Return to Main Page

I home-school my children, and weíre planning a car trip in spring between Boston
and Washington, DC to give the kids a living history lesson. What are some
historical sites besides the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall that we can visit in
Philadelphia that will be educational?

Why not use the remarkable life of Benjamin Franklin to introduce your children to
Philadelphia? Iíll leave it to you to find an appropriate biography because I donít know how
old your children are, but they should read it before they come to Philadelphia. Some of the
sites below require tickets to enter, so youíll want to do some pre-panning if you want to
follow my suggestion.

1) Start your tour of Philly at a little museum on Elferethís Alley (124-126 Elfrethís Alley) that
shows you how people lived in the 1700s. Youíll need to pay for a ticket to enter the
museum, but itís not expensive. Elfrethís Alley, between Arch and Quarry Streets, is the
oldest continuously inhabited street in the US.

2) You could stop by Betsey Rossís house nearby (239 Arch St) or at the National
Constitutional Center (535 Arch St) where your children can walk around life-sized statues of
the men who wrote the Constitution. You need to pay for a ticket for both of these sites.
Theyíre not part of the National Park System, so theyíre not free.

3) Next stop would be the Liberty Bell, which was rung on July 8, 1776 to announce the
reading of the Declaration of Independence, a document Franklin helped to create. Between
Jan 1 and March 1, you donít need a ticket to enter the hall. Other times, youíll need a free
ticket that you can get at the Independence Visitors Center (6th St between Arch and Market

4) Then to Congress Hall (150 Chestnut St), which does not have a Franklin connection but
is still worth a visit. The United States Congress met here when Philadelphia was the capital of
the United States from 1790-1800. Franklin died in 1790, which is probably the only reason
he was not a member of Congress.

5) Independence Hall, where our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were
debated and ratified, is right next to Congress Hall. Between Jan 1 and March 1, you donít
need a ticket to enter the hall. Other times, youíll need a free ticket that you can get at the
Independence Visitors Center (6th St between Arch and Market St).

6) Stay on Chestnut to Carpenterís Hall between Third and Fourth Streets, where the First
Continental Congress met and where Franklin represented Pennsylvania in 1775. No ticket is
needed for this and itís free. The hall been owned by Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia, a
trade guild since 1770, and they have a keen sense of civic duty to keep this treasure open to
the public.

7) Then, walk to The
Printing Office and Bindery (320 Market St) in Franklin Court for
demonstrations of 18th century printing and binding equipment; Franklinís first career was as
a printer (using much
printer ink) and he was Pennsylvaniaís official printer of money, laws,
and government documents. Franklin Court is part of Independence National Historic Park,
so itís free. You do not need a ticket for any attraction in Franklin Court.

8) Stay in to Franklinís Court (316-322 Market St) to the site where Franklinís house stood,
youíll find a museum  filled with paintings, objects, and inventions associated with
Franklin, like his Armonica, a Franklin stove, and the swim fin. (He also invented the bifocal
eyeglasses and the lightening rod.)

9) Franklin served as the Postmaster for Philadelphia and later as the Postmaster General for
the United Colonies, so next stop is the U.S. Postal Service Museum (314 Market St) in
Franklin Court where youíll see originals of Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, his weekly

10) Be sure to go next door to the Post Office in Franklin Court. Itís the only active post
office in the United States that does not fly a United States flag because there wasn't yet one
in 1775 when Mr. Franklin was the Postmaster for Philadelphia. The postmark "B. Free
Franklin" is still used to cancel stamps.

11) You could end the day walking the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, founded in
1751 by Mr. Franklin and his illustrious friends, including ten signers of the Declaration of
Independence and seven signers of the Constitution. Itís in west Philly across the Schuylkill
River (pronounced ďschool killĒ.) Penn had the country's first medical school, the nation's first
teaching hospital, and the nationís first law school. Tell your kids that if they study hard, they
can get into Wharton, the best Business School in the US.

For other Destinations, go to

Coming to Philadelphia?sm