Philadelphia Itinerary – 3 Days in Philadelphia for First Timers

Heading to Philadelphia and looking for some amazing attractions to fill your vacation? Look no further! We’ve put together our list of the best things to do in Philly on your next vacation.

If you’ve never been before, or have really only spent limited time doing touristy things, then we’ve got a great selection of things for you to do as part of your 3 days in Philadelphia itinerary.

This 3 day itinerary includes:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Philadelphia Trolley Tour
  • City Hall Tower & Observation Deck
  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Franklin Institute
  • Battleship New Jersey Museum And Memorial
  • Adventure Aquarium
  • Betsy Ross House
  • RiverLink Ferry
  • Ghost Tours of Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • National Constitution Center
  • National Liberty Museum
  • Christ Church Tour
  • National Museum of American Jewish History

Spending less time in Philly? Check out our 1 day and 2 day sample itineraries for tourists visiting Philadelphia.

Save on Attraction Admission

Pick up a Philadelphia Pass and save off combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Remember, this 3 days in Philadelphia itinerary is just one of many ways to experience the area.

The Philadelphia Pass gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests.

DAY 1

Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Philadelphia Trolley Tour

Big Bus Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing tour

Explore the city on the most in-depth Philly bus tour around on the Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.

Stay on and enjoy enlightening and entertaining narration for the full 90-minute loop, or disembark at something that piques your interest.

With more than 25 different stops to choose from, like the Betsy Ross House, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Eastern State Penitentiary, and more, you’ll find it a really useful way to organize the entire vacation.

Each tour is narrated by a local tour guide so you’ll get insider information (like where to get the best Philly cheesesteaks) along with in-depth account of the local history and culture. Your guide will point out all the top sights as you ride along, making sure you don’t miss a thing.

Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Philadelphia Tour tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

City Hall Tower & Observation Deck

City Hall Observation Tower Philadelphia

If visiting historical buildings is your thing, then you’ll love a tour of the Philadelphia City Hall Tower and Observation Deck. It’s actually the largest city hall in the entire United States and is one of the most storied. A tour of the interior will emphasize the unique architecture, so it’s fun for art lovers, too.

Along with a tour of the city hall itself, you’ll also be given the opportunity to head to the top of the observation deck, located 548 feet above ground level. Take some stellar photos of the city, the skyline, and the river from here.

Getting In: City Hall Tower & Observation Deck tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

For those travelers who enjoy spooky historical attractions, a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary is in order. This long-standing prison, although no longer operational, was significant enough in its day to be considered a National Historic Landmark today.

They’re best known for the distinctive architecture, which produced the ability to put inmates in solitary confinement, at the time considered more humane than corporal punishment. Learn about famous inmates, too, including the one and only Al Capone.

Getting In: Eastern State Penitentiary tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Franklin Institute Science Museum

The front of Franklin Institute

An amazing science museum that more than deserves the name of the founding father and experimenter extraordinaire Ben Franklin, the Franklin Institute is the place to go for curious travelers of all ages.

Come here to explore vast numbers of interactive exhibits, from a mirror maze to a large-scale human heart that children can actually climb through. You’ll also find exhibits on cultural artifacts, natural phenomenon, and climate. It’s a truly educational experience, and it’s beloved by local schools for field-trip potential.

Getting In: Franklin Institute Science Museum tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

DAY 2

Battleship New Jersey Museum And Memorial

Battleship New Jersey lit up at night

Spend some time in Camden, New Jersey on your second day in the Philadelphia area. Located just across the Delaware River (and easily reachable by ferry – see below), it’s a fun place to explore further with the kids.

Start with a visit to the Battleship New Jersey Memorial, a retired battleship that’s among the largest and most storied ships of her class. She served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and has some pretty amazing tales to tell.

Your visit to this memorial and museum gives you the opportunity to explore certain areas of the ship and to see exhibits detailing her 48-year history of service.

Getting In: Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Adventure Aquarium

Adventure-Aquarium-Philadelphia

This family-favorite aquarium is the perfect place to take the kids for an afternoon of education and fun. It’s the only aquarium around with hippos (they’re typically in zoos), so it’s a unique experience to tour their Hippo Haven and see these massive creatures swim and splash.

You’ll also be able to see sharks (including the intimidating hammerhead shark), penguins, tropical fish, local sea life, and much more. Gill’s Grotto is specially designed for the littlest visitors. There’s also a touch tank!

