July 2- 4, 2011 – There are definitely a lot of historical sites in and around Philadelphia. Here’s a roundup of the various sites, historic and otherwise, that we saw while in eastern PA. Naturally, we wandered around Philadelphia, and Center City is perfect for walking. While there check out City Hall, the famous LOVE sign at the LOVE Park, and some life-sized game pieces.
As you’re on your way over to Pat’s for some great cheese steak, check out the Magic Gardens. We didn’t pay to go through them since there were so many things to look at on the outside. It looks like there are at least two (maybe more?) layers of “found junk” mosaics. It’s kind of like a trip, though I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. As a disclaimer, I’ve never been on that kind of a trip but imagine it would be like going through or looking at the Magic Gardens.
Penn’s Landing isn’t much to look at, but there are some cool old churches and other such things a few blocks from the area. It was closed for a private function the day we went, so we continued on back into the city.
Independence Hall is a must see, though they were a bit disorganized when we went. We got our free tickets at the visitor center, and then went to wait in line for our tour time. Lots of people were going on tours before their timed tickets, but we didn’t have too long of a wait. Once we were inside we were able to see some of the historic rooms where debates over rebellion and Constitutional rights took place. The rooms were high-ceilinged and pleasantly bright, and, among other items, included George Washington’s chair and a rather old print of the Declaration of Independence.
The Liberty Bell line was out of control when we stopped by. Not only did everyone have to go through security (let’s not even have that debate now, okay?) but there were a ton of tourists there. Since we were visiting family in the area, I don’t count ourselves as tourists. Plus, we tend to walk fast enough, and with enough purpose, that other people usually ask us for directions. Anyway, we decided that we couldn’t justify standing in the sun for 45-90 minutes and were resigned to not seeing the bell.
Reading Terminal Market was a great stop for browsing through lots of food areas. However, we went there in the mid afternoon after lunch, and so didn’t try anything. It’s also past some interesting areas of the city, including a major bus terminal, and is almost body-to-body full of people (at least it was when we went!). We’d suggest getting snacks there, but get them to eat somewhere else. 😉 We’d also heard that there was a Ben Franklin statue at the University of Pennsylvania, so of course we had to head over there to see for ourselves.
Our last day in Philadelphia was a bit warm, but we wanted to get some sight seeing in anyway. Our initial idea was to park and walk around Fairmount Park. The Philadelphia police had other ideas, and closed down the park (and blocks around it) for cyclists. Valley Forge was our backup plan. We did a quick trip through the park, saw an historic church, a few houses, and looked out over the rolling hills that formed the main parade ground. It’s a nice side trip, particularly if you have more than an hour to walk around and explore.
We also walked all over the city; it’s definitely beautiful, full of little farmers markets, brick row houses, shaded parks with fountains or sculptures, and artwork murals on the sides of buildings.