When you think Philadelphia there are probably couples of images that come to mind. The Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin counting his pennies, or Rocky Balboa running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

History is the main driving force behind tourism in Philadelphia, but it is really just a part of a visit to this diverse city, where cheesesteak gets more respect than fancy haute cuisine.

Some parts of Philadelphia seem like a strange parallel universe; in one street you may encounter one of the best jazz bands in the land only to see a costumed Betsy Ross on the next sewing red and white stripes and sharing gossip about her good friends, the generals. This is actually part of a program on living history, in which costumed historical figures roam Central City, telling stories.

Philadelphia has always really been a city of meetings. The old meeting the new, like the Philadelphia Orchestra welcoming American Bandstand, or a Vietnamese restaurant opening in the heart of the Italian Quarter in South Philly. From the start, William Penn envisioned the "City of Brotherly Love" as a kind of utopia where Native American Indians could live happily with the new Dutch settlers.

This is a big part of the allure of Philadelphia. Most people visit to see all the historic sites but they tend to keep coming back for the city's great restaurants, award winning performing arts and things you just don't find anywhere else. Such as the New Years Day Mummers Parade, where about 15,000 people perform every year.

But history is still everywhere you go in Philadelphia and visitors really should try to see as much of it as they can. The art inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art is most impressive, and touring Independence Hall is certainly a requirement for the first time Philly visitor. The interactive exhibits at the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Fells Planetarium are delightful for kids of all ages. Christ Church is the burial location of Ben Franklin and other signatories to the Declaration of Independence and the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest operating African American church in the country. Both churches are worth a visitor's time.

Some of the architecture in Philadelphia is nothing other than spectacular. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge spans the great Delaware River for a full 1 ¾ miles and is wonderful place for a morning stroll, and at its foot lie other architectural standouts such as Independence Mall, City Hall, the Masonic Temple and the Reading Terminal Market.

For the shopper, the best concentration of shopping opportunities is located within the city itself, but the surrounding suburbs provide great shopping too, including the mammoth 450 King of Prussia Mall and the outlet stores located in Franklin Mills. One of the great things about shopping anywhere in Pennsylvania is that the state does not charge a penny in sales tax on clothing items, so the chance is there to save a lot of money as well as have fun.