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A Perfect 24 Hours in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Philadelphia. I live in New York City, so it’s always been easy for me to spend 24 hours in Philadelphia at any time I choose. Some New Yorkers have a bad attitude about the City of Brotherly Love because of sports rivalries or because Philly is smaller or because they don’t like cream cheese!

Not me! You’ll never catch me calling Philadelphia the 6th borough. The city is home to delicious food and edutaining museums. Bruce Springsteen and Elton John both wrote songs about the city. Also it’s the freakin’ birthplace of our country! What’s not to love?

Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Philadelphia is this fascinating history tour with tons of five-star reviews!

Or if you want to explore all the best activities in Philadelphia, check this search engine right here to find the best deals!

Since I’ve been to Philadelphia so many times, this time I thought I’d put myself in the hands of a tour company for my 24 hours in Philadelphia. I’ve used the company before, and I’ve only had positive experiences with them.

That’s why I decided to take their amazing history tour.

I just followed them around all morning like a tough but lovable boxer. I hope you’ll join us!

24 hours in philadelphia

24 Hours in Philadelphia

Where to Stay?

My favorite neighborhood in Philadelphia, as a tourist, is Old City. It is the birthplace of our democracy! Most of the major attractions in Philadelphia are within walking distance. And unlike many tourist areas, there are actually good places to go out for dinner here.

So I suggest spending your 24 hours in Philadelphia at the Thomas Bond House. It’s an adorable and historic bed and breakfast. The house was built by Dr. Thomas Bond, who helped Ben Franklin found the first public hospital in the United States. It doesn’t get more historic than that!

But even if you don’t like American history (in which case, man have you picked the wrong city), you’ll love the tasty breakfast, wine and cheese-venings, and beautiful rooms. There’s no more convenient place to stay in Philadelphia.

If you’re looking for a great deal for this amazing hotel, click here.

And if you’d rather save money on tons of other hotels in Philadelphia, click here.

This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your plans for your 24 hours in Philadelphia.

24 hours in philadelphia

24 Hours in Philadelphia

Morning: History, Highlights, and Revolution Tour

The best tour for the 24 hours in Philadelphia is the History, Highlights, and Revolution Tour. This tour is probably what most people have in mind when they visit Philadelphia. You get to see many of the famous historical sights and learn their deepest thoughts and dreams.

And you can book this tour easily by clicking here.

Of course, you can’t go into the crowded places like The Liberty Bell, but you’ll learn some excellent pointers for when you do decide to go back on your own. In just two hours, you’re able to pack it…

approximately top 5: philadelphia history edition

24 hours in philadelphia
1) Betsy Ross House

This is the home of the most famous seamstress in American history, Betsy Ross. Even though many imagine her as a bespectacled old lady in a bonnet, she was actually in her 20s when she sewed the first American flag.

Flag aside, her life seems like it would make a pretty exciting movie. She was married three times. In fact, her last husband ended up being the man who informed her that her first husband died. I infer from this that Betsy knew how to seize a good opportunity when she saw one.

Check tour rates and availability by going here to find out more about Betsy Ross

24 hours in philadelphia
2) Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continually inhabited street in America. That is why you can’t go inside most of the houses. They only open up two days a year. But it’s still fun to ramble along these historic streets and think about how many Americans have gone by these houses since they were first built.

You may notice that there are many different types of American flags outside the houses. Each flag is the appropriate one for the time the house was built. That is a swell idea! My apartment was built in the 1970s, so I should hang a flag with a lava lamp on it to be historically accurate.

24 hours in philadelphia
3) Tamanend Statue

This statue in the distance is of Lenni-Lenape chief Tamanend. He was a peaceful man who signed several treaties with William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia. If you’ve ever heard a phrase with the word Tammany in it, like New York City’s Tammany Hall, it was named after Tamanend.

William Penn was an honorable man, but unfortunately some of the British who followed him weren’t. They tricked the Lenni-Lenape into giving up a large portion of their land. The British promised the Lenni-Lenape they’d only take the distance one man could cover in a day. But they cleared a path through the land in advance and sent their best marathon runners through it.

The result was that the British were able to take an extraordinary amount of territory, and the peace Tamanend and Penn worked so hard to create was destroyed.

24 hours in philadelphia
4) Christ Church

Christ Church Philadelphia might be the most historic church in the city. You can sit in George Washington’s pew, which I am definitely doing in the picture above! It has William Penn’s baptismal font! If you’re a history nerd, this place is a must-see.

