Quality of Life

Historical Attractions

There's never a dull moment as history comes to life in Greater Philadelphia. Step back in time at the world-class National Constitution Center in Old City Philadelphia. This dazzling $137.5 million facility, completed in 2003, helps visitors gain a better understanding of the U.S. Constitution through interactive exhibits, captivating displays and the "Freedom Rising" live show. The hands-on museum invites you to actually take part the evolution of the United States and the Constitution, not just observe it.

To further explore the beginnings of American history, check out the Independence Visitor's Center and Independence National Historic Park. The Visitor's Center welcomes travelers as well as locals who are looking for a history lesson and information on the attractions that make up America's most historic square mile, such as Carpenter's Hall, the Betsy Ross House, Congress Hall and the Liberty Bell. A tour of Independence Hall takes you inside the building where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and U.S. Constitution was debated, drafted and signed. After exploring the indoor attractions, take the kids to Franklin Square for some fresh air. As one of the original squares laid out by William Penn, this newly rehabbed park includes two playgrounds, a carousel and Philadelphia-themed mini-golf. Also, be sure to check out some of the 13 Once Upon a Nation benches located throughout the area, where storytellers weave captivating tales of the nation's past. Don't be surprised if you run into Ben Franklin or see Colonial women doing traditional crafts - it's all a part of the Old City experience.

Just around the corner from the Visitor's Center is the Atwater Kent Museum. Among other attractions, visitors can look at original Saturday Evening Post covers, view local artwork and examine the personal effects of famous Philadelphians like Ben Franklin and William Penn. Continue learning about Philadelphia over at Broad and Market streets, where you can take a free tour of Philadelphia's City Hall, the United States' largest masonry structure. You can even give a wave to William Penn, whose statue stands atop the historic building. As you observe the backdrop of skyscrapers that shape Philadelphia's skyline, remember that up until 1985 no Philadelphia building was taller than the hat on William Penn's head!

As the sun sets, make your way back towards Independence National Park for the Lights of Liberty Show. This walking sound and light extravaganza takes evening visitors on a voyage back in time through the events that led to the American Revolution. From April to October, guides bring history to life by leading visitors along a series of presentations throughout the Park. Inexpensive tickets make this musical light show a bargain.

Across the river from Philadelphia, make sure you go aboard the U.S.S. New Jersey, the nation's most decorated battleship. Now permanently docked at Camden's waterfront, the 45,000-ton battleship has guided tours (some tour guides actually served active duty on the ship) on which you can learn fascinating details about her operations in World War II and her tours in Korea and Vietnam. And while you're in Camden, take a tour of the house Walt Whitman lived in for the last 20 years of his life to get a feel for the genius behind the poet.

Visit Brandywine Battlefield in Chester County, an historic Revolutionary War site from which George Washington commanded the Continental Army. Tour his reconstructed headquarters or explore artifacts from the 1777 Brandywine Battle. In Wilmington, Delaware, take a tour of Hagley Museum and Library. It contains a large collection of photos, books, manuscripts and pamphlets that chronicle the history of American business and technology.

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