As the race among Senators John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama heats up, the city offers a unique mix of presidential happenings… that are affordable, educational and fun. After all, it’s only in Philadelphia that visitors can stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the idea of the presidency was born (Independence Hall), take the Presidential Oath of Office (National Constitution Center) and see the site where the Executive Mansion once stood. Plenty of affordable hotel package options make it easy for visitors to spend a few days exploring the democratic process. To book a room online, visit www.gophila.com.
Electoral Happenings This Summer:
The National Constitution Center, the country’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, is hosting Election ’08: The Power of We, a year-long series of events designed to promote voting during the presidential election and active citizenship every day. Programming includes on-site voter registration, an interactive town hall display, demonstrations on the electoral process, up-to-the-minute campaign news, create-your-own campaign ads, voting booths through the ages and the opportunity to take the Presidential Oath of Office. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, www.constitutioncenter.org
Presidential history comes alive each summer through several programs offered by Once Upon A Nation. History buffs can spend an evening at the Free Quaker Meeting House and hear George Washington or Thomas Jefferson talk about their experiences. Or they can watch as Jefferson and John Adams debate the exact wording of the Declaration of Independence during Independence After Hours, an evening tour and meal with the second and third presidents.
Another nighttime option is Valley Forge After Hours, complete with a picnic dinner prepared by Martha Washington herself. Free Quaker Meeting House, 5th & Arch Streets; Independence After Hours, 115 S. 3rd Street; Valley Forge After Hours, Valley Forge Welcome Center, 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (215) 629-4026, www.historicphiladelphia.org
Visitors to the National Liberty Museum can cast their vote for the next president in a room filled with photos of all 43 presidents and samples of their White House china.
321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, www.libertymuseum.org
The Independence Visitor Center has whipped up an Independence Al Fresco Presidential Menu just in time for election season. While planning their days in Philly, visitors can also check out a photo exhibition of the archeological dig at the President’s House, site of the nation’s first Executive Mansion and soon to be a commemorative site to Washington and his nine enslaved Africans. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, www.independencevisitorcenter.com
McGillin’s Olde Ale House, opened in Philadelphia the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president, is celebrating election year with some special drinks, including the Red, White & Blue Freedom Cocktail, a layered drink made with strawberry daiquiri, piña colada and Blue Curacao; and General Washington’s Tavern Porter created by local brewing company Yards. 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562, www.mcgillins.com
Electoral Happenings Anytime:
Many of the sites in Independence National Historical Park have presidential stories to tell: George Washington was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775 in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall, and he presided over the 1787 Constitutional Convention in the “rising sun” chair, which still sits in the building. Chestnut Street between 5th & 6th Streets
Before he became the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in the rented second floor of a bricklayer’s home, now called the
Declaration House. 7th & Market Streets
Dolley Madison lived in the Dolley Todd House with her first husband, who died as a result of yellow fever, before she married James Madison, the nation’s fourth president. 4th & Walnut
The Second Bank of the United States was one of the most influential financial institutions in the world until 1832, when it became the center of bitter controversy between the bank president and President Andrew Jackson. Chestnut Street between 4th & 5th Streets
It was in Congress Hall (pictured) that the presidential inaugurations of George Washington and John Adams took place. Tour guides interpret the history of U.S. elections every day during tours of this two-story Georgian building. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, www.nps.gov/inde
An important symbol of the American Revolution, Christ Church is where Colonial America made its break from the Church of England. Revolution-era leaders like Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin and President Washington worshipped here, and their pews are still intact and marked. 2nd & Market Streets, (215) 922-1695, www.christchurchphila.org
Philadelphia’s City Tavern, “the most genteel tavern in America” according to John Adams, served as the gathering place for many of America’s most important political events of the 1700s. The first Fourth of July celebration was held here in 1777, and the Second Continental Congress had regular weekly meetings over dinner. Today diners enjoy steaming roasts of venison as they ponder the lives of American Revolution greats. 138 S. 2nd Street, (215) 413-1443, www.citytavern.com
The congregation of Philadelphia’s oldest synagogue, Mikveh Israel Synagogue, welcomes visitors to see facsimiles of letters written to the congregation by past presidents of the United States. On display are letters from President George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 44 N. 4th Street, (215) 923-3811, www.nmajh.org
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s “disturbingly informative” Mütter Museum, a museum of medical oddities, is the only place to see the secret tumor of Grover Cleveland and the thorax of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 563-3737, www.muttermuseum.com
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation 215.559.0790