05 Feb An afternoon in Philadelphia: Liberty Bell + Independence Hall
The famous Liberty Bell is a must when visiting Philadelphia and was our first stop. Tickets are not required as it is first-come, first-served. Hours are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with extended hours in the summer. There is often a long wait (up to two hours) during peak season. When we went during the off season (October) mid-afternoon there was no line at all. It took about 5 minutes to get through security. Once inside, you have the option to go directly to the Bell, view the many exhibits and/or view a 10-minute video presentation. Please note that there are NO public restrooms inside the Liberty Bell Center, so take little ones before 🙂 Restrooms are available nearby at the Independence Hall Visitor Center.
After we visited the Liberty Bell, we walked over to the Independence Hall Visitor Center. Tickets are required to tour Independence Hall. Same-day tickets are free and can be picked up here OR they are $1.50 per ticket to reserve in advance online. If you’re on a tight schedule (like we were) we suggest to reserve your tickets online here. You still need to pick up your tickets from the Visitor Center even with online reservations. Hours for the Visitor Center are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and tickets must be picked up at least 45 minutes before tour time. Although you do have to select a specific tour time, we found they try their best to accommodate you if you are early or late, as long as you have a ticket!
The Visitor Center also has restrooms, water fountains, a cafe, goodies, free WiFi, loaner wheelchairs, and a theater that shows free films about Independence Hall and other topics. Parking is available in the underground garage for a small fee.
You will begin the tour by lining up on the east side of Independence Hall. After passing through security, there is a second line in the back you will wait in until the ranger begins the tour. You will be led in a small room and watch a short video presentation as well as a short presentation by the ranger. It was very informative and we enjoyed the history before the tour.
Once inside IH, you will view the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court first. It was very cool and we all learned some interesting facts we didn’t know before (like where we get the phrase ‘to stand trial’). Kids may have a hard time seeing if they don’t get a spot in the front. There will be time after the small presentation for little legs to move closer and get a good look as well.
Next stop on the tour is the Assembly Room. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed in this room. Although much of the furniture in the room are replicas or replacement pieces of furniture, George Washington’s chair is original (it’s the large chair near the top of the picture in the center)! This was very, very cool to see. President Abraham Lincoln’s body was also here for two days following his assassination.
The upstairs was closed when we went, however it is known as the Long Gallery. It was used as a reception hall for the Governor’s guests. The architecture and furniture located throughout Independence Hall were beautiful.
We finished the night off with a yummy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from Sonny’s, only a few blocks from Liberty Bell.
Our kids loved the sandwiches (I like mine with extra cheese sauce) and fries, but they do have chicken fingers and hamburgers if a cheesesteak isn’t their thing.