Philadelphia city tours are a must for the green traveller interested in how sustainability and conservation practices were conceived in days gone by. Over 300 years ago, the city was designed with parks and open spaces in mind in order to provide a city that was less cramped and frantic than its European cousins.
This led to the concept of a "Greene Country Towne", as dreamed up by designer William Penn, who developed Philadelphia around five public squares, which remain today as urban, landscaped retreats.
Today, Philadelphia has become one of the country's leading cities in the environmental sustainability movement and this is growing all the time, thanks to neighbourhood recycling schemes at the bottom of the scale and larger projects at the enterprise end of things. Philadelphia houses the tallest green building in the states as well as community supported agricultural and farmer's markets and even has the greenest sports team in the US, the Philadelphia Eagles. The team not only recycle all of the cups at their stadium, they also print with recycled paper and use biodiesel in team vehicles.
Philadelphia has been voted the 8th Greenest City in America and has pledged to make it number one.
Getting around on your Philadelphia city tour
One of the best ways to explore any city is by having someone who lives there show you around. If you don't know anyone in Philadelphia, that's not a problem, simply book a place on one of the Philadelphia City Tours with a Local. These guided tours really do have something for everyone; you can explore the literature and food that the city's famous for or perhaps get into the holiday spirit with a beer tasting tour.
Philadelphia has a rich and varied history and there is plenty for the architecturally minded to discover, but if that's not your bag there's plenty more to see and do. Visit the oldest church in the state or perhaps delve into the Italian market and taste the various delicious cuisine, which comes from a variety of cultures. Locals will be delighted to welcome you and help you to learn the market's history whilst you dig in and enjoy some of the best food the city has to offer.
If you prefer to make your own way around on your Philadelphia city tour, then SEPTA offers a vast number of travel options around the city for you to choose from. The best option you could choose is to purchase a day ticket, which can be bought individually or for families, which allow you to travel on any of the city's transport systems all day for one fare.
A good eco-base for your Philadelphia city tour
There are plenty of green options when it comes to a place to stay in Philadelphia, a comprehensive list of which can be found at PhillaGreen, short for Philagreen Hospitality Association which was set up in 2008 to encourage hotels and other businesses in the city to adopt sustainable business practices.
Palomar Philadelphia is one of the hotels that have taken up the green gauntlet and they are a LEED Gold Certified hotel who believes that both luxury and sustainability can work together. The environmentally friendly practices undertaken by the hotel are impressive and include organic snacks, teas and coffee in every room, a comprehensive recycling program throughout the hotel, towel and linen re-use and much, much more.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia has been thinking eco-friendly ever since it founded a task force back in 2005 to implement changes to benefit the environment. The hotel grows its own herbs and vegetables to supply its restaurants and has the largest composter in the entire city. The hotel also generates most of its own electricity, heat and hot water with the help of the first corporate wind turbines ever to be installed in the city.
Things to see and do on your Philadelphia city tour
Where do we begin? As the birthplace of America, Philadelphia doesn't leave visitors short of things to see and do and for starters, Independence Visitor Center is a must. The centre is just across the street from the Liberty Bell on 6th and Market Streets and is open 362 days a year from 8.30am.
Here you can plan all of your Philadelphia city tours with the help of the multilingual concierge staff as well as make hotel reservations, watch informational films, discover historical exhibits and much more.
Of course it would be a crime to visit Philadelphia and not visit Independence Hall, the birthplace of the nation which was originally built as the Pennsylvania State House and is the place where the Declaration of Independence was first adopted and the US Constitution written.
Another must is the Liberty Bell Center on 6th Street between Market and Chestnut Street; the Liberty Bell is one of the most famous symbols of freedom the world over as it was named by abolitionists of slavery. We won't delve too much into the history here or you won't be interested in the video history that you can find at the centre.
If you're on a budget there are so many free attractions in Philadelphia that they are too many to list here but many include rich historical detail and there are a number of historical sites and museums that you can visit without spending a penny.
To fully immerse yourself into the feel of the city, it's a great idea to visit the markets, such as the Italian Market mentioned above and Reading Terminal Market, both of which are great for people-watching and discovering the taste of the city with local cuisine.
Kimmel Center Tours are perfect for lovers of art and music and here you will find The Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Ballet, as well as book two themed tours through the glass-roofed performing arts complex.
Philadelphia is definitely worth a visit for the ecotourist, the city is committed to green practices and there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to hotels, food, markets, arts, history and architecture. This fascinating city actually has so much to offer that we would be surprised if you could fit it all into one visit, and you never know, it may keep you wanting more and more.