Creating a four-mile 'Philadelphia Liberty Trail'

Pennsylvania Hospital, with its Georgian architecture, is an important piece of American history in Philadelphia often overlooked by tourists. MICHAEL MILNE

Have you strolled the famous Freedom Trail in Boston? Considering that it draws more than four million visitors a year, we'd wager quite a few of you have taken in such historic sights as Old North Church ("One if by Land, Two if by Sea") and Paul Revere's house. The Freedom Trail was created in 1951, and a thriving entity has grown around it to promote tourism.

In 2014, a book publisher who had already produced a successful guide to Boston's Freedom Trail approached us about writing a similar guide to Philadelphia. Even though Boston calls itself "The Cradle of Liberty," Philadelphia is where America truly began. The publisher assumed the City of Brotherly Love had a similar trail winding through it. Editors were surprised when we said no such attraction exists here. We not only wrote a guidebook, but we also had to create the "Philadelphia Liberty Trail."

During book signings at the Independence Visitor Center, we've been chagrined to learn that most visitors are only stopping in Philly for a few hours en route to New York or Washington. They'll breeze through Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Elfreth's Alley, and the Betsy Ross House before it's back on the bus.

Those same visitors are surprised that there is so much else to see in the historic district. In our research, we found more than 50 sights, often overlooked by day-trippers to the city, which are easily visited along our four-mile trail. We'd love these visitors to stay longer, partaking of Philly's great restaurants and hotels, and explore such gems as the Powell House (where George and Martha Washington celebrated their 20th anniversary), Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, which arguably paved the way for the Civil Rights movement, or the Georgian architecture of Pennsylvania Hospital, home of the first surgical operating theater in America. Most are unaware that mere steps away, in Washington Square, they can pay tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

As we celebrate our nation's 240th birthday, visitors should celebrate many more of the city's historic sights. If Boston can organize its colonial and revolutionary history so well, surely Philadelphia can, too.

For a look at Boston, see

Philadelphia natives Larissa and Michael Milne have been global nomads since 2011. If you have a travel question, contact them on their blog at