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As we gear up for BookBaby’s Independent Authors Conference, taking place November 2-4, 2018 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel (1 Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106), here is some information about our fair city to help you fill your itinerary while you’re here. In fact, you might want to book a few extra days and really get to know this great historic American city.

Beside its being the birthplace of democracy, there’s lots to know about Philadelphia: the country’s first daily newspaper, The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser, started here in 1784; it’s home to America’s first zoo; and Philadelphia is also home to the first hospital and medical school in the US. And there’s a whole lot more: a thriving cultural scene, incredible restaurants, dozens of historic landmarks, and countless ways to enjoy yourself.

Here are 18 uniquely Philadelphia attractions. Start planning your weekend now!

These attractions are not listed in any specific order and this list is absolutely NOT exhaustive, so chime in with your favorites. There are a LOT of things to do in Philadelphia that you just can’t do anywhere else.

Philadelphia Attractions Rittenhouse Square1. Rittenhouse Square
18th & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA
0.2 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

One of five original open-space parks planned by William Penn and Thomas Holme in the late 1600s, Rittenhouse Square is a neighborhood gem and one of the more beautiful urban public spaces in the US. Originally called Southwest Square, Rittenhouse Square was renamed in 1825 after David Rittenhouse, a clockmaker, noted astronomer, and friend of the American Revolution. Two blocks long on each side, the square is bordered by 18th St. (east), Rittenhouse Square South, Rittenhouse Square West, and Walnut St. (north), and features high-end shops, restaurants, spas, and nightlife. Read more at

Philadelphia attractions Mutter Museum2. Mütter Museum
19 S. 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
0.4 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

Part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, The Mütter Museum is the dark side of medical history containing a collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment in a “cabinet museum” setting. The original purpose of the collection, donated by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter in 1858, was for biomedical research and education. Today, the museum boasts an extensive archive of temporary and permanent exhibitions, inviting you to dive in and become “disturbingly informed.” Photo © 2009 George Widman Photography LLC. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Academy of Arts3. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19103
0.4 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences is dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science and is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the US. The Academy sponsors expeditions, conducts original research, has amassed natural history collections of than 17 million specimens, and provids public exhibits and educational programs for schools and the general public. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions African American Museum4. The African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
0.4 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

Opened during the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations, the African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major US city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. The AAMP features four galleries and an auditorium and houses more than 750,000 artifacts. Experience the richness and vibrancy of African American heritage and culture through the museum’s exhibits, workshops, films, tours, symposiums, and concerts. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Franklin Institute5. Franklin Institute
222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
0.5 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

The Franklin Institute, named after Philadelphia’s favorite adopted son, is a science museum and education and research center that houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Founded in 1824, the Franklin Institute is one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Parkway Central Library6. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
0.5 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

The Free Library of Philadelphia is the is the 13th largest public library system in the US. It is neither a city agency nor a nonprofit organization, making it unique among public libraries in the US. Opened in 1927, the Parkway Central Library contains more than seven million items and many special collections. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Barnes Foundation7. The Barnes Foundation
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
0.6 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

Originally housed in the Merion, PA home of Albert C. Barnes, The Barnes Foundation was established in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” Now located in Philadelphia, the Barnes museum holds one of the finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico. Also on display are old master paintings; African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry, and textiles; and antiquities from Europe and Asia. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Reading Terminal Market8. Reading Terminal Market
51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
0.7 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

Reading Terminal Market, an enclosed public market at 12th and Arch Streets, opened for business in February 1892 and now hosts over 100 merchants who offer fresh produce, meats, fish, artisan cheese, groceries, ice cream, flowers, baked goods, crafts, books, clothing, and specialty and ethnic foods. It’s a true Philadelphia original and definitely worth a visit (or two) during your stay. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Rodin Museum9. Rodin Museum
2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
0.8 mile from the Sonesta Hotel

At The Rodin Museum you’ll find one of the world’s great collections of works by Auguste Rodin – and the only museum dedicated to his work outside of France. 2017 is the 100th anniversary of Auguste Rodin’s death, and to mark the occasion, the Rodin Museum is taking part in worldwide celebrations of his work and legacy with special exhibitions and programs. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Liberty Bell Center10. Liberty Bell Center
6th St & Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
1.1 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

