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

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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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Cliveden

  • House/Mansion/Villa

The grounds take up an entire block, and its unique history, impressive architecture, and the guides who spin a good yarn combine to...

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

  • House/Mansion/Villa

Philadelphia's only mid-19th-century house-museum is a Victorian Gothic extravaganza of elongated windows and arches. This gorgeous 1859...

Germantown Historical Society

  • Museum/Gallery

The headquarters of the society has a historical and genealogical library and a museum showcasing noteworthy furniture, textile, and...

Germantown White House

  • House/Mansion/Villa

Formerly called the Deshler-Morris House, the Germantown home was where President Washington lived and held Cabinet meetings during the...

Grumblethorpe

  • House/Mansion/Villa

The blood of General James Agnew, who died after being struck by musket balls during the Battle of Germantown, stains the floor in the...

Historic RittenhouseTown

  • Historic District/Site

North America's first paper mill was built here in 1690 by Mennonite minister William Rittenhouse. Over the next 150 years, 10 generations...

Johnson House

  • House/Mansion/Villa

After bringing visitors through the hidden back entrance of this 1768 home, guides retrace the experience of slaves who found a haven...

Stenton

  • House/Mansion/Villa

James Logan may not be a household name, but he was a seminal figure in pre-Revolutionary America. He was secretary to William Penn and...

Wyck

  • House/Mansion/Villa

Between the 1690s and 1973, Wyck sheltered nine generations of the Wistar-Haines family. Their accumulated furnishings are on display,...

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