Visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Things to Do, Attractions and Safety
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the best cities to experience the wonder of American history mixed with the marvel of progress. The city is diverse and culture, known for food, music, and nightlife. Also, festivals. You won’t find another city with as many festival options as Philly. Whether visiting Pennsylvania with your significant other, your family, by yourself, or with friends, Philadelphia has something for everyone.
To help you plan your dream vacation to Philadelphia, this travel guide contains Philadelphia’s top attractions and things to do, the best time of year to visit, weather conditions, restaurants and where to eat, where to stay, safety and tips, places to avoid, the best ways to get around the city, where to shop, year-round events.
Before we jump into all that, we should mention that, when comparing trip options, Philadelphia is best compared to Boston. Both have history, and unique attractions with plenty to do, but where Philadelphia wins out is cost. It is significantly cheaper to visit Philly than it is Boston, but you don’t sacrifice any of the culture and history. You can read more about Boston here.
Things to Know About Philadelphia Pennsylvania
The City of Brotherly Love. Philly. Home to 1.5 million people, Philadelphia welcomes over 36 million visitors each year. but you don’t lose any of the heritage of American history. Philly also draws in nature lovers for its top-rated parks.
Philadelphia is a city of firsts for the U.S., home to the first zoo, and the first medical school and hospital. It’s also the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It’s also a city of art with over 2,000 murals. Philly is home to more impressionist paintings than every other city besides Paris.
Philadelphia is a city of food, with the Italian market, which is both the largest and oldest outdoor market in the world. There’s also the Philly Cheesesteak and its Wing Bowl food eating contests that draw tens of thousands each year. It’s also home to dozens of award-winning restaurants. Not to forget sports, Philadelphia is home to the NFL Eagles, NBA 76ers, NHL Flyers, MLS Union, and MLB Phillies.
Best Time to Visit Philadelphia
The best time to visit Philadelphia is between April and June. The weather is most moderate, and most attractions are open. The busy season is June, July, and August. Expect much higher booking and more crowds if you visit those months. December, January, and February are the cheapest months to visit Philadelphia because they are so cold and snowy and most outdoor attractions are closed.
Weather In Philadelphia
Philadelphia has warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. It is partly cloudy year-round. It rains an average of 119 days each year, all year long, so remember to pack rain clothes and umbrellas. The coldest month is January, with highs around 41°F and lows around 28°F. The hottest month is July, with highs around 89°F and lows around 72°F.
Pennsylvania has a higher-than average spring and fall tree pollen count, ranking it high for allergies. Allergy season runs March through May.
Top Attractions in Philadelphia
- Liberty Bell Pavilion
The historic bell was originally crafted to ring at the signing of the United States Constitution and has been a long-standing symbol of independence and freedom ever since.
- Independence Hall
The Hall is best known for hosting the Continental Congress, and where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution came to fruition.
- LOVE Park
Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love” and the sign boasts this unique epithet. Snap some pictures with this famous photo-op.
- Independence National Historical Park
The Independence National Historical Park is considered one of the most patriotic and historic miles in the United States. On this mile you can find the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and more.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
Home of the famous “Rocky Steps” from the Rocky Balboa movies, the Philadelphia Museum of Art boasts one of the largest art collections in America.
- Spruce Street Harbor Park
Relax on a summer evening in the colorful hammocks, walk the floating gardens, or feast from some of Philly’s finest dining spots.
- The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia
While the scientific exhibits are great for all ages, the magic of the museum lies in the Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute.
- Rothman Orthopedics Roller Rink at Dilworth Park
This fun spring and summer time attraction sports a stunning multi-colored beach ball art exhibit as well as retro-style decoration. Stop by for an evening of fun.
- Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park
Catch a classic Major League game with delicious ballgame food and stunning firework shows.
- Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park
This stadium is known for hosting soccer games as well as concerts and other events.
Events, and Things to Do in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has more festivals, events, and things to do than most cities, which makes it an awesome city to visit during summer. Events have a high level of security and are safe for families, individuals, and couples.
