While I am happy to say that I’ve been to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – one of America’s most important “Founding” cities (if not thee most important) – I always feel like I’m lying a bit when saying it. While my friend and I did very clearly visit this colonial city, we did NOT plan efficiently enough for when or where we were going. This was during our 2018 east coast road trip; a trip where I learned a ton about road trips and traveling in general. Philly was one of the city’s that helped me learn these crucial life lessons.
When it comes to Philly, rule #2 of my SeeWorldNotSeaWorld’s 5 Rules for Road Trips. heavily applies, because we were very naïve to think we could just whisk in, see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and whisk out. We (stupidly) thought we’d be able drive from Beach Haven, New Jersey to Philadelphia around 3pm and see everything in enough time. It’s “only” a 1.5 hour drive, but that honestly means nothing. It simply doesn’t work like that in highly trafficked tourist spots in the middle of summer. The traffic on the highways and around Independence Hall was ridiculous, with tourists pouring from every direction like a complete infestation.
While Philly offers sooo much more, we only had two sights in mind: Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (especially the Liberty Bell). Located at 526 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, the State House Bell, where it is held, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. We arrived around 4:30pm, again, wrongly assuming that the lines would have died down. The line to see the Liberty Bell was to the front door of the building 🤦🏻♀️. It’s a brick building with walls made of glass, giving a great view of the inside. We could see the line of people starting at the entrance snake it’s way all the way through to the bell. Luckily, the bell can be viewed from the outside too, and we could see the people slowly meandering around it, taking their sweet time and snapping endless pictures, which helped explain the massively long line (I don’t blame them, it’s just what happened).
I was under the wrong impression (so many wrong assumptions were made this day) that it was outside, like Plymouth Rock (Plymouth Rock: The Landing Spot of the Pilgrims (allegedly).), and viewing it would be a quick and painless process. I didn’t research it before we came, which is a total rookie mistake!!! Don’t make our same mistake – Google everything before you go. 🥴
We didn’t even attempt going into the building. It’s something I do regret now – however, we were just so burnt out from driving and constantly “going”. Rules #2 and #4 of SeeWorldNotSeaWorld’s 5 Rules for Road Trips. are based on this. We instead opted to view the bell from the outside viewing area, through a large glass window. You do get a clear view of it, which is great, but it’s still a bit of a bummer because you’re obviously not right next to it like you would be inside. Nonetheless, whoever built the building where the Liberty Bell is kept was very considerate of us impatient and tired people. They not only made this viewing window, but also set up an automated history box on the outside next to the window, so we got to listen to a bit of history while viewing it.
After spending about 30 minutes viewing the bell and listening to the automated history box, we walked over to Independence Hall, which is located literally right across the street. They were still giving tours, however, we had gotten there too late to take one (another fail 🙃). It’s also open from 9am to 5pm, however, and this is a big however – entrance is by tour only. You must book a tour to view the inside of Independence Hall. Per the National Park Service website, timed entry tickets are required thought most of February, and from March through December. Only during a few allotted weeks in January and February is admission “first come, first serve”. We did not know this (YET AGAIN, another complete rookie mistake). It was a huge let down, considering this is where they debated the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. However, it was our own faults… You live and you learn! (And then pass on this info to others, so they don’t make the same mistakes as you. 👍🏼❤️)
Overall, I’m adding this blog to 1) give people some basic info about the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and more importantly, 2) hopefully keep someone from repeating our mistakes. Things like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are major attractions, and a city like Philadelphia is a major American city. Add in going during the middle of July/summer, when most people are off of school and/or taking vacations from work… it was a recipe for travel disaster ✨. But! Philly is still firmly on my short “revisit” list, so I WILL be back and I will revisit these iconic symbols of American history… one day!