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While Philadelphia offers a variety of authentic and top-notch attractions, exploring this vibrant city takes some planning—especially for first-time visitors. With so much to see, do and taste, it’s challenging for a novice to know where to begin. From the historic Liberty Bell to the deliciously indulgent cheesesteak, here’s a look at Philly 101:
- Independence Hall – While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall has particular significance to the development of the nation. In this building in 1776, the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence. Eleven years later, representatives from a dozen
Spanish-speaking visitors to Philadelphia can feel truly welcomed at many of the region’s tourist attractions, thanks to a wealth of bilingual docents, translated audio guides and multi-lingual written materials. Each year, more than one million domestic visitors to Greater Philadelphia are of Hispanic origin. Because of this influx, the region’s historical and cultural highlights are busy making accommodations so that their Spanish-speaking guests don’t have to miss out on a thing.
- The best place to launch a visit to Philadelphia is at the Independence Visitor Center (IVC), where multilingual concierge staff can assist with all of a
Through June 2, 2013
ANNUAL STUDENT EXHIBITION. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the country’s oldest and largest art museum and school, previews the works of third- and fourth-year art students during this 112th annual exhibition. (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
Through June 2, 2013
DEVON HORSE SHOW AND COUNTRY FAIR. The country’s oldest and largest event of its kind features hunters, jumpers, Saddlebreds, four-in-hand coaching,
- Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2013. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- While exploring the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, visitors can enjoy exhibitions that display artifacts from the ship’s past and play an interactive role as they follow the tour route. America’s most decorated battleship also hosts special events and overnight encampments. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
- While historians debate Betsy Ross’ role in making the first American flag, the Betsy Ross House offers an excellent portrayal of a
The hub of Latino culture and life in Philadelphia, El Centro de Oro is home to international non-profit organizations, many third- and fourth-generation family-owned businesses and residents descending from almost every Latino country. Visitors to this lively enclave—just a short cab ride from Center City Philadelphia—can feast on authentic Latin/Caribbean dishes at Isla Verde, find inspiration in the work of Puerto Rican artists at Taller Puertorriqueño or feel their way through a flamenco dance lesson at Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas. Here are some ways to get a taste of the Latin flavor in El Centro de Oro and beyond:
Located just next to Independence Mall, where the country’s Founding Fathers declared liberty and built a free nation, Old City still boasts charming cobblestoned streets and plenty of 18th-century charm—along with an independent streak that’s evident in everything from its owner-operated shops to its edgy art scene. Its proximity to the Liberty Bell, Penn’s Landing and the Ben Franklin Bridge make Old City a favorite for out-of-towners as much as for the residents who call it home. People love the neighborhood for its fashionable boutiques, great restaurants, eclectic galleries and theaters and vibrant nightlife. Especially popular are First...
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- Wannabe sailors can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship, the Battleship New Jersey, and take tours of the ship, ride the 4-D flight simulator, climb into the onboard helicopter and sleep in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, (856) 966-1652, battleshipnewjersey.org
- America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop at the Betsy Ross House. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself. Summer brings a weeklong, annual Flag Fest celebration with free events every day. Also,
Philadelphia’s concert schedule gets a boost this spring and summer thanks to the addition of several concerts headlined by Latino artists. Scheduled to perform in the coming months: Prince Royce, Juanes and Miguel, to name a few. Here’s a look at how Latin rhythms will liven up Philadelphia’s stages:
Festivals & Concerts:
- Latino artist Prince Royce promises to attract a wide audience to the EL ZOL Concert at Penn’s Landing. That’s because the triple-platinum-selling vocalist’s sweet version of “Stand by Me” is the first bachata song ever to be played on mainstream American radio. Opening for Prince Royce will
Philadelphia is brimming with historical riches, and the sites and attractions that show off the city’s historic side are constantly evolving to create richer experiences for modern-day visitors. This year brings upgrades, expansions and exhibitions designed to shine a new light on Philadelphia’s well-established historical attractions.
Renovated & Renewed:
- The Pearl S. Buck Museum reopens after the completion of its eight-year interior restoration project on June 26, which would have been the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer’s 121st birthday. Tours of the national historic landmark home feature increased access to collections, including clothes that she wore, tableware and linens that
The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) awarded the With Art Philadelphia™ website, found at withart.visitphilly.com, a Webby Award. Dubbed the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, the IADAS-sponsored awards honor online excellence around the world. A collaboration of GPTMC, the City of Philadelphia and more than a dozen other civic and cultural partners, the With Art site nabbed a recognition in the Association category. GPTMC worked with Northern Liberties-based web firm BlueCadet to create the site—complete with vibrant photography, renowned artworks, an interactive map, art itineraries, event and exhibit listings and more. It is...
