Philadelphia for $100 a Day

Discover the birthplace of the nation through its attractions, cuisine and mom-and-pop shops.

The birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia is America's fifth-largest city and was the first World Heritage City in the U.S.

Philly's calling card is its historical attractions, but it's also known for its shopping, craft beer and the Philly cheesesteak. Tour through the city's best and assemble a $100-a-day tour.

Independence Hall
The convergence point of Philly's historic attractions: Independence Hall. (©M. Edlow/Visit Philadelphia)

The Best Things to Do in Philadelphia

Founded by William Penn as a place for religious tolerance, Philly was home to both Continental Congresses, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and outfitted the Colonial Navy in the Revolutionary War—all before 1800. 

Make your first stop the Independence Hall Visitor's Center and get your ticket time for Independence Hall—tickets are free for same-day walk-ups or $1.50 to reserve in advance. For a road-less-traveled to visit, search out its secret gardens.

Discover Alexander Hamilton's influence on Philadelphia in a walking-tour app you can download from iTunes or Google Play ($4.99). The tour stop not to miss: the U.S. Mint; the first Secretary of the Treasury personally designed it. Learn about the coin-making process on a free, self-guided tour.  

Liberty Bell Center
Take a selfie with the Liberty Bell, then examine its crack. (©D. Cruz/Visit Philadephia)

The Liberty Bell is the best place in Philadelphia for a selfie. Get up close for view of the legendary crack and the bell's inner workings (free).

Spend hours at the engaging National Constitution Center. The addictive American National Tree lets you learn about the citizens who shaped America's constitutional history—find out if you're related to any of them ($14.50 for adults). 

At Fireman's Hall there's a giant red fire engine in addition to static models, a homage to Philadelphia's earliest firefighters, a stained-glass window to commemorate the fallen and fire coats and boots to try on (free). 

Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens in Philadephia
The Shofuso house and gardens celebrates Japanese culture in Philly. (©J. Fusco/Visit Philadelphia)

The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden pays homage to Philly's Japanese population in a 1.2-acre hill garden, koi pond with island and a tea garden with courtyard ($10 adults).

For a pleasant afternoon, shop the mom-and-pop dominated Midtown Village. Then, because shopping for a cause was never more fulfilling—or as fun—head to Philly AIDS Thrift, where the tchotchkes don't quit and you'll find steals of deals on quality clothing and accessories. There's also a large section devoted to furniture, art and electronics. 

John's Roast Pork in Philadelphia
The signature sandwich at John's Roast Pork (©J. Varney/Visit Philadelphia)

The Best Cheap Eats and Bars

Philadelphia is famously home to the cheesesteak sandwich. Pat's King of Steaks is regarded as its originator; locals who dine here order theirs "Whiz wit." ($7.50, cash only) 

John's Roast Pork's cheesesteak ($9.25) was favored by Philadelphia dockworkers before garnering national attention. Its signature roast pork sandwich ($8.75) is another don't-miss.

Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market
Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market is the promised land for hungry foodies. (©R. Kennedy/Visit Philadelphia)

The enormous Reading Terminal Market is a spot to find specialty cheeses, Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, table linens, cookbooks and fresh-cut flowers. 

For comfort food with a Southern twist, The Little Lion doesn't disappoint. Its shrub-based cocktail program is inspired by Philadelphia's revolutionary history (Low Country Benny, $11; Lemon Fizz cocktail, $9).

Similarly, City Tavern takes its cue from the Founding Fathers. The libations menu, with its "Ales of the Revolution" is particularly spectacular (beer sampler, $13.50).

Philly's National Constitutional Center
Philly's National Constitutional Center is full of interactive displays. (©G. Widman/Visit Philadelphia)

Where to Stay

The award-winning Apple Hostel is literally steps from downtown's historical attractions hub. Rates from $26 nightly.

The Old City Hostel is located on a brick-paved street lined with trees and gets props for its charm. Rates from $28 nightly; a free Uber ride from the train depot or bus station is included.