The Schuylkill Expressway often experiences high traffic volume. Photo: Ed Yakovich, Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain Image.
The Schuylkill Expressway often experiences high traffic volume. Photo: Ed Yakovich, Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain Image.

If you’re interested in visiting Philadelphia during July 4th, you can expect a large crowd. Here are some tips for navigating the area and the events during Jthe weekend of July 4. You can always get help from a hotel concierge or staff at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th & Market Streets. Here are some additional tips for enjoying the 4th in Philly.


Accessing Philadelphia by car is possible, but requires patience. Tourists provide increased traffic in the city. Additionally, locals head into the city or hop on surrounding expressways such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway) to head to other vacation spots such as the Jersey Shore region.

If you want to drive to Philly, plan ahead. If you’re staying in a hotel, get accurate info about where, how and when to park. Street parking will be eliminated in festival areas, so make sure you have a plan for parking once you get there.

Public Transit

You can get to Philly via SEPTA, PATCO or Amtrak (if coming from a distance). SEPTA now offers passes specifically designed for tourists. Even if you opt for a la carte public transit, bus rides are only $2.00 per standard fare—just make sure you carry singles. SEPTA buses are wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned and feature seats reserved for seniors and those with disabilities.

Event Gear

Always bring water. You’ll save some money by purchasing bottled water ahead of time or using a refillable personal bottle. The historic district has public fountains available, but tourist areas are filled with vendors overcharging for the basics, especially during holidays.

If you’re heading out to fireworks or other events, you may wish to bring some snacks, a blanket and a lawn chair. Seating is sometimes limited and it’s best if you can improvise.

Bag Inspection and Police Presence

If you’re looking forward to visiting sites like the Liberty Bell, get ready for a bag inspection. Think like a passenger on a flight and leave knives or suspicious looking items out of your bag. Philadelphia’s security is top notch and the Philadelphia Police Department does an incredible job of remaining vigilant during large-scale events. Please cooperate with all local officials. If you feel inclined, you may even wish to express your appreciation to them for keeping things safe during a holiday weekend.

Ask if Lost

If you’re lost, just ask. Philly has blue and green signs as well as historical markers throughout the city to help you navigate. Police officers and National Park Service docents and employees are there to help. The Wawa Welcome America Festival also recruits a massive amount of volunteers willing to point you in the right direction. Don’t be shy—just ask. Locals usually also have info about how to save time and money by taking public transit.

Many of the July 4th celebrations in Philadelphia are geared towards families. If you’re interested in drinking, take the party back to your hotel room or private residence to keep things safe.

Culture Tips for Visiting Philadelphia on Fourth of July