Exploring the Hidden Gems of Historic Philadelphia – A Guide for Non-Drivers

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Philadelphia is not just one of the largest cities on the east coast. The city has a rich history, diverse culture, and a vibrant arts scene. As the birthplace of American democracy, Philly offers an immersive experience with its historical landmarks like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (which are the most touristy spots).

But historic Philadelphia has a plethora of hidden gems that are waiting for you to discover. Here are a few worthy of your time:

Elfreth’s Alley

This is an enchanting cobblestone street nestled in the city’s Old City neighborhood. Known as America’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street, it provides a glimpse into 18th-century life with beautifully preserved homes lining its path.

The oldest street in Philadelphia Elfreth's Alley

The oldest street in Philadelphia Elfreth’s Alley
Photo by depositphotos.com

The Magic Gardens on South Street

This incredible mosaic wonderland was created by local artist Isaiah Zagar and spans half a block. Wandering through this colorful labyrinth of recycled materials and found objects will leave you awestruck.

The Mütter Museum

Located in Center City Philadelphia, this medical museum boasts an astounding collection of oddities, including medical instruments, bones, preserved specimens, and antique medical texts which transport you back in time.

The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier

Nestled within Washington Square Park, this spot is often overlooked by tourists who visit nearby Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. But if you want to see the true face of the American fight for independence, you must visit this somber memorial that pays tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Reading Terminal Market

After walking around all day, you’ll definitely get hungry. When you do, you must pay a visit to this bustling market for a gastronomical adventure. Here, you’ll find exceptional local cuisines, such as cheesesteaks, pretzels, Hogies, pork rolls, and many, many more.

Vendors and customers in Reading Terminal Market. The historic market is a popular attraction for culinary treats.

Vendors and customers in Reading Terminal Market. The historic market is a popular attraction for culinary treats.
Photo by depositphotos.com

While it’s not hidden per se, many tourists ignore this market in favor of more visible restaurants (which are also pricier).

How to Move Around the City when You Don’t Drive

Philadelphia is one of the most traffic-congested cities in the United States and the world (13th at a global level). So, if you want to move around freely, it’s best to leave your car at home.

Use the Public Transport System

Philadelphia’s public transportation system is relatively efficient and connects various parts of the city and its surrounding suburbs. So it’s easy for residents and tourists to navigate around the city.

You can use buses, subways, trolley lines, and regional rail trains, and there are several trolley lines that cater to specific neighborhoods.

Use a Ride Sharing Service

When you’re in a hurry or want to reach a location that’s not close to any public transportation stations, you can use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Both companies operate throughout the city and surrounding areas, including suburbs and the Philadelphia International Airport.

Both services are relatively safe, but in case you get into an accident while using a ride-sharing service, you can easily find a Uber & Lyft crash lawyer to help you sort things out.

Get an E-Bike

If you want to stay active while visiting various interesting locations, you can use an e-bike. In Philadelphia, you’ll find Indego, a bike-sharing program that features both regular bikes and electric pedal-assist bikes.

The city is quite bike-friendly, with designated bike lanes on numerous streets and shared-use paths. However, make sure you know and respect the rules, especially when you have to share the road with four-wheeled vehicles.

Overall, a bike (standard or electric) is a great way to experience the city’s charm while reducing reliance on cars and public transportation. And, if you have your own e-bike, you may want to check what you can do with it.

Wrap Up

So lace up your walking shoes, hop onto a bike or e-bike, or familiarize yourself with public transport routes and embark on your own Philly adventure!

The city’s rich history and vibrant atmosphere are best savored by leisurely strolling its streets and immersing yourself amongst its locals.

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