Series: City Guides

Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia: A Complete Guide

Posted on May 3

We heard you’re looking for fun things to do in Philadelphia. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Philadelphia, affectionately known as Philly, has a mind (and heart) of its own, with charming neighborhoods that are adorned with row homes, cobblestone streets, and distinct culture. And it doesn’t disappoint with a variety of fun and unique experiences. From the Delaware River waterfront views to the vibrant South Street nightlife, Philadelphia beckons nature lovers, artists, sports enthusiasts, and foodies alike.

So, what are the best things to do in Philadelphia, you ask? Well, that really depends on your interests and who you’re with. So we went ahead and curated a list of the top things to do in Philadelphia (that even locals would cosign) for families, lovers, and friends.

Plan a family fun day

Trust us, there’s no shortage of family entertainment in Philadelphia (seriously, it could take weeks to get in on all the fun). If you’re visiting the area with family make sure you tick these fun things to do in Philadelphia off your list.

Explore the Philadelphia Zoo

Attention—if you’ve got a family of animal lovers, you must (that’s an order) visit the Philadelphia Zoo. Situated in a 42-acre Victorian garden, the Philadelphia Zoo has made history as the first zoo chartered in the United States. Take a trip to 66 million years ago and face 24 life-size dinosaurs, look up and watch tigers, orangutans, and lemurs (safely) roam above you in a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails, or go at your own speed and take in the views on a self-guided tour. The zoo is open daily, but before you go, make timed reservations to secure a spot for your family.

Snap a photo of the Liberty Bell

This treasure draws a crowd, so be sure to plan your visit first thing in the morning. If you were asleep in history class, here’s a quick refresher on one of the nation’s most significant symbols. The Liberty Bell chimed at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, and today sits at Independence Hall. Although the bell has lost its sound, its message (and inscription) still rings true: “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Heads up—tickets aren’t required, but there are capacity restrictions to keep visitors and staff safe.

Leave your fingerprints at the Please Touch Museum

Grown-ups, take a backseat (and a much-needed break). This one is strictly for the kids. With six interactive exhibit zones—including spaces designed for children 3 and younger—the Please Touch Museum is full of rich (and really exciting) hands-on learning experiences. Let your kids run wild and explore themes from fantastic to practical. Have a blast riding the now restored 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel or sit back and watch your little ones play croquet with the Queen and indulge the Mad Hatter over tea in the Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland exhibit.

Marvel at the beauty inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Get creative and treat your family to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (one of the nation’s largest). Take in infinite collections of Renaissance, American, and Impressionist art, stroll through the outdoor one-acre sculpture garden, or jog up the east entrance’s steps to reenact Sylvester Stallone’s iconic scene in Rocky (and as you catch your breath, check out the Philly skyline views). This museum is a must-see.

Be one with nature at the Morris Arboretum

Ditch the city life and head over to the Morris Arboretum for (92!) acres of family fun. Whether self-guided or with a friendly staff member, this arboretum offers several tours for exploration. Hop in a bird’s nest and sit on giant robin eggs (careful, they could hatch any minute) at the Tree Adventure Exhibit, explore the wetlands, or relax under some of Philadelphia’s oldest and rarest trees.

Fall in love in the city

Love is always in the air in Philadelphia—it’s literally in its name (the Greek translation of Philadelphia is brotherly love). So there’s no surprise that the city rolls out the red carpet for all things romance. If you’re stumped on where to take bae during your visit, scroll through this list for inspiration.

Sneak kisses in LOVE Park

This may seem obvious, but it’s only right for love birds to roam in LOVE Park. Stroll hand-in-hand, grab lunch from a food truck, and, of course, don’t leave without declaring your love and snapping an “usie” in front of Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture (if you happen to be around on a Wednesday, you may spot a wedding nearby). *Swoons*

Taste new flavors at Franklin Fountain

Whether it’s the first date or the 100th, a scoop (or two) from Franklin Fountain—an adored Philadelphia ice cream shop—is always a good idea. Cool off with flavors like vanilla bean, chocolate, green tea, and teaberry gum, or scoot close and split a Lightning Rod sundae—a dark chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream, a shot of espresso, and chocolate-covered espresso beans topped with a pretzel rod. Need we say more?

Be inspired at the Barnes Foundation

An intimate stroll through the Barnes Foundation (a local nonprofit cultural and educational institution) will surely ignite a few sparks. Get to know your partner against a backdrop of Picassos, Manets, and Renoirs—to name a few. Level up your experience and visit on the first Friday evening of the month for cocktails, live music, and after-hours access to the largest collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern paintings, and African sculptures.

