Philly was about a 1 1/4 hours from our campground (with using the toll roads). Almost everywhere is paid parking in the downtown area, and it was hard to find parking where the truck would fit. Our first parking spot was close to the Liberty Bell area, but was limited to 2 hours, so we had to rush through the area.
We stopped at the Liberty Visitor Center for the Independence National Historical Park first and the boys got a Junior Ranger Program booklet. The NPS booth also had passport stamps available in a really nice display.
The Independence National Park Service was limiting the number of visitors allowed in the buildings due to COVID restrictions. They were not selling entrance tickets/reservations while we were there, but they were limiting the amount of people in the buildings, so there were some long lines. (*NOTE: The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.) Due to our parking meter, we had a very limited time of 2 hours. The line to see the Liberty Bell was 90 minutes, and the line for Independence Hall was 60 minutes. Luckily, you can view the Liberty Bell from outside the building through glass windows. You cannot see the crack from the windows, but you can at least still see the bell.
We walked to Independence Hall and talked to one of the employees to see what was offered, as it was a 60 minute wait. He told us that it was a 20 minute guided tour, but you wait about 60 minutes outside, then inside can be another 60 minute wait. He said he did not recommend it if we were short on time (or during the pandemic in general). He recommended walking around the outside of Independence Hall to be able to see the buildings, going to Second Bank and Carpenter’s Hall as they had no real lines.
Second Bank currently houses portraits. Carpenter’s Hall has the history of the Carpenter’s Company, a trade guild that was founded in 1724. There are still current members of the Company today!
We drove around and saw the Chinatown and Italian districts. It really is a big city.
We wanted to experience an authentic cheesesteak while in Philadelphia. There are a lot of options to choose from. We first stopped at Campo’s Deli and tried a cheesesteak with cheese, onions, and mushrooms. We got a second one with peppers as well. We then drove to Pat’s King Of Steaks to try theirs. We got it with the Cheese Whiz and an order of fries. I think next time, I would order sliced cheese as well, as it wasn’t as cheesy as I thought it would be.
The Independence Visitor Center had a Rocky Balboa statue to pose next to. However, there was another (metal…brass?) statue near the famous steps that he ran up during training in the movie. The parking over there was packed and expensive $15 for the closest lot, so we ended up only driving by.
We really enjoyed spending time in Philadelphia and would like to explore it even more.
Final note: It was funny to compare the recommendations on what to see on a 2 hour window. The city Visitor booth recommended a variety of city and historic based items. The National Park Service booth was all historic sites. Both had good recommendations.
DETAILS Independence NHP:*
- TICKETS: Free (except for Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is currently closed for COVID. National Constitution Center also charges a fee.) COVID Restrictions: masks required, limited items open, limited attendance (The website states starting 5/6/21, they will be doing timed entrance tickets to Independence Hall.)
- HOURS: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Second Bank 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Carpenter’s Hall 10-4 select days
- PARKING: Pay parking on street or nearby lots
- BATHROOM: Yes, Visitors Center
- TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-5 hours
- *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.