Destination: Independence Park, Philadelphia

Now we are starting to move toward summer and in center city Philadelphia, tourism is starting to pick back up. I live in Philadelphia, and see the crowds starting to build downtown, especially around the tourist sites. Independence Park is a major stop for anyone coming into the city, and with good reason, this is the site where the US was born as we know it.

Independence Park is a National Park sitting in and on the edge of the Old City district of center city Philadelphia. I’ve always seen it as a fairly unique National Park since it is in the middle of a city. Spanning 6 city blocks or more, the whole area is a beautiful green oasis in the middle of a bustling concrete jungle. The whole area runs about 4 blocks North to South and 3 blocks West to East. The three northernmost segments are wide open areas, a convention area at the North, in the middle blocks are two buildings dedicated to historical information and the housing of the original Liberty Bell, crack and all.

During the summer, with more tourists, the Liberty Bell building can form a long line. Don’t be discouraged by this, the line forms due to a security checkpoint and things tend to move quite quickly. Entering the building give a historic run through. Walking the length of the building through many displays will culminate in a up close visit with the Liberty Bell. If you aren’t interesting in getting close, the bell can be viewed from a distance away outside the building where a large wall of glass shows the bell to the outside world. Don’t expect to see the crack though, unless you venture inside.

Across the street from the Liberty Bell is the original building where it once hung. This is where the US Declaration of Independence was signed almost 250 years ago. The building is open to guided tours only, no unattended walkthroughs are allowed. Wait your turn on the northeast corner of the block where groups are let in on a first come first serve basis.

The grounds continue on to the East from there another 2 blocks. Beyond that a new museum is under construction that will display information and articles from and about the American Revolution. On 2nd street is City Tavern, admittedly a bit expensive, but a fun place to experience a restaurant housed in an old building. Waiters come through in period appropriate clothing.

To the East of the Park is the Old City area. All of the buildings here tend to follow a historic building technique and many other historic landmarks can be found dotting the area. Philadelphia is well known for the great restaurants and food, so be sure to take advantage of all that is to offer in Old City. Market is the main street running through the city and there are great restaurants all up and down the road in Old City. If you are looking for a cheese steak as many visitors to Philly are, check out Sonny’s. Many people in the city will argue that going way down south to some of the well known places will result in better cheese steaks, but I’ve found the big names to be more tourist trappy and less good food. While I no longer partake in the steak, Sonny’s was a favorite of mine when i did.

Philadelphia has been my home for the last 2-3 years and that is coming to an end soon, so I’d like to show everyone here a bit of Philly before I go. Philly has won me over as a great city to live and visit, now if I could just avoid rush hour traffic, it’d make life virtually perfect.