Big Bus Company-Philadelphia
If you haven’t done much sightseeing in Philadelphia, this would be my number one recommendation of where to start! With 27 stops at the most iconic and beloved sights in downtown and historic Philadelphia, you can be sure to cover it all in a short amount of time. We toured on the Big Bus Company as part of our CityPASS Philadelphia getaway with our two older children. You get to HOP ON/HOP OFF at any of the 27 stops, starting wherever you wish. If you don’t drive to the city (and even if you do), it is a wonderful way to get to different locations in the city without an inordinate amount of walking. Kids will love riding this English-style double-decker bus, riding up top if the weather is nice. The tour is fully-narrated by a live tour guide, making it a destination in and of itself.
We planned to get on at the “Chinatown” stop but missed the first bus by a minute. During peak season, a bus should come by every 20 minutes, however for some reason one did not come until about 40 minutes later. I started to get a little frustrated that my well-laid plans were not progressing like they should have. We were in the touch with the company and eventually one came and picked us up. The rest of our day riding the Big Bus went very smoothly. It probably would be best to start in the beginning across from the Visitor’s Center in Independence Hall Park. However, they have a bus route and times listed for each stop, so it is possible to start at any point in the loop. I would just call the company and ask for an approximate time based on when the most recent bus left at Stop #1. If you ride the entire loop it is approximately 90 minutes long. Although the Big Bus can be a great way for you to reach the various destinations you are visiting, be aware the bus only rides one direction, so depending on where you are trying to get, it may be a long ride to get there, not to mention you make have to repeat parts you have already seen. We had done so much walking and standing in the museums, we welcomed the chance to just sit and relax even if it did take longer to get back to our hotel.
I love this tour because not only do you get to see Historic Philadelphia around Independence Hall, but you also go into Center City and way out to Philadelphia Zoo, and way down to Penn’s Landing…all from the comfort of your bus seat. We learned about the historic and cultural significance of the various landmarks along with fun anecdotes about the people and places you see. We had a beautiful weather day although a bit too warm when standing still, nevertheless it felt wonderful to be out in the open, making everything seem up close and personal. It’s amazing how beautiful the city looks from this vantage point, causing my son to exclaim that he LOVED Philadelphia! My kids had fun trying to grab the leaves hanging off the branches close to our heads on the upper deck…although I’m pretty sure this activity isn’t advertised on their website.
A few of the stops include:
-the Betsy Ross House
-Reading Terminal Market
-the LOVE Park
-Eastern State Penitentiary
-Please Touch Museum
-“Rocky” steps and statue
-One Liberty Place Observation Deck
Next time you take the kids to Philadelphia, be sure to hop on and hop off the Big Bus…I think you’ll be glad you did!
(*Included in the CityPASS ticket for up to 44% savings, see www.citypass.com/Philadelphia for more info.)
Admission: $32/adults, $10/children 4-12, FREE/children 3 and under
Hours: Summer (Memorial Day-Labor Day)- First Bus 9:30 AM, Last Bus 6:00 PM, Every 25 Minutes
Fall/Spring: Monday-Friday- First Bus 9:30 AM, Last Bus 5:00 PM, Every 20-30 Minutes
Saturday-Sunday- First Bus 9:30 AM, Last Bus 5:30 PM, Every 20-30 Minutes
Winter: Monday-Friday- First Bus 10:00 AM, Last Bus 4:00 PM, Every 60 Minutes
Saturday – First Bus 9:30 AM, Last Bus 4:15 PM, Every 45 Minutes
Sunday – First Bus 10:00 AM, Last Bus 4:00 PM, Every 45 Minutes
Philadelphia Trolley Works & Big Bus Company
Northeast corner of 5th and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106
1 (215) 389-8687
Please visit www.phillytour.com for more information!