Even if you’re not a political junkie, you’re probably more than aware that the Democrat National Convention kicks off this week in Philadelphia. And as you’re watching the festivities unfold on cable news, you might feel a tinge of interest to add the “City of Brotherly Love” to your travel bucket list or even put it down as more immediate on your itinerary. In case you were wondering: you should! Founded in 1682, Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the United States and it uniquely captures a wealth of Americana, from the historic to the cultural, that draws visitors from all around the world every year.

So if you’re looking to get some solid learning about America, then you should visit Philadelphia. Here are just five spots in the city you should check out while you’re there:

Independence Hall
independence hall

The name of this prestigious, red-brick Georgian-style building says it all. Built in 1732 and completed in 1756, Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were discussed, drafted, and finally signed by many of the founding fathers who now appear on United States currency. It’s where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams debated the concept of a free nation during the peak of colonialism. Surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Articles of Confederation can be found in the Hall’s “Great Essentials” exhibit

Liberty Bell Center
Liberty Bell Center

Across the street from Independence Hall is the iconic cracked Liberty Bell, which is part of Independence Hall National Park, an area of the city protected by the National Park Service. Weighing 2,080 pounds and made primarily of copper with arsenic, zinc, gold and silver, the bell was used to notify citizens about public meetings and to mark historic events. It is also said to have chimed to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. The bell has been in its current home at the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historic Park since 2003, and is open to visitors year-round.

Philadelphia Mint
philadelphia mint

Hear that jingling of coins in your pocket? Ever wonder how all those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters are made? The Philadelphia Mint Facility is one of six U.S. mint facilities and one of two in the country offering full tours (the other site is Denver). Philadelphia was also the first site to create a U.S. coin in 1793, which was when the city briefly served as America’s capital, and when blacksmiths made coins by hand. Today, at the Philadelphia Mint, visitors can learn about the craftsmanship behind everyday pocket change, and see how designs go into the striking and creation of American coins.

Reading Terminal Market

Flickr creative commons - Britt Reints

Flickr creative commons – Britt Reints

Philadelphia’s most popular public market is the Reading Terminal Market located downtown at the Reading Railroad’s 1891 train shed. This enclosed market features more than 100 vendors selling all kinds of ethnic foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, groceries, crafts, jewelry, accessories, flowers, artisanal cheeses, meats, and ice cream of every flavor. Occasionally, Amish farmers from Pennsylvania Dutch country in neighboring Bucks County will sell their wares, baked goods, and produce. Open seven days a week, visitors can stroll from stall to stall sampling the world’s cuisines, from Greek and Thai to Mexican and Indian.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
philadelphia art museum

Entering the Philadelphia Museum of Art is like entering a Greek temple. Follow the steps Sylvester Stallone took when filming the 1976 boxing classic Rocky and enter the home to one of America’s finest collections of classic and contemporary art masterpieces. The who’s who of art history come through Philadelphia Museum of Art, including Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Mary Cassatt. The museum often features touring historic exhibits and maintains year-round a 16th-century Indian temple hall, a Japanese teahouse, and a 17th-century Chinese Palace hall.

So there you have it, five examples on where to go in Philly and soak up all the Americanism you can…although it’s probably best to wait until after all the convention hoopla is done.

Think we missed an important Philadelphia spot that every tourist looking to learn about the US of A should check out? Let us know in the comments section below!


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