Our travels up the East Coast continued into Philadelphia.
The city was such a pleasant surprise to me. It feels small, full of history with a gorgeous mix of old and new architecture.
But first …
I mentioned in the D.C. post that my parents flew in for a few days to explore the city with us. And then I casually threw in that we convinced them to stay with us through Pennsylvania and to NYC. We had hotel rooms for New York, but there was 6 days in between. Which meant we squished EIGHT PEOPLE in a 200 sq ft Airstream.
You might wonder how that worked out … and while it was cramped, we were just so happy to have them with us that we figured it out. My parents slept in the back bedroom, Ryan slept on the dinette, Audrey and I slept on the pull out couch, Mason was in his hammock and the two older boys graciously took to the floor.
We spent a few nights in Harrisburg, PA where we did a little bit of shopping (my parents only packed for 5 days in DC, so they needed a few more things to stretch out the impromptu trip to 2 weeks!) swam in the pool and took the kids to a movie. Campground bathrooms and showers and outdoor dining were super helpful in making the 8 people thing work.
Once to Philadelphia, we were excited to go see the city.
Our first stop was Independence Hall.
The National Park Service offers tours daily and we joined one first thing in the morning.
The tour took us through the first floor of main building first viewing the 1700’s courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Across the hall is The Assembly Room.
This one room holds major American importance. It was here that George Washington was made Commander in Chief of the newly created army prior to the Revolutionary War. It was here that the Declaration of Independence was approved and signed. And it was here in 1787 where the U.S. Constitution was written and approved, with George Washington overseeing the Constitutional Convention.
After having traveled through so much history, finishing up at this site was so impactful. To think of the men who worked together to bravely declare independence and who later came together to form a new government that endures today … we were so grateful to step foot in such a historically significant site.
The foyer of Independence Hall is filled with natural light and beautiful wood architectural details. I couldn’t help myself from waiting for the crowds to exit so I could snap a few photos.
Across the park from Independence Hall is the Liberty Bell.
The real Liberty Bell! This bell used to hang atop the Old State House (now called Independence Hall) and was used to call lawmakers to their meetings and townspeople to the reading of the news.
The inscription on the bell reads:
“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”
It has been an inspiration throughout history to abolitionists,women’s suffrage advocates and Civil Rights leaders.
After grabbing coffee and the most delicious almond croissants at La Colombe, we drove through the city.
We had lunch at Reading Terminal Market – a huge market with produce, Amish merchants and amazing restaurants (why did I not take photos?!! Actually, I know why. It was packed and we had 8 people to navigate through the crowded rows to figure out what to eat and where to eat it. Slightly stressful, but fun nevertheless).
My mom really wanted to see the Betsy Ross house and we just happened to drive right past it.
Tours are offered to learn more about the first stars and stripes flag.
Instead of taking the Betsy Ross tour, we moved on to the Benjamin Franklin Museum where we learned all about the life of this famous Philadelphian.
The museum is located on the site where Franklin’s home sat as well as a replica of his printing office. Benjamin Franklin was such an interesting and influential man. He was an inventor (remember the whole kite and key thing?), a newspaper editor and printer, the first U.S. Ambassador to France, served as U.S. postmaster general, and fought against slavery from as early as the 1750’s. He is considered on of the Founding Fathers of the United States and has been called “The First American” for his relentless campaigning for unity among the colonies.
I’ll tell you, I could read and learn and listen to history for days.
And look! Benjamin Franklin himself came for a visit.
After our long and very enjoyable day, we dined at Farmicia. It sits in old town with that super cool juxtaposition of old and new architecture we enjoyed so much in Philadelphia.
We’ve found that when searching for great restaurants, we’ll google ‘farm to table’ and choose from that list. We’ve had great success finding good places with that simple search.
We planned to explore the city again the following day, but the rain and thunderstorms crept in and so we stayed away and hung out around the campground for the day.
Early the next morning, we packed our bags, locked up the Airstream and left our car at the train station where we took an Amtrak into New York City.
This was the kids’ first time on a train and was a great option for getting into a major city without taking our monstrous trailer.
While we didn’t see all that Philadelphia has to offer, we were totally impressed. Great food, beautiful buildings and so rich in American History.