Kick back at Longwood Gardens

Hop in the car for a quick getaway just outside the city to Chester County and experience more than 1,000 acres of gardens, meadows, wetlands, and 11,000 varieties of plants at Longwood Gardens. It’s a lot of exploring, so if you happen to get hungry along the way, drop in to 1906 for fine dining (we recommend the steak frites) or grab a quick bite and drink at Beer Garden. Whatever you do, don’t leave without standing on the Meadow Garden’s boardwalk for a breathtaking view of the ground’s landscape, plants, and animals (you may even spot a few deer and beavers). Only a limited number of visitors are welcomed per day, so purchase tickets in advance to guarantee admission.

Take the day at Spruce Street Harbor Park

No matter the time of day, Spruce Street Harbor Park is perfect for outdoor fun—dine at the floating SSHP Oasis, play in the arcade, or cuddle up in a (very) colorful hammock. To up the ante, rent a kayak or swan boat and spend a romantic day on the water. Now, that’s our type of date.

Run the city with friends

Traveling alone is amazing, but sometimes it’s nice to have your inner circle with you to keep you on your toes. If you’re traveling to Philly with friends (or meet new ones while you’re there), you will not be disappointed with the endless activity options. From mesmerizing art collections to picnics on the pier, Philadelphia will show you and your tribe a good time.

See Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens in all its glory

Guide your crew through a maze of intricate, glistening mosaic tiles and mirrors that span indoors, outdoors, and down the block at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Designed by local artist Isaiah Zagar (who also created more than 100 mosaics in the city), Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is much more than an installation—it’s an experience. There’s a lot to see here so make sure you slow down to take it all in. If you can’t get enough, pack your dinner and drinks and head back during crAfter hours to learn how to make your own decoupage jar and magnets.

Run up the iconic Rocky Steps

We hinted at this earlier, but let’s face it, we can’t talk about the top things to do in Philly without dedicating some extra time to Rocky. Like the thousands of travelers who visit daily, your crew won’t want to pass up a photo opp with the Rocky statue (the most famous piece of public art in Philadelphia). After you’re done posing, race up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps and raise your arms in victory like Balboa himself (the gesture will come naturally after tackling 72 steps!).

Hang out on South Street

Call up the gang and meet on South Street—one of the liveliest streets in the city. Make a day out of it, starting with going back in time in one of the many vintage and antique shops (Retrospect is a fan favorite). For lunch, go to Ishkabibbles, one of Philadelphia’s popular restaurants, for an authentic Philly cheesesteak (make sure you practice how to order before you go). And when the street lights come on, kick back and chat over Cosmo Clouds (or a Lemon Bourbon Smash if cotton candy isn’t your thing) at Tattooed Mom. Enjoy!

Relax at Race Street Pier

A beautiful day in Philly calls for a picnic with friends at Race Street Pier. Let your pups tag along and enjoy the picture-perfect views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Delaware River tide. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a free yoga class or a live show. Stay past sunset and watch the pier come alive with lighted rails and more than 200 LED Solar Light Blocks embedded into the paving.

Skate like a boss at Blue Cross RiverRink

Quick question—do you prefer skating on ice or hardwood? Whichever the case, Blue Cross RiverRink has you covered, and is most definitely the perfect place to have a good time (no matter the season). If you’re in town during the winter, you’ll witness the magic that is Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Channel your inner Kristi Yamaguchi on the massive ice skating rink, get fancy and kick back in the ski lodge, or reminisce around the fire pit—what a dream.

If you’re visiting in the warmer months, you’ll see it transform into Bluecross RiverRink Summerfest—think rollerskating, carnival rides, a 9 hole mini-golf course (each hole designed with recycled materials by local artists), and an urban beach with plenty of tanning areas. And if that doesn’t scream summer, head over to the 200-seat bar for tasty bites and cocktails.

We weren’t joking when we said Philadelphia knows how to have fun. Whether you’re traveling alone or with family and friends, you won’t have any trouble finding entertainment. We recommend checking websites and calling ahead before each outing to learn of any COVID-19 precautions or restrictions.

Check out our blog for more info on Philadelphia like the best places to eat, the cost of living, and the pros and cons of moving to the city. Looking for a home in Philadelphia? Send us a message and we’ll be happy to help you with your search.


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