The Liberty Bell was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in the East End of London before moving to Independence Hall, known at the time as the Pennsylvania State House, in 1753. Last rung in 1846, this 2,080-pound icon features a biblical inscription and its famous crack. Visit the Liberty Bell Center to learn more about the bell and The President’s House, the third Presidential Mansion that was home to George Washington and John Adams. Photo courtesy NPS. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Eastern State Penitentiary11. Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
1.1 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

Eastern State Penitentiary was the most famous and expensive prison in the world, largely known for pioneering the use of solitary confinement and the notion of reform over punishment. Today the prison is in ruin, a haunted world of crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals – including Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton – in its wagon wheel design. “Terror Behind The Walls,” a Halloween haunted house inside the haunted prison, will still be open on November 3-5. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Independence Hall12. Independence Hall (Independence National Historical Park)
520 Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1.2 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

Completed in 1753 as the colonial legislature (later Pennsylvania State House) for the Province of Pennsylvania, Independence Hall is the building where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted and was the principal meeting place of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783. The building is part of Independence National Historical Park, and admission is by tour only. A limited quantity of free tickets are available each day at the Ranger’s Desk in the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions National Constitution Center13. National Constitution Center
525 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
1.2 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

The National Constitution Center is a one-stop civic education headquarters that brings the story of “We the People” to life through a hands-on museum experience. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 17, 2000 – the 213th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – and opened on July 4, 2003, joining other historic sites in Philadelphia in what has been called “America’s most historic square mile.” Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Philadelphia Museum of Art14. Philadelphia Museum of Art (& Rocky Steps)
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
1.3 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s landmark main building opened in 1928 at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of works by Marcel Duchamp; the greatest collection of sculpture by Constantin Brancusi outside Europe; and superb Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including Paul Cézanne’s The Large Bathers, Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and others by Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Edgar Degas. Plus, the famous Rocky steps and Rocky statue are part of the fabric of the museum. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Betsy Ross House15. The Betsy Ross House
239 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
1.5 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

The Betsy Ross House is a landmark in Philadelphia purported to be the site where the seamstress and flag-maker lived when she sewed the first American Flag. After you tour the house, you can meet Betsy Ross and spend time relaxing in a shady courtyard where you’ll hear stories told by historic re-enactors. Learn more at

Philadelphia attractions Boathouse Row16. Boathouse Row
1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130
1.7 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

Rowers of all ages and skill levels flock to the Schuylkill River to practice, compete, learn, and enjoy the sport of rowing. Local boating clubs take great pride in their 19th-century boat houses, which line the Schuylkill River just west of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At night, lights outline one of the city’s loveliest views, known as Boathouse Row. Learn more at Visit

Philadelphia attractions Pat's and Geno's17. Pat’s King of Steaks & Geno’s Steaks
1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147 & 1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
2.0 miles from the Sonesta Hotel

Whatever the real history of the cheesesteak and its enduring importance to the City of Brotherly Love, the fact is, you cannot get an authentic Philly cheesesteak anywhere else. So you might as well get two and decide for yourself if you’re a Geno’s Steak or Pat’s Steak endorser. Just remember, “wit?” means “with or without onions.” And give in to the Cheese Whiz, it’s good for your arteries. Read more about the Geno’s vs. Pat’s rivalry and get an inside view of the 10 best cheesesteaks in Philly. You might not want to eat 10 of them over the weekend, though.

Philadelphia attractions Adventure Aquarium18. Adventure Aquarium (Camden)
1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ 08103
2.5 miles (with ferry)

Adventure Aquarium is just minutes from downtown Philadelphia on the Camden Waterfront – you’ll have to take a ferry or bridge across the Delaware River. The aquarium is home to the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast and features one-of-a-kind exhibits with more than 8,500 aquatic species in two million gallons of water. Learn more at

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Andre Calilhanna

About Andre Calilhanna

Andre Calilhanna has written 28 posts in this blog.

Andre Calilhanna is the editor and manager of the BookBaby blog. He's a musician, songwriter, writer, marketer, massage therapist, husband, dad, and soon to be author.

8 thoughts on “18 Uniquely Philadelphia Attractions: Your IAC Extracurricular Planner

  1. Rich Fuscia says:

    Can you mail me a copy of 5 steps to self publishing ? Thank You

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