Last Updated: December 30, 2021

What Is Philadelphia Known For?

Philadelphia is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the East Coast, and this guide explores everything it’s known for around the world.

The Rocky films, the Liberty Bell, the iconic Philly cheesesteak, and the Philadelphia Eagles are just some of the many things that this city in Pennsylvania is known for among Americans and foreigners. Read on to learn more about Philly and all the other things that it’s famous for around the planet!

Betsy Ross House

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is a very popular Philly landmark situated in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia. It’s thought that the house is the former home of Betsy Ross, the seamstress who supposedly sew the first-ever American flag. This popular tourist attraction is just a few blocks away from the Independence Hall, and it’s a common stop on most tours of Philly.

However, this is most likely not the actual house the famous seamstress lived in. The location of her home was traced from interviews with former family members, and it is most likely that it was one of the houses that is adjacent to this tourist trap in Philadelphia. But, ironically enough, the adjacent house that was most likely the former home of the famous seamstress was torn down due to fire hazards.

On top of that, there’s no actual evidence that Betsy Ross was the seamstress who sew the first American flag. That’s pretty much just an urban legend that has been debunked by quite a few reputable historians.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an iconic city landmark, and not just because of its world-renowned art collection. The landmark building was prominently featured in Rocky III, especially the steps that lead up to the museum entrance. They’re known as the Rocky Steps today, and they’re easily the most popular tourist attraction in Philadelphia.

In addition to being famous for one of the most iconic movie franchises ever filmed, this museum is also extremely popular among art lovers because of its amazing collection. It includes works from Picasso, Metzinger, Gleizes, Dali, and many other famous European and Asian painters.

Also, it’s worth noting that Philly’s best museum administers several other annexes, which include the Rodin Museum, the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, and the Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant colonial houses.

The Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is one of the most famous landmarks in Philadelphia, and a quintessential symbol of American independence. The iconic landmark is located in the Liberty Bell Center that is part of the Independence National Historical Park at Market Street.

The Liberty Bell is known for quite a few things – it’s the symbol of both the US’ independence and the abolitionists, there’s a Bible verse inscribed on the bell, and it has a pretty big crack.

There are many theories about the famous crack in the Liberty Bell, but nobody knows for certain when it happened. The most commonly accepted theory is that it cracked in 1846 when it was last-rung in celebration of President Washington’s birthday.

Independence National Historical Park

Independence National Historical Park

The Liberty Bell is just one of the many interesting landmarks in this famous historical park. The NP is also home to the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Court, Carpenter’s Hall, the Museum of the American Revolution, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the Singer’s Garden, and so much more.

The popular NP is also home to the building that is now known as the Independence Hall, but it was previously the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House. It’s important because this is the place where the United States Constitution was written and signed, so you can imagine how significant it is for American history!

Other notable museums that are in the area but aren’t officially part of the national park are the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and Powel House.

South Street

South Street

South Street is a very long city street that marks the beginning of the South Philadelphia district. It is commonly known as the edgiest street in Philly, and it’s perfect for souvenir shopping. The boulevard is a true melting pot of different cultures and groups, lined with countless shops, cafes, and (cheesesteak) restaurants.

Philly’s busiest street almost never sleeps, and it’s the perfect destination for all visitors who are hoping to find a bar that’s open late in the night. It’s also a great place for performance art lovers since it features several theaters and live music venues.

Eastern State Prison

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Prison is a famous tourist attraction in Philadelphia. This former penitentiary is a US National Historic Landmark, and it is open for public visitors as a museum. It’s one of the best historic sites in Philadelphia to visit, and not just because the prison is impressive to tour.

Several famous criminals were imprisoned here in Philly, most notably Al Capone, Willie Sutton, and Big Joe. You can tour their cells, see the remains of a prison barbershop, and a lot more, all the while learning about prison reform and the key role that the Eastern State Prison had in it. It’s not just a fascinating historical tour, but a very educational one as well.

City Hall & William Penn Statue

Philadelphia City Hall

The Philadelphia City Hall is a spectacular building built of white marble, limestone, and brick. It is the largest free-standing masonry building in the world, and one of the most famous landmarks in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

The city hall is a National Historic Landmark, and at one point in time, it was the tallest building in the world. The famous building is best-known for the massive bronze statue of William Penn, which stands atop its tallest tower. Penn’s statue is 37 ft tall and weighs an impressive 53,348 lbs.

Just below the impressive statue is an observation deck, which offers exceptional views of Philadelphia’s skyline. You can see both Comcast towers from here, as well as many other notable buildings in the city of brotherly love.

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market is a huge indoor market in central Philadelphia. This is one of the oldest public markets in America, and the building that it’s been housed in since the late 19th century is considered a National Historic Landmark.

The farmer’s market offers a wide selection of fresh produce, meat, flowers, and pretty much anything else you might need that’s related to food. It’s also a great place for a quick culinary tour of Philly, considering it’s home to a lot of street food vendors that sell everything from Japanese food to iconic Philly Cheesesteaks.

Comcast Center

Comcast Center

Comcast Center is a 58-story skyscraper in Philadelphia, best known for its exquisite glass exterior. The tower is the second-tallest building in the entire state of Pennsylvania, surpassed only by the Comcast Technology Center that’s just across the street from the iconic glass tower.