For those visitors who like to stray off the beaten path, Philadelphia is bursting with attractions that pay homage to the unusual. The region boasts a slew of delightfully quirky spots, including a bench that seems to contradict the laws of sound, the country’s largest bug museum, an anatomical model made of a human nervous system and more. Here’s a look at some of the Philadelphia-area attractions that make the region just a little delightfully weird:
Collections Of A Natural Kind:
- There’s an unsettling site at the entrance to the bookstore at Drexel University College of Medicine’s East Falls
Spanning from Broad to 10th Streets and from Market to Pine Streets, Midtown Village is the lively center of downtown Philadelphia. Other neighborhoods converge here, but Midtown Village—a new but buzzing city enclave—maintains a distinct personality thanks to a business boom that includes independent shops and restaurants, small cafes, alfresco tables along every sidewalk and a rainbow street sign-lined Gayborhood. On the neighborhood’s western border lies a district appropriately named for its place as Philadelphia’s performance hub: the Avenue of the Arts, which runs along Broad Street from City Hall to Lombard Street. The wide stretch is home to...
Visitors can “pin” their way to an art-filled Philadelphia weekend by creating their ideal Philly itinerary using the social-networking site Pinterest. Part of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC)’s With Art Philadelphia™ campaign, the “Pin Your Way With Art” contest will award one grand-prize winner the Philadelphia getaway they created and submitted, complete with art experiences, meals and an overnight hotel stay. Five additional winners will receive Philadelphia museum memberships. Submissions are being accepted through May 24, 2013.
GPTMC chose Pinterest as the platform for this contest because of its image-building and web traffic-driving capabilities. When
In many ways, art making is a spectator sport in Philadelphia, where hundreds of fledgling and established artists work in public view at collective spaces all over town. To spur and promote innovation, artists invite visitors to stop in to watch, learn and participate in order to add their own creative energy to the process. Here’s where art lovers can watch the artistic process take shape in Philly:
Art Makers In Action:
- The Center for Art in Wood celebrates one of the world’s most ancient artistic mediums by providing residencies for more than 100 international artists. Once a year,
As the birthplace or temporary home of such noted jazz figures as Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Bessie Smith, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Philadelphia plays an important role in the history of the art form. But it’s not all about history. Concerts and events make the city a jazz hotspot even today. As acclaimed bassist Warren Oree said, “There’s another ‘Sound of Philadelphia’—the sound of Philadelphia’s jazz.” Here’s where people can hear it all year long.
Festivals & Events:
- After a successful fundraising campaign, the second annual Center City Jazz Festival is a go. With a mission to introduce
Graduate Hospital goes by many names (Center City South, South of South, G-Ho), which is fitting for a neighborhood that draws its personality from the people inside it: young transplants, born-and-raised neighbors, hip urban professionals, craft beer crowds and more. In recent years, the area stretching from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue and from Broad Street to Gray’s Ferry Avenue has accumulated a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets that reflect the area’s residential and cool vibe.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Balkan Express Restaurant – This family-run bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot serves up Mediterranean fare that’s both wallet-friendly
From spring until fall, Philadelphia hosts a variety of festivals that music fans and culture vultures will consider must-dos, must-sees and must-hears. For music fans, there’s the second-annual Budweiser Made In America concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, headlined by Beyonce. Literature lovers will swoon over the Celebration of Black Writing, one of the oldest African-American literary events in the nation. And for movie buffs, the sophomore BlackStar Film Festival, a unique gathering of filmmakers and storytellers of the African diaspora, will be a two-thumbs-up experience. Here are six sizzling festivals worth attending in Philly this spring and beyond:
This spring, the Philadelphia region’s gardens and arboretums are marking the warmer-weather season with a city-wide festival that celebrates the delicate cherry blossom, big bugs sculpted from fallen trees at Morris Arboretum, new behind-the-scenes tours at Longwood Gardens and plenty of beautiful blooms at gardens all across the region. Here’s a look at what’s in bloom:
- More than just flora and fauna have sprung to life at Chestnut Hill’s Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Eleven Big Bugs, the creation of Long Island sculptor David Rogers, dot the grounds of the arboretum through August 31. Made
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 through October 15, but Philadelphia celebrates the rich culture all year long with festivals, art exhibitions, sporting events and more. There’s even more on the calendar in 2013 thanks to the citywide, month-long Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), which includes several new collaborations and artistic performances.
Here’s a look at some of the happenings taking place this spring and summer:
- South Philly has become the hub of Mexican immigration in the region, especially for those from Puebla, Mexico. Folks dressed in bearded masks, capes, headdresses and other
Visitors to Philadelphia can choose from an assortment of options to explore the region, including those of the air, automotive, audio, culinary, self-guided and water-based varieties. And the sightseeing fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Those who come out at night can join tours that feature behind-the-scenes action and even spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:
History Lessons By Day & Night:
- The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia – Visitors get an up-close look at history during this 75-minute walking tour to more than 20 sites. It runs daily from April