Best Things to do in Philadelphia in 3 Days

If you are wondering about the best things to do in Philadelphia in 3 days, then this post will help as the post is the best Philadelphia itinerary for 3 days.

Philadelphia is one of the largest cities in the northeast of the United States.Known for the historic part it played in the American Revolution, Philadelphia is much more than that. Full of museums, cultural landmarks, beautiful outdoor areas, and other fun and interesting places, this city has a lot to offer travelers coming with families, on their own, or as part of a couple.

And though it is not famous as NY, San Francisco or LA it has beautiful places to visit and fun things to do.

If you are planning a 3-day Philadelphia itinerary, then I’ll share what to do and where to go while visiting the “City of Brotherly Love.”

The post was written by Rebecca

PHILADELPHIA TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR ITINERARY

I’ll also include important information and travel tips to make your Philadelphia itinerary the best it can be.

How to Get to Philadelphia 

If you are flying into Philadelphia, then you will be arriving at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).

From there, the best way to get to your hotel is to take the SEPTA Airport Line Regional Train. It stops at all the major airport terminals and will reach the city center in downtown Philadelphia is about 25 minutes. It runs from 5am-12am.

Another option would be to take Amtrak’s high speed Acela service. Depending on where you are coming in from, this may not take long (it’s only an hour from NYC).

If you’re driving, then take Interstate 80 when coming from the north, Interstate 76 when coming from the south or west, and Interstate 95 from the east.

Weather in Philadelphia

Weather in Philadelphia is warm and a little rainy (also humid) in the summer, with July temperatures usually ranging from 72ºF to 89ºF. Fall and spring are not as wet and also more mild, so this would be the best time to visit.

But winter has its own charms and you can enjoy about 5 inches of fresh snow each month through the season. Temperatures range from about 28ºF to 41ºF during the coldest month of January. 

What to Pack for a 3-Day Philadelphia Trip

If you will be visiting in the summer, it’s best to bring light fabrics and colors since the temperatures are hot and humid. Shorts and t-shirts in cotton would be great.

For winter, bring a nice warm jacket (wool or down are great choices) along with gloves, scarves, and hats. You might also want to bring a pair of thermal pants to put under your jeans to keep your legs warm on those colder days.

And good walking shoes are a must! You’ll need them no matter what the season, and if they are resistant to water (and melting snow in winter), then all the better.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia 

With plenty of hotels to choose from around the city, here are a few suggestions for your 3 days in Philadelphia for all budgets.

For a luxury option, I recommend The Rittenhouse Hotel, which is in walking distance of the city center, offers amenities like a tea room and spa, and is a favorite for couples.

A midrange budget option would be Club Quarters Hotel in Philadelphia. It’s a nicely decorated hotel with a great location near Liberty Bell Center and a subway station.

If you’re on a tight budget, take a look at La Reserve Bed and Breakfast, which has 19th century décor and is located in downtown Philadelphia near popular Rittenhouse Square.

How to Get Around Philadelphia

While you can rent a car to get around the city, you may find it difficult to navigate the convoluted street patterns and traffic, not to mention find parking. So, I would suggest skipping a car since you will be spending most of your time in the city center.

The best way to get around in Philadelphia is by public transportation or on foot. You can use taxis and Ubers if necessary, but that will be rare.

Instead, use the subways or the PHLASH bus, which are cheap, run on-time, and take you to all the attractions you’ll want to see. 

Most of your destinations are located either in the Old City, Society Hill, or Rittenhouse Square areas, so walking is a great option. Philadelphia is a very pedestrian-friendly city.

More Travel Tips

Philadelphia is known for a few food items, like their Philly Cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. But, venture out for some other great culinary delights – like the restaurant Vedge, which is completely vegan, but has lots of creative offerings. So, explore the Philly food scene while you’re here.

The Philly PHLASH will take you to all the major sites, so consider getting an all-day pass for $5 on the days when you’ll be using it more than twice (otherwise it’s $2 a ride).

Children under 4 and seniors are free. It runs every 15 minutes from 10am-6pm during summer and the holidays. Oh, and these buses are bright purple, so they’re easy to spot.

You might also want to look into the Philadelphia Pass and SEPTA’s Independence Pass, which will not only get you discounted transportation, but also cheaper admission tickets at various attractions.

Philadelphia is a very safe city, so long as you take the same precautions you would take in other big cities. Keep your belongings close, avoid walking alone down empty side streets after dark or subway platforms late at night, and be aware of your surroundings.

Like any city, there are some areas that have more crime than others, like Nicetown-Tioga and Hunting Park in North Philly, but the destinations on this itinerary will generally keep you closer to the city center.

Philadelphia Itinerary for 3 Days

Day 1: 

It’s Day 1 in the City of Brotherly Love. How shall we begin? 

