Entering the city of Philadelphia is stepping into the heart of American history. One of the largest cities in the British colonies, Philadelphia became the original capital of the newly-minted United States of America until Washington D.C. was established in the late 18th century. Today, this city is a contemporary powerhouse and a sophisticated metropolis that offers its visitors plenty in the way of dining, shopping and nightlife, but still shelters those beautifully preserved heritage buildings, squares and cobblestone streets that are at the core of America’s beginnings as an independent nation.
Things to do in Philadelphia
Go on a trail that investigates the moving history of the United States by starting first at the Independence National Historical Park. Set over a square mile, you will find Independence Hall, which saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the formation of the United States Constitution. You can also see the Liberty Bell, and the Congress Hall, the first meeting place of the Congress, and the building where George Washington and John Adams were inaugurated.
Rich in art as well as history, you can satisfy your aesthetic senses by popping into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, both of which house excellent collections, with the former primarily focusing on international art, and the latter concentrating on American art. If art isn’t your thing, find your way to the Franklin Institute Science Museum named for the founding father, and great scientist, Benjamin Franklin. Take the whole family and enjoy the displays, or go to the Fels Planetarium, or IMAX theatre.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors, pick up a famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and head to Fairmount Park, close to the city zoo, the Rodin Museum and the Japanese House and Garden, another famed Philadelphian attraction, this is a great place to while away an afternoon.
Best time to visit Philadelphia
· April to October are the best months to visit Philadelphia. The highs start at 17°C and rise to 30°C July and August. If you want to save money on hotels, then visit at the start or the tail end of this season.
· In winter temperatures drop to -5°C, meaning if you come to Philadelphia at this time, you can count on cheaper flights and accommodation, and plenty of snow.
Best time to book
· Flights to North America are usually at their cheapest when you reserve them seven monthsbefore you intend to fly.
Expect to pay
· United States Dollar (USD).
· Enjoying a cappuccino in Philly should be about 3.70USD ($4.80).
Arriving in Philadelphia by plane
· The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)is an important aviation hub for the city, and for the northeast. It is one of the premier bases for American Airlines, making it a great city to fly from if you are looking to discover more of the continental United States. Airlines flying from Australia to this city are Qantas, American Airlines, Delta, United, Air Canada, Air New Zealand and China Airlines.
· Philadelphia International has free wireless internet throughout the airport, ATMs, lots of restaurants and bars, duty-free shops, currency exchange, lounges and a few spas.
· Flights to Philadelphia are often routed through Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO).
· Australians are eligible for the visa waiver program into the United States. This is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), and must be completed before you travel. For further instructions, hop onto the smart traveller website, which can help you complete the visa waiver.
Transportation to city centre
· For journeys into the central part of the city, there’s a flat rate of 28.50 ($37) if you hop in a taxi.
· Take the rail, public buses or shuttles into Philadelphia central, or alternatively, organise an online airport transfer.
· You can reserve a car within the airport or online, if you’re planning to drive around Philadelphia.
Where to stay in Philadelphia
· For access to the sites, the Historic Area of town is where you’ll want to book your hotel. There is a good range of price options here, but on the whole you’ll be paying more for the excellent location.
· The Rittenhouse Square area is if you fancy being in a luxury hotel, and close to some of the nicest restaurants and bars.
· The Convention Center region is close to the historic part of town, and tends to be a little cheaper than the Old City.
Useful tips before you go
· Expect to tip for most services in Philadelphia. Generally 15-20% is standard for restaurants, and around 10% for taxi drivers. For porters in a hotel, or if you are getting a drink at the bar, a couple of dollars will do.
Please note that the information provided above is accurate as of September 2016
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