If you are headed to the City of Brotherly Love for just one day and you are not sure how to make the most out of it, you came to the right place. It’s important to use every precious minute wisely when you plan to visit Philadelphia in one day. This historic Pennsylvania city is virtually bursting at the seams with enthralling museums and exhibits that detail United States history, not to mention waterfront districts and beautiful green spaces that deserve to be explored. What to do in Philadelphia in 1 day could be a challenging concept.

Plan your time carefully, choosing the best things to do in Philadelphia on your upcoming day trip is not easy. Good thing you found VacationRenter. We have the inside scoop on travel guides and some of the best rental options on the market. Your quick trip to Philly is going to be one to remember.

Where to Stay?

In a city as old and beautiful as Philadelphia, there is no shortage of fun places to go and things to do. While this city has a lot going on, finding the right neighborhood for you can be a real challenge. Philly neighborhoods can vary dramatically from each other in terms of demographics, costs, and amenities – making it difficult to know where’s the best place to stay. To aid in your search, we’ve compiled a list of the 3 best neighborhoods to stay in Philly:

Penn’s Landing/Society Hill

One of Philadelphia’s most popular and affluent areas, these adjacent neighborhoods are perfect for those who want to be close to the city’s attractions while staying in a classic setting. If your ideal vacation involves excitement  and more cafes, restaurants & boutiques, Penn’s Landing is the places for you.

Old City

The trendiest neighborhood, Old City offers something for everyone. Visitors to this area will have easy access to Philadelphia’s historic sites while being steps away from exclusive shopping, fine dining, and vibrant nightlife. This is a great neighborhood if you’re looking to get a lot of sightseeing done without having to commute too far from your hotel or apartment rental.

Center City West

While this area isn’t exactly a neighborhood in the traditional sense, it’s Philly at its finest. You’ll find a ton of bars & restaurants, hundreds of high-end boutique shops, and an increasing number of skyscrapers. Stay in this area if you want to be centrally located with easy access to some of Philly’s best attractions including Rittenhouse Square Park, The Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Reading Terminal Market.

Tips for Visiting Philadelphia

  • Don’t spend all of your time at the historic sites: Of course, you’ll want to see the most iconic historic landmarks when you’re in Philadelphia and the good news is that many of the must-see attractions in Philadelphia are free. However, make sure your itinerary contains more than just the Liberty Bell and the Rocky Balboa statue
  • Try a double decker bus: If you want to get a real view of the city, try a double-decker bus tour that includes all of the high points. Many of these tours feature hop-on/hop-off stops where you can get off to explore the city at your leisure. Knowledgeable guides also provide running commentary throughout the bus tours to help you learn as much as possible about Philadelphia. The Philly Phlash is an iconic purple bus running between May and September, and it takes you to the big attractions throughout the city at an affordable price.
  • Walk around: Many people consider Philadelphia to be primarily a walking city, and it’s possible to walk from one attraction to another. Wear comfortable shoes that help take you where you want to go.
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Historical Sites

The Liberty Bell

This historic location might be at the top of your list of things to see in Philadelphia. If you’re lucky and miss a line, you can probably get in and out of the Liberty Bell Center in about 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time for other sights. While there, explore the many exhibits, watch a film, and of course see the cracked bell.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall is another must-see attraction, and it’s open daily. A ranger leads you on a tour through Independence Hall so that you can see the first floor, including the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. During winter months, some tours venture up to the second floor, too.

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Christ Church Burial Grounds

Consider adding the Christ Church Burial Grounds on your one-day itinerary too. This cemetery has 1,400 markers, including Benjamin Franklin’s grave. Other notable Americans buried here besides Franklin include Francis Hopkinson, George Ross, Dr. Benjamin Rush and Major William Jackson. The oldest marker in the cemetery belongs to Sarah Knowles, dated 1721. In all, five signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried on the grounds. Guided tours are available most days of the week except major holidays between March and November.

Philly Classics

Grab a Cheesesteak

Philadelphia is known for lots of things, including food. You can hardly spend the day in Philadelphia without having a cheesesteak for lunch or dinner, and you’ll find plenty of pubs and restaurants serving their own versions of this iconic meal. Take some time to explore Philadelphia while you’re searching for food to get a feel for the city.

Get in on the hype of the Pat’s VS Geno’s rivalry by trying both, as they are located across the street from each other.


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Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is situated in Center City and covers six acres of green space over 1.5 city blocks. You’ll love the chance to meander through the park, enjoying the extensive gardens, lawns and pathways.

Penn’s Landing

Penn’s Landing is another can’t-miss spot in Philadelphia. Situated on the Delaware River Waterfront, Penn’s Landing boasts much to see and do. The Race Street Pier could be the spot where you enjoy a picnic lunch. The pier has two levels, each offering distinctive views. Don’t miss sight of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge while you’re there.

Bonus Things to Do

  • See Philly from the water: From Penn’s Landing, you can also hop on the RiverLink Ferry for a quick jaunt out onto the Delaware River.
  • Check out a museum: If you haven’t gotten enough history yet, stop in at the Independence Seaport Museum to learn more about the city’s maritime history.
  • Try an event: During the summer, Penn’s Landing is the venue for many festivals, outdoor concerts and annual events. The Blue Cross RiverRink offers roller skating and outdoor entertainment during the summer too. You might even be lucky enough to catch outdoor movie screenings along the shore of the Delaware River.

What Are You Waiting For?

With so much to see and do in Philadelphia, one day may not seem like enough once you start planning your itinerary. Get up early and prepare to keep going on into the evening to see everything on your list of attractions.

Visiting this Pennsylvania city promises to be so enthralling that you may decide you’ll have to return when you have more time.