Philadelphia's skyline (©J. Lawrence/Visit Philadelphia)
Not all travelers have leisure time. Perhaps you're on business and can only step out at lunch, or you've got an airport layover at PHL and you're looking for a way to kill a few hours. If you find that these or other circumstances are cramping your desired itinerary, know that you can still get a taste of Philly.
Make the most of this culturally and artistically conscious city in limited time by picking one (or as many as you can) of the destinations below—each can be experienced in 80 minutes or less.
QUICK VISIT 1
The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation's collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern art has been among the most well-curated and widely recognized since Albert C. Barnes established the Foundation in 1922. One could spend hours parked on a plush chair in one of the Barnes' meticulously designed viewing rooms, marveling at works by Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and more. But if time is limited, an 80-minute tour is just enough. The symmetrically and thematically arranged spaces in the Barnes Collection make each room a complete sensory experience, and just a few minutes in each room is enough to satiate any artistic interests.
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 215.278.7000
QUICK VISIT 2
The Franklin Institute
It’s easy to kill eight hours at The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia’s center for science and exploration never mind 80 minutes, but if this is all the time you have, here’s how to do it. Walk through The Giant Heart—think aorta and ventricles rather than the V-Day version—the museum’s iconic exhibit that delves into the physiology of our most important organ. Then explore Your Brain, a new-ish permanent exhibition that presents what’s in your head for the playground crowd—for example, there’s an 18-foot-tall rope climbing structure that simulates a neural network. If there’s still time on your way out, pause in the Rotunda for the 30-ton Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, a nod to this city’s founding father.
271N. 21st St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.448.1200
QUICK VISIT 3
Add this to the roster of city “firsts.” America’s first zoo is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and endangered. Among more traditional and typical animal exhibits are a few standouts: Zoo360’s Big Cat Crossing, a 330-foot mesh passageway stretches overheard and allows lions, tigers, pumas and snow leopards to freely roam and explore. Likewise, there is an animal trail system for the zoo’s primates. Visitors should also seek out one of the zoo’s more vulnerable species, the Himalayan red pandas. An exciting moment last June saw two panda cubs born onsite to parents Basil and Spark, and they’ve been out for viewing since November.
3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA
QUICK VISIT 4
The magic of the Rodin Museum starts before you enter inside. Sitting just before the main entrance is the iconic The Gates of Hell sculpture—so captivating, it has become a prime spot for brides and grooms to take wedding photos (despite the irony). As the name would suggest, the museum holds the largest collection of pieces by Auguste Rodin outside of Paris. An offset of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin is said to have brought “Paris to the Parkway”—a fitting description for the iconic sculptures both inside and outside the building. Although most of your time will be spent inside viewing molds of Victor Huge and Camille Claudel, be sure to plan for time in the gardens, where Adam and Eve, the iconic piece The Thinker, plus more are on display.
2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 215-763-8100
QUICK VISIT 5
Fairmount Park Houses
Rightfully named Park Charms, the six historic houses that call Fairmount Park home are worth a visit. Each house has a distinct personality—with its’ own story to tell. If you have just 80 minutes to see them, narrow the houses down to your top three favorites and plan ahead. You can show up to many unannounced, where a knowledgeable guide will be waiting to give you a tour, while others run on a timed schedule. Start your day at Cedar Grove, where visitors get a first look into the colonial way of life in Philadelphia. A short drive away is Woodford, a Georgian-style house filled to the brim with antiques that instantly takes you back in time. But if your schedule only permits one house, don’t miss the historic Strawberry Mansion, the largest and quite possibly, the most popular of the bunch. The colorful walls and ornate furniture once had some of America’s most influential men walking through it—now, it’s your turn.
QUICK VISIT 6
Yards Brewing Company
Calling all beer lovers. Yards Brewing Company is often called Philly’s hometown brewery—and for good reason. Not only is the beer brewed on location, but the people behind the beloved beer brand are also recognized faces in the community. From local events to huge festivals, you can find Yards giving back to the city where they began. When visiting, come to the brewery and tasting room on the weekend: they offer free tours (that include free beer samples!) on Saturday and Sunday and the tour gives you an inside look at the process that goes into making your favorite brew. Afterwards, head back into the main room for a flight of their signature blends, food truck bites (trucks rotate weekly) and a game or two of billiards.
901 N. Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, PA, 215.634.2600
QUICK VISIT 7
Independence Mall is the home of many of America's iconic landmarks, so seeing it all in 80 minutes or less can seem daunting. But it’s doable with some easy planning. Go online a few days before your visit to reserve your timed ticket to the Independence Hall tour. Lucky for you, the tour, which takes you inside the site where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, is only 20 minutes long. Then, walk across the street to the Liberty Bell. Spend a few minutes learning the history and snapping a photo. Take your last minutes to tour the Constitution Center and see the free exhibits at the Visitor’s Center. Viola! 80 minutes later, you’re an American history pro.