Fairmount Park

Our first stop today is one of the most scenic and fun outdoor spaces in the city.

Fairmount Park, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania must see in 3 days
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At over 9,200 acres, this park is perfect for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and just strolling through the greenery.

This is a great place to let the kids run off their energy and for the adults to explore the natural beauty. Bring your breakfast and have a picnic by the water if you like. (If it’s winter, you can still explore, just button up!)

After an hour or two, take an Uber/taxi or drive to the Please Touch Museum (I will rarely recommend driving, but in this case, it will save a lot of time over public transportation). It should only take 5-10 minutes.

Please Touch Museum

Despite its weird name, this museum is a favorite among locals, especially parents.

You can enjoy interactive exhibits and there are also special events regularly held. This is a fun stop for families, especially with elementary-school kids. 

But if you’re a couple without kids, or a solo traveler, skip this museum in favor of the next one, which is one of the best in the city.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Full of various permanent and rotating collections, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a great place to visit during your time in the city.

Fountain and the Art Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Along with the artwork, there are hands-on activities and special events, like caroling during the holidays and live music on Fridays. There is a free audio tour that you can use by just subscribing to the museum’s podcast on your phone.

Tip: If you go on the first Sunday of the month or on a Wednesday between 5pm and 845pm, entry is free.

Our next stop is just a 15-minute walk from the museum. Make sure to grab some lunch before heading out.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Operational from 1829 to 1971, this prison is a National Historic Landmark that once housed the famous mobster Al “Scarface” Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia
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Now, it is closed and used for tours, as well as being the site of one of the top haunted houses in the country – The Terror Behind the Walls. Massive and castle-like, this prison is pretty imposing, and may not be appropriate for younger children. 

The six attractions will take about 45 minutes to walk through, and then you can stop for a snack and some music in The Yard, or head to our next stop. It’s about a 10-minute bus ride or a 15-minute walk.

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is an interactive science museum with really interesting exhibits that rotate throughout the year. But that’s not the only reason to visit – though it may be if you’re a science buff.

Franklin Institute in Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia itinerary
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The 72 stone steps that lead up to its front door have become iconic because of a scene in the movie Rocky in which Sylvestor Stallone runs up the steps. Tourists love copying the scene and have the pictures to prove it. So, bring your camera and your running shoes. Don’t worry, no one will stare. We’ve all done it. ☺

After you’ve finished here, it’s off to the last stop of the day.

Spruce Street Harbor Park (SummerFall) OR Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest (WinterSpring)

Depending on when you visit, here are two choices to end your night on Day 1.

If you visit Philadelphia in the summer or fall, visit the Spruce Street Harbor Park for some fun on a warm evening.

This urban beach is equipped with hammocks to lay in, tons of stalls selling snacks and drinks, beach games, and a boardwalk that you can stroll and explore. There’s even music and dancing. You can bring the whole family or just yourself and your other half.

Or… if you visit in winter or spring, head over to the Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest right on the Delaware River waterfront.

Have cocktails in the lodge, enjoy live music and dancing, take the kids ice skating at the riverside rink, and even snuggle up with your special someone in the warming cabins. This is the quintessential winter experience and a great place for families, couples, and solo travelers.

Enjoy the views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from both spots before turning in to get some rest for Day 2.

Day 2:

For Day 2 of this 3-day itinerary in Philadelphia, let’s start at lovely Rittenhouse Square.

Rittenhouse Square

Built at the end of the 17th century, this area and park are in one of the most expensive parts of Philadelphia.

Buildings at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia one of the best things to do in 3 days
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Full of boutiques, dining, and luxury housing, it’s nonetheless an interesting place to stroll. The park is a breath of fresh air, full of greenery in the middle of the city. Wander the area for an hour before we try our next stop, which is a 10-minute walk, or slightly less by bus.

City Hall

Located in the middle of Center City, you’ll want to stop at the City Hall during your visit.

City Hall building in Philladelphia is a must go on 3-day itinerary
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Once the tallest building in the US, the structure is more than 14 acres large and surrounded by over 250 outdoor sculptures. 

There are tours inside that explore the art, architecture, and history of the building, or if you’re pressed for time, take the 15-minute tower tour.

Each one will give you a chance to see the city from the Observation Deck, which is the highest open-air deck in the city at 548 feet. Enjoy the amazing views before heading to our next stop, 5 minutes away on foot.

Reading Terminal Market

This market is located below a former railroad terminal in Center City, and inside it, you’ll find just about everything you could want to buy.

Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, USA
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Fresh produce, local cheeses, housewares, jewelry, and much more.

