Day 1 in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has become one of my favorite cities in the US and I cannot wait to visit again with my hubby! We stayed in Philly for 3 nights during our Delaware to New York road trip and I must say, this was the perfect amount time and probably the most exciting stop on our adventure.
First, I must mention that we had to stay outside of the city, there were literally zero hotels available for 6 people when we booked this trip months ago. But, we actually liked where we stayed, at the Home2 Suites Ridley Park, and it was only about a 20 minute drive into Philly each day. The only bummer was that the pool was closed for construction, so the kids were sad. I was really nervous and not sure what to expect when it came to driving into the city and finding parking, but it was actually very easy! We always took exit 22 and turned left on Fourth Street and drove until we saw The Bourse Building. Right past that is a large parking garage, and we found ourselves parking there each day and eating at The Bourse food court, too. And to make it even better, the parking was right by Independence National Historic Park, which is where you want to be if you want to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell! Parking is about $25 per day, maybe there are cheaper options, but it was very convenient and easy for me being there without Jereme.
On our first day in Philadelphia we chose to do a double decker bus tour with Double Decker Bus Tours of Philadelphia. These buses left right outside of the Bourse Building, too! I really wanted to check out the city and add sites to our list of places we wanted to explore more of later on. The bus tour was great and we had a front row seat on the top deck! I really enjoyed the bus tour, we found a fun fountain along the route and kids were swimming and playing in it, so I knew the boys would love it since the pool was closed at the hotel.
We also spotted Ben Franklin’s burial site, so we headed straight there to see that once the bus tour was over. If you follow along on our travels, you probably know that I love all the creepy things, like historical ghost tours and visiting famous people’s graves. My family is weird, I know! But, we got to see Ben’s grave and some others that helped write the Declaration of Independence! It was $9 for the kids and I to go in, but if you don’t want to pay, you can view the burial site from the fence. Everything is marked for you to easily find it.
And to end our night in Philly, we decided to go on a Ghost Tour of haunted historical places! We used Philadelphia Ghost Tours and had a wonderfully creepy experience and our guide was hands down the best I have ever had on a ghost tour. I even have a really cool photo of a ghost in a hat from a window – for real, check it out below!!!
Day 2 in Philadelphia
This day was one of my all-time favorite days on a vacation! We decided to go to the Betsy Ross House and then to one of the museums after we were done there. Sadly, this was on a Monday and the museums are only open on Thursdays-Sundays. So, please keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to Philadelphia in the near future. Anyway, we decided that we would make the very best of the day and we ended up having the most amazing time! We parked in the same parking garage and decided to pop on over to see the Liberty Bell before making our way to the Betsy Ross House. They only let about 17 people in at a time to see basically all the things in Philadelphia (due to Covid), so we did have to wait outside in a line for about 20 minutes or so BUT you do not need tickets to see the bell. While we were waiting in line, Independence Hall was having a Veteran’s ceremony, so we were able to watch a band play (it was similar to a colonial style band) and there were military vehicles everywhere blocking the road in front of Independence Hall. Once inside the Liberty Bell, we took turns admiring the bell and taking photos of the new friends we made in line!
From here we walked over to The Betsy Ross House. I used the GPS on my phone and there are also several signs pointing you to the famous historic sites in the city, so again, maneuvering around town by car and by foot was surprisingly easy! I had no clue that we would enjoy the Betsy Ross House so much! Maybe it was because we accidentally decided to go on Flag Day of all days, but regardless, it was a wonderful, interactive experience for all of us. We started with a self-guided tour of the house. The sewing room reminded all of us of our Granny who is 89 and still sews to this day! Once we exited the house, employees were there passing out bags of M&Ms to the kids, which they loved. Then, we happened to see a man dressed in time-period clothing, so we chatted with him and learned that he was playing the part of Henry Box Brown, a slave that mailed himself to freedom from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Jett was so excited because he had read a book about him in school! There was also a lady playing the part of Betsy Ross, so we headed her way and sat down to enjoy her show. Well, this was the best part! It was completely interactive for the kids and they helped her on stage, all while learning about how she became the person to make our first flag and all of the other designs that were brainstormed before the first American flag came to be! It was so much fun and the lady that played the part was the sweetest and so good with kids! George Washington also made a brief visit haha!
Once we left the Betsy Ross House, we walked over to Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest residential street in Philadelphia. It was gorgeous, but nothing was open on Monday. Still, just walking along and taking it all on was fun. Be sure to check it out if you are in the area.
Finally, we were all hot and tired from exploring, so we went back to the car and drove over to the fountain that we had seen on the bus tour. We didn’t bring swimsuits, but because I’m so cool, I let the kids play in the fountain as long as their little hearts desired! Once they were completely worn out, we went back to the hotel, I did some laundry because 10 day road trip hello lol, and I think we ran over to the Cracker Barrel next door for dinner! It was a really great day of learning and exploring.
Last Day in Philadelphia
Today was an exciting day, especially for me and my history loving heart! Y’all, we got to see the birthplace of America and where the Declaration of Independence was signed! You can visit these sites at Independence Hall. We did not pre-purchase timed entry tickets (there were none available), so we woke up early and headed to Philly. We got to Independence Hall around 8:15 a.m. and park rangers begin handing out FREE tickets around 8:30 a.m. You can purchase the timed entry tickets here for $1.00. We were able to begin our self-guided tour of Independence Hall around 10 a.m., so we grabbed a quick breakfast first and then came back and began our tour. You are able to enter into two rooms on the bottom level and here you listen to park rangers explain the importance of the two rooms. The second room you enter is where the Declaration was signed! It was truly amazing. I mean, the chair that George Washington sat in is still there! Squeeee!! Once you leave Independence Hall, you go next door to Congress Hall to see where the first two presidential inaugurations occurred! Remember, at the time Washington DC was not finished being built. It all just smelled like the 1700s and I am not going to lie, I got a little emotional here. It’s still crazy to believe that I got to stand in buildings where our Founding Fathers worked and created our government.
Once we left there, we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed down the street to the Portrait Gallery. This is as place filled with historical paintings, but it turned out to be so much more for us! We ran into our favorite park ranger, Jane, and she remembered us from our morning tour of Independence Hall. She ended up taking us on a behind the scene tour of the gallery and enthralled us all with her historical knowledge and amazing tales of things she’s seen that are not available to the public! I learned so, so much and consider our time with her so valuable. Be sure to check out the gallery if you are in the area and talk to the park rangers! They are there to answer questions and you might just make a new friend. I didn’t take any photos inside the gallery, I was too engaged, but I wish I would’ve gotten a picture with Jane. She was so precious and I will never forget our time spent with her.
After the portrait gallery we decided to head over to the Ben Franklin Bridge! We drove across it into New Jersey, found a great parking spot, and then walked back to Pennsylvania on the walking trail on the bridge. It’s not a long walk and it makes for a fun story and a great place for photos! This is how we ended our time in Philadelphia before heading to NYC.
We really had such a fun time exploring the city and we learned so much. If you love historical places, this is definitely a city you need to visit!