Top Attractions for First-Time Visitors

With architecture dating back to colonial times, fascinating museums, performing arts, and some of the nation’s most significant historical sites, Philadelphia has plenty to keep a first-time visitor busy. Here are just six of the top attractions and neighborhoods that you won’t want to miss on your inaugural trip to Philly.

Old City Historic District

As one of the oldest residential areas of Philadelphia, a walking tour through Old City is a journey back in time. Cobblestone streets are lined with 18th and 19th-century buildings that now house modern shops, restaurants, and art galleries. History buffs will especially appreciate a stop at Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed. Don’t miss the Liberty Bell just across the street before venturing to Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest residential street.

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Often compared to the Champs Elysees in Paris, the Ben Franklin Parkway connects Old City to Fairmount Park in grand European-inspired fashion. This cultural hub is home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with its iconic “Rocky” steps. Other landmarks include the Rodin Museum’s sculpture garden, the Franklin Institute science museum, and Logan Square. Several beautiful fountains and monuments line the mile-long boulevard.

Reading Terminal Market

As one of the oldest and largest public markets in the country, the Reading Terminal Market is a must for foodies visiting Philly. Inside this National Historic Landmark, you’ll find everything from fresh seafood and produce to aromatic spices and Amish specialties. Local vendors serve up cheesesteaks, hoagies, tacos, falafel, pastries, and more. Go hungry and sample the diverse cuisines that demonstrate Philly’s storied culinary traditions.

South Street

Running east to west from Old City to the Schuylkill River waterfront, the South Street district defines Philly’s artsy, edgy vibe. By day browse funky boutiques, vintage shops, record stores, and ethnic restaurants. When the sun goes down, the neighborhood comes alive with live music clubs, bars, and lounges. Tattoo parlors and hookah lounges add to South Street’s gritty charm.

Eastern State Penitentiary

For an unusual historic site, schedule a tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary just outside downtown Philadelphia. Operational from 1829 to 1971, this former prison once housed notorious criminals like Al Capone. The foreboding Gothic architecture, guard towers and cell blocks create a haunting yet fascinating backdrop. Special events around Halloween feature theatrical performances and ghost tours.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

In South Street’s heart, you’ll find a one-of-a-kind folk art environment that has become a beloved Philly institution. Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar spent 14 years transforming an abandoned lot into a creative wonderland of mirror mosaics, tile murals, and interactive sculptures. Visitors can get lost wandering the outdoor labyrinthine hallways and indoor galleries of this beautifully bizarre attraction.

How to Get Around Philadelphia

As a major East Coast city, Philadelphia offers a variety of transportation options. Large groups, however, can find certain modes of transit more complicated than others. Here’s a breakdown of ways to travel around Philly and why a charter bus rental may be your best bet.

Light Rail

Operated by SEPTA, the light rail system services neighborhoods west and south of downtown Philadelphia. Lines run frequently from 5am until midnight. Fares are just $2.50 per ride, making the train affordable and accessible. Routes are limited though and require transfers to reach certain destinations. Light rail trains also have finite space that can become packed during peak hours. For large groups, keeping everyone together could be challenging.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis are ubiquitous in Center City and surrounding districts. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft operate throughout Philly as well. The convenience of hailing a ride comes with unpredictable rates that can change depending on traffic, demand, and the company. These options work for small groups but become inefficient for parties larger than 4-5 passengers. Multiple vehicles means higher costs and an increased chance of groups splitting up.

Charter Buses

When traveling Philadelphia in a large group, charter buses are the ideal transportation solution. Charter Buses Philadelphia can provide a private coach exclusively for your group of any size. Our fleet includes 56-passenger motorcoaches perfect for shuttling lots of people comfortably or minibuses better suited for more intimate parties. Your professional driver will pick you up and drop you off wherever your Philadelphia itinerary takes you. Charter bus rentals provide door-to-door service on your own schedule without stops or transfers. Everyone stays together in a relaxing environment. Best of all, you only pay for the private bus you need rather than covering multiple rides. See the city stress-free and split the cost between passengers for a great value.

Ready to Get Started?

We hope this Philadelphia travel guide gives first-time visitors a helpful head start on planning an amazing trip! Once you’ve put together your ideal Philly itinerary, let Charter Buses Philadelphia provide easy group transportation. Call (814) 616-3126 any time to receive a free, no-obligation quote. Our charter bus experts are available 24/7 to answer your questions and connect you with the perfect bus rental for your group’s Philadelphia adventu