It was originally founded as an Anglican church, but after the Revolution, Americans didn’t want to be part of the Church of England anymore and be forced to wear redcoats during service or something. That’s how the Episcopal Church was founded in the United States.

I don’t really think the Anglican Church can object to this as the only reason that church was started was because Henry VIII had a big ol’ crush on Anne Boleyn. (Full disclosure: I am Episcopalian.)

Check tour rates and availability by going here to find out more about the Revolution!

24 hours in philadelphia
5) franklin court

No 24 hours in Philadelphia is complete without paying a visit to the home of its favorite adopted son, Ben Franklin. You might be thinking that this house looks unfinished. I was thinking that too, but I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid I’d embarrass myself with my ignorance.

Fortunately our guide explained that this design was intentional. (I like giving pseudonyms, so I’ll just call the guide Ben after the mouse in Ben and Me.) Franklin’s original house was demolished long ago, but this was where it had stood. Philadelphia wanted to put something amazing and genius-worthy here for the bicentennial celebration in 1976.

They thought they wanted to just rebuild the house, but the architectural firm of Venturi and Rauch convinced the city that these ghost structures would be more powerful. Don’t worry though, they left holes in the ground so you can see where Franklin’s privy would have been and such. We keep things classy in Philly!

At the end of the tour, a beer is included with the price of admission. I got into the Revolutionary spirit and ordered Thomas Jefferson’s Golden Ale. (It’s actually brewed according to his recipe.) USA, USA, USA!

24 Hour Tip

And if you’d like to get all this founding father knowledge for yourself, plus much more, you’ll have to go ahead and book the tour for yourself.

Check tour rates and availability right here!

24 hours in philadelphia

24 Hours in Philadelphia

Afternoon: Franklin Trail!

Welcome to the continuation of our 24 hours in Philadelphia! And we’re kicking things off on the Franklin Trail. The Franklin Trail is something I’m pretty sure I invented. Well, maybe the city of Philadelphia also has something they call the Franklin Trial but I refuse to look it up. I choose to believe the FT is mine, all mine.

Some grumps out there might be complaining that Franklin isn’t really a Philadelphia native. Well, the Philly Phanatic is a Philadelphia native, and look how that turned out! Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, but he lived in Philadelphia for many years. Most of his famous achievements were in Philadelphia. Philly even named a freeway after him! So I think we’re safe in calling him Philadelphian.

The attractions we will visit today are all (well, almost all) associated with the great man. Let’s kick off the our 24 hours in Philadelphia on the Franklin Trail with…

Approximately top 5: ben franklin edition

24 hours in philadelphia
1) Sonny’s famous steaks

OK, this is the one non-Franklin related stop on the 24 hours in Philadelphia, but I’m sure Franklin wouldn’t want us to starve. He cared about food! After all, he invented a soup bowl for ships. 

Sonny’s is purportedly the best cheesesteak in Old Town. In fact, GQ called it the best cheesesteak in the whole city. Each cheesesteak is made to order so there’s a bit of a wait, but I think it’s worth it.

When ordering a cheesesteak, there are only a few options and you need to decide in advance to keep the line going. The choices are usually American, Cheese Whiz, and sometimes Provolone. I never check if American and Provolone are available because I only like Cheese Whiz. The cheesesteak is the only appropriate use of Cheese Whiz.

Then you need to decide if you want onions or not. (You do.) So the proper way to place my order would be to ask for a cheesesteak “Whiz With”. (No need to specify that the with means onions.)

If you have a Philly accent, it’s going to sound like Wit’, not With. But I don’t recommend affecting the accent just to blend in.

24 hours in philadelphia
2) Independence Hall

Independence Hall is perhaps the most important building in the history of our country. That’s no hyperbole. Independence Hall is where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created and signed.

Any American with even a smidge of patriotism has to feel their heart stir when they enter Independence Hall. And Franklin himself signed both the Declaration and the Constitution so Independence Hall is the perfect place to start the Franklin Trail.

Independence Hall is operated by the National Park Service. It’s free to enter, but you have to reserve your tickets in advance online. Listen to my instructions very carefully because the whole thing is confusing.

Go pick up your tickets by the recommended time, then head over to Independence Hall. You’ll have to go through the security screening and then wait a bit until your group is called.

You’ll have some time to kill, so go in the little museum behind the security screening. There are a ton of exciting objects there, though the museum is wee. Look at this inkwell.

24 hours in philadelphia

Are you saying that’s just an inkwell? Don’t be ungrateful! This so-called inkwell was used to help sign the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. So it’s done a lot more for America than either one of us has. Respect to the inkwell.

