What To Do if You Ever Get Stuck in Philadelphia

On the off chance that you find yourself stuck in Philadelphia, here are ten activities to do.

This July, my family took an amazing trip to Pennsylvania and New York City, which took an unexpected turn on what we thought was our last day in Philadelphia. Ready to head home, we had already checked out of the hotel and made our way to the parking garage, luggage-in-hand, and as we approached the car, noticed a flat tire. For over an hour, my siblings and I sat in nearly one-hundred-degree heat while my parents tried to fix the flat tire, to no avail. We were able to temporarily fix the problem, but it would only last us twenty-five miles. After visiting multiple tire shops, we were finally able to get the tire fixed, but my dad had deemed it too late to start the drive back to Michigan, which meant we got to spend an extra day in Pennsylvania.

While we never expected to be stuck in Philadelphia, we learned that it’s not impossible. So, in the event that the same thing happens to you, or you just happen to be visiting the historic city, I made a list of some of the best things to do, with everything within walking distance from each other.

  1. Go to Franklin Fountain. Is it overpriced? Yes. But is it worth it? Also yes. While nobody should pay nearly $20 for a sundae, this is the one time it’s okay. Featured on Travel Channel, this ice cream parlor has an old-timey feel, complete with bow-tie-wearing staff ready to serve some of Philadelphia’s best ice cream. There’s currently no indoor dining, so ice cream is served in their signature takeout box.
  2. Eat at Reading Terminal Market. Opened in 1893, Reading Terminal Market is one of the oldest and largest public markets in America. A classic farmer’s market but set indoors, Reading Terminal Market is home to over eighty merchants with a wide range of cuisines and shops. On our last trip to Philly in March, we ate from a different stand in the market every day. It’s a lively environment, similar to our Eastern Market in Detroit, and you’re bound to find something you enjoy.
  3. Walk to Love Park. While in the city of Brotherly Love, visiting Love Park is a must. Known for the Love sculpture that’s seen in souvenirs (or “jawns,” as people in Philly might say) everywhere, this park is perfect for a calming stroll or mandatory tourist photos.
  4. Take a selfie with the Founding Fathers. If you’re a fan of American History, the National Constitution Center is a must. Designed to interpret, debate, and ultimately celebrate the U.S. Constitution, the museum aims to bring the Constitution to life through interactive programs and exhibits. Arguably their most famous exhibit though, the iconic Signers’ Hall, is home to 42 life-size bronze statues of our Founding Fathers. Be sure to take a lot of pictures, because not many people can say they’ve taken a selfie with Alexander Hamilton.
  5. Take photos at the Museum of Illusions. One of Philadelphia’s newer museums, the Museum of Illusions features over 60 mind-bending exhibits. Throughout the museum, there are photo-ops designed to challenge your perspective and the way our brains interpret reality. Unforgettable and unique from any other museum, the Museum of Illusions is guaranteed to be fun for all ages.
  6. Tour Independence Hall. The birthplace of our nation, Independence Hall, is one of Philly’s crown jewels. To see what’s in your textbooks in real life and be surrounded by the history is amazing. Tours are short, only about twenty minutes long, but fascinating nonetheless.
  7. Stop by a Wawa. While there’s nothing really special about a convenience store, Wawa is something you’ll only see in a few states, with Pennsylvania being one of them. Whether it’s for a quick bite to eat or to fill up your tank, Wawa has got you covered.
  8. See the Liberty Bell. Formally known as the State House Bell, as it once rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall), the Liberty Bell has become a symbol of Philadelphia. Recognizable for its crack, the Liberty Bell is one of the most popular sights in the city. No tickets are required, and as the guide told us, “it’s a very friendly bell, it likes to have its picture taken.”
  9. Explore Chinatown. Originally settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants, Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood packed with authentic Chinese and other Asian foods and stores, and serves as a cultural and economic hub for Philadelphia’s Asian-American population. The Friendship Gate marks the entrance, where an abundance of activities await.
  10. Visit the Penn Museum. Over a million artifacts and archeological finds from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Mediterranean can be found at this museum, which was founded in 1887. Located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, the Penn Museum is dedicated to telling the stories of human history from the past 10,000 years, sparking curiosity as you make your way through the museum.

Philadelphia is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in America, and is enjoyable even for the non-history nerds. Everything on this list is Werenka-family approved and I highly recommend going there at least once in your life. You never know, you could end up stuck there.