July is almost here, which means that Independence Day is right around the corner. Family dinners and beautiful firework displays instantly come to mind when thinking of the fourth of July, but why not mark the occasion with a bus trip to two of the country’s most historically significant cities? From Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., you can celebrate the country’s inception by exploring two of its most historic cities.
Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
Philadelphia to Washington D.C. with Greyhound starting from $5.00
Go back to the Country’s Roots in Philadelphia
With 67 registered National Historic Landmarks, the City of Brotherly Love attracts almost 40 million tourists from across the country each year. The best thing is that many of the city’s attractions and sites are free of charge so that anyone and everyone can enjoy them. Even Philadelphia’s City Hall is extraordinary as the largest municipal building in the U.S. and has been the state’s government home for more than a hundred years. While taking in the city’s atmosphere, be sure to try some classic Philly cheesesteak, the signature dish of Philadelphia.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway gives the city a bit of French flair, having been modeled after the Champs Elysees in Paris. It’s also known as Philadelphia’s most artistic mile for the abundance of significant cultural institutions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and the Barnes Foundation. Of course, no visit in Philadelphia is complete without going to the Independence National Historical Park, which is seen as the birthplace of American democracy. One of the park’s most famous attractions is the Liberty Bell, which once used to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together for meetings, and was later adopted by abolitionists, suffragists and advocates from the Civil Rights movement. Understandably, it’s become an important symbol to so many people in the country. Independence Hall is one of the most historically significant places in the country as it’s here that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and eleven years later where the U.S. Constitution was planned. The Betsy Ross House is another must for history lovers to learn about the woman who designed the American Flag and for a glimpse of her life back in the 18th century.
The Please Touch Museum, as the name implies, is a great place to get your hands on some history and is one of the city’s premier Children’s Museum. The Benjamin Franklin Museum has a massive collection devoted to Philadelphia’s most famous resident and founding father with personal artifacts and interactive displays organized in a timeline through his life as an innovative scientist and diplomat. Literary lovers should check out the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site, which was once home to the famous author for about a year, and was where he wrote “The Black Cat.” Just a short train ride away is Valley Forge, an important site during the Revolutionary War and a great place to spend a day in the sun. Back in Philadelphia’s old city, Elfreth’s Alley really brings visitors to another era as the country’s oldest continuously inhabited residential area. Lined with 18th century houses, these cobblestoned streets truly embody the colonial period.
Get to know the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C.
Not only is Washington D.C. the capital of the United States, but it’s also practically the country’s museum capital as well with the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art, and the National Air & Space Museum right at your fingertips. Nearly any topic you can think of has a museum dedicated to it, in addition to the seemingly countless government and historical buildings and institutions to explore. Seeing the fireworks in the nation’s capital on the fourth of July is really like no other with plenty of ideal vantage points, such as the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or the other side of the river in Arlington, Virginia for a beautiful view of the cityscape.
During the summer months, just walking through the sunlit capital is a wonderful experience, and many free walking tours can really help you get to know the city. The National Zoo, set within Rock Creek Park, houses over 400 types of animals, including pandas. Visit George Washington’s estate by taking the Mount Vernon Trail for some idyllic views of the Potomac River and the city’s iconic landmarks. The National Arboretum is home to nearly 450 acres of fauna and is one of the country’s largest arboretums. If your feet need a break from all that walking, there are plenty of tour buses which stop at the city’s most important sites, and Washington D.C. is famous for its excellent public transportation.
Of course, no trip to Washington D.C. is complete without touring some of the city’s iconic federal and government buildings. The U.S. Capitol offers free tours, though visitors will still need a ticket to enter, and while waiting for the trip to begin, there’s plenty of historical artifacts to examine in the Capitol Visitor Center, and even a ten foot model of the Capitol’s famous dome. One of Washington’s most striking buildings, the Library of Congress is full of interactive exhibits, free lectures and a re-creation of Thomas Jefferson’s library. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to go back to the country’s foundation, the National Archives is a must-see, as it houses both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Department of Defense offers an extensive look at the U.S. military’s four branches, and guided tours by military personnel can be requested by reservation. If you make a request through a member of Congress, you can even snag a free tour of the White House, but if you can’t, then the White House Visitor Center is also worth a look.