- Philadelphia’s Kick-off-to-Summer Fireworks
- Devon Horse Show & Country Fair (May-June)
- Parks on Tap (May-August)
- Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest (May-September)
- The Roots Picnic at the Mann Center
- Fete Day on Elfreth’s Alley
- Philly Gay Pride Month
- The PHS Flower Show at FDR Park
- Juneteenth Parade and Celebration
- Rittenhouse Square Fine Arts Show
- Flag Day Events
- Philly Beer Week
- Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll (June and September)
- Wawa Welcome America (June to July)
- Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square (June-August)
- The Oval XP on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (June-August)
- Center City District SIPS (June-August)
- Party on the Parkway & July 4th Concert and Fireworks
- Philly Balloon & Music Festival
- Shakespeare in Clark Park
- Keith Haring: A Radiant Legacy at the James A. Michener Art Museum
- Made in America Festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
- Summer Twilight at Eastern State Penitentiary
- Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll (June and September)
10 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Food. Philly is known for it because it’s good. The top-rated restaurants and places to eat are:
- Zahav – Israeli – Dine-in only – $$$
- Talula’s Garden – Craft American – Dine-in only – $$$
- Butcher and Singer – Steak – Dine-in, takeout, and delivery – $$$$
- The Love – American – Dine-in only – $$$
- Lacroix Restaurant at The Rittenhouse – Global Chef Food – Dine-in and Takeout – $$$$
- Estia Restaurant – Mediterranean – Dine-in, takeout, delivery – $$$
- Morimoto – Sushi – Dine-in, Curbside Pickup – $$$$
- Double Knot – Japanese – Dine-in only – $$
- Parc – French – Dine-in, Curbside Pickup – $$$
- Amanda – Spanish – Dine-in, Curbside Pickup – $$$
Where to Stay in Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia is divided into 150 individual neighborhoods. Some of those are tourist friendly, and others are not. There are 8 areas we recommend for visitors, each with a distinct atmosphere and plenty of unique things to do. Generally, for safety, solo travelers should stay in hotels. Families, groups, and couples might consider hotels or reliable Airbnb options.
Old City District
Old City is old, but historic in a very charming way. When you think of American history, this is where most of it happened. The Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, it’s all right here. It’s about a 15-minute walk from downtown. Prices are a little higher in this area, and spaces do fill up quickly.
Center City (Downtown)
Center City puts you right in the heart of Philadelphia, with easy access to the rest of the city by the centralized public transportation grid. This is the best option for first-time visitors as well as solo travelers and couples. Most of the attractions are within easy walking distance. The only downside is that, like Old City, the hotels here cost a bit more and you’ll have to book your room as soon as you can–spots fill up fast.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, also known as the Museum District, is home to Philadelphia’s most popular museums. It’s also home of the Rocky Stairs which absolutely requires at least one photo. It’s one of the greener areas and puts you relatively close to the downtown area.
Rittenhouse Square is a more expensive area, with plenty of boutique hotels, and high-end shopping centers. It’s also the area you’ll want to hit for luxury eats. It’s close to the city center and has a park right in the middle.
South Philadelphia is one of the better spots for safety and for budget but is one of the more artistic areas with painted buildings. South Philly is also home to the Italian market, so as you might expect, they have good food.
University City is a bit more isolated from downtown Philadelphia, but it’s the college town district housing many students from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. There aren’t many hotels in the area, but it’s one of the best areas for longer trips. It’s also the best area for those who want a younger nightlife scene.
Fishtown is the party district of Philadelphia and is great for visitors who enjoy art, music, food, and nightlife. It’s not the quietest area, and it’s a little out of the center, but still close enough to easily connect to the rest of the city.
Philadelphia International Airport
While not so much a neighborhood as a place, the hotels closest to the international airport are best for those with a tighter budget. It’s also one of the closest areas to The Sports Complex Special Services Complex, which is where they hold most major games and concerts.