Getting In: Adventure Aquarium tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Betsy Ross House

Fun with Flags at the Betsy Ross House

A historic attraction beloved by locals and visitors alike, the Betsy Ross House captures the life and times of America’s most important seamstress. Responsible for designing and creating the very first American flag, Ross was an important figure in eighteenth-century Philadelphia society.

Come here to learn not only about her legacy, but also about Philadelphia before, during, and after the American Revolution. It’s a nice window into eighteenth-century life, particularly for women of industry like Ross.

Getting In: Betsy Ross House tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

RiverLink Ferry

RiverLink Ferry Ride in Philadelphia

Use your round-trip ferry ticket to get between Camden and Philly with ease. It’s a great way to connect the attractions you’ll see on this second day, and is much, much easier than trying to drive between the two states (the traffic alone…).

Getting In: RiverLink Ferry tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Ghost Tours of Philadelphia

Spooky Ghost Tour of Philadelphia

End your second day on an exhilarating note with a ghost tour of historic Philadelphia. Enjoy a jaunt through Independence Park and Society Hill, guided by a costumed storyteller who will make haunted Philly come to life.

You’ll learn about the history of the city, including eerie events and haunted happenings. Throw in some folklore and local ghost stories, and you’ve got a fun and family-friendly evening event.

Getting In: Ghost Tours of Philadelphia tickets are included in The Philadelphia Pass.

DAY 3

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibit Hall in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

For art lovers, this is the big one in Philly. The Philadelphia Museum offers a comprehensive and nuanced collection of paintings, prints, sculpture, and more, all at the top of those famous steps. With more than 240,000 objects in their collections, you’re sure to find something inspiring here.

Highlights of the museum include American Art, Weapons & Armor, Asian Art, Medieval European Art (1100-1500), Early Modern, Eighteenth-Century, and Early Nineteenth-Century European Art (1500-1850), Late Nineteenth-Century European Art (1850-1900), Modern and Contemporary Art, and many special exhibitions. They’re particularly strong in Impressionist Art, so be sure to see those paintings.

Getting In: Philadelphia Museum of Art tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

National Constitution Center

Inside the National Constitution Center

This unique museum is the only one in the country dedicated to a non-partisan, educational perspective on the United States Constitution. Come here to learn not only about the history of this crucial founding document but also its importance in an ever-changing modern world.

Exhibits and displays focus on the Constitution, but also on American history. You’ll find a variety of artifacts from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first, and enjoy interactive exhibits that allow you to learn about the enduring importance of American ideals – as well as the problems they can sometimes cause.

Getting In: National Constitution Center tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

National Liberty Museum

Exhibits at the National Liberty Museum

This attraction is a great complement to the National Constitution Center. Come here to explore the concept of American liberty to its fullest. Begin with a tour around a replica of the original Liberty Bell, and then roam around a wide variety of exhibits and displays that encourage contemplation.

You can also focus on liberty as a global, human concept, with exhibits like “Heroes From Around the World,” which highlights Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela, among others. Come here to be inspired.

Getting In: National Liberty Museum tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Christ Church Burial Ground Tour

Burial Ground at the Christ Church Tour in Philadelphia

A beautiful historic church is also located in the same neighborhood and is an easy addition to your larger itinerary. Although the church has been reconstructed, the site itself has been a place of worship since 1695.  Come here to see the lovely architecture and the historic burial grounds, which host none other than Philadelphia’s resident genius inventor, Ben Franklin.

There are also four other original signers of the Declaration of Independence buried here, so you can see the church’s strong eighteenth-century heritage. A guided tour is a nice way to see the interior of the church and the burial ground.

Getting In: Christ Church Burial Ground Tour tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

National Museum of American Jewish History

Learning at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Another great attraction in the heart of historic Philadelphia, this museum relates the diverse and nuanced history of Jews in America, as this unique immigrant population found a place in a new country. There’s a particularly strong Jewish history in Philadelphia, too, which this museum also highlights.

Exhibits cover approximately 350 years of American Jewish history, and offer over 12,00 artifacts, 30 original films, 13 interactive displays, and many more for the whole family to explore. The museum’s primary mission is to connect people of Jewish heritage to their history, and to educate people of all backgrounds about the history of Jews in America.

Getting In: National Museum of American Jewish History tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Remember to Save

Hopefully, this selection of top Philly attractions provides some inspiration as you work to lay out your three days in Philadelphia itinerary.

As you’re planning, don’t forget that you can save up to 55% on combined admission prices when you visit these attractions with The Philadelphia Pass. Snag one before your trip!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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