For general information before you go, call or check the Web sites of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Pennsylvania Office of Travel and Tourism. When you arrive, stop by the Independence Visitor Center on 6th Street between Market and Arch streets.
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (215/599–0776. www.gophila.com.)
Independence Visitor Center (6th St. between Market and Arch Sts., PA. 800/537–7676. www.independencevisitorcenter.com.)
Pennsylvania Office of Travel and Tourism (800/847–4872. www.visitpa.com.)
Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (1700 Market St., Suite 3000, PA, 19103. 215/636–3300. 215/636–3327. www.philadelphiausa.travel.)
Online Travel Tools
Philly Fun Guide (www.phillyfunguide.com), Gophila (www.gophila.com) and CitySearch Philadelphia (www.philadelphia.citysearch.com) each have reviews and events listings for families and adult travelers. The home page for the Philadelphia Inquirer (www.philly.com) has hundreds of articles on the region. The Web site for Philadelphia magazine (www.phillymag.com) has information on arts, nightlife, shopping, and dining. For those more historically inspired, Independence National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/inde) offers planning tools in addition to visitor information, and the Web site for the National Constitution Center (www.constitutioncenter.org) includes extensive educational resources. For a decidedly different take on the city, AV Club Philadelphia ( www.avclub.com/philadelphia is the Onion's take on the music and art scene in the city, with many listings of upcoming events; uwishunu (www.uwishunu.com), an offshoot of the city's marketing department, serves up interesting dish on the dining and nightlife scene; and Philebrity (philebrity.com) gives city-related gossip and cultural commentary with a healthy dose of sardonic wit.
The dollar is the basic unit of U.S. currency. It has 100 cents. Coins are the penny (1¢); the nickel (5¢), dime (10¢), quarter (25¢), half-dollar (50¢), and the rare golden $1 coin and rarer silver $1. Bills are denominated $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100, all mostly green and identical in size; designs and background tints vary. A $2 bill exists but is extremely rare.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (www.cbp.gov.)
Driving in the United States is on the right. Speed limits are posted in miles per hour (usually between 55 mph and 70 mph). In small towns and on back roads limits are usually 30 mph to 40 mph. Most states require front-seat passengers to wear seat belts; children should be in the back seat and buckled up. In major cities, rush hours are 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm. Some freeways have high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, ordinarily marked with a diamond, for cars carrying two people or more.
Highways are well paved. Interstates—limited-access, multilane highways designated with an "I–" before the number—are fastest. Interstates with three-digit numbers circle urban areas, which may also have other expressways, freeways, and parkways. Limited-access highways sometimes have tolls.
Gas stations are plentiful, except in rural areas. Most stay open late (some 24 hours). Along larger highways, roadside stops with restrooms, fast-food restaurants, and sundries stores are well spaced. State police and tow trucks patrol major highways. If your car breaks down, pull onto the shoulder and wait, or have passengers wait while you walk to a roadside emergency phone (most states). On a cell phone, dial *55.
The U.S. standard is AC, 110 volts/60 cycles. Plugs have two flat pins set parallel to each other.