Last updated: 01:10 PM ET, Thu August 11 2016

Get to Know the 2016 National Convention Cities

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | June 21, 2016

Get to Know the 2016 National Convention Cities

PHOTO: Philadelphia will host the Democratic National Convention in July. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) 

The 2016 presidential election is in full swing. The primaries are done and dusted and presumptive nominees have emerged. If nothing changes (and things could definitely change), Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be their party’s official candidates after their nominating conventions are held in Cleveland for the Republicans and Philadelphia for the Democrats.

Political tourists who are following the campaigns are going to want to make plans early and plan their budget carefully. Hotel rates are skyrocketing and many are booked.

“Visitors to Cleveland should know that while the Convention will certainly cause some travel disruptions, visitors will still be able to explore Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio region to experience our world-class museums, neighborhoods and outstanding food scene,” said David Gilbert, president and CEO of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee. “The key is to plan ahead, communicate and pack your patience.”

The Democratic National Convention will be held July 25 to 28 at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. Democrats have held their Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia twice before — in 1936 and in 1948. The Republican Party has also held conventions in Philly. The party held its first Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 1856. They returned in 1872, 1900, 1940, 1948 and most recently in 2000.

The Republican Party is holding its convention July 18-22 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Downtown Cleveland. This is the third time that Cleveland has hosted the RNC, but it has been a long time. The last time the convention was in the city was in 1936.

Major Attractions

Visitors can take in a variety of attractions while visiting these historic cities.

In Philadelphia, there is Independence National Historical Park (which includes Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Center, The President's House, National Constitution Center, National Museum of American Jewish History), the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky's steps, plus Valley Forge National Historical Park.

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In Cleveland, visitors can head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Playhouse Square, The Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Metroparks, the “A Christmas Story” House, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland Botanical Garden and Cleveland History Center.

What to Eat and Where to Dine

Both cities are meccas for foodies. You shouldn’t leave Philadelphia without sampling a cheesesteak, a roast pork sandwich or one of South Philadelphia's Italian restaurants. Be sure to remember that red sauce goes by "gravy."

In Cleveland, Eastern European cuisine is a major theme, be ready to gorge on pierogies and stuffed cabbage. Also, the Polish Boy is the "must-have" food for visitors to the city.

Each city also has a distinctive dining culture. BYOBing is a way of life in Philadelphia so be ready to bring your own wine and beer to dinner. The reason is that local liquor licenses can be hard to come by and the approval process is expensive and time-consuming.

The city’s hottest restaurant hubs are found in the Fishtown in the north and East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia.

Cleveland has a booming restaurant scene so be sure to check out Lola, from "Iron Chef" and "The Chew" host Michael Symon, and Greenhouse Tavern, from James Beard Award recipient Jonathon Sawyer.

Dining hotspots are located on E. 4th Street and in the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods.

Events and Activities

While the conventions themselves are a hub of activity, there are many other events happening that coincide with the convention.

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Donkeys Around Town will welcome delegates to Philadelphia for the DNC. The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention is planning to unveil the citywide public installation of 57 fiberglass donkeys that represent the 50 states, five United States territories, Washington D.C. and Democrats Abroad.

PoliticalFest will take place from July 22 to 27 and is a multi-location exhibition celebrating American history, government and the road to the White House. It is housed at seven locations throughout Philadelphia and is a non-partisan display that combines multimedia and interactive exhibits, along with historical objects.

Cleveland has a several ancillary events taking place around the city as well that have a political theme. Trials of the Campaign Trail is an exhibit at the National First Ladies’ Library that tells the stories of several first ladies and their trials and tribulations on the road to the White House.

The James A. Garfield National Historic Site will host an author talk and book signing from Stan M. Hayes who penned “President-Making in the Gilded Age: The Nominating Conventions of 1876-1900.”

There are sure to be many more events popping up as the convention dates draw closer. You can follow information for DNC and the RNC on their websites.

For more information on Cleveland, Philadelphia

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