Let Freedom Ring! Visiting Independence National Historic Park

The Birthplace of U.S. Democracy

No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a visit to Independence National Historic Park. The park is home to Independence Hall and its most famous resident, the Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell at Independence National Historic Park

The Liberty Bell PC:NPS

The various buildings that make up the park have seen their fair share of democracy. They have not only served as the meeting place to the Second Continental Congress, but they have also been a home to past presidents, housed the U.S. Supreme Court, and were the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. It’s an amazing feeling to know that American democracy was quite literally born all around you.

Like National Parks? Be sure to check out our page on U.S. National Parks!

What to See and Do With Kids

Start Here – The Independence National Historic Park Visitor Center

Most of the park’s buildings and attractions are located on just four city blocks nearby to each other and are easily reached on foot. Admission is free to the park and its sites, but you will need a tour ticket, so plan to start your visit at the Independence Visitor Center.

Visitors Center - Independence NHP

Visitor Center – Independence NHP. PC:NPS

This large building sits at 6th and Market Streets and is where you can find maps, reserve a guided tour of Independence Hall, get your NPS passport cancellation stamps, and ask a Park Ranger any questions you may have. They also have restrooms, gift shops, and exhibit areas to explore.

The Liberty Bell

Kids will want to see the star attraction right off the bat, and it sits directly across the street from the Visitor Center in The Liberty Bell Center. Here you’ll be able to get up close to the bell and learn about its amazing history.Visiting the Liberty Bell with kids How did it crack? Why is it called the “Liberty Bell”? You’ll find the answers to these question and learn much more during your visit.

It’s a small building and won’t take too long to get through (depending on the time of year). Park Rangers are available to answer question and chat about this cool symbol of liberty. The Liberty Bell Center does require you to go through a security checkpoint.

Independence Hall and Old City Hall

As you exit the Liberty Bell Center, head south towards Independence Hall. There you’ll find these two amazing buildings – Old City Hall and Independence Hall. If you are planning to tour Independence Hall, make sure that you have a timed ticket to do so (available for free the day of your tour from the Visitor Center).

Independence Hall at Independence National Historic Park

Independence Hall at Independence NHP

Independence Hall is an amazing building that’s been staged to look like it might have during the debates leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Take pictures of the Assembly Room where it was signed, and where the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787.

Assembly Room - Independence National Historic Site

Assembly Room – Independence National Historic Park

We all loved learning about the history that took place in this building, and it was even more amplified because we were visiting on July 4th.

Next door is the Old City Hall Building.

Old City Hall Independence NHP

Old City Hall. PC:NPS

This building is where the U.S. Supreme Court convened in the late 1700’s to 1800. Stop by the gift shop after you’ve explored it and help support the park. Just across the street is the Signer’s Garden, dedicated to those that had the courage to put pen to paper and alter history forever. Check out the cool statue and take a selfie or two!

Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing

To the west, check out the Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing. Here is where you can find actual copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and George Washington’s copy of the Unites States Constitution. Be sure to chat with a Park Ranger about all this cool history!

The Great Essentials Exhibit - West Wing

The Great Essentials Exhibit – West Wing PC:NPS

Franklin Court

Just east of Independence Hall between 4th and 5th Streets is Franklin Court where you’ll find the Benjamin Franklin Museum. This is also the site of Ben’s home and the Franklin Court Printing Office.

Ben Franklin Museum - Indendence National Historic Park with kids

Ben Franklin Museum PC:NPS

Admission to the Ben Franklin Museum is free with an EKIAP Pass! Read more about it in our post here:

Enroll in Every Kid In A Park

While his home and printing press are no longer standing, the museum is a fun place to explore Mr. Franklin’s inventions, personality, and visionary outlook on politics and government. Families will also love the hands-on exhibits and interactive stations around the museum.

Franklin Printing Press - Independence NHP

Franklin Printing Press – Independence NHP PC:NPS

When To Visit Independence National Historic Park

Independence NHP can be visited all year long. However, some of the smaller buildings and collections are only open in the warmer months. Most sites are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’ve listed the most popular ones here. Be sure to check the Independence NHP website for the most up-to-date information.

Independence Visitor Center

Open daily 8:30am – 6pm

Liberty Bell Center

Open daily 9am – 5pm
Security screening closes 5 minutes before the building closes.

Independence Square Buildings

The buildings in the Independence Square security area include Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing. Access to the Square is through a security entrance located at 5th and Chestnut Streets. Security screening closes 15 minutes prior to the building closing times. *Note: Old City Hall and the Independence Square Museum Store are not within the security area.

Independence Hall

Open daily: 9am – 5pm
Tickets are required March – December; no tickets are required in January – February, or after 5pm during extended summer hours

Tours of Independence Hall

From the NPS website: Admission to Independence Hall is by tour only. Timed entry tickets are required for Independence Hall tours from March through December. No tickets are required in January and February, after 5pm during summer hours, on July 4th, or on Thanksgiving Day. Free tickets are available on the morning of your visit at the Independence Visitor Center (first come, first served), or you may choose to reserve tickets in advance (service fee applies).

Tickets are not required for visiting the Liberty Bell Center.

Congress Hall

Open daily: 9am – 5pm
April – October: Tours every 20 minutes
November, December and March: Tours every 30 minutes
January – February: Self-guided

Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing

Open daily: 9am – 5pm

Benjamin Franklin Museum

Open daily 9am – 5pm

Museum Admission – Enter through the glass doors on the west side of the courtyard.
$5 for adults / $2 children ages 4-16
Be sure to check out the schedules and hours for other buildings, museums, and sites in the area at the Independence NHP website. Besides the things discussed here, there are many more things to see and explore if your family is up for it.

Map of Independence National Historic Park and Nearby Sights

Other Things to do in Philadelphia for Families

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For a really great (but busy) experience, try going over the Fourth of July. It’s quite literally a blast! Click on the picture below to read all about it.

National Constitution Center

Monday – Saturday: 9:30am – 5pm
Sunday: 12noon – 5pm
Adults: $14.50 Youth (6-18) $11 Under 6 – Free

Betsy Ross House

We all had a great time at the Betsy Ross House. The tour won’t take you that long, and there are so many things we learned. Make sure to have the kids get some questions ready before you visit so Betsy can answer them!

Open Daily 10-5
Adults – $5 Youth – $4

Betsy Ross House - Philladelphia

Betsy Ross House – Philladelphia

U.S. Mint

The nearby U.S. Mint offers a glimpse into everything that goes into make our currency. Who doesn’t love money, right!? The facility was not producing money during our visit, but we still enjoyed the exhibits and gift shop. Fortunately, you can check their production schedule to see what will be produced during your visit.

Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley is considered America’s oldest residential street. There are currently 32 houses there, and the street dates back to 1702. It’s just a short walk to get there and offers a peek back to the times when Ben Franklin and the Framers walked these streets.

Guided Tours of Historic Philadelphia

If you love guided tours like we do, here’s a couple that you may like:

For all ages – 1.5 Hour Old City Walking Tour

For families with older kids – Philadelphia Segway Tour

Philadelphia CityPass

Save Money With a Philadelphia CityPASS!

If you have more than just a few days in Philadelphia, consider buying a CityPASS. It offers a substantial discount on attractions around the city and will save your family some money! We used one in Chicago and loved it! For one low price, you get admission to the following:

The Franklin Institute
Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works
One Liberty Observation Deck
Adventure Aquarium OR Philadelphia Zoo

Check here for the best deal on your Philadelphia CityPASS.

#FindYourPark and Let Freedom Ring!

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