A Day In Historic Philadelphia


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If the traffic gods are with you, Philadelphia can be an easy day trip with a mostly straightforward 2-hour ride in each direction. But since some Verona families like to do Philadelphia as a weekend excursion, we’ll give you ideas for two day trips that can be combined into one: Historic Philly (today’s installment) and Science & Arts Philly (tomorrow).

Historic Philly starts on the large green lawn between the Independence Hall/Liberty Bell complex and one of Philadelphia’s newest attractions, the National Constitution Center. Which you visit first depends on how old the kids are. Elementary school kids will get a thrill from seeing the Liberty Bell and where George Washington and Ben Franklin worked, but they will likely be bored at the Constitution Center. But that’s where you should start if you’re traveling with a middle or high school student (the Center’s underground garage is also your best parking choice in the area).

The Constitution Center opened in 2003, and it attempts to show, through highly interactive displays, what the document created across the lawn in Independence Hall 200+ years ago means now. Your kids can use the computers scattered around the main hall to explore different aspects of the document (the Center’s Web site is a great resource to explore the Constitution even when you’re not in Philly). And through August 1, there’s a special exhibit on how Ancient Rome influenced modern America. There are more connections between the two than you might have thought, and not just our choices in stadium architecture. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $8 for kids; special exhibits like Rome will run a few bucks more.

Independence Hall
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Luckily, there’s no charge to see the Liberty Bell, and the National Parks Service is fairly efficient at moving visitors through the building. Independence Hall is free, too, but if you are going in summer or on the weekend, you should spring for the timed entry tickets. They are $1.50 per person and you can buy them online before you go.

What else in Historic Philly? The Betsy Ross House and Elfreth’s Alley seem to be mandatory, but I find them ho-hum. If you’ve got young boys, Fireman’s Hall, the city’s fire museum, is a much better choice.

Whether you go to Historic Philly or Science/Arts Philly, the lunch choice for either is easy: the Reading Terminal Market. With more than 80 food stands, there is something for every taste in the family. Our personal favorites are DiNic’s roast pork sandwiches, or the cheesesteaks at Spataro’s. Just save some energy to walk back to the Mall and over into Old City to The Franklin Fountain for dessert. Its ice cream sundaes (try the Mt. Vesuvius) are big enough to feed a family of four.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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