The City of Brotherly Love brings you tons of itinerary fillers to enjoy on your trip. Let's sift through all of the excesses and find some of the best attractions in Philadelphia for your student group!
Philadelphia Museum of Art
One of the largest art museums in the country, Philadelphia's own fine arts collection holds more than 227,000 objects in its possession ranging the full run of artistic movements and eras all over the globe. The building itself is a beauty of Greek Revival architecture but inside is where the real beauty is kept. Find yourself wandering through galleries holding pieces by Gustav Klimt, Mary Cassatt, Cezanne and Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Monet, and much more.
Named for Philadelphia's own statesman, founding father, and favorite son Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute is an inspired establishment of learning, lauding the expansive intelligence of Mr. Franklin. A leader among American museums for science and technology, you can find galleries and exhibitions of hands-on, interactive activities as well as informative displays on all manner of subjects. Theaters, a planetarium, the Ben Franklin memorial and exhibits on topics from Genghis Khan to the Vatican to why we need electricity, the Franklin Institute is a wonderful stop for any student group.
Independence National Historical Park
Perhaps one of the most visited, most famous historical parks in the country, Independence National Historical Park has certainly seen plenty of history in its time. On the grounds, you'll find Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed into being, as well as the Liberty Bell, and Congress Hall where George Washington was inaugurated for the second time and John Adams as well. Spanning 55 acres and 20 city blocks, the park is home to even more historic attractions for your group to explore at leisure.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Just outside Philadelphia proper, you'll find the large and imposing Eastern State Penitentiary. This less than idyllic destination was historically important for reforming the prison system in America, coining the term penitentiary and redesigning how prisoners were treated in terms of reformation, cell layout and solitary confinement came into play. It was also the site of several prison escapes and attempts including that of "Slick" Willie Sutton who dug a tunnel under the prison but was quickly recaptured. Tours are offered daily as well as haunted history tours and a yearly haunted house set for Halloween.
Reading Terminal Market
Open since 1892, Reading Terminal Market is one of the country's largest and longest-running indoor farmer's markets. Famous for its age and specialty shops, Reading is a popular destination for groups and families to gather and have fun with some shopping. Food is definitely a specialty from Amish baked goods to fresh seafood, deli meats, and produce, but you can also find housewares, books, crafts, and gifts here to take home as souvenirs. Come for lunch and peruse the market for a fun afternoon!
Both macabre and educational, the Mutter Museum is based on medical history from the less than accurate tools and theories of physicians in early America to the modern-day. Young children will probably not be suited to the Mutter Museum as there are many human remains displayed for educational purposes. You can find, in the collections, one of the largest collections of human skulls, specimens in glass jars, and the Soap Lady, a woman whose body was mummified by an anomalous substance. Darkly fascinating, the Mutter Museum is a popular destination for groups of older students and those looking into a career in the medical field.
National Museum of American Jewish History
Smithsonian affiliated and newly renovated, the National Museum of American Jewish History leads visitors through the history and heritage of Jews in America from the time of immigration through Ellis Island to WWII and into our modern day. More than just an American Jewish history museum, the facility also supports and curates exhibitions on ending bigotry, genocide, and hatred. Some of the artifacts you'll find here include personal possessions from Jewish immigrants, a menorah from Russia, a charity box circa 1820, and much more.
Philadelphia History Museum
Located in the old Franklin Institute building created in the 1820s, the Philadelphia History Museum holds over 80,000 artifacts, 10,000 of which are said to date from the early 17th century through the 20th. Quaker related artifacts are in attendance alongside many from the 1876 Centennial Exposition and the early founding of the city. One of the main galleries features the world's largest map of the city.
Reportedly the oldest zoo in the United States opened in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo remains a stunning if quaint zoological park perfect for an afternoon outing. 42 acres holds over 1,300 living creatures from around the world including your favorite African big cats and gentle giants, big apes, and monkeys, and remains one of the most innovative zoos with new additions. The Philadelphia Zoo is the home of the Z00360 exploration trails where certain animals can walk overhead the public walkways on caged catwalks, interacting in an unusual and freeing way with the visitors.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, otherwise known as the Penn Museum, was established in 1887 as one of the world's best archaeology and anthropology museums. Housing roughly one million artifacts and objects, the Penn Museum is highly educational as well as intensely fascinating. Follow the human story from before the beginning of civilization through the modern-day with biblical texts, cuneiform tablets, ceremonial artifacts, and artwork galore.