Stop here and wander the stalls for some souvenirs to bring home. And grab lunch at one of the many restaurants and eateries before going to our next destination on this itinerary. It’s about 10 minutes by bus or on foot.

Love Park

As I’ve mentioned, this is the City of Brotherly Love, so it’s no surprise that the most famous landmark in the city is a sculpture that spells out LOVE, located in John F. Kennedy Plaza – but known by all as Love Park. 

LOVE Park in Phildalphia itinerary for 3 days
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Take some selfies with the iconic statues before wandering the newly redesigned green area and see the water feature that was added. If you’d like to see the Spanish counterpart to the LOVE statue, take a short walk to Sister Cities Park, which showcases the AMOR sculpture.

This will probably take about an hour, then head to our next spot, about 15 minutes away by bus.

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

This artsy landmark is actually a space maintained by a non-profit organization to showcase folk art.

Philadelphia´s Magic Gardens
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It is the largest work created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. Wander through the three city lots and explore the eclectic mix of art. Don’t miss the outdoor area, which is like a labyrinth! Fun for solo visitors, couples, and families – and anyone who loves art! 

After an hour or two of exploring, you’re probably ready for our last stop of the night. Grab some dinner before heading over (a 20-minute bus ride).

One Liberty Observation Deck

Known as “Philly From the Top,” this observation deck gives some fantastic views of the Philadelphia skyline.

View from the top of One Liberty Observation Deck
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Located on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place, it sits 883 feet above the ground and is the perfect place to end your day. If you time it right, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset from a whole new perspective. And if it’s after dark, the twinkling lights of the city are also breathtaking. 

Enjoy the views as you cap off Day 2 on this 3-day itinerary.

Day 3: 

Let´s start the last day in Philadelphia at the Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell

Today, we are starting at the iconic Liberty Bell. Famous as a symbol of freedom and liberty, it’s a must-see in Philadelphia in 2 days.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA at the Liberty Bell
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The lines aren’t usually that long first thing in the morning (about 30 minutes), so see the bell from its vantage point over Independence Hall (which you can see in the background and makes for even better pictures/selfies) and then we’ll head over there.

Independence Hall

If you’re wondering where to go in Philadelphia in 3 days, you can’t skip Independence Hall.

Independence Hall National Historic Park Philadelphia Pennsylvania with sunset
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It played a very important part in the history of America, as the place where the Founding Fathers gathered in 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence – leading to the Revolutionary War and the birth of the nation.

It was also the place where the US Constitution was put together, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pick up a free ticket (they have set times) and take the guided tour. But they often sell out, so stop by the Independence Visitor Center first thing to get yours.

An hour or so later, let’s visit just one more museum (a 5-minute walk).

The Museum of the American Revolution

Now, if you’ve had all the American history you can stand, I absolutely understand.

But, if you’re up for one more stop, then this museum is the place.

Dedicated to all things involving the war that gave America its independence from Britain, from the first battle at Lexington and Concord to the end, you’ll see weapons, paintings, and hear speeches. There are also quite a few special events if your trip coincides with one.

Our next destination on this Philadelphia itinerary will be 15 minutes away by bus. Stop for a bite of lunch before you get there though.

Mural Arts Program Tour

Murals are painted all over the city, but they’re hard to find unless you know where to look.

Mural painted on a wall on South Street in Philadelphia
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That’s where the tour comes in. Take one of the Mural Tours, which vary in theme, to see the various works of art, how they were created, and the history of the communities they are found in. These tours can be done on foot, by trolley, train, or even Segway.

The guides are locals and incredibly knowledgeable (remember to tip yours to show your appreciation). Prices vary depending on which tour you choose. Most take about 90 minutes to 2 hours.

After the tour is finished, we have one last stop to make: Boathouse Row. It’s about 25 minutes by bus.

Boathouse Row

This National History Landmark consists of 10 boathouse that were created in the mid-19th century.

Boathouse Row in Philadelphia as the famous historical landmark
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It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and definitely worth a stop during your 3 days in Philadelphia. 

Stroll along Kelly Drive as the sun sets, or for a more broad view, take a walk on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

When night falls, this is an especially beautiful spot because you can see all the glittering lights from the boathouses reflecting on the surface of the river. It’s a dazzling sight and I hope it leaves you with good memories of your time in Philadelphia.

This Philadelphia itinerary should have answered the question of where to go and what to do in Philadelphia in 3 days. I hope that you will find it helpful as you plan your own trip to the City of Brotherly Love. There is so much here to explore and see, whether as a solo adventurer, part of a couple, or as a family vacationing together.

This post was written by Rebecca, who runs her own blog at The Journey at Home – where she writes about her life as a mother of 5 with everything that comes along with it. She lived in New York for a long time before she moved to Las Vegas. She also works as a freelancer for Arzo Travels.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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