In a city known for its many museums, it can be hard to figure out how to allocate your time in Philadelphia. Our quick guide below highlights five best bets for getting some educational bang for your vacation time buck when visiting the City of Brotherly Love. Go to the one or two that best fit into the Venn diagram of location convenience and personal interest, and you can’t go wrong. Reserve your tickets online in advance whenever you can to save time and keep an eye out for discounted days or special rates.
Fun Museums in Philadelphia
This site uses affiliate links and may receive a commission if you make a purchase via link. This comes at no cost to our readers.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a massive structure, home to over 200 galleries of art spanning nearly every time period and style you can imagine. If that sounds overwhelming, know that free guided tours are available. The Museum Highlights tour is a great place to start, led by knowledgeable and friendly guides who complete a rigorous two-year training program. If you only have a couple of hours, go by the Great Stair Hall and snap a selfie with Diana, explore the Japanese Tea House in the architecture department and get your history fix with a trip to the Arms and Armor exhibit. The museum also has a formal restaurant and some smaller cafes on site and hosts evening wine and music events in the garden. If you’re on a budget, try to plan your visit for the first Sunday of the month or a Friday afternoon when the museum offers “pay what you wish” admission. As an added bonus, your museum entry ticket will also get you access to the Rodin museum, located right down the street.
National Liberty Museum
With a name like the National Liberty Museum, you might dismiss this as yet another place to learn about history in a city surrounded by historical sites. Well, you would be partly right: the NLM focuses on the people throughout history who have positively impacted and increased freedoms worldwide. This modern museum concept features interactive exhibits that make historical events and the people who shaped them more personal. While there, be sure to check out Dale Chihuly’s 21-foot Flame of Liberty, the Liberty Bell replica and the Heroes From Around the World exhibit. Tickets are available online, with senior and student discount prices.
Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution is fittingly tucked into the heart of downtown Philadelphia, near the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. History buffs can happily spend a few hours here, browsing the well-maintained exhibits and artifacts from America’s campaign for independence. An audio tour add-on is available to help visitors get the most out of their visit, with detailed information and a “highlights” option. Those who really enjoy the facility might want to do the neighborhood “Walking Tour” option, available on Saturdays that winds through the surrounding area of essential sites from the Revolutionary era. Guided tours and early access tickets are also available.
America on Wheels Museum
If you love all things auto, hit the road and head to the America on Wheels Museum. The museum has over 75 cars and trucks, as well as motorcycles and bikes, on display. Visitors can see how automobiles and other vehicles have changed over time, focusing on restoring American classics. The museum also discusses boats, RVs, race cars and other sports vehicles with biannual exhibit updates. On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, the restoration center across the street offers guided tours of their RB collection as an add-on for true auto enthusiasts. The museum also has a 50s-style diner available for group events and special occasions, with Americana decor and a soda fountain-style menu.
Travel the world from the Penn Museum, dedicated to the convergence of archeology and anthropology. Visitors are greeted by a massive 3,000-pound Sphinx guarding the eleven galleries of geographic regions and peoples. The museum has been open since 1887, with an ever-growing collection of remarkable artifacts and archaeological finds. Hour-long guided tours are available on weekends, hosted by volunteer docents or Graduate Guides. Visitors should be sure to visit the Artifact Lab to see conservators in action through large windows, preparing and preserving artifacts for museum exhibits. Senior, student, teacher and military discounts are available at the Welcome Desk with corresponding identification. Expedited entry is also available.