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Visit 16 Historical Sites in a Day

An Inside Look at Germantown

Escape the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia and discover Historic Germantown. Located less than ten miles from Center City, Germantown features 16 historical sites for visitors to enjoy. People from all over the world come to see what is known as the gateway for German immigration. While descendants of Italian or Irish immigrants are familiar with Ellis Island, those with German heritage think of Germantown. It is also where the British Army fought the American Continental Army, in 1777, known as the Battle of Germantown, during the Revolutionary War.

Nina Coffin, Programs and Communications Coordinator at Historic Germantown, explains that this area has a significant political history. One of the popular sites in Germantown is the John Johnson House which was part of the Underground Railroad. “The mission of these tours is to push that message of tolerance into the present,” says Coffin. Visitors can tour the house, celebrate African American culture and connect current concerns to the very long tradition of abolition.

One of the highlights of Germantown is its historic architecture. Because it is far enough outside of the busy city, many of the older structures are still standing and in use.  For example, visitors can stay in bed and breakfasts in colonial houses. “This creates a different landscape. If you like architecture and if you like walking through a built environment that has a long tradition, you can do that here,” says Coffin. The Historical Society is next to Market Square which used to be a market in the 1700s and is currently slated to become a farmer’s market for the community to enjoy. “There are cool relationships between the historical narrative and physical spaces, which is something the community is very proud of.”

Although history is a huge aspect of Germantown, don’t worry about children being bored. “Because we’re not in Center City and we aren’t taking huge bus tours, we are flexible and agile,” explains Coffin. If a child is bored or if their attention is drifting, the guides can adapt. “We have more to give than history tours. A number of sites have farm programs, with chickens you can feed, or there’s a dog at one of the sites. If you take a tour with your kids, we can set the tour up where we can do an activity.”

The historic sites in Germantown are open throughout the entire year with some sites running during different months than others. During the winter, some of the sites are closed in January. Coffin says the spring and fall months are the ideal time to visit, as they aren’t too hot and have different benefits. “In the spring, the gardens are great and in the fall we have harvest type programs,” she says.

Germantown is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in history and architecture, and it is also a great trip for families. As Coffin states, “There is an immersive quality to Germantown, but you aren’t drowning in it. Just paddling through and enjoying it.” 

- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor PAULA MARINO

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WHAT'S NEARBY?

Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh

Other States: Pennsylvania

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