Safest Areas of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The safest areas of Philadelphia are Chestnut Hill, Fairmount-Spring Garden, East Falls, Roxborough, Manayunk, Mount Airy, Bustleton, Somerton, Fishtown, and Pennsport-Whitman-Queen. These areas, even while safe, are not all tourist friendly as they put you far from the downtown area and other major attractions.
Most Dangerous Areas of Philadelphia
The most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia are Tioga-Nicetown, Hunting Park, Strawberry Mansion, Fairhill, Alleghany West, Harrowgate, Haddington-Carrol Park, Elmwood, Frankford, and North Central. Philadelphia is also quite close to New Jersey, where crime rates spike even higher. Whether traveling alone or as a group, it’s best to avoid these areas. Other risky areas are North Philadelphia and Kensington Avenue. Try to stay clear of these areas as best you can, traveling around them even, if necessary.
Is Philadelphia Safe to Visit?
Despite the brotherly love in the nickname, Philadelphia ranks well above the national average in terms of crime, which is concerning for visitors. The high risk doesn’t mean you should cancel your trip though, Philadelphia is a beautiful city with plenty to do. Despite the increased risk, tourists are not usually the targets. Most crime is gang, drug, or trafficking related. As a traveler, though, there are some safety tips you should follow.
Top Safety Tips for Visiting Philadelphia
The biggest thing you can do is avoid problem areas.
Stay near tourist areas, don’t go blindly exploring the city.
Don’t walk around at night and stay out of unlit areas.
If possible, women should not walk alone.
Solo travelers are at greater risk so be extra cautious.
Let someone know where you are and where you are going.
Pickpockets are common, so keep your stuff close. If you set something down, expect it to get stolen.
Parents should keep an eye on their children while walking. Streets are busy and dangerous.
If you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Learn how to use, then carry pepper-spray.
Transportation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is one of the most walkable cities in America, with plenty of attractions, restaurants, and hotels, all reachable by foot. If you stay within the downtown area, you’ll be able to get most places walking.
After walking, the next best option is public transportation. The bus, rail, and subway lines always take top spots for quality and reach and can get you nearly everywhere in the city quickly and reliably. Public transportation in Philadelphia is safe, if a bit dirty, and always has active patrols. You’ll still want to avoid flashing valuables.
The Philly PHLASH bus is another affordable option which travels to the most popular attractions. It is seasonal though, so check availability before your visit.
Taxis and rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft are popular, though a bit more expensive. These are good options though, if you plan on enjoying Philly’s nightlife or want to enjoy a romantic date without the atmosphere of public transportation.
Philadelphia is also one of the most bike-friendly cities, with hundreds of miles of bike-lanes. Rental bike shares are available nearly everywhere, with companies like city-initiative Indego offering thousands of bikes in over a hundred locations. Indigo bike rentals are cheap, starting at about $5 a ride. Bikes are electronic pedal-assist and can be returned anywhere.
You can drive your own vehicle or rent a car from the airport, but it’s important to know that Philadelphia is a very busy city with bad traffic nearly all day long.
3 Best Places to Shop in Philadelphia
You can’t check out a city without also checking out their local stores. While Philadelphia has plenty of high-end chain and franchise stores, the local boutiques and shops are where you find the city’s real charm. From bookstores to local clothing shops, Philadelphia is worth testing out, even if only window-shopping.
Chestnut Street isn’t a place, but a street, and it’s filled with all the best stores and boutiques Philadelphia has to offer. Chestnut Street is also great for restaurants, coffee houses.
The Fashion District is Philadelphia’s premier shopping mall, with stores like Forever 21, Eddie Bauer, Hollister, Kate Spade, Journeys, Sephora, Ulta, and Nike. There are also plenty of restaurants and, of course, a food court.
The Shops at Liberty Place offer fewer stores but are worth the visit for the observation deck alone. The Shops have stores like Aldo, Victoria’s Secret, and Loft, as well as a few mall salons and restaurants.