Ah, Philadelphia! What’s not to love about the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Philly Cheesesteaks?! But is there really anything else to do there? Is it worth the trip? And how can I work it into a timeshare vacation?
Recently, we went on a two-week timeshare vacation to Atlantic City, and Hershey, Pa. We had actually traded into Atlantic City, and had a full week, but didn’t really want to spend all our time in the casinos. So we planned a day trip to Philadelphia, and were surprised to find that it was only about an hour away. Actually, if your timeshare stay is in the Poconos, this might also be a good side trip. We headed out in the morning and, as it turned out, it was a near-perfect day weatherwise—in the low ‘70’s and sunny.
Our first stop was the Philadelphia Independence Visitors Center, since the internet told us that this was the first place we should go. They were absolutely right! We found many interesting displays, pamphlets and friendly staff. Of course, you can also purchase tickets of all kinds for tours, such as “Breakfast with Ben Franklin,” and various other activities such as ghost tours, African American tours, etc. If you need a place to stay, or a restaurant recommendation, they can help you with that, too. There is a wonderful gift shop, also.
We went to the Visitors Center not only for information, but also to obtain tickets to see Independence Hall. These are free, but they state a time when your tour will start. We walked a short distance (about 5 minutes) to Independence National Historical Park, and viewed several buildings in the square. Our guide arrived shortly and gave us a tour of the Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. He entertained us for about an hour, telling humorous stories that are not in the history books about some of the political figures of the time.
After passing through a security station, we headed for the Liberty Bell Center. The story of the bell is quite fascinating—it has been adopted as a symbol of liberty to represent many causes throughout our nation’s history. It originally hung in the Pennsylvania State House, and it has cracked more than once—and no one knows why. The bell weighs about 2000 pounds and today hangs from a yoke made of elm.
After our busy morning, it would have been a good time for one of those cheesesteaks, but we decided to visit the Betsy Ross House instead. We paid a $3 per person admission fee and were able to see her grave and her very tiny house. Actually, Betsy never owned a home, but rented here along with some other people. (Too crowded, for my taste! Obviously they never heard of timeshares in those days!) She had 3 husbands and seven children in her lifetime, and made her living as a seamstress.
When we reached the 3rd floor of the house, “Betsy” asked us if she could make some new curtains for us. My husband replied, “No, I want a flag!” In the ensuing laughter, she told us how dangerous it was for her to make that first U.S. flag—it could have been considered treason had she been caught.
Since we were fairly close, we wandered over to the U.S. Mint. We again went through security, and did a self-guided tour. This mint makes mostly Roosevelt dimes and pennies, and we saw a lot of those! No paper money is printed here. One mind-boggling fact is that the mint can produce 1 million coins in a half hour. Anyone who loves money has got to be impressed by that!
There is a nice gift shop where you can buy lots of money-related items and– MONEY, of course.
We stopped briefly at Ben Franklin’s grave and took a picture through the fence. We decided we couldn’t afford the entrance fee since we had to pay so much to park downtown. (Don’t park by Independence Hall if you are fairly mobile—there are cheaper lots a bit further away.)
By now it was mid-afternoon, and still no lunch. There were other things we had thought of doing, like the Edgar Allan Poe House, the Philadelphia Zoo, Penn’s Landing, perhaps the Eastern State Penitentiary Tour (supposedly, this is fascinating!) But, we decided to call it a day, as there is just SO much to do in Philadelphia! So, I guess we’ll just have to plan another timeshare vacation to sample that Philly Cheesesteak!