Things to Do in Pennsylvania
Few places in the United States offer as much historical and cultural legacy as the Philadelphia Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Located across the street from one another, the two landmarks serve as the most potent symbols of the American revolution and the birth of the young nation.
Independence Historical National Park is the home to both Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. While the Bell was rung at several key moments of the American independence movement, today it is more famous for its symbolic message of universal liberty than its functional purpose.
In addition to the two main attractions, Independence National Historical Park is also the home of several other sites associated with the American Revolution. This 45-acre park comprises much of the historic downtown area of Philadelphia.
There are a few ways to get up to Mount Washington from Pittsburgh, but Duquesne Incline is perhaps the most classic. In service from 1877, the historic cable cars, in their original wood, remain in operation. Along with the Monongahela Incline, it is the oldest continuous funicular in the world. Inclined at 30 feet and traveling from downtown Pittsburgh’s South Side to the top of Mount Washington, it’s where panoramic views and the city’s most upscale neighborhood await. Though once powered by steam and built for cargo, it now mostly carries passengers up to the scenic overlook with a view of Pittsburg’s “Golden Triangle” of rivers. There is also a museum that allows for a glimpse at the interior of the incline as it operates. At the top of the hill is a museum dedicated both to the history of Pittsburgh and inclines located all over the world. The view from Mount Washington has been called one of the most beautiful vistas in America.
This may or may not be where patriotic upholsterer Betsy Ross lived when she made the original Stars & Stripes, but it’s certainly one of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia. Set just a few blocks west of Independence Hall near Franklin Square, the house is the site of a local Flag Day celebration held each year on June 14.
Built in 1740 in the Pennsylvania Colonial Style, this humble home was rescued by a local radio personality in the late 1930s and both renovated and expanded, using Colonial-period materials. Self-guided and audio tours are available here ($5 and $7, respectively), and out in the added-on courtyard, a costumed Betsy Ross re-enactor tells stories with flag in hand.
Throughout the summer and early fall on Friday nights, movies are shown in the courtyard on a big outdoor screen; bring a blanket or chair, and the $5 fee includes a tour of the house. It’s open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More Things to Do in Pennsylvania
Aside from being one of the most visited neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Mount Washington offers some of the best views of the city skyline, having been named one of the most beautiful vistas in America. Rows of charming homes and Shiloh Street, the main district of shops, bars, restaurants, and boutiques also draw many to the area. Several of the restaurants offer an upscale ambiance with incredible views of the city and the three surrounding countryside and rivers. It is one of the premier neighborhoods in Pittsburg. The mountain was once the home of many various coal mines, earning it the nickname of “Coal Mountain.” Grandview Avenue runs the length of the hill with four outlook decks in between homes and restaurants. At the edge of the mountain you’ll find the bronze statue of George Washington and Seneca leader Guyasuta staring at one another, marking the area’s history.
Known as “America’s Church,” this 1744 city landmark was the first Protestant Episcopal congregation, the post-Revolution version of a Royalist, Anglican church founded in 1695. Early parishioners included George Washington and Betsy Ross, and its cemetery hosts the remains of several signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin.One of the most-visited sites in Philadelphia, the church is chock full of historic objects, including communion silver commissioned by England’s Queen Anne and mahogany cabinetry by some of the city’s most renowned woodworkers. Topped by a 200-foot-tall steeple, it was once the tallest building in America.
Spanning 55 acres and bridging two neighborhoods -- Old City and Society Hill – this national park is often called “America’s most historic square mile” for encompassing many of Philadelphia’s most famous historical landmarks. These include Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Liberty Bell Center; Franklin Court; the First and Second Banks of the United States; and the National Constitution Center, among many others. Visitors should plan to spend one to two days in the park in order to visit several of these sites and explore the extensive grounds.By the time City Hall was completed in 1901, Old City – a couple of miles to the east -- began to lose its importance as a cultural center. Between 1915 and the late 1940s, a park was proposed as a means of salvaging and promoting what leaders of both the city and the state saw as vital to Philadelphia’s place in American history.
One of the best places in the United States to visit if you want a sense of the nation's roots, Old City is a neighborhood in Central City Philadelphia known for its antiquated charm and many historic sites. Wander down the narrow cobblestone streets and you'll feel like you're stepping through a time warp into 18th century colonial America.
Perhaps the most popular destination in Old City is Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest continuously inhabited residential streets in the country. Owners of the historic homes along this alley take pride in the old-fashioned exteriors of their homes, some of which are nearly 300 years old. Also worth checking out is The Betsy Ross house, supposedly the site where the first American flag was stitched.
Perfect for those with kids looking for a break from historical sites, the Philadelphia Zoo is a great and easy place to spend an afternoon. Over 1,300 different animals, many of them rare and endangered, call this zoo home. The Philadelphia Zoo is recognized world wide for successfully breeding animals that are difficult to breed in captivity.
Whether you take the kids to check out Carnivore Kingdom, The Reptile and Amphibian House, Big Cat Falls, or the Rare Animal Conservation Center, the Philadelphia Zoo offers you rare glimpses of animals you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else. And seeing as it is in Philadelphia, the zoo of course has some historical significance as well- it was the nation's first zoo.
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