Philadelphia Sights

Today you can find Philadelphia's compact 5-square-mile downtown (William Penn's original city) between the Delaware and the Schuylkill (pronounced skoo-kull) rivers. Thanks to Penn's grid system of streets—laid out in 1681—the downtown area is a breeze to navigate. The traditional heart of the city is Broad and Market streets (Penn's Center Square), where City Hall now stands. Market

Street divides the city north and south; 130 South 15th Street, for example, is in the second block south of Market Street. North–south streets are numbered, starting with Front (1st) Street, at the Delaware River, and increasing to the west. Broad Street is the equivalent of 14th Street. The diagonal Benjamin Franklin Parkway breaks the rigid grid pattern by leading from City Hall out of Center City into Fairmount Park, which straddles the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek for 10 miles.

Although Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the nation (about 1.5 million people live in the city, 6.4 million in the metropolitan area), it maintains a small-town feel. It's a cosmopolitan, exciting, but not overwhelming city, a town that's easy to explore on foot yet big enough to keep surprising even those most familiar with it.

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Fodor's Choice

Area

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Historic Area 24

Fairmount Park 20

Old City 15

Society Hill 15

Manayunk, Germantown, and Chestnut Hill 12

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Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy 3

Germantown 9

Rittenhouse Square and Avenue of the Arts South 11

Center City 11

Queen Village and South Philadelphia 10

Benjamin Franklin Parkway 9

Penn's Landing and Camden Waterfront 8

University City 6

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Archaeological Site/ Ruins 1

Arts/ Performance Venue 3

Bridge/ Tunnel 1

Building/ Architectural Site 7

Cemetery 2

Convention Center 1

Garden/ Arboretum 4

Government Building 2

Historic District/ Site 3

Hospital–Sight 1

Hotel–Sight 1

House/ Mansion/ Villa 19

Information Center 1

Jail 1

Library/ Archive 6

Market/ Bazaar 2

Memorial/ Monument/ Tomb 1

Military Site 1

Museum/ Gallery 38

Nature Preserve/ Wildlife Refuge 1

Nautical Site/ Lighthouse 4

Neighborhood/ Street 7

Park (National/ State/ Provincial) 1

Park/ Playground 6

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 3

Promenade/ Boardwalk 1

Public Art (Mural/ Sculpture/ Statue) 5

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 11

Restaurant–Sight 1

Store/ Shop/ Mall 1

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 2

Zoo/ Aquarium 3

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Best For

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Family 17

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Philadelphia Sights

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Academy of Natural Sciences

  • Museum/Gallery

The dioramas of animals from around the world displayed in their natural habitats give this natural history museum an old-fashioned charm.

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The basilica of the archdiocese of Philadelphia is the spiritual center for the Philadelphia area's 1.4 million Roman Catholics. Topped...

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

  • Jail

Designed by John Haviland and built in 1829, Eastern State was at the time the most expensive building in America; it influenced penal...

Free Library of Philadelphia

  • Library/Archive

Philadelphia calls its vast public-library system the Fabulous Freebie. Founded in 1891, the central library has more than 1 million...

Logan Circle

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

One of William Penn's five squares, Logan Circle was originally a burying ground and the site of a public execution by hanging in 1823.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Museum/Gallery

The city's premier cultural attraction is one of the country's leading museums. One of the greatest treasures of the museum is the building...

Rodin Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

This jewel of a museum holds the biggest collection outside France of the work of sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917). Occupying a 20th-century...

Sister Cities Park

  • Park/Playground

This formerly run-down park marking the city's connections with Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; and eight other "sister cities" has...

The Franklin Institute

  • Museum/Gallery

Founded more than 175 years ago to honor Benjamin Franklin, this science museum is as clever as its namesake, thanks to an abundance...

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