Celebrating the United States in Philadelphia, where it all began

Washington is our nation's capital, there's another city that deserves a little recognition during the coming Independence Day weekend: Philadelphia.

During a patriotic road trip to the City of Brotherly Love, you can celebrate where the country got its start. There, visitors can hear freedom ring (figuratively, of course) at the Liberty Bell Center, whoop it up at the city's parades and visit the buildings where our founding fathers drafted, debated and signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

In honor of the 13 original colonies, here's a list of 13 Philly attractions that bring to life America's roots and history. Though they're especially apropos for the Fourth of July (and we list times specific to this coming weekend), you can visit all through the year.

And don't forget to down an authentic Philly cheesesteak before settling on a place to witness the night sky drip with red-white-and-blue fireworks.

Independence Hall: Tour the birthplace of the U.S. and wander through the rooms where founding fathers convened to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution 11 years later. Actor Leslie Odom Jr., best known for his portrayal of American politician Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical "Hamilton," will deliver a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of Independence Hall at 10 a.m. July 4. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 1-4. Tickets are free but must be obtained in advance. No tickets required after 5 p.m. or on July 4. 520 Chestnut St. nps.gov

Liberty Bell Center: Here is where the original Liberty Bell, with its famed crack and biblical inscription, is on display. Last rung in 1846, the 2,080-pound bell is on display, with X-rays that display its inner workings along with other historical documents describing how the bell became a symbol of freedom for abolitionist and suffrage movements in America. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 1-4. 526 Market St. Free. nps.gov

Betsy Ross House: Step into the space of the creator of the American flag, stars, stripes and all, on Independence Day weekend. You can take an audio or self-guided tour through Ross' home and visit her upholstery shop, where you'll find a Ross stand-in ready to tell you all about her life and business. On July 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the house will host its own Independence Day bash, with activities for children including a children's naturalization ceremony at 1:30 p.m. and a ceremonial bell ringing at 2 p.m. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 239 Arch St. $4-$7. historicphiladelphia.org

The President's House: How could freedom and slavery exist under one roof? Explore the paradox while wandering through the open-air foundation of the first executive mansion, which was home to President George Washington and the nine enslaved people who served him from 1790 to 1797, and President John Adams from 1797 to 1800. Though the house was torn down in 1832, the re-created commemoration features videos and artifacts displaying the lives of the former slaves. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 600 Market Street. Free. nps.gov

National Constitution Center: Located on Independence Mall, this 160,000-square-foot museum gives an in-depth look into the Constitution and the country's forefathers with exhibitions and programming, including the Signer's Hall exhibit, which includes 42 life-size bronze statues of the Constitution's signers and a place to sign your name. Special programming, including military muster demonstrations, walking tours and morning flag-raising ceremonies, will take place throughout Independence Day weekend. 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 1-2. Noon to 5 p.m. July 3. 9:30 a.m to 5 p.m. July 4. 525 Arch St. $8-$14.50. Free admission July 2 and July 4. constitutioncenter.org

Franklin Square: Need a break from sightseeing? Settle down in Franklin Square, one of the five parks planned by William Penn himself and renamed in 1825 after Benjamin Franklin. There you can cool down next to the Franklin Fountain, the square's centerpiece, or opt for more action at the Parx Liberty Carousel or at the Philly Mini Golf course. Be sure to bring cash: to putt or ride the carousel costs. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 1-2. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 3-4. 200 6th St. Free. historicphiladelphia.org

Declaration (Graff) House: Philadelphia bricklayer Jacob Graff, Jr. laid the foundation for the house in 1775, and about a year later, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in one of its rooms. Tour the house where the founding father rented two second-floor rooms, which now hold a re-creation of Jefferson's bedroom and parlor. Noon to 5 p.m. daily. 599 S. 7th St. Free. nps.gov

African American Museum in Philadelphia: Explore African-American history through several exhibits, delving into heritage, culture and civil rights through stories, photography and other means. The Audacious Freedom exhibit, which explores the lives of African-American trailblazers in Philadelphia from 1776 to 1876, is on permanent display. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 1-2. Noon to 5 p.m. July 3. 701 Arch St. $10-$14. Free admission July 1. aampmuseum.org

