The Liberty Bell is a well-known historical icon located in the Historic National Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bell not only has its own rich history but it’s also surrounded by it as well. Everyone should see and experience Liberty Bell for themselves. That is why we made this guide, so you can enjoy diving into the history, while not worrying about the little things.
In this complete guide you’ll find:
- A little bit of history
- Parking and directions to the bell
- What to see while you are there
- Entrance fees to the bell and other activities
- What to bring with you
- Where to eat around there
- When to visit
- How to keep the kids entertained
In 1751 the bell was ordered for the State House (now known as the Independence Hall). It arrived in 1752 and finally hung in 1753. How did the Liberty Bell get cracked? There is disagreement over when the first crack in the bell appeared, but when hung, there was a crack. Because of this, the bell was melted down and recast. The new bell was then hung in 1753. Since this new one was made with more copper, though, the sound of the bell was “off” and nobody liked the tone of it. Therefore, they tried again. The new bell arrived, and even though the tone was not much better, it is the current bell hanging there today.
The bell was rung to call people together for special events and announcements, but it quickly became an icon when abolitionists adopted the bell as the symbol for the anti-slavery movement. In fact, the bell was called the “State House Bell” until the abolitionists re-named it the “Liberty Bell.”
The Liberty Bell has not been rung since Washington’s Birthday in 1846, when it rang there was an expansion in the crack. Ever since then, every year, the bell is tapped on Martin Luther King Day and thirteen times on the Fourth of July.
Visiting the Liberty Bell
Parking and Directions
If driving, there is parking available at the Independence Visitor Center. Here, there is an underground parking garage on either 5th or 6th street (between Market and Arch streets). There is another parking garage on 2nd street between Walnut and Chestnut streets. Parking fees apply at both locations.
- The closest Market-Frankford EL stop is the 5th street stop.
- The closest PATCO station is the 8th street station.
- The closest SEPTA rail station is Jefferson Station.
What To See at Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is in the National Historic Park. Meaning, there is so much more to see than just the bell! Start your visit to the park’s Independence Visitors Center. Here you can find knowledgeable park rangers to answer any of your questions, and free amenities such as restrooms, rentable wheelchairs, a cafe, and free wifi. Note: Besides other museums, this is one of the only buildings that have a public restroom. There are even three short films (and a virtual reality tour) you can watch in the park’s theater to introduce you to the park and the city.
Then, of course, you will be itching to see the bell we have been talking about. You will need to pass through security first, but, after that, you will have a free admission to see the bell up close and personal. There are also exhibits and video presentations at the bell. But don’t just stop there! Check out the other Independence Square Buildings and learn all about their history. Think of all the cool things to see and learn about in Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and Old City Hall. You can even take a ranger-led tour of Independence Hall, where you will hear stories of conflict and compromise.
Feeling like going to a museum after? You are in luck, there’s plenty! There is the Benjamin Franklin Museum located in the Franklin Court Site, home of the courtyard, printing office, and fragments of the Franklin exhibit. While you are there, make sure to check out the glass armonica. There is also the New Hall Military Museum, home to the War Department in 1790. The exhibits show the history of the Continental army, navy, and marines. Make sure to check the website before going, though, since they are only open for special occasions.
The history doesn’t need to stop there. One of the more unique exhibits of the park is the President’s House Site. Both presidents Washington and Adams lived at this site in 1790. You will be able to walk through the layout of the home and learn all about it. While you are there, find the footsteps in the ground. They represent Washington’s enslaved maid’s flight to freedom. You will also be able to find the names of other enslaved servants on the wall.
How about a little nature now? Go through Washington Square, a beautifully landscaped park that has the tomb of a soldier of the American Revolution. You can also walk through the 18th Century Garden that has a charming gazebo and a variety of plants that were common back in the 18th century. Afterward, feel free to explore the Rose Garden. Filled with flowers and cobblestone pavings for the 18th century. Finally, there is the Magnolia Garden, which is a setting inspired by George Washinton’s interest in magnolia trees.
Another thing you might way to make sure you do along the way is get the same cancellation on your stamp that Franklin used as a postmaster. Just make sure you bring a postcard or envelope along with you. You may also find a great souvenir at the Independence Square Museum Store. A perfect place to add to your stamp collection.
There is no lack of activities around the park. For more places to go and things to do, check out National Historical Park Pennsylvania to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Liberty Bell Entrance Fees
There is no entrance fee to see the Liberty Bell or to walk the gardens. It’s free to visit the Liberty Bell! For the other nearby museums, please visit their website for admission fees.
What To Bring
There isn’t much you will need to bring when visiting the Liberty Bell and the surrounding historical attractions. Plus, visitors will have to pass through security screening to visit the Bell, so it is recommended that you only bring a small bag if necessary.
Some things you might want while visiting:
- Camera/phone for pictures
- Snacks and water
- Sunscreen (in the summer)
- Comfortable walking shoes
Where to Eat
The only place to eat in the park is the cafe located in the Independence Visitors Center.
If you are looking for a bigger meal, there are plenty of options for restaurants just outside the park. Check out the Bourse Food Hall, located just a few minutes from the park. They have different vendors, so everyone can find something they enjoy. We, of course, suggest getting a cheesesteak or a hoagie for authentic Philly food!
When To Visit the Liberty Bell
Visiting the Liberty Bell in the Spring and Fall means you’re visiting during school field trip season. Try to get there early (even before opening) to get there before all of the school groups arrive. You are able to start lining up before the 9 AM opening. If you’d rather come later in the day, try after 1 PM since that is when many of the school groups will be leaving the area.
In the summer, there will be a lot of tourists visiting the Liberty Bell. During this time of year, try to get there first thing in the morning.
While there might not be as long of a line in the wintertime, you will find that not everything is open. If you do decide to visit in the winter, make sure to check the websites of all the places you hope to go to to make sure they are open…and remember to bundle up!
Whenever you go, you should expect to have to wait in line. Try to make your other plans flexible to avoid having to miss seeing the Bell.
Keep the Kids Entertained During Your Liberty Bell Visit
If you are planning on bringing the kids, the National Historic Park has activities for them to do along the way. Have your child become a Junior Park Ranger by completing one of three challenges.
Whether you are going to see the bell, check out the museums, walk the gardens, or all of the above, you will be sure to have an enjoyable time at the Liberty Bell. The Historic Park is unlike anything you have experienced, and it will be hard to leave without learning something.
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