Top 5 Philadelphia Tour Sites
The city of Brotherly Love offers the chance to visit the iconic places where colonies became one free and independent nation. Philadelphia offers the opportunity to step back in time to walk in the footsteps of America’s Founding Fathers, but the city has more to offer than just history lessons. Benjamin Franklin’s legacy as a scientist lives on in countless museums, and students can experience the arts and theater downtown.
When planning your itinerary for a Philadelphia school trip, you’ll have a lot of attractions to choose from. Here are the five most popular attractions that always make their way onto our Philadelphia itineraries!
The National Constitution Center brings history to life for students through its three signature attractions. Visitors begin their visit by watching Freedom Rising, “a multimedia theatrical production with 360-degree projection, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and a live actor who narrates the American quest for freedom.” Next, students can explore The Story of We the People, a hands-on exhibit with artifacts and activities. Finally, wrap up your visit by visiting Signers’ Hall with 42 life-sized bronze statues of the men who signed the Constitution.
The National Constitution Center also offers the incredible Interactive Constitution online tool. Teachers can use this tool in the classroom, and students can use it from home to better understand the Constitution.
Average Visit Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Independence Hall is just a few steps away from the National Constitution Center. Originally built as Philadelphia’s statehouse, the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence inside in 1776. Then, eleven years later the Constitutional Convention created and signed the United States Constitution. A short guided tour through the inside of the building will give students a look at the Assembly Room and other first-floor rooms.
If you’re interested in taking a tour of the inside, be sure to let your Student Travel Consultant know because tickets often sell out six months to a year in advance.
Average Visit Time: 20 minutes
3. Liberty Bell
Conveniently located next to Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell Pavilion has exhibits telling the history of the Liberty Bell. When students first enter the building, they can view exhibits on the left side of the center. The exhibit covers topics like the founding of the Liberty Bell as well as its use by abolitionists and suffragettes. The exhibit area also shows a 10-minute film about the Bell.
The visit culminates with a visit to the cracked Liberty Bell itself. Students can take photos in front of the Bell and learn more by talking to a Park Ranger during their visit.
Average Visit Time: 30 minutes
Students can walk alongside Patriots and Loyalists as they explore the Museum of the American Revolution. Fully guided by museum guides, students will trace the American Revolutionary War from the unrest of Boston colonists all the way to the Constitutional Convention. The museum exhibits are guided by four core questions:
- How did people become Revolutionaries?
- How did the Revolution survive its darkest hour?
- How Revolutionary was the war?
- What kind of nation did the Revolution create?
During their visit, students can visit George Washington’s war tent, stand beneath the Boston Liberty Tree, and take a look at authentic revolutionary weapons.
Average Visit Time: 2 hours
Named for Philadelphia’s greatest statesmen and America’s first scientist, the Franklin Institute pays tribute to Benjamin Franklin’s “spirit of inquiry and discovery.” The museum uses incredible hands-on experiences to teach students about science, technology, and research. Some of their most popular exhibits are:
- Your Brain – a two-story “neural network” that shows students how their bodies communicate with their brains.
- SportsZone – an exhibit that allows students to explore how athletics connects the science of the human body, laws of motion, and technical innovation.
Student groups can also visit the Planetarium, IMAX theater, or live science experiment available for a $5 fee.
Average Visit Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
Originally published August 2020, updated November 2021