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The Independence Visitor Center, 1 N. Independence Mall W. (6th and Market sts.), Philadelphia, PA 19106 (tel. 800/537-7676, 215/965-7676, or 636-1666; www.independencevisitorcenter.com) is a great first stop. Separating the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall from the National Constitution Center, this expansive center offers a concierge kiosk, regional publications, events calendars, city and regional maps, a book and gift shop, and a first-class exhibition on Philadelphia's place in history. Knowledgeable volunteers staff the phones and counters. Ask for the Official Visitors Guide, a seasonal compendium of exhibitions, events, and the like. The center also offers an increasing number of package tours, combining special museum exhibitions, concerts, or sporting events with discount hotel prices, free city transit passes, and Amtrak discounts. Many bus tours, historic trolley rides, and walking tours start from here.

International visitors who want special advice or would like to arrange meetings or home stays should reach out to the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia, 1515 Arch St., 12th floor (tel. 215/683-0999; www.ivc.org).

To explore Philly without being there, go online. Some of the best websites for visitors belong to the Independence Visitor Center (www.independencevisitorcenter.com), the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.philadelphiausa.travel), and my favorite, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (www.gophila.com). For news and information, along with restaurant reviews and arts and entertainment, visit www.philly.com, the site shared by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, two daily newspapers, or go to the Philadelphia magazine's website, www.phillymag.com.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.