In Philadelphia the big thing for the tourists seems to be taking the 'duck' tour. You know, the novelty open buses which can go into water. If you're interested in them they cost about $20 or so. But before you commit, consider the alternative. A walking tour.
'Eek', you say. 'Isn't that going to be too tiring, too slow, and you want see it all.' All these arguments are crap. Why so?
1. The historical mile is exactly that, no more than a mile. Over 1 hour that's nothing.
2 What you can see from the inside of a bus is less than half of what you see walking in between the buildings, and from inside the courtyards.
3. Walking tours are conducted at the speed of the group, not the speed of the traffic. They don't have to brush past a site just because the lights went green.
4. Walking tours don't go 'around the block'. You see and learn more by walking. For example the guides give you time to walk inside the post office of Ben Franklin etc. You don't see the bus people getting on and off all the time do you?
But what about the size of the groups? My walking tour guide was waiting inside the historical centre building druming up numbers. I approached her to confirm I was interested and she said I was the only one at this time (11am). I could get a personal tour or wait longer. WOW a personal tour for $17. How cool was that!
Now all I regret is not getting her numbers too. To think I got led around by some really cool hot looking university student talking history in the streets of Philadelphia. (Far out putting that in writing makes it more painful)
Anyway they'll do tours whatever the numbers. (Apparently they usually get between 4 and 10 people per group) The guide tells you the important stuff as you walk around, and through the courtyards. They don't take you into the buildings, but heck it's a great orientation tour for finding out which buildings are open that day and when, and how to get there.
No need to ask for directions, they’re provided for you throughout the city center. They’re not on every corner, but every couple of blocks a sign post will be sporting a Walk! Philadelphia sign. They come in two versions of the sign which alternate as you make your way down a street. One sign shows the direction to nearby attractions in the downtown area color coded by districts. Just follow the arrows to arrive at your destination.
No need to carry a map, they’re provided for you throughout the city center. They’re not on every corner, but every couple of blocks a sign post will be sporting a Walk! Philadelphia sign. They come in two versions of the sign which alternate as you make your way down a street. One sign shows a map of the downtown area with color coded districts and a star showing your location. A circle around the star shows how far you can walk in about 10 minutes.
Walking through the streets of Philly is rather easy & highly recommended. You get to see the gorgeous old homes, and the locals in action.