Since the summer of 1999, Independence Park's most important sights have been the backdrop for hour-long, interactive sound-and-light walking tours. The tour's purpose: Provide visitors with a high-tech, smoke-and-light-filled, and definitely unsubtle immersion into the drama of the American Revolution. From April through October, you'll walk as night falls over the Old City past trendy bars and restaurants (wearing, ahem, huge wireless headphones, something you wouldn't be caught dead wearing inside any of those bars), as you enter today's version of the Philadelphia of 2 centuries ago. Five-story projections on historic buildings and wireless headsets equipped with movie-style "surround" sound make the tour a "virtual" and, in the past, cheesy Colonial experience.
The ground floor of the PECO Energy Center, next to Independence and Congress Halls on Chestnut Street, is the Lights of Liberty's group ticketing and holding area. Tours are first-come, first-served, so arrive early if you're worried about the wait. You'll pick up headsets automatically tuned to an actor-read script, which is triggered automatically as your group arrives at the planned park destinations. Younger children might prefer the alternative kids' headsets.
Led by a guide, you'll walk across cobblestone streets to park sites, where the Revolutionary story is compressed into five acts. Rifles crackle, cannons boom, the Founders of America argue, images project, the Philadelphia Orchestra plays in the background, and colored smoke rises, making you wonder when the disco ball is going to drop. The finale of 1776 takes place right in back of Independence Hall. Afterward, you'll either be elated -- or you'll need a drink from one of those trendy bars.