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Philadelphia 1 day itinerary in 2024

George Washington Statue


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The moment I stepped foot in the city of Philadelphia, I fell in love; it was so much more than I imagined! Even if you are only in Philly for one day, you will also fall in love with this city. Before arriving, I hate to admit it, but my knowledge base was minimal; all I knew was that Rocky Balboa grew up here and Cold Case solved many murder mysteries.

On both occasions, Philadelphia was seen as somewhere wet and miserable and not a place you would consider a priority on your bucket list. But, to my surprise, the city has such beautiful architecture full of history, from the Liberty Bell to the home of the American Flag. There is so much to see there (and yes, the statue of Rocky is also a must-see!). Who knew that you would find the oldest Street in America with homes still in residence and the grave of Benjamin Franklin?

We only had one day there (I wish we had more), so the on-off bus was the best option for us, although sitting on the top of the double-decker during winter is not the best idea! The major tourist attractions are close by, so you could do it on your own if you wish, but the bus is probably the best option if you only have the luxury of a day.

benjamin franklin grave

Things to know – Philadelphia 1-day itinerary


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How to get to Philadelphia

There are no direct flights from Singapore to Philadelphia, so if you plan on a trip down the west coast, perhaps a road trip from New York might be a better option.

Transport from New York

CAR – We drove from a friend’s home, which was very easy to get to using our GPS (we purchased wifi for the car with the car, I highly recommend it when you are travelling with children on long drives). It took us approximately one hour, and parking was easy as there are few car parking options in and around the city. I recommend being as close to the information centre as possible, as this is where you can purchase tickets for the on-off bus.

BUS – There are five coach providers from NYC, which takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on the bus service and time of day.

  • BoltBus.
  • Greyhound.
  • Megabus.
  • Peter Pan Lines.
  • Wanda Coach.

FLIGHT – The flight time is approximately 1 hour, and United Airlines flies direct.

On-off bus 

You can purchase a few different types of tour bus services. However, we used the Philadelphia site seeing tours. I am sure they all cover the same routes, but this one was great, and the commentary was excellent, too (do not forget to show your appreciation with a tip). If you are going during winter, I would suggest sitting downstairs because it was freezing on the top, and if you are only going to be in Philadelphia for one day, then this is a great way to see it all.

On off bus Philadelphia

Tipping in Philidelphia

I believe tipping (especially in the States) can be confusing, embarrassing and awkward for a traveller. Every country has its rules about whether to tip or not, and the U.S. is probably the only country I have been to where you always tip (for services) unless you are unhappy with the service or goods provided. Remember to have a wad of more nominal dollars at the ready because nothing is more awkward than finding a change of $50.

Is one day in Philadelphia enough?

If I had my way I would spend an entire week there, however, if it is just the main tourist site you want to see then, the answer is yes!

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD Philadelphia in 1 dayu

Getting yourself prepared for your one-day Philadelphia itinerary – 

If you are anything like me, then preparing yourself before you go is critical! Research, research, research! I usually either read a book or watch a film. If it is of particular interest, I sit the kids down to watch it before we depart or load it onto an iPad so they can watch it on our long drives to and from destinations. Here are some of my picks for Philadelphia – 

  1. Rocky (or grab one or all of the movies) 
  2. A city of brotherly love (A great little clip about the city)
  3. Philadelphia is okay, so this is not for everyone (especially children), but it is a good movie. 
  4. Philadelphia Liberty Trail: Trace the Path of America’s Heritage. For anyone who loves to read and who loves history as I do, then, this is a must-have item.
  5. Who was Betsy Ross? Watch this clip if you want to know more about her before you get there.

American Constitution

First Stop

Independence visitor centre – Here, you will find all the information you need for your day in Philly. From information about the famous love sculpture to directions to Race Street Pier on the Delaware River. Right next to the Independence visitor centre, you will find the City Hall Tower and Observation Deck. This will be your first real introduction to the national historical sites you are about to enjoy.

The Rocky Statue –

I know it is a tourist trap and if you have limited time to see Philadelphia in 1 day,  but if you are going to be there, why not? I grew up watching the movies and listening to “Eye of the Tiger“, so it would be wrong not to! The Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Stepsare the Art Museum Steps, but beware that there will be a line for a photo. At the time, a guy (expect to pay a tip) will take the picture for you.

rocky statue

Elfreth’s Alley –

This street was one of our highlights; I love history, and visiting places rich in it gets me excited. The houses on these streets are just as I imagined they would have been 300 years ago. The area was named after Jeremiah Elfreth, a blacksmith and property owner. The Georgian and Federal-style houses with cobblestone pavements are a must to see; I highly recommend them. Or a tour that includes all of the founding father’s history can be found here.

elfreths alley

Betsy Ross –

If you do not already know, Betsy Ross is believed to have contributed to the design of the American Flag; The Betsy Ross Museum is situated inside an authentic 18th-century home where you can read and listen to her story. Her grave is outside in the courtyard, so if anything, it is worth a look.

Betsy Ross House

The Liberty Bell 

If there is one thing you have to do when you visit Philadelphia in a day, it is to see the Liberty Bell, which is found at 526 market street. It is easy to find as it is right next door to the Information Center and Independence Hall (another excellent place to visit). The story behind Liberty Bell is on July 8, 1776; the bell was rung from the tower of Independence Hall, summoning everyone to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. It is an integral part of American history. Do you want to know more? Check out one of the history tours here.

liberty bell

Must see places in one day

Christ Church burial ground

Christ Church Burial Ground is one of the most unique cemeteries in the United States, as it has the final resting place of some of our most well-known leaders, including Benjamin Franklin’s grave.

Museum of Illusions

Have a look around the Museum of Illusions because the kids will love this museum, and the adults will too! Take photos in the strangest of ways, as these obstacle illusions will blow your mind. This Philadelphia museum is fun for all ages.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Take a look inside the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was once the most well-known and expensive prison in the world. Today you can go on a ghost tour or venture in during the day to see how prison mates once lived.

Penn Prison

Reading Terminal Markets

Must visit Reading Terminal Markets because it’s one of America’s oldest and largest public markets. It was opened in 1893, and now you can enjoy this market for yourself. If you do visit, then you must try Try a famous Philly Cheesesteak.

Franklin Square

This national historical park is part of the old city of Philadelphia, with the five original squares; this includes Franklin Square being centred around its 180-year-old fountain. This features Parx Liberty Carousel, The hilly Mini Golf course and SquareBurger.

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Philadelphia 1 day itinerary

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. I hope this post has given you the necessary information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or travel advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!

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  • Paula Barreca Barnes

    So 17 years ago, my husband and I set off with our little family in tow, embarking on a short-term assignment in Taiwan. Although without any knowledge of expat life or the Taiwanese culture, we took the chance and decided this would be an exciting little adventure; little did we know it changed the direction of our lives forever.

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