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’ guides shepherd motorized travelers through the city’s bustling heart while sharing historical tidbits about local buildings and landmarks. After a 30-minute training session to acclimate new segway riders, groups of up to six explorers embark on sightseeing expeditions that include visits to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, best known for their prominent placement on early postage stamps. Afternoon voyagers explore a four-mile track of the city in an hour and a half, and morning sightseers enjoy an extended three-hour, 6.5-mile route that runs along the Schuylkill River as far north as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On all tours, raconteurish guides recount the history of notable attractions such as the Betsy Ross House, Chinatown, and the Walnut Street Theatre, which has remained in its current location for more than 200 years, predating the invention of walnuts.
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.
The National Museum of American Jewish History's core exhibition traces more than 350 years of Jewish people in America, documenting their triumphs and struggles since first settling in 1654. Spread across 25,000 square feet on three-and-a-half floors, the exhibition's historical objects and lifelike environments cover subjects such as the late 19th-century Jewish immigration and the experience of American Jews during World War II. As the exhibit moves into the present day, visitors can share their own stories and opinions in two of the museum's interactive stations: It's Your Story and the Contemporary Issues Forum. After sharing their own journey, guests can explore the Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame, where multimedia displays and original artifacts highlight the lives of prominent Jewish Americans, including Irving Berlin and Estée Lauder.
Cups of Old City Coffee, baked goods from LeBus, and vegetarian and dairy cuisine from Di Bruno Bros. reenergize museum-goers at the Pomegranates Café; kosher fare is also available. Additional museum programming includes educational opportunities for adults and kids, as well as live events such as lectures, discussions, and concerts.
The yellow and purple Philly PHLASH trolley dedicates its entire 19-stop route to Philadelphia's historical and cultural landmarks. Based in Center City, the trolley whisks passengers to interactive fun at the Please Touch Museum or tours of Eastern State Penitentiary, where Al Capone was once incarcerated. Other destinations include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Reading Terminal Market, and the National Constitution Center, whose exhibits prove that the senate is not just the president's 100 best butlers.