Founded on Christmas Eve in 1741 by a small group of Moravian settlers and christened “Christmas City, USA” in 1937, Bethlehem turns its gaze toward the past year-round guided tours and museum exhibits. The 10.9-mile Heritage Trail snakes through 80 historic stops, including two National Historic Landmarks, Victorian-era homes, and the nation’s oldest gift shop. On historic walks, guides lead tour groups through the now-defunct site of Bethlehem Steel, the city’s oldest cemeteries, and the 1762 Waterworks, known as the first municipally pumped water system in the country. The Kemerer Museum Of Decorative Arts is one of only 15 of its kind in the country. Located inside the 1741 Gemeinhaus, the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem curates a collection of exhibits about the town’s settlers, including their missionary work, education system, and medical techniques.
Philadelphia is no longer safe. That’s because Fright Factory, a house of charnel horrors featured as one of America’s scariest Halloween attractions on the Travel Channel, is reopening the portal to its haunted attractions from September 27 to November 2. The sinister site traps unsuspecting guests within four distinct settings, including a lab filled with horrible genetic aberrations, a mausoleum fallen into moldering disrepair, a mutinous asylum, and a physical manifestation of fear itself.
Philadelphia’s historic cobblestone streets, landmarks, and old buildings can take on an eerie aura in the moonlight, the perfect backdrop for the guides of Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour to tell tales of the city’s dark past. Developed by historical experts at The Constitutional Walking Tour, the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour traverses Old City, stopping at more than 20 sites, such as the Physick House, Library Hall, and City Tavern. At these destinations, guides cloaked in black and carrying lanterns share stories that weave together a narrative of both reported hauntings and folklore. They tell tales of ghostly visitors that range from soldiers to historical figures such as John Barry, who constantly tries to explain to people who he was. Strolling past some of the city’s oldest cemeteries and graveyards, tourists may spot out-of-the-ordinary shapes, such as free-floating orbs.
DeTours Touring whisks stationary sightseers on seg-legs through a leisurely perambulation of the magnificent landmarks, charming neighborhoods, and majestic fjords of historic Philadelphia. Over the course of the 4-mile segway blue tour route, riders cruise past the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, and Ben Franklin's helicopter pad. As groups include no more than six, historical inquirers will have ample opportunity to pose questions to their tour captain—questions about the history, architecture, and culture of Philadelphia are vastly preferred over questions about the shape of one's birthmark. Tours are offered at 1:30 p.m. year-round and at 4 p.m. April through September.
Part of the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation—which also operates amusement destinations such as Dollywood and San Francisco's Classic Cable Car Sightseeing—Ride The Ducks ranks among the nation's largest amphibious-tour operators and is Philadelphia's only land and water experience. Captains welcome guests aboard amphibious vessels based on a 1940s General Motors military vehicle called the DUKW that served as an indispensable resource to both General Patton and General Eisenhower during World War II. At Ride The Ducks' six locations—Branson, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Stone Mountain, and Newport—these vessels roam the streets and glide in and out of local waterways to give passengers views of each city's most noteworthy sights, from the Liberty Bell to the Bay Bridge. The captains narrate each tour as well as encourage guests to make calls with Wacky Quackers, provided they say nothing rude in duck language. Every vessel maintains US Coast Guard standards, such as maintaining a plentiful stock of personal flotation devices.