One Liberty Observation Deck, Philadelphia’s newest and tallest attraction, is located inside the One Liberty Place skyscraper (which happens to be the first Philadelphia building to be built taller than the statue of William Penn atop City Hall, constructed in 1987).
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the view from 883 feet high is spectacular, even on a cloudy day, so a camera is a must!
Entrances to the Observation Deck can be found at street level from the 16th Street entrance of One Liberty Place or inside the building near the Food Court. Once inside and after tickets are purchased ($14 for children ages 3 to 11 and $19 for adults), giant greenish blue shoes and legs that reach into the ceiling will greet families. If you look up, a red tail from a kite string can be seen weaving through the ceiling and around those giant legs that may be attached to a certain someone. But watch out because a thunderstorm is rolling in and there may be some thunder and lightning. Young children may be slightly scared of the virtual thunderstorm, but the flashing light and loud rumble only last a few seconds and kids who are told “it’s just pretend” don’t seem to mind.
Stop at the green screen for a family photo op, which virtually sets you within a Philadelphia scene; the photo can be purchased later. Then it’s time to ascend to the top of Philly.
A 75-second, spacious and entertaining elevator ride (24 people can fit inside) whisks guests to the top while watching a video of Ben Franklin’s kite flying over the sights of Philadelphia. When the elevator doors open, finally you see the face attached to those legs downstairs! Ben Franklin’s giant greenish blue head sits proudly atop Philadelphia, observing the city and those who visit his Observation Deck, through his silver spectacles. Mr. Franklin offers some great photo opportunities.
Once you turn your attention beyond giant Ben, a “sea” of Philadelphia is before you. Even on a cloudy day, there are 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. To give an idea, the Limerick Power Plant, which is 37 miles away, can easily be seen in the distance. So imagine the views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, City Hall, PSFS and Comcast buildings, 30th Street Station and the Schuylkill River.
Families will enjoy interacting with the touchscreen displays that can pinpoint different attractions and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and beyond to the suburbs and New Jersey. Kids will also love to spot Philadelphia landmarks through the glass windows and of course try to see their own house (if you’re a local, of course).
Philadelphia-centric music and sports or history clips can be heard throughout your stay and there is plenty of room to run if looking out the windows begins to bore the kids. A few chairs and a Flyers hockey penalty box with a bench allow for some sitting. Inside the Flyers Penalty Box, more Philly sports clips can be heard.
Once you’ve had your bird’s eye view of Philadelphia, take the elevator back down and visit the gift shop, where you can purchase the green screen photo that was taken before you headed to the top.
Best Time to Visit
Weekends bring big crowds to this new attraction that opened in November, 2015. But during the week and especially in the middle of the day, you could almost have the whole place to yourself.
Bathrooms can be found on both the bottom level, as well as at the top of the observation deck. No outside food or drink is permitted, but vending machines can be found at the top. A souvenir shop, filled with Philadelphia T-shirts, magnets, hats, games and mugs, can be found at the bottom level.
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $14 for youth (ages 3 to 11) and $19 for adults. For a few dollars more, tickets can be purchased online with a specified entrance time. Group tour rates are also available at a discounted rate.
Family Fun for Four: Two adults (ages 12 and up) and two youth (ages 3 to 11) can purchase tickets at the door for $49 total, now through March 31, 2016 — a savings of $17.