Betsy Ross and Rodin part of Philadelphia culture
If you can find time while you're in town attending Annual Session, take a break and see the city beyond the convention center. Philadelphia is a city rich not just in American history, but also in art and culture.
All telephone numbers are in the 215 area code unless otherwise noted.
The city is known for museums that appeal to all kinds of interests. You can get an overview of the Philadelphia story at the Atwater Kent Museum, which features the social history and popular culture of Philadelphia (15 S. 7th; 922-3031). Or walk "America's most historic square mile" at Independence National Historical Park and see the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall, Carpenters' Hall (meeting place of the First Continental Congress in 1774) and Christ Church Burial Ground, where Benjamin Franklin is buried. For a map, stop by the Visitors Center (3rd and Chestnut; 597-8974).
The Philadelphia Museum of Art (26th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 763-8100) is not only renowned for its world-class collection of art, particularly impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern works, but also for its view. Once you climb the 99 steps to its entrance, the same steps Sylvester Stallone climbed in "Rocky," turn around for a panoramic picture of the city. A tour of the Rodin Museum (22nd and Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 763-8100), a beautiful building housing a collection of sculpture by Auguste Rodin unparalleled outside of Paris, reveals some of the stories behind "The Gates of Hell" and "The Burghers of Calais." "The Thinker" greets you at the gate.
For science exhibits, visit the Franklin Institute (448-1200) or the Academy of Natural Sciences (299-1000), most famous for its dinosaur room. Both are located at 20th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Please Touch Museum (963-0667), also in the vicinity, was created especially for children ages one to eight and provides fun, education and culture. The museum features Sendak, an interactive exhibit based on the "Where the Wild Things Are" books by Maurice Sendak, as well as Supermarket Science, a hands-on exhibit featuring a kitchen laboratory where children can get cooking. Admission is $6.95.
The New Jersey State Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive; 609-365-3300), located just across the Delaware River in Camden, houses bright fish and a variety of other swimming creatures. Admission is $9.95 for adults and $6.95 for children. The Aquarium can be reached by the ferry at Penn's Landing that crosses over to the Camden waterfront every 30 minutes and costs $2 each way.
Joggers and walkers can get some exercise on the some of the 100 miles of running and walking paths in Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped city park in the world with 8,900 acres. Start at the popular Boat House Row, the longtime home for numerous rowing clubs along the Schuylkill River.
At Morris Arboretum (on Hillcrest Avenue between Germantown and Stenton Avenues) you'll find common plants used medicinally today, including the tea plant, foxglove, castor bean and Java devilpepper, as well as roses, ferns, heather, cacti and conifers on 175 acres. The arboretum's Bark Park features trees of differing barks. Morris Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Other attractions a bit further away, but worth the drive:
- Longwood Gardens welcomes spring with blooming daffodils, scillas, tulips and lilies and Sunday afternoon concerts. (Route 1 in Kennett Square; 610-388-1000.)
- The Barnes Foundation houses one of the world's finest private collections of post-impressionism art in a 13-room arboretum. (300 N. Latch's Lane in Merion; 610-667-0290.)
Philadelphia on the Web
For more information about the area's activities, cultural events, and restaurants, see:
- LibertyNet, including the Virtual Tour of the city.
- Fodor's City File: Philadelphia
- HotWired: The Rough Guide to Philadelphia
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