Philadelphia is a proud city of firsts.

Most folks are familiar with Philly as the cradle of modern democracy, as the place where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution took shape. But what many don't know is that Philadelphia has for generations served as a dynamic force in medicine, education, business, and technology. Philly is home to the nation's first hospital, stock exchange, computer, theater, and zoo.

You don't need to look far to find stunning evidence of the region's historical prominence. Take a stroll through any of Philadelphia's famously walkable neighborhoods and discover gems ranging from the nation's oldest residential street to the birthplace of American soda pop. If you've already seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, head out to Haddonfield, N.J., to see the site of the first discovered dinosaur fossil. Or consider visiting the site where William Penn actually first set foot in Pennsylvania, located less than two miles away from campus at Penn and Front streets in Chester.

The region is also home to many of the country's most well-preserved historical places. As a primary location of early settlement in the New World, the Mid-Atlantic region offers history buffs a long list of sights to see. Visitors can learn about the several Swedish communities that emerged around the Delaware Bay in the 17th century, including Fort Nya Gothenburg in nearby Tinicum Township, the earliest recorded European settlement in Pennsylvania.