Skip to Main Content Jump to Main Content
Hero Background Dots
Explore History and Culture on a Day Trip to Old City Philadelphia image
Historic Sites
April 29, 2024
Explore History and Culture on a Day Trip to Old City Philadelphia

Hit the Highlights of American History

Old City Philadelphia is where our Founding Fathers met, discussed, debated and formed a new country. Lucky for 21st-century visitors, so much of the City of Brotherly Love’s history has been preserved. It contains what is deemed the “most historic square mile in America” and that means it’s calling our name. This treasure trove of iconic landmarks, charming cobblestone streets, and cultural attractions is waiting to be explored. Put on those walking sneakers and grab your sunglasses, because we’ve set up a fun-filled day in Old City.


Independence Square – Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.


Fuel up with a fabulous brunch

The story of America was written in its colonial taverns, so it only makes sense that we kick off our day with a delicious meal at a local hotspot. Red Owl Tavern on Chestnut Street is a bi-level, rustic-chic establishment that has revived that classic tavern experience, with a distinctly modern touch. The tavern’s hand-crafted cocktails, house-cured charcuterie, and butcher-shop cuts of meat make it a neighborhood staple. Don’t miss out on brunch favorites like their Apple Cider Belgian Waffle and the Tavern Breakfast Bowl.


Photo courtesy of Red Owl Tavern.


Meet Old City’s permanent residents

There are a handful of convenient, must-visit stops symbolizing of American freedom in this square mile. The first stop is Independence National Historical Park where you can marvel at the Liberty Bell, the President’s House Site, and then explore Independence Hall directly across the street.


President House Site – Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.


While delving into the nation’s past, take a leisurely stroll along the cobblestone streets of Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in America. Admire the well-preserved 18th-century homes and soak in the ambiance of this quaint and picturesque neighborhood.

No trip to Old City Philadelphia would be complete without a visit to the iconic Betsy Ross House. This is where the first American flag is said to have been sewn. Step inside to chat with a Betsy reenactor about the history of the flag and explore her 1740s home.


Betsy Ross House – Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.


Soak up some knowledge at one of the many museums

Visitors go back in time at many of the city’s excellent museums, such as the Museum of the American Revolution, Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum, and of course, the Benjamin Franklin Museum. The historical significance of the area attracts a plethora of well-preserved museums, offering immersive experiences into various aspects of American history.


Benjamin Franklin Museum – Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.


There’s more than just history museums in Old City. The awesome collection of museums cater to a wide range of interests and ages. For art enthusiasts, the Museum of Illusions Philadelphia is a must-visit destination. For science-lovers, the Science History Institute Museum and Library is an awesome place to see while in the city.


Have dinner in the historic Bookbinder’s building

After a day of exploration, satisfy your cravings at one of Philadelphia’s renowned restaurants. The Olde Bar, located in original Bookbinder’s building, is steeped in the city’s history. In the late 1800s, the building was home to one of the most popular spots in Philadelphia, Bookbinder’s Restaurant. Located conveniently next to the port, it was famous for the freshest seafood, coldest ale, and best company in the city. Bookbinder’s Restaurant was passed from generation to generation and remained bustling until it closed its doors in 2009.


Photo courtesy of The Olde Bar.


Revamped and rebranded, The Olde Bar is making a new path for itself. Olde Bar owner and popular Philadelphia restauranteur Jose Garces said: “We’re paying homage to the original traditions that made Bookbinder’s a landmark in Philadelphia. It’s an important responsibility to live up to the history of the building and the expectations for the space. We’re going to do our best to recreate the nostalgia of that place and time, but with our own spin.” Customers rave about the fresh seafood and awesome happy hour specials at this contemporary saloon.


Unwind with ice cream and watch the sun set

If you have a sweet tooth, there’s no better place to end the day than Franklin Fountain ice cream shop. The bow-tie-wearing staff at this old-timey ice cream parlor and soda fountain serve up generous scoops of sweet nostalgia. And we know the perfect spot to savor your creamy dessert. As the sun sets over the city, reflect on your day of discovery in Washington Square. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and endless opportunities for exploration, Old City is a destination that promises to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.


Washington Square – Photo courtesy of Visit Philly.

* Featured Image (top) courtesy of Visit Philly.