Architecture Travel Guide: 10 Things To Do & See In Philadelphia

Instead of starting this article by some inspiring or witty quote by some influential historical person, lets address the facts about the benefits of traveling. The United States Travel Association reports taking trips outside of your normal daily routine makes you happier in many aspects of your life; even the anticipation of travel creates an increase in positive feelings about one’s life as a whole, family, economic situation and health.

Many studies have shown that traveling can make you smarter. Most likely you are not going to become the next Einstein by just traveling but, it will create more neurological connections in your brain that will help you to react quicker, become more creative and think through logic. Traveling will make you more open minded and create new perspectives to different ideologies, cultures and customs.

Between the weekends and the few days of vacation time, there is so much out there to discover. Traveling is not just a matter of getting out of town anymore, it’s about quality of life.

Now that we know the benefits of traveling, let’s travel to one of the oldest cities of USA, Philadelphia. There is no shortage of fun things to do in the city of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is brimming with history, art, delicious food and spectacular architecture. In between devouring a cheesesteak and sipping wine, check off these 10 essential experiences as well. We would like to hear about your must not miss buildings in the comment section below. Here is our Architecture Travel Guide: 10 Things To Do & See In Philadelphia.


:: 1 :: Independence Hall | Architect(s): Andrew Hamilton & Edmund Woolley | Project Year: 1753 | Type: Cultural, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Address: 520 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 | Admission: free

Independence Hall is where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Independence Hall

:: Bonus :: The Liberty Bell & The President’s House are located across the street from Independence Hall. The President’s House is an outdoor memorial on Independence Mall examines the paradox of freedom and slavery at the nation’s first executive mansion.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Liberty Bell

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - The Presidents House


:: 2 :: Schuylkill River Waterfront | Type: Park | Address: 2501 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 | Admission: Free

The 26.5-mile trail is a favorite for bicycle clubs, families, runners and walkers and will take you past Philadelphia’s famed attractions like Boathouse Row, the Waterworks Restaurant, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Bartram’s Garden.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Boathouse Row by R. Kennedy

R. Kennedy

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Schuylkill River Waterfront


:: 3 :: Philadelphia City Hall | Architect(s):  John McArthur, Jr. | Project Year: 1901 | Type: Municipal | Address: 1401 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107 | Admission: Free

The building was designed by Scottish-born architect John McArthur, Jr., in the Second Empire style, and was constructed from 1871 until 1901 at a cost of $24 million. City Hall is built on the area designated by William Penn as Center Square (Dilworth Park). It was a public square from the city’s founding in 1682 until the construction of City Hall began upon the site in 1871. It was one of the five original squares laid out on the city grid by Penn.

JC Findley

JC Findley

:: Bonus:: LOVE Sculpture at Dilworth Park & Reading Terminal Market is within walking distance. Let’s not forget The Franklin Cheesesteak at Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks inside of the Reading Terminal Market. Simply Amazing! and also Philadelphia Center for Architecture is within walking distance as well. The Philadelphia Center for Architecture is the city’s hub for architects, and it features a rotating collection of free exhibitions.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Love Sculpture

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Reading Terminal Market

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Reading Terminal Market Carmens Philly Cheesesteak

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Center for Architecture


:: 4 :: Spruce Street Harbor Park | Architect(s): Ground Swell Design Group | Type: Park | Address: Columbus Blvd & Spruce St. 19106 | Admission: Free

The park features colorful hammocks, floating gardens, beautiful lights, refreshing craft beer, and food from popular Philly restaurants, making it a summer gathering space for locals and visitors alike.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Spruce Harbor

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Spruce Street Harbor

:: Bonus :: Magic Garden is Hidden within the city, this maze of mosaic art is a beautiful, intriguing place to explore and reflect. Its about 10 minutes walking distance from the Harbor Park.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Magic Garden

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Magic Garden Mosaic


:: 5 :: Vanna Venturi House | Architect(s): Robert Vanturi | Project Year: 1964 | Type: Residential | Address: Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Admission: Private Residence

The Vanna Venturi House is one of the first prominent works of the postmodern architecture movement. Many of the basic elements of the house are a reaction against standard Modernist architectural elements: the pitched roof rather than flat roof, the emphasis on the central hearth and chimney, a closed ground floor “set firmly on the ground” rather than the Modernist columns and glass walls which open up the ground floor. The house was sold in 1973 and remains a private residence. The house is not open to the public but can be seen from the street.


:: 6 :: The Barnes Foundation | Architect(s): Tod Williams + Billie Tsien | Project Year: 2012 | Type: Museum | Address: 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130 | Admission: $25.00, Students $10.00 | Website:

The design synthesizes the components of art, nature, education, and aesthetics—the guiding principles of the Foundation—resulting in a building whose soaring, light-filled indoor court, functional classrooms, and intimate galleries are surrounded by a series of external garden spaces.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Barnes Foundation Museum Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Barnes Foundation Museum Renderings


:: 7 :: Philadelphia Museum of Art | Architect(s): Zantzinger, Borie & Medary | Project Year: 1928 | Type: Museum | Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130 | Admission: $20.00, Students $14.00

This museum is one of the largest in the United States and visitors will marvel at the magnificent works of artists such as Van Gogh and Zoe Strauss to name just a couple. The 72 steps at the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art was made famous by Sylvester Stalone in the movie Rocky. Today, thousands of people visit the steps each year to recreate Rocky’s famous run. Before leaving, make sure to get a photo with the statue of Rocky near the bottom of the stairs.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Rocky

The bronze statue of Sylvester Stallone portraying the boxer in the film “Rocky III” is seen near the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

:: Bonus :: Rodin Museum is within walking distance from the Rocky statue.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Rodin Museum


:: 8 :: Elfreth’s Alley | Project Year: 1702 | Type: Street | Address: 126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106 | Admission: Free

As America’s oldest, continually-inhabited residential street, Elfreth’s Alley already has an amazing amount of history along its narrow cobblestone street. The beauty of the houses and its history make it a great destination for any history lovers visiting Philly.

RJ. Swanson

RJ. Swanson


:: 9 :: 1200 Intrepid | Architect(s): Bjarke Ingels Group | Project Year: 2016 | Type: Office | Address: 1200 Intrepid Ave Philadelphia, PA 19112

‘our design for 1200 intrepid has been shaped by the encounter between robert stern’s urban master plan of rectangular city blocks and james corner’s iconic circular park,’ explained bjarke ingels, founding partner of BIGthe ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water invading the footprint of our building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance. the resultant double curved façade echoes the complex yet rational geometries of maritime architecture. inside, the elevator lobby forms an actual periscope allowing people to admire the mothballed ships at the adjacent docks.’

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Intrepid by BIG

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Navy Yard


:: 10 :: Falling Water | Architect(s): Frank Lloyd Wright | Project Year: 1935 | Type: Residential | Address: 1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464 | Admission: $23.00

Although this masterpiece is not located in Philly, it still needs to be explored. The drive from Philly to Mill run is around 5 hours and surrounded with beautiful green sceneries. Time cited Falling Water after its completion as Wright’s “most beautiful job”; it is listed among Smithsonians Life List of 28 places “to visit before you die.”

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Falling Water

:: Bonus :: Beth Sholom Congregation by Frank Lloyd Wright is located in Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park.

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - beth-sholom-synagogue

Since we did not start with an inspirational quote, we shall leave you with one.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

Philadelphia Architecture Travel Guide - Travel Quote


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