Congress Hall: The former U.S. Capitol and meeting place for Congress from 1790 to 1800 captures the beginnings of the U.S. government, including the swearing-in of presidents George Washington during his second term and John Adams, and the two floors where the House of Representatives and Senate used to convene. Tours run every 20 minutes from April through October. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free. nps.gov

National Museum of American Jewish History: More than 30,000 artifacts and artworks display the social, political and cultural aspects of Jewish history in America. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 1 and 4. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. July 2-3. 101 S. Independence Mall East. $11-$12. Admission is free July 4, and any time for museum members and children 12 and under. nmajh.org

Masonic Temple: Considered one of the architectural masterpieces of both Philadelphia and the Masonic world, the 1873 temple boasts elaborate designs inside and out, with grand staircases, hand-carved oak chairs, wooden sculptures by William Rush and paintings paying homage to Masonic Grand Masters, which include several founding fathers, including George Washington. It holds a library and museum. Tours are available July 1 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and on July 2 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. 1 N. Broad St. $5-$13. pamasonictemple.org

Benjamin Franklin Museum: A founding father, scientist, printer and diplomat — the varying roles of Franklin — and aspects of 18th-century living are explored through computer animations, interactive displays and historical artifacts. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 317 Chestnut St. $2-$5. Free for children ages 3 and under. nps.gov

Christ Church Burial Ground: Pay your respects to Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence at this Colonial and Revolution-era graveyard. Spanning 2 acres and nearly 300 years, the graveyard holds around 1,400 markers. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 1-2 and 4. Noon to 4 p.m. July 3. 20 N. American St. $1-$7. christchurchphila.org




Celebrate America's 240th birthday in the country's birthplace with fireworks and entertainment.

Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert & Fireworks: Find your place along the Delaware River waterfront as assistant conductor Lio Kuokman leads the orchestra through patriotic tunes starting at 8 p.m., with a brilliant fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. July 1. Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. Free. philorch.org

U.S. Army Band Performance and Fireworks: The band will blast patriotic tunes followed by a fireworks display for a monumental evening at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing 8 p.m.; fireworks begin around 9:30 p.m. July 2. 101 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. Free. usarmyband.com

Historic Philadelphia Block Party: The all day pre-Fourth of July celebration will take place in the historic district, steps away from Independence Hall, with music, food and fun. 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 3. 520 Chestnut St. Free. welcomeamerica.com

Pops! On Independence: Opt for a night of pop and patriotic favorites from the Philly Pops under the stars and steps away from Independence Hall, all led by music director and maestro Michael Krajewski. 8 p.m. July 3. 520 Chestnut St. Free. phillypops.org

Celebration of Independence: Start the day with a tribute to America's heroes with musical performances, speeches and a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Tony Award-winning Philadelphia actor Leslie Odom, Jr., best known for his role as Aaron Burr in Broadway's "Hamilton." 10 a.m. July 4. Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut St. welcomeamerica.com

Independence Day Parade: Runs through historic Philadelphia with marching bands, Philly notables and organizations starting at 11 a.m. at Fifth and Chestnut streets. The parade ends at Front and Walnut streets with plenty of views along the way, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. July 4. Free. welcomeamerica.com

Party on the Parkway: Bring the whole family to this daylong party on Benjamin Franklin Parkway with a kickoff performance from The Kidz Bop Kids from noon to 1 p.m., followed by more music, food and activities. Begins at noon July 4. Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 20th Street to Eakins Oval. Free. welcomeamerica.com

Wawa Welcome America's Philly 4th of July Jam: The festivities begin with a free five-hour concert with headlining soul singer Leon Bridges, DJ Biz Markie, actor Leslie Odom, Jr., singing group Viva Mas and Bryshere Y. Gray, aka Yazz the Greatest from Fox's "Empire." Then get ready to end the weekend with fireworks starting at 10 p.m. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. July 4. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Free. welcomeamerica.com

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