May 1, 2017

The Greater Philadelphia Region: Fast Facts

Events, Attractions, Transportation & More Useful Information

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The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk connects Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital and Rittenhouse neighborhoods. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Independence Hall. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Liberty Bell. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Population:

There are more than 4 million people residing in the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties) and more than 1.5 million in Philadelphia, making it the second-largest city on the East Coast and the sixth-largest city in the country.

Location:

Philadelphia is a two-hour drive from New York City, two-and-a-half hours from Washington, DC and 45 minutes from Atlantic City, with convenient access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I-76, I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. One-quarter of the U.S. population lives within a five-hour drive of Center City Philadelphia.

The city is a 90-minute flight or a one-day drive from Toronto (880 kilometers), Ottawa (772 kilometers) and Montreal (745 kilometers). There are about 130 flights to Philadelphia from these cities each week. There are also convenient connections from all other major Canadian cities.

Air Transportation:

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), located about seven miles from Center City, is a base for 25 different airlines (including several discount carriers such as Southwest Airlines and Frontier) that offer about 500 daily flights to more than 120 domestic and international cities. PHL serves more than 30 million commercial passengers every year.

Rail Transportation:

Amtrak’s 30th Street Station is a major East Coast hub, with trains that run along the northeast corridor serving Boston (six-hour commute), New York (under 90 minutes), Baltimore (90 minutes) and Washington, DC (two hours).

City Transportation:

Thanks to founder William Penn, Center City has an easy-to-follow grid street design, making it a walkable city. Visitors can catch taxis and Uber and Lyft cars at the airport, train stations, hotels, the Independence Visitor Center and throughout Center City. Methods of public transportation include:

  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a vast network of bus, subway and trolley commuter services in the city and the suburbs. The SEPTA Airport Rail Line connects the airport with Center City.
  • The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO High-Speed Line) is an easy way to travel from southern New Jersey to Center City Philadelphia.
  • Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-share program, offers monthly and annual memberships and pay-by-the-trip rides on one of hundreds of bright blue bicycles stationed at more than 100 stations around the city.

Narrated Touring Transportation:

Philadelphia Trolley Works and the Big Bus Company are among the city’s narrated touring options. In the summer months (May 1-September 4, 2017), PHLASH trolleys run daily to the city’s most popular tourist areas for $2 per ride or $5 for an all-day pass.

Visitor Website:

Climate:

Philadelphia experiences four distinct seasons with a moderately cold winter and hot, humid summer. January average temperature, 32 degrees; July average, 78 degrees; average yearly rainfall, 41 inches; normal snowfall, 21 inches.

Visitor Facts:

In 2015, Philadelphia and The Countryside® welcomed a record 41 million domestic visitors. Out of the total, 36.2 million—88%—were here for a leisure trip—just to have fun.

History:

William Penn founded Philadelphia in 1682 and applied his Quaker ideals of racial harmony and religious tolerance to the colony. Nearly 100 years later, during the American Revolution, the fight for freedom took hold in Philadelphia. In July 1776, the rewards were great as independence rang out with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The 19th century proved to be prosperous for the city, still very much the nation’s center of culture and industry. Today, Philadelphia is a thriving destination, popular for its history, cultural attractions and dining experiences.

Attractions:

A sample of city attractions: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, Betsy Ross House, City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary, The Franklin Institute, Independence National Historical Park (including Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center), Independence Seaport Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Morris Arboretum, the Museum of the American Revolution, Mütter Museum, National Constitution Center, National Liberty Museum, One Liberty Observation Deck, Penn Museum, Penn’s Landing, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum, The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Walnut Street Theatre, Wilma Theater

Some regional attractions: American Helicopter Museum and Education Center, Brandywine River Museum, Elmwood Park Zoo, Fonthill Museum, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens, Mercer Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Tyler Arboretum and Valley Forge National Historical Park

Annual Events:

  • January: Mummers Parade
  • February: Philadelphia Auto Show
  • March: Philly Craft Beer Festival, PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, Philadelphia Furniture Show
  • April: Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show, Philadelphia Science Festival, Penn Relays, Philadelphia Black Pride, Philly Tech Week
  • May: Celebration of Black Arts, South Street Spring Festival, Broad Street Run, Dad Vail Regatta, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ Annual Student Exhibition, New Hope Celebrates’ Annual Pride Fest, Philadelphia International Children’s Festival, Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival, Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, South 9th Street Italian Market Festival, Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village, Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Brandywine River Museum of Art Antiques Show, Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway
  • June: Latino Film Festival, Philly Beer Week, Roots Picnic, PECO Multicultural Series, ODUNDE Festival, PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival, Bloomsday, Manayunk Arts Festival
  • July: Wawa Welcome America!, Blobfest, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Bastille Day, Philadelphia Zoo’s Summer Ale Festival, XPoNential Music Festival
  • August: BlackStar Film Festival, 2nd Street Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival
  • September: Fringe Festival, Kennett Square’s Mushroom Festival, Scarecrow Competition and Display at Peddler’s Village, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls, Liberty Medal
  • October: DesignPhiladelphia, Midtown Village Fall Festival, Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival, Longwood Gardens’ Chrysanthemum Festival, Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, OutFest, Old City Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, Harry Potter Festival, Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, Bloktoberfest
  • November: Apple Festival at Peddler’s Village, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Philadelphia Marathon, Thanksgiving Day Parade, A Longwood Gardens Christmas, Franklin Square Holiday Festival, First Person Arts Festival
  • December: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music, Reenactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware River, SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront

