A peek into history
Philadelphia might hold the title of the fifth largest city in the United States, but it's an intimate city despite its size. Most of its biggest draws, from The Liberty Bell to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home to the Rocky steps), to the Italian Market, can be explored on foot.
National Museum of American Jewish History
Founded in 1976 by members of the Mikveh Israel congregation, this museum is known as the “synagogue of the American Revolution;” its location on Independence Mall serves as an important reminder that American independence included religious freedom as one of its most valuable tenets.
The Hall of Fame, whose inductees include Albert Einstein and Leonard Bernstein, among others, is of particular interest.
Standing sentry on a prime corner lot, across from Independence Park, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed Museum of the American Revolution is a must-visit after wandering the historic halls across the street.
Science History Institute
The Franklin Institute might be Philadelphia's best-known science museum, but the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) is an insider-favorite.
The museum pays homage to the actual practice of science and its life-changing discoveries. Despite its small size, it completely delivers with a fascinating collection of items, all of which serve to elucidate the mysteries of everyday life—how crayons get their colors or how plastics are made
Independence National Historic Park
Philadelphia is the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the United States precisely because of what transpired right here, and it’s not just one museum or historic landmark: Rather, it’s a collection of buildings that played host to events that shaped American independence, or honor that hard-fought heritage.
Visitors can begin their day at the Independence Hall, and then stop by the Liberty Bell Center for a look at ostensibly the most famous broken item in the world. Afterwards, wander the park’s other historic buildings, including Carpenters Hall, the meeting site of the first Continental Congress, then make your way to the Benjamin Franklin Museum for a look at the historical figure’s many accomplishments.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Founded in 1876 as part of the Centennial Exposition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art moved to its current home atop Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1928. The museum is a Philadelphia icon, immortalized in pop culture thanks to Rocky and his famous run up the stairs.
The Museum is home to a comprehensive 225,000-work-strong collection of everything from a Japanese teahouse and Chinese palace hall to Renaissance masterpieces, plus works by Manet, Monet, and Degas. Van Gogh’s famed Sunflowers is on display here, as is Cézanne's The Large Bathers.
The Barnes Foundation is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modernist paintings.
Barnes wasn’t only a collector, he was an innovator who often flouted convention. He displayed the works in ensembles, pairing pieces in arrangements that encouraged viewers to look at the works in an entirely new way.
The Rosenbach is a house museum and rare book library with an awe-inspiring collection of British and American literature.
The museum was once the private home of the Rosenbach brothers, rare book dealers who curated the libraries of some of America’s most influential families, including the Folgers and Huntingtons. The collection of some 400,000 items, ranges from rare books and manuscripts, to pieces of art, decorative objects, and furnishings, is widely considered one of the finest in the country.