes Foundation houses one of the world's finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings. Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The circa-1892 Reading Terminal Market houses 80 vendors offering everything from fresh produce to Amish baked goods. R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The 205-year-old Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is America’s oldest natural history museum. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Located in Chester County, PA, about an hour outside of Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens boasts 11,000 varieties of plants. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The African American Museum in Philadelphia preserves, interprets and exhibits the heritage and culture of African-Americans. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park attracts runners and cyclists as well as history buffs to its 3,500 acres of rolling hills trails. Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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The Museum of the American Revolution is the world's first museum to tell the whole story of the Revolutionary War. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2017. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk*.

Historical Sites & Attractions:
1. African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)* – Founded in 1976, AAMP is the first institution in a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The core exhibit Audacious Freedom takes a fresh, bold look at African-Americans’ role in the founding of the nation; other exhibits and programs explore the history, present and future of the African diaspora in the U.S. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
2. Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial – While exploring America’s most decorated battleship, guests can “Touch History” with interactive displays and artifacts. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is part of the Turret II guided tour. The U.S.S. New Jersey also offers group tours, educational programs, special events and overnights. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
3. Eastern State Penitentiary – In 1829, this prison, a Fairmount landmark, introduced Americans to a new form of housing inmates: solitary confinement. It also housed Al Capone and Willie Sutton, among 75,000 more inmates. Today, the massive attraction offers self-guided tours, guided tours daily and a Halloween haunted house, along with exhibitions and special events focusing on history and justice reform. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
4. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site – Serving as a prime example of an American 18th and 19th century rural “iron plantation,” this historic site showcases an early American industrial landscape from natural resource extraction to enlightened conservation. Visitors can experience the lifestyles and operations of the historic iron-making community through demonstrations and living history programs. 2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, (610) 582-8773, nps.gov/hofu
5. Independence National Historical Park (INHP) – The Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, New Hall Military Museum, Bishop White House and Declaration House are just some of the sites that make up INHP, oft referred to as “America’s most historic square mile.” In the summer months, the park offers ranger-led walking tours. (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
6. Historic Philadelphia, Inc. – 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 reenactments. Memorial Day through Labor Day, storytellers recount lively tales at Once Upon A Nation benches sprinkled throughout the District. Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
7. Museum of the American Revolution* – In the heart of the Historic District, where the idea for the American independence began, is the world’s first museum to tell the whole story of the world-changing Revolutionary War. Among the venue’s previously rarely seen relics are the Washington Headquarters Tent, dozens of arms, uniforms, artifacts, documents, works of art and historical vignettes. Opened April 19, 2017. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
8. National Constitution Center – At the only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, visitors can experience Freedom Rising, a 17-minute, live theatrical production about the American quest for freedom, explore the interactive main exhibit, The Story of We the People and enjoy 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. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
9. National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum® Through a series of interactive tours and web exhibits, visitors can learn about America’s steelmaking past, steel entrepreneur Rebecca Lukens and other heroes of the industrial heritage. A full tour of the museum isn’t complete without viewing the three mansions of the Lukens/Huston families: Brandywine Mansion, Terracina and Graystone. 50 S. 1st Avenue, Coatesville, (610) 384-9282, steelmuseum.org
10. National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH)* – Anchoring Independence Mall, NMAJH brings to life more than 360 years of American Jewish history. Through the stories of how Jewish immigrants became Jewish Americans, the museum invites visitors of all ages and backgrounds to share their stories and reflect on how their own heritages and identities shape and are shaped by the American experience. Four floors of unique artifacts, original films, and interactive displays. Bonus: Entry to the first floor is free of charge. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
11. Valley Forge National Historical Park – No battles were fought in Valley Forge, but the time the Continental Army encamped here went down as one of the Revolutionary War’s most trying periods. Exhibits and artifacts in the Visitor Center, replicated huts and the original headquarters tell the story of the pivotal winter that General George Washington and his troops endured. The 3,500-acre park also includes trails and picnic areas. 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (610) 783-1000, nps.gov/vafo

Art Everywhere:
12. Barnes Foundation – Along 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 “ensemble” arrangements in 23 intimate rooms. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
13. Brandywine River Museum of Art – The bucolic settings that inspired much of the art on view in the galleries—rolling hills, verdant meadows, a flowing river—surround this family-friendly museum. 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 special exhibits, holiday displays and guided offsite tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House & Studio and Kuerner Farm (April 4-November 18, 2018). 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywine.org
14. James A. Michener Art Museum* – Paying homage to the beautiful Bucks County landscape—inspiration for countless artists—this museum offers a collection of regional impressionist works and an outdoor sculpture garden. The Michener also hosts special exhibitions featuring the work of internationally known artists with ties to the region; its glass-enclosed pavilion serves as the site for jazz nights and special events. 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-9800, michenerartmuseum.org
15. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts* (PAFA) – The country’s oldest art museum and school presents an outstanding permanent collection of American art, work by some of the nation’s most talented contemporary artists, including PAFA alumni, along with special exhibitions. The museum features treasures by luminaries Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Nancy Spero, Elizabeth Murray and Kehinde Wiley. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
16. The Philadelphia Museum of Art – The vast collections of art from across the globe and through the ages—including Renaissance, American, Asian, impressionist and contemporary masterpieces—make the Philadelphia Museum of Art one of the country’s most important art museums. Its impressive holdings, exhibitions, special programs and outdoor Sculpture Garden make it a cultural must-see. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org