Hotels:

There are more than 16,000 hotel rooms in Philadelphia, with more than 11,000 in Center City and about 9,000 within a 15-minute walk of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and City Hall. Some 2,900 rooms surround the Philadelphia International Airport. Philadelphia is anticipated to add more than 1,400 rooms in eight new hotels between July 2017 and July 2019.

Acclaimed Restaurants:

Philadelphia is a true diner’s destination. The New York Times said “Even leaving aside its indigenous cheesesteak sandwiches and soft pretzels, Philly as a culinary destination feels like an organic accomplishment—the natural outcome of being itself …”

Dining trends throughout the region that make Philadelphia such a well-recognized foodie town include: vegan fare, bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurants, local craft beer, the emerging distillery scene, plus chef-driven concepts and passion projects.

Shops:

Philadelphia neighborhoods and malls offer a wealth of diverse shopping experiences, from independent boutiques and upscale shops on big and little streets in Center City, Philadelphia’s Historic District and in the vast King of Prussia Mall, to outlet stores and discount malls such as Philadelphia Mills. There is no sales tax on clothing or shoes in Pennsylvania.

Nightlife:

From luxe lounges to dive bars with character to jazz clubs to indie rock haunts, Philadelphia has a booming nightlife scene. Neighborhoods like Old City, Northern Liberties and Rittenhouse Square offer an array of nightlife options.

Sports:

The five major-league teams are the Phillies (baseball), Eagles (football), Flyers (hockey), Sixers (basketball) and Union (soccer). Philadelphia is also home to the Soul (arena football). Sports complexes include Citizens Bank Park, home to the Phillies; Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Eagles; the Wells Fargo Center, home to the 76ers and the Flyers; and Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Union.

Convention Facilities:

Expanded in 2011, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in the Northeast, features one million square feet of space.

Colleges and Universities:

Nearly 450,000 students attend some 50 colleges in the Philadelphia five-county region. More than 90,000 degrees are conferred annually.

Famous Philadelphians:

Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, W.C. Fields, Edgar Allan Poe, James A. Michener, Walter Annenberg, Reverend Leon Sullivan, W.E.B. DuBois, Marian Anderson, John Coltrane, Grace Kelly, “Dr. J.” Julius Irving, Wilt Chamberlain, Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Bob Saget, Kevin Bacon, M. Night Shyamalan, Jill Scott, Pink, The Roots, Tina Fey, Kevin Smith, Bradley Cooper and Kevin Hart.

Filmed in the Area:

12 Monkeys, Age of Innocence, The Answer Man, Baby Mama, Beloved, Blue Valentine, Cold Case, Dare, Fallen, The Happening, In Her Shoes, Invincible, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jersey Girl, Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender, Limitless, Mannequin I-II, Marley & Me, National Treasure, Philadelphia, The Real World Philadelphia, Signs, Shooter, The Sixth Sense, Trading Places, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Unbreakable, Up Close & Personal, The Village, Witness, The Wrestler and, the granddaddy of them all, Rocky (each one except Rocky IV)

Distinctions:

In addition to being the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia can claim many of America’s firsts: first hospital (Pennsylvania Hospital, 1751), first reading of the Declaration of Independence (1776), first Fourth of July celebration (1777), first stock exchange (Philadelphia Stock Exchange, 1790), first capital of the United States (1790-1800), first art museum and school (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805), first natural history institution (The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1812), first department store (Wanamaker’s), first Mother’s Day (1908), first Thanksgiving Day Parade (1920), first professional football game (Philadelphia Eagles beat Cincinnati Reds, 64-0, 1934), first zoo (Philadelphia Zoo, 1874), first computer (ENIAC), first ice cream sundae, first pizza museum (Pizza Brain), among others.

More Philly Superlatives:

America’s oldest street in continuous use (Elfreth’s Alley), the largest mall on the East Coast (King of Prussia Mall), the most murals in the country (3,800), the oldest theater in continuous use in the English-speaking world (Walnut Street Theatre, 1809), the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor market (Italian Market), the largest landscaped city park (Fairmount Park, 8,700 acres), the oldest African-American newspaper (The Philadelphia Tribune), one of the largest masonry buildings in the world (City Hall), one of the few cities with a professional franchise in all five major league sports and the longest-running folk parade (New Year’s Day’s Mummers Parade, 1901).

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.

 

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