On our US History tour, we headed to Gettysburg for the day on our way to Philadelphia. We had been before and took a driving tour in our car with a guide who took us around the battlefields.
Seminary Ridge Museum
The cool thing about going to a place like this a second time, is you get to discover new things you didn’t know about before. We were introduced to Seminary Ridge, which is the place where the battle was first started at Gettysburg. There’s a whole museum in the seminary, that is fairly new, and is a great place to start your Gettysburg tour. You’ll get tons of information about how the battle started and came to Gettysburg, and you even get to see the exact locations they were at when the battle started there. We recommend taking the Cupola tour up to the cupola (looks like a watch tower). It’s truly a unique experience being there and imagining everything that went on, as your guide walks you through the whole thing.
The Museum also has a great timeline of the events, divided up by floors. Each floor also has a life like exhibit, that makes it feel like you're looking into the events that happened there.
After our stop at Seminary Ridge Museum, it was time to head to the battlefields. This time, we decided to do a more unique tour, and found an awesome company that does Segway tours!
None of us had been on a Segway before, so we were really excited. When we got to Segtours, we signed in and sat down to watch a safety video. Riding a Segway actually takes some skill! Who knew?! After the video, we had an instructor teach us how to ride it, and went through a practice obstacle course a few times until everyone was comfortable enough to head outside for our tour. We had a group of 7, with 2 guides. One was a Segtours Guide in the front, leading the way and pointing out places, and the History guide followed in the back, as he narrated our tour through our headsets we received.
First off, riding a Segway was a ton of fun! We were out there riding for about 2 hours, and covered a lot of ground in Gettysburg. The history tour guide gave us loads of information and timed everything perfectly for when we were riding past certain monuments or areas. We all loved our tour. They gave us a few stopping points, where we got off and looked closer at some things, or even just to stretch our legs. (It’s a bit of a workout!)
Halfway through our tour, we were given little treats and SegTours even sent us on our way with 2 full water bottles (one ready to drink, and one frozen, that would melt in time for when we were ready to drink that one). They definitely took care of all the little details.
We had some free time after our tour and before dinner, so we headed to the cemetery we drove by during our tour, and went inside to see the monuments of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. After, we headed to the main strip where there were several shops around. There were lots of different markers around the town that showed what happened at that place around the battle.
Garryowen Irish Pub
We had reservations at a very popular local Irish Pub called "Garryowen Irish Pub" and had a really great meal. Everything was delicious, and the atmosphere was fun. They even had live music playing upstairs.
We had only planned one day in Gettysburg, before heading to Philadelphia for the night, but in hindsight, I probably would’ve planned to be there for two days. There was a lot more in Gettysburg than I had expected.
After our tour Around Gettysburg, we headed for our hotel in Philly. We stayed at the Hilton at Penns Landing, and had a beautiful view of the city lights at night, overlooking the water. It was a great hotel.
Parking was a bit expensive, and being the savers we are, we found a parking garage for $9/night a few blocks away, on SpotHero and opted to park there instead.
In the morning, we headed to Liberty Square and picked up tickets at the Visitors Center for Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was pretty cool to go on that tour, since we had just seen the Declaration of Independence in The National Archives in Washington D.C. just a few days before.
The tickets are free from the Visitors Center, (which is just across the street), but they are first come, first served. So you can also reserve tickets online in advance, but you will have to pay a small booking fee through the site. We were told the next available time for tickets would be around 3 pm, (we got there around 10:30), but as we were at the desk, a group of 50 had cancelled for the 11:00 tour, so we were able to get in that one. (We had advanced tickets for 1 or so, but never received an email confirmation. They did have our names on their list though, but since these tickets opened up, we decided to just go earlier.)
National Constitution Center
We then headed to the National Constitution Center, which is just across the way. You do have to buy tickets for this one. They’re around $14 per adult, $11/child.
There is a great show called “Freedom Rising” which is a “17 minute multimedia theatrical production”. You’ll also get admission to the entire museum including Signer’s Hall and the new exhibit, Hamilton. Signer’s Hall is very cool to see. It has 42 bronze statues of our Founding Father’s signing the Constitution, and each one is said to be the same height and build of each man. It’s a life sized recreation, which you’ll be able to walk around and through the crowd of statues. The National Constitution Center also has a new exhibit all about Alexander Hamilton.
Sonny's Philly Cheesesteaks
We grabbed Philly cheesesteaks for lunch after. We went to Sonny's and they were ah-maze-ing!! So so good. You can’t go to Philadelphia without getting a Philly Cheesesteak! There was a bit of a line, but it goes pretty fast. Just have someone in your group snag a table as soon as you see one opening up.
Betsy Ross' House
We then headed to Betsy Ross’ House and took the tour there. It’s $5/adult to get in, and we got the audio tour that is $2 more. We enjoyed the audio tour, since we got lots more information out of it. They even had actors in some of the rooms talking like they lived there. It was pretty cool.
Hop On/Hop Off Bus
After our tour, we jumped on the Hop on/Hop Off Bus from Big Bus Tours and took the tour all around. It stops at all the main landmarks that you’d want to go to, so it’s nice to park the car and not have to fight for parking spots at every attraction.
Don’t miss the Rocky steps with his statue. It’s a fun quick stop.
Later that night, we went to see the Liberty Bell. (You can do this in between the Independence Hall tour and National Constitution Center, since it is located in between the two. However, timing wise for us, it just worked out better to go at night. There are no tickets to see the Liberty Bell, you just get in line and wait till the crowds go through. We were one of the last in line to get in 10 minutes before they closed, so we were actually one of the only ones with the Bell, which was pretty cool, and we got better pictures without as many people. (You can see the difference in the pictures below).
Campo's Philly Cheesesteaks
We couldn’t go without grabbing another Philly Cheesteak, so we tried Campo's Philly Cheesesteaks. They offer gluten free bread, which was great for mom. And the atmosphere in there was really nice, as we sat by the window inside. (It was rainy). They were pretty good, although I think overall consensus, we all liked Sonny's just a bit better. But, still both great cheesesteak sandwiches.
The Franklin Fountain
We went to The Franklin Fountain for ice cream after our dinner, on our way back to the Penn's Landing. They have several flavors to pick from, and lots of different soda jerks and desserts as well. Worth a stop!
Penn's Landing was a surprise to us. There was so much night life going on there. We didn’t have much time to check out too much there, and it was raining all day, so the night we had time to see stuff, no one was really out. But the night we got in, it was super popular.
Penn's Landing also has some really cool war memorials that we went to check out. There's a mini Veteran's War Memorial Wall, similar to the one in D.C., that has the names of the men and women who fought from their state.
Hilton at Penns Landing
We stayed at Hilton at Penn's Landing, and had the best view of the water, and city lights. It was a nice hotel that had all the amenities we needed in the bathroom. The lobby offered two types of flavored water each day, which was a nice touch on a hot day. And they have a restaurant in the lobby as well, in case you wanted a late night snack or breakfast.
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