5th and Market streets, Philadelphia, PA, 800.537.7676, phlvisitorcenter.com
QUICK VISIT 8
Sister Cities Park
Just because your summer destination is in a big city, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy nature. With tons of national parks surrounding the city, the area around Philly is known for its lush landscapes, picturesque waterfalls and hiking trails. But, you don’t have to leave the city limits (or even the Center City limits) to enjoy the greenery. Behind alleyways and nestled between big buildings, there are little areas perfect for enjoying the outdoors—you just have to know where to look. One of these parks is Sister Cities, located on 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Sister Cities Park offers a café with outdoor seating, a children’s discovery garden, a boat pond with the ability to rent model boats or bring your own and a visitor’s center. Bring the family and spend some time enjoying the greenery—you may even forget where you are for a bit.
210 N. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.440.5500
QUICK VISIT 9
Independence Seaport Museum
All aboard. Boat lovers, sea lovers and even just lovers of the “Titanic” will find something to awe over here. Located next to the Delaware River, this museum celebrates the maritime history of the local region. Start your day inside where you’ll find full-size boats, a walking history of events related to the sea and even a full exhibit on Philadelphians and the Titanic. But for a museum dedicated to the water, it’s only fitting that many of the best exhibits can be found outside. Tour ships like the Olympia ( “Artship Olympia” showcasing site-specific art instillations is on view until October 2) and the Submarine BECUNA, a World War II ship and the only Guppy 1-A submarine on display.
211 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd., 215.413.8655
QUICK VISIT 10
It may seem odd to suggest an entire town for an article on how to spend just 80 minutes. And while Chestnut Hill could certainly entertain for much longer (a stay at the Chestnut Hill Hotel makes an entire week there sound appealing), it’s also easy to hit the hot spots in just 80 minutes. Hop on the Septa Chestnut Hill West Line and head straight to Germantown Avenue, the neighborhoods’ main street, for shopping at local favorites like Style Camp, Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop and art gallery, Gravers Lane. Pick up a grab-and-go lunch at Market at the Fareway, and if time still permits, spend the last of it at Woodmere Art Museum, which is full of paintings, sculptures and photographs from local artists.
QUICK VISIT 11
It’s almost shameful to admit that after years in Philly, I had never stepped inside the iconic Mütter Museum. But it isn’t for lack of time or interest—I was nervous about the oddities inside and my ability to, well, stomach them. But this past weekend I finally felt like it was time to swallow my fears. To my delight, those aforementioned oddities may leave you a bit queasy at first, but their narratives and explanations instantly wash that away. The museum is small but there is lots to see, so if you only have 80 minutes, take your time with each room, read the fine print and don’t skip over anything. Each case holds items you would never see anywhere else and things that open your eyes to the marvels, rarities and phenomenon’s of our bodies.
19 S. 22nd St., 215.560.8564
QUICK VISIT 12
As a Philadelphia transplant, the Mummers Parade (an annual New Years Day folk festival that dates back to the mid-17th-century) has always been a point of interest for me. I have seen them strutting their stuff on New Year’s Day and been fascinated by their elaborate outfits, but I never quite understood why this tradition has held on for so long in Philly. So, I finally made it over to the Mummers Museum to learn a thing or two. If you’re like me and the Mummers are, well, very interesting to you, take 80 minutes to stroll through this museum. The large hall offers a ton of insight into the Mummer tradition, explaining their history, their legacy and the people underneath those iconic costumes. Open W-Sa 9:30 am-4 pm.
1100 S. 2nd St.
QUICK VISIT 13
National Liberty Museum
If you’ve ever visited the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, you’ve probably unknowingly passed the National Liberty Museum on your way. And you’re not alone—I, and many of my fellow Philadelphians, have also done this many times. But, now that you’re aware of it, carve out some time to check it out. The museum is focused on liberty and freedom, helping guests find their place in American heritage through interactive exhibits, glass art and contemporary art. Start your visit at the Liberty Bell replica, pre-crack, to hear what the bell used to sound like and continue on to see the “Heroes from Around the World” exhibit, showcasing heroes from all walks of life. Open daily 10 am-5 pm.
321 Chestnut St., 215.925.2800.
QUICK VISIT 14
The holidays may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy festive favorites like ice-skating and warm apple cider. Dilworth Park allows for that and so much more through February 26. Bring the family, lace up your skates and glide around the rink with a view of City Hall, followed by a reprieve inside the Rothman Cabin, where hot seasonal cocktails and menu items like veggie chili and funnel cake fries will warm up cold hands in an instant. And new this year, the park unveiled America’s Garden Capital Maze—visitors can wander through twinkling lights while learning more about the public gardens surrounding Philadelphia. Your afternoon is officially set.
City Hall, 1 S. 15th St., www.ccdparks.org.