The heart and prime visitor magnet of Philadelphia is Old City, where iconic attractions like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Carpenters' Hall occupy what has been called "America's Most Historic Square Mile," in the midst of Independence National Historical Park. Surprisingly, many Old City meeting venues are within steps of these national treasures.
Chief among Old City meeting venues is the National Constitution Center, which offers a variety of spaces for private events for up to 900 people, including wedding and military ceremonies. The center is an interactive site that encourages visitors to experience democracy firsthand through permanent and circulating exhibits. Visitors regard the multimedia "Freedom Rising" presentation about the major themes and origin of the Constitution, and mingle with 42 life-size bronze statues of the Declaration of Independence signers.
Hotel venues in Old City tend to be smallish, such as the 150-room Omni at Independence Park (4,000 square feet of meeting space), but when combined with nearby Society Hill, Northern Liberties, South Street and Penn's Landing, choices widen for small to mid-sized groups. The 365-room Sheraton Society Hill has 20,000 square feet of meeting space in 17 rooms; and the 350-room Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing, which boasts 25,000 square feet of space in 17 rooms, is in the thick of a year-round attraction with an ice skating rink, concerts, citywide events and restaurants.
Dining and entertainment venues in and nearby Old City offer groups a lineup of restaurants, cafes, theaters, galleries, bars and lounges that are among the city's most popular nightlife magnets. First Fridays entice art lovers who wander the neighborhood's 40-plus galleries, mostly between Front and Third, and Market and Vine Streets. It's a casual atmosphere for art consumption and people watching, eating at local restaurants and mingling.
Old City visitors also stop at the Betsy Ross House and learn about the lady who hand-sewed the first American flag in 1777. Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually inhabited residential street in the U.S., and its earliest house dates to 1702. Historical reenactments enliven this street in summer, and the museum at 126 and 124 depicts the lives and times of the houses' earliest residents. Two of the newest stops on the Old City tour are the President's House site – a footprint of the original house and former home of President George Washington and his family and at least nine slaves. Visitors learn about slavery and lifestyles in colonial America. Just across the street is the new National Museum of American Jewish History, which profiles decades from the American Jewish experience of challenge and accomplishment.