As the birthplace of American independence, Philadelphia is a city rich in history—but when it comes to having fun on vacation, it’s as fresh and vital a place as anyone could possibly imagine. Here is just a small sampling of the attractions on tap for everyone interested in visiting Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
• Take a constitutional walking tour: Like all old cities, Philadelphia is best seen on foot. And the easiest way to explore its unique role in the history of the nation is via a Constitutional Walking Tour. This 75-minute saunter through Independence National Historical Park manages to pack in more than 20 of the most historic sites at Philadelphia’s 330-year-old heart, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as Betsy Ross House, Declaration House and the National Constitution Center. And all that walking will justify a yummy cheesesteak afterwards.
• Snack on cheese at Reading Terminal Market: Established in 1892, the historic Reading Terminal Market is the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market. It’s also something of a destination for fromage fans, offering a mind-melting selection of the good stuff—from rare Pennsylvania Dutch specialties to incredibly fresh mozzarella made on site at the Valley Shepherd Creamery. There are some 80 local foodsmiths plying their trade here, but if stopping for lunch, seek out Tommy DiNic’s roast pork sandwich, one of the best sandwiches to be found around these parts.
• Enjoy Fairmount Park for an afternoon: At more than twice the size of Central Park, sprawling Fairmount Park offers activities both outdoorsy and cultural. Not only is it home to several historic mansions and the intriguing Shofuso Japanese House and Garden (transplanted from a mid-century MoMA exhibition), but also America’s oldest zoo—a graceful 42-acre Victorian garden containing more than 1,300 animals. After a day of exploring, stick around for an alfresco concert at the Mann Center. The outdoor performing-arts center also hosts the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer series each year.
• Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art: You don’t have to be Sly Stallone to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art! The museum boasts a renowned collection of late-19th- and early-20th-century paintings, including masterpieces by Picasso, Duchamp and Dalí. If you’re still standing after that cultural onslaught, take the short walk to the PMA’s sister institution, the Rodin Museum, for another round. This beautiful 1920s Beaux-Arts building is home to the largest Rodin collection outside of Paris, including the sculptor’s iconic statue The Thinker.
• Meander along the Mural Mile: Philly is home to the world’s largest collection of outdoor public art, thanks to Mural Arts Philadelphia, which has been putting murals on walls across the city since 1984. As a result, the city is decorated with no fewer than 4,000 official murals, including Kenny Scharf’s Philly Chunk Pack and the epic mixed-media Theater of Life by local artist Meg Saligman. Take a bus or walking tour (guided or self-guided) of the Mural Mile, or if pushed for time, hop on the subway from 46th to 63rd Streets for an elevated view of Stephen Powers’ iconic “Love Letter” series.
• Stroll the Schuylkill River Trail: For a blissed-out walk, run or bike ride, head to the Schuylkill River Trail, a 26.5-mile protected trail that begins in Center City, winds its way through Valley Forge National Historical Park and ends up in Chester County’s Phoenixville. The approximately 10-mile section through Philadelphia runs along the Schuylkill River Banks and—in addition to being a place for walking, running and cycling—offers plenty of room for activities, like yoga, boarding in a skate park, moonlight kayaking tours and summer outdoor movie screenings.
• Examine medical oddities at the Mütter Museum: The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is one of the most interesting institutions anywhere. Among the collection of antique medical oddities and equipment, anatomical specimens and wax models, you can marvel at the 200-year-old conjoined liver of famous Thai-American Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, study pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain, and pore over the mystery of Philadelphia’s famous “Soap Lady”—an unidentified local woman whose body was encased in a soaplike fatty substance.
In short, Philly is chock-full of some of the best attractions anywhere—and not to be missed.
© 2019 Silver Disobedience Inc.