24 hours in philadelphia

Now you are ready for the ranger-led tour of Independence Hall. He will draw your attention to this portrait of the signing of the Constitution. Notice how one of the men has his back turned to you? That’s because no one knows what this guy looked like! So the painter just made it up.

Way to think fast, patriot portrait painter. Now no one on Twitter can accuse you of getting it wrong.

24 hours in philadelphia

Once you go into Independence Hall, you can see it is divided into two parts. This part in my photo above was the courthouse. The prisoner used to have to stand in that little cage. I don’t think that leads to the presumption of innocence, do you?

The picture in the back of the room used to be of the Lion of England. Of course after the Revolution it was replaced with a portrait of Sam the Eagle.

24 hours in philadelphia

Now this room is where the magic happened. The Assembly Room is where Franklin and the other founding fathers debated and signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. OOH! AAAH!

Franklin famously remarked on the image of the sun on the back of the large chair in the back. He said that he once hadn’t been sure whether the sun was rising or setting on our country, but that now he felt confident it was rising. I hope that remains true today.

24 hours in philadelphia
3) Congress Hall

Remember, Philadelphia was the capitol of the United States before our country transformed the swamps of Virginia into Washington, DC. While they were waiting for DC to be deswamp-ified, George Washington and John Adams both served as president in Philadelphia.

Of course that meant Congress needed a home too. You’re in luck because you can visit the original Congress Hall just next to Independence Hall. The House of Representatives met on the bottom floor…

24 hours in philadelphia

And the Senate met on the top floor. The Senate gets a fancy room with an eagle on top and I don’t think that’s fair. The House does just as much as the Senate. You know who does think it’s fair? Marie Antoinette.

24 hours in philadelphia

Why is there a portrait of Marie Antoinette in Congress Hall? Remember France was our ally during the American Revolution. It might have just been because the French hated the British, but it’s the thought that counts. Thanks for the support Marie! We’re sorry we couldn’t help you out with the whole being decapitated thing.

24 hours in philadelphia
4) Benjamin Franklin Museum

As the Franklin trail continues, let’s dig deeper into the man’s life and mystery. The Benjamin Franklin Museum here is the ultimate place to research Fun Franklin Facts.

Did you know that Franklin was so obsessed with chess that he considered it a vice? I just call chess The Queen’s Gambit because I’ve never seen that show, and I don’t actually know what the Queen’s Gambit is.

24 hours in philadelphia

How about that he invented a musical instrument called the glass armonica? He was inspired by the sound you get when you wet your finger and run it around a glass rim.

24 hours in philadelphia

Were you aware that Franklin started a fire insurance company? This was their logo. I don’t see how these people can put out any fires if they are all holding hands.

24 hours in philadelphia

Franklin was an inventing fool! You just couldn’t slow him down. I think my favorite invention of his was this soup bowl for ships. You know, so the soup doesn’t make a mess if the ship moves. Talk about a problem I didn’t know needed a solution!

If you have young children, they’ll enjoy the little squirrel cartoon mascot sharing fun facts around the museum. His name is Skuggs and he even has his own picture book called Skuggs: The Patriot Squirrel who Saved America

Okay, first I met an inkwell that’s more patriotic than I am, and now it’s a cartoon squirrel. I’m starting to feel bad about myself.

24 hours in philadelphia
5) Franklin Fountain

Now it’s time to head back on the 24 hours in Philadelphia with…ice cream! My favorite place in Philadelphia, and quite possibly the world, is the Franklin Fountain. Though it looks 100 years old, it’s only been open since 2004.

It was founded by a couple of brothers who wanted an olde-tyme ice cream parlor. They named it after Franklin because apparently it used to be common practice in Philly to name businesses after Franklin for no particular reason.

24 hours in philadelphia

My go-to move here is to always get the College Ice. This is one scoop and one topping, perfect for a snack. Their sinuous hot fudge is as warm and comforting as a patriotic squirrel. I like to pair this with one of their more unusual flavors.

This time I ordered caramelized banana. The sugar of the caramelized banana combined with the sugar in the hot fudge almost sent me into a coma right on Market Street. Worth it!

24 hours in philadelphia
6) Christ church burial ground

We’ve seen where Franklin used to live. Now let’s see where he lives now. Or rather, where he has been buried in Christ Church Burial Ground. It’s remarkable how many people come to pay their respects to Ben Franklin even to this day. You can tell from the state of his grave.

It’s good luck to toss pennies onto Franklin’s grave. (Franklin was famous for the saying “A penny saved is a penny earned.”) I’m sure Franklin’s ghost manages all those pennies wisely!