The top floors of the Comcast Technology Center are reserved for the highest hotel in the country, as well as a restaurant, which features some of the best panoramic views in the city.

Neither of these skyscrapers features a proper observation deck, but they do have restaurants, a hotel, and stores that offer spectacular views of the Philadelphia skyline.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge

Valley Forge National Historical Park is northwest of Philadelphia, and it’s one of the most popular day trips for visitors in Philadelphia. Located at the site of an encampment from the Revolutionary War, this NP boasts 3,500 acres of meadows, woodlands, and fascinating monuments that are a true testament to its role in American history.

In late 1977, while the capital of Philadelphia was occupied by the British, the Continental Army led by one of America’s founding fathers, George Washington, decided to spend the winter at Forge Valley. The site was easily defensible, and it was only a day’s march away from Philly.

Some 12,000 soldiers and around 400 women and children marched into the site of today’s national park and built the fourth largest city in the US at that time. The encampment lasted for six months, and quite a few of its remnants are still standing in the historical park. It’s definitely worth a visit, and not just because of its historical significance – the national park is exceptionally beautiful, particularly in the spring and autumn.

Peddler’s Village

Peddler’s Village is a shopping village outside of Philadelphia, known for way too many stores, excellent restaurants, and a very charming inn. Although the village is popular with visitors year-round, the best time to visit it is during the winter holidays.

The holiday charm really makes the village come alive with countless fairy lights, scents of baked goods, and Santa Claus. It’s truly like you’ve walked right into a winter wonderland, and it’s the perfect place to take your kids if you’re trying to prove to them that Santa Claus really exists.

Philly Cheesesteaks

Philly Cheesesteaks

Every US state has an iconic dish that’s part of the national identity of that state. In New York City it’s New York-style pizza, in California is avocado toast, and in Philadelphia, it’s the Philly Cheesesteak! Cheesesteak tours are a thing in Philadelphia, and they’re a great way of getting to know the culinary scene of this exciting state.

The Philly Cheesesteak is a type of sandwich, made with melted cheese and thinly sliced beef in a long, sliced roll. It can be served with or without caramelized onions, depending on your personal preference. The cheese is usually either provolone or just Cheez Wizz, depending on the quality of the Philly Cheesesteak.

John’s Roast Pork is often cited as the restaurant that makes the best cheesesteaks in South Philly, and it’s even been awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Culinary Excellence.

Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies is another great option if you’re craving the delicious cheesesteak. It consistently gets high ratings from both tourists and locals, and they were even featured on the Tonight Show (with Fallon) once!

Pat’s King of Steaks is also worth checking out, mostly because the restaurant claims to have invented the famous cheesesteak in the first place!


Philadelphia Murals

Philadelphia is known as the Mural Capital of the World because the city is home to thousands of murals. That’s interesting because Philly originally had an anti-graffiti program, which was later transformed into Mural Arts Philadelphia – an organization that continues to grow today, and has had a significant impact on both the appearance of the city streets and also the lives of countless people who reside in Philly.

The city’s unique public art program helps ex-convicts, recovering drug addicts, and artists heal and find purpose through art. They also have specific programs for schools and prisons, and it’s undeniable that the organization has managed to improve the lives of many people.

In addition to allowing people to heal through art, this organization has undoubtedly managed to make the city of Philadelphia absolutely gorgeous, with thousands of murals that add both color and life to the city streets.

Battleship New Jersey

Battleship New Jersey

Battleship New Jersey is a popular attraction for tourists who come to Philadelphia, even though it’s technically not located in this city. The iconic battleship is situated in Camden, New Jersey, but it can be seen from Philly’s harbor.

Head to the Spruce Street Harbor Park in Penn’s Landing, and you’ll be able to get a good view of the massive battleship. The huge ship can easily be seen from Philly even without binoculars, and a good zoom lens is enough to get some excellent photos of this iconic landmark

Franklin Square

Franklin Square

Benjamin Franklin did a lot for the City of Philadelphia, so it’s not really surprising that the city has a huge park dedicated to the founding father. Franklin Square is one of Philadelphia’s five open-space parks, and it’s easily the most popular one in the city.

You can also just grab a bite to eat at one of the many harborside restaurants while admiring the Delaware River water views. 

Rocky Statue and Rocky Steps

Rocky Statue

The 72 steps that lead up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art are easily the most famous steps in the world. Made popular by the Rocky movies, the steps actually get more visitors than the museum itself!

In 2006, Stallone donated the Rocky Statue that was featured in the movies to the City of Philadelphia, and it was later returned to the iconic museum. The iconic statue is situated in a grassy area, adjacent to the museum at the top of the steps, and it’s one of the most famous attractions in entire Pennsylvania.

Head to Benjamin Franklin Parkway to run up the 72 steps and stand next to iconic statute, just like fictional Rocky Balboa did in the movies. Just don’t throw anything at the statute’s head as Balboa did, and you’ll be great!

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is the largest public park in Philadelphia, featuring sports fields, lush gardens, walking trails, playgrounds, murals, and museums. The massive park encompasses the Philadelphia Zoo and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which are two very popular destinations in the city.

Philly’s largest park is split in two by the Schuylkill River, which is very popular for kayaking and rowing. The stunning public park is also popular for horseback riding and cycling, and it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds of the city streets!

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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