Just when we thought the weather couldn’t get any nicer, it
did. Philadelphia was in the mid-50s to mid-60s all day, perfect weather to go
jacket-less and sit in the open for a double decker bus tour.
We used our Philadelphia CityPass for the Big Bus and
Trolley Works tours, which took us to many of the city’s coveted sites –
Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’ House and the likes. Our tour
guide gave us information on all of these landmarks, plus tidbits about local
architecture, outdoor artwork, etc.
Best of all, the hop on, hop off tour took us to the sites
in the CityPass booklet – all except the aquarium. It was nice to be lazy for
once and let the bus take us everywhere – even back to our hotel (one of the
stops) – after six days of constant walking.
The tour started near the Liberty Bell, took us all the way
to Penn’s Landing and the Philadelphia Zoo and returned at its starting point.
We passed by the United States Mint, Federal Reserve, Chinatown, Eastern State
Penitentiary, City Hall and more.
We hopped off the bus to visit The Franklin Institute, where
we watched a show on black holes in the planetarium and sighted sun spots at
the observatory; remains of the first White House; the Liberty Bell;
Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center to watch “Freedom
Rising,” a one-man performance that chronicled the history of the Constitution.
Since everything closed by 4:30 to 5 p.m., we weren’t able
to squeeze in any more. Unfortunately, during the “off-season” there are fewer
trolleys and buses running and the tour hours are shorter. Although I wanted to
stop at the penitentiary, the site’s tours only ran every two hours, which
didn’t line up very well with the bus tour.
The Philadelphia booklet was the most useful to us in
comparison to the Boston and New York City passes. (We used one ticket in Boston
because we only spent a day there; the New York City booklet was great for its
many museum admissions.) If you plan to spend a day or less in any of these
cities, it’s not a good idea to get the CityPass. Well, unless you can cram in
as many featured sites as you can to at least pay for the booklet.
Early in the day, my travel buddy seemed a little
disappointed – he thought we should have skipped Philadelphia so we could spend
another day in New York. But the moment the bus stopped at the Philadelphia
Museum of Art, his feelings changed. In the pop culture world, the museum is
most infamous for being the steps Sylvester Stallone ran up in the “Rocky” series. Of
course, my half-Italian buddy ran up the steps, took a photo with the Rocky Balboa monument
nearby and was satisfied. He jokes that he’s the new “Italian Stallion.”
We did what we came to do in Philly (mainly to eat a Philly
cheese steak). Up next is Washington, D.C., for two and a half days.
(Photos: Travel buddy at the top steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was the setting for the “Rocky” series; Benjamin Franklin monument in The Franklin Institute; remains of the first White House where George Washington and John Adams stayed)