If you have time, Christ Church Burial Ground is worth a visit for its other inhabitants. There is Benjamin Rush who signed the Declaration of Independence and founded Dickinson College. You can also find members of the Biddle banking family and the founder of Pennsylvania Hospital, Thomas Bond.

But none of them is as famous as Franklin. (A fact I’m sure would have pleased Franklin enormously. He had an ego as large as his passion for chess) And the proof of Franklin’s superior celebrity is that Franklin is the only one who gets his own trail.

24 hours in philadelphia

24 Hours in Philadelphia

Evening: Pub Crawl!

Some people claim that Philadelphia is the greatest city for beer in the country. It is home to Yuengling, which is the oldest operating brewery in the United States. The craft beer revival exploded in Philadelphia like a keg of cheap beer that’s been tapped by a frat boy.

So what better way to spend an evening in our 24 hours in Philadelphia than by taking a self-guided beer tour of three of the city’s finest bars? And that’s my cue for…

The approximately top 5: Philadelphia beer edition

24 hours in philadelphia
1) Molly Malloy’s 

Our first stop iss in the legendary Reading Terminal Market. (Pronounce it Redding, like Otis.) We are going to Molly Malloy’s in the market because they serve beer in go-cups.

This was important because that way we could sip our beers as we wandered around the market admiring Amish pickles, discussing scrapple, and wishing we could be having Bassett’s ice cream along with our beer. (OK, maybe that last one was just me. Drinking makes me hungry.)

24 hours in philadelphia
2) good dog bar

Good Dog is an adorable bar with pictures of cute little doggies everywhere. As a single lady, I’m a proud cat lover, but I can still appreciate our cuddly canine companions.

But now I will ruin the effect by explaining that one wall only had pictures of dogs who have recently gone to the great shoe closet in the sky. That’s crazy! How can people expect to drink comfortably with a bunch of dead dogs looking at them?

My IPA is from a Pennsylvania brewery founded by two brothers with the last name Trogner. They call their company Troegs– I guess to make it sound more Belgian. I don’t think it’s really that often in human history that people have wanted to pass as Belgian.

This beer was a good choice on a hot day because of the refreshing citrus notes. At least I think there were citrus notes in it. I was a bit distracted by the dead dogs.

24 hours in philadelphia
3) The foodery

Since we are easing up on our fourth beer of the night, it is time to grab a snack with it. Let’s stop at The Foodery for some high carb treats like fries with spicy ketchup…

and bread with spinach dip.

24 hours in philadelphia

For my beer, I went entirely based on the name for the Evil Genius Beer Company’s “You’re Killin’ Me Smalls” raspberry beer. Like the citrus beer I had enjoyed at Good Dog, it was perfect for a hot evening. Also this time there were no pictures of dead dogs to bother me.

24 hours in philadelphia dandelion
4) The Dandelion

After one plate of French fries, one plate of bread and spinach dip, and four beers, you’ll be ready for your dinner. I suggest you take yourself to The Dandelion, which is the gastropub across the street from our last stop. (I think gastropub is just a polite way of saying “a good English restaurant”.)

For some reason I decided that spicy tandoori chicken with basmati rice would sooth my beer-soaked stomach. I’m not sure it’s the best choice for drunk food because of the heat.

On the other hand, the strong flavors did help me not fall asleep at the dinner table, which was definitely welcome since I was dining alone. And what’s more British than a nice curry?

24 hours in philadelphia dandelion

Did I save room for dessert? I would never fail you like that, Internet Stranger. I “forced” myself to eat a Bakewell tart. This is an English dessert made with jam, frangipane, and almonds. It tasted just the way I imagine Mary Berry’s Bakewell tart tastes.

24 hours in philadelphia

24 Hours in Philadelphia

What to Pack?

  • A cell charger so you can keep your cell phone charged for the entire 24 hours in Philadelphia.
  • My favorite guide book to Philadelphia
  • The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds during our 24 hours in Philadelphia
  • These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.

24 Hours in Philadelphia

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of Philly’s finest cheesesteak. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your 24 hours in Philadelphia.

But I can tell you that you can use a lovely airplane to get from many cities to the Philadelphia airport, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Philadelphia at the best time of day.

However, if you live in a closer city like Washington DC or NYC, it would be best to take a bus!

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to your 24 hours in Philadelphia ASAP.

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Philadelphia!

What would you do with 24 hours in Philadelphia? Why are fancy olive oil shops so popular? And could you drink with dead dogs looking at you? Please email me at and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Philadelphia. If you have another 24 hours in Philadelphia, add this itinerary!

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