Museums Of All Kinds:
17. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University – At 205 years old, the academy is America’s oldest natural history museum. Visitors of all ages get face-to-face with towering dinosaur skeletons, wander through a tropical garden filled with live butterflies, meet live animals and experience three continents of wildlife in natural habitats. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
18. The Franklin Institute – One of the leading science centers in the country, this popular museum explores the science involved in life everywhere, from sports to space, including the award winning Your Brain and the SportsZone. Home to the Fels Planetarium, Tuttleman IMAX® Theater, Joel N. Bloom Observatory, two top-of-the-line live action Escape Rooms and The Giant Heart, a walk-through human corpuscle that would belong to someone 220 feet tall, the Franklin Institute is all about scientific fun for the whole family. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
19. Independence Seaport Museum – Overlooking the Penn’s Landing waterfront, this museum lets its visitors climb aboard life-sized model pirate ship Diligence and two National Historical Landmark ships, the 1890s Cruiser Olympia and World War II Submarine Becuna. Hands-on exhibits include a Citizen Science Lab, boat-building workshop and two floors of antique and modern vessels—all part of one of the largest maritime collections in North America. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
20. National Liberty Museum* – This pint-size museum honors heroes of all backgrounds through the stories of teachers, students, firefighters, police officers and others everyday good-doers. Among the artful displays: the Jellybean Children sculpture, which celebrates diversity using colorful candies, and glass artist Dale Chihuly’s dramatic 21-foot Flame of Liberty. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org
21. Penn Museum – This University City landmark exhibits an internationally renowned collection of ancient Egyptian statues and mummies, Chinese Buddhist and ancient Greek sculptures, Mayan monuments, Mesopotamian clay tablets (some of the earliest-known writing), evocative African masks, Plains Indian regalia and more artifacts that bring the whole ancient world under one roof. Other great amenities here: outdoor gardens and fountains, a museum shop and the Pepper Mill Café. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
22. Please Touch Museum® Recognized as one of the nation’s top children’s museums, the Please Touch provides children and families with play-based learning experiences across more than 60,000 square feet of interactive exhibits within Fairmount Park’s National Historic Landmark Memorial Hall. Visiting exhibits, hands-on daily programming, original theatrical performances, art-making creative spaces and more are all included with general admission.
4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org

Parks, Gardens & Animals:
23. Elmwood Park Zoo – Founded in 1924, this zoo features animals from around the globe, including bison, red pandas, jaguars, giraffes and zebras. Visitors love Treetop Adventures, a zip line park inside the zoo, which includes more than 50 challenging games and zip lines high in the trees. 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, (610) 277-3825, elmwoodparkzoo.org
24. Franklin Square – The open-space park delights the young and not-so-young with its old-fashioned carousel, playground and Philadelphia-themed mini-golf course. When hunger strikes, visitors head to SquareBurger for sustenance (burgers, fries and Cake Shakes, made with Philadelphia’s own Tastykakes). 6th & Race Streets, historicphiladelphia.org
25. Longwood Gardens – The American botanical garden attracts visitors from around the globe to its 1,083 acres filled with 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, 11,000 different types of plants, spectacular fountain performances and picturesque meadows and woodlands. The horticultural haven also hosts 400 events each year, including flower shows, gardening demonstrations, educational programs, children’s activities, concerts and musical theater. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
26. Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania – The 92-acre garden in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill section offers an ever-changing landscape complete with colorful gardens, champion trees and beautiful fountains. Acclaimed exhibit Out on a Limb takes visitors 50 feet up into treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing, while Morris’ outdoor Garden Railway features a miniature world with model trains on a quarter-mile track in summer and during winter holidays. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777, morrisarboretum.org
27. Philadelphia Zoo – America’s oldest zoo has one of its most modern attractions: Zoo360, the world’s first system of see-through mesh trails that cross over pathways, connects habitats and encourages animals to travel and explore throughout the campus. Other wild highlights: Key Bank Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve, McNeil Avian Center and KidZooU, a wildlife academy of dynamic displays, rare breeds and hands-on experiences. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org

More Fun:
28. McGillin’s Olde Ale House – This popular Irish pub has been open since 1860, making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in the city, and one of the oldest in the country. Good food, reasonable prices, an impressive selection of local and regional beers on tap, karaoke and warm hospitality keep patrons coming back. 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562, mcgillins.com
29. Peddler’s Village – With festivals for every season, stores for every shopper and just-for-kids Giggleberry Fair, this Bucks County attraction packs endless activities into a bucolic, Colonial-inspired landscape. Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska, (215) 794-4000, peddlersvillage.com
30. Reading Terminal Market* – The circa 1892, always busy market houses 80 vendors of farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, herbs and ready-to-eat meals—from cheesesteaks to Amish baked goods to Greek fare. Tours are available. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-2317, readingterminalmarket.org
31. SugarHouse Casino – This popular Delaware Riverfront casino has 1,891 slots, over 100 table games, a 28-table poker room, seven restaurants and bars, a multipurpose event space and a seven-story parking garage. 1001 N. Delaware Avenue, (877) 477-3715, sugarhousecasino.com

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.