If you are a visitor coming to town or even a lifelong Philly area native who wants to get better acquainted with the city, sightseeing tours may be the way to go. They let you explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of the City of Brotherly Love.
Since Halloween season is upon us, we’ll start with a few that give you a look at Philadelphia’s spookier side. – Tim Jimenez
Grim Philly Tour
This is a “PG-13” tour according to tour owner, guide, and historian Joe Wojie, a professor at Rider University.
“But it’s not a ghost tour,” Wojie clarified. “I talk about mass executions, mass burials, brothels—the sort of seedy underbelly of the city, stuff you don’t get on the daytime tours.”
The 90-minute tours begin at the Independence Visitor Center and will run from Wednesday through Sunday evenings in October to get you ready for Halloween.
Listen to the interview with Joe Wojie with Grim Philly…
Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour
This 75-minute tour promises to take you to over 20 scary sites under the moonlight. There are stories of one-time Philadelphia resident Edgar Allen Poe. You can learn about the only prisoner to escape from Eastern State Penitentiary, along with ghost stories of Independence Hall. You also get a feel for movie history as you visit locations from movies like The Sixth Sense, Shooter, and National Treasure. The tours begin daily at 7 p.m. at Cosi restaurant, 325 Chestnut Street.
City Food Tours
This tour company originated in New York, but it’s become one of the more popular walking food tours in Philadelphia. There are six different tours: Ethnic Eats, Flavors of Philly, Taste of Northern Liberties, Craft Beer Artisanal Cheese, Decadent Gourmet and Evening of Indulgence.
“Quite frankly, with the amount of food we give, you need some gap between eating,” said Robert Weinberg, co-owner of City Food Tours. “So, five minutes to stretch your legs and get some fresh air is just perfect for the experience.”
Weinberg says the tours are good for locals who want to get to know the city better. Their signature Flavors of Philly Tour, however, is perfect for tourists and offers a taste of favorite Philly fare like soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, hoagies and more.
Listen to the interview with Robert Weinberg with City Food Tours…
Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Tours
Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program has 10 different tours where you can enjoy countless murals across the city, and a few even mix the art with food or drink.
The Mural and Meals Tour, for example, familiarizes you with the murals and is followed by lunch and a chat with a top city chef from one of the more renowned restaurants in Philadelphia.
What better way to go through Old City than with a Colonial pub crawl? You can get drinks and snacks at four stops: Salon 401 at The Omni Hotel, National Mechanics, Triumph Brewing Company, and the historic City Tavern.
There are ‘Ghosts and Toasts Tours’ taking place every Thursday night until November 10.
Philadelphia Urban Adventures
‘Urban Adventures’ offers tours all across the world, including here in Philadelphia. They offer five different walking tours as well as a River to River tour that takes you through a huge chunk of the city. Andy Maunder, one of the tour guides, stressed the importance of giving a window into the lives of native Philadelphians.
“That’s our focus; to allow people who don’t know Philadelphia well to get an idea of what it’s like to live in Philadelphia. It’s not just history. It’s current pop culture and food and drink. It’s what the people do,” Maunder explained.
Listen to the interview with Andy Maunder with Philadelphia Urban Adventures…
Philadelphia Magic Gardens Tour
This place is a mosaic masterpiece located on South Street, and is truly one of the most unique sites in all of Philadelphia. It’s also the largest public mosaic institution from artist Isaiah Zagar.
The Magic Gardens offer self-guided tours for a general admission fee, or guided tours of the site and the neighborhood on the weekend.
Laurel Hill Cemetery Tour
Laurel Hill is not just a cemetery. It’s one of the few cemeteries in the country that’s been honored with the National Historical Landmark designation. Locals are familiar with such names as Rittenhouse, Widener, Elkins and Strawbridge, which can be found in the cemetery. But General Meade and close to 40 Civil War-era generals are also buried there, along with six passengers of the Titanic.
They offer free self-guided, monthly or private tours.