What better time to see the birthplace of America than the Fourth of July holiday?
Having a daughter who was born in China but is now an American has added a whole new level of meaning to this holiday for us. We set out to see where America was truly formed and we weren’t disappointed.
First stop? Checking in at the Independence Hall Visitors’ Center and picking up our tickets for our tour of Independence Hall later in the day.
The visitors’ center is spacious and open. It has a big gift shop filled with lots of crazy presidential-themed trinkets. The aisles in the store are fairly wide, but because of the number of things they cram in there, it can be hard to navigate a wheelchair through without knocking a sweatshirt off of a hanger or a book off a shelf. Thankfully, like any good gift shop, the breakables weren’t close to the aisle.
Next stop: the Liberty Bell.
As the sign says, there are no public restrooms in the Liberty Bell Center. You have to go back to the Independence Visitors’ Center and use their restrooms. They did have a family bathroom with space enough for Vivi’s chair. It also had a changing table in it for smaller children.
The Liberty Bell is housed in its own separate building in downtown Philly. The building is situated between Independence Hall and the Independence Hall Visitors’ Center. You do not need a ticket to get in, and the line, even when it grows long and starts to wrap around the building, actually moves fairly quickly.
As with most public buildings now, the first thing that you do upon entering the building is go through security. They have two metal detectors so the line moves fairly fast. When it came time for Vivi to go through the metal detector, she did not have to get out of her chair. I simply pushed her through then went back through the detector and walked through just myself again.
Once you get past security, you can walk straight back to the bell or you can look at the displays that line the left wall that give the history of the bell and some quotes on its importance in history.
And then there it was at the end of the hall – the Bell itself.
It really is beautiful to look at up close. There is, of course, a railing that keeps you from being able to get too close, but you can sense its majesty just by being in the small room that it is housed in. For a point of reference, here is the whole room.
There was enough space for use to comfortably go around the bell, even with Vivi in her chair, and take a picture from the back. You can see her chair on the left side of the picture below.
The guards were very friendly and helpful, and we found it very easy to navigate our way through the crowds and get to the Bell.