I happen to live in a part of the country where there are great cities are within hours of my home. The city that I keep going back to is Philadelphia. It’s not too far away, and it has everything I look for in a great weekend getaway.
What should you check out the next time you’re in Philly?
1. World-class Markets!
I love markets. When I plan a trip, I always check to see where their markets are. If you go to Philadelphia be sure to check out these two great markets:
The Reading Terminal Market (51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone:215-922-2317) is an indoor market that offers everything from breakfast to fresh seafood to cookbooks. We never miss stopping at the market and picking up goodies to take home or stop off for a nosh.
If it’s Italian food, you crave then head over to the Italian Market, a 14-block neighborhood in South Philly where you can buy everything from freshly made mozzarella to pasta. Check out DiBruno Brothers, every inch of the shop is packed with wheels of cheese, giant vats of olives— and regulars lining up to place orders at the deli. 930 S. Ninth St., 215-922-2876.
2. Discover the Impressionist Collection at the Barnes Foundation.
Philly has an incredible art presence. Why not take in the Impressionists at the Barnes Foundation? The Barnes has an eclectic collection of 4,000 pieces of art: Renoirs, Monets, and Matisse’s which are clustered side by side with devotional folk-art paintings, early American hand-forged iron decorations, and African tribal masks. You can experience this impressive collection at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-278-7000
3. How about some great street art?
If it’s street art that you are looking for, then you are in the right place. Philly has one of the best collections of street art in the world. Check out the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. According to their website “Mural Arts was first established in 1984 as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network’s effort to eradicate the city’s graffiti crisis. Artist Jane Golden was hired to reach out to graffiti writers and redirect their energies to constructive public art projects. In addition to addressing the problem of graffiti, Mural Arts’ collective mural-making processes proved to be a powerful tool for generating dialogue, building relationships, empowering communities, and sparking economic revitalization. In 1996, the Anti-Graffiti Network was reorganized and the Mural Arts Program became its own entity. Soon after, the nonprofit Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates was established to raise additional funds for the program, making Mural Arts a unique public/private partnership.”
The program offers a variety of tours of all of the fantastic murals throughout the city. Whether you take a walking tour or a trolly tour you will be blown away by some of the best street art in the world.
4. Enjoy the whimsical Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
One of my favorite artists in Philly is mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. After moving to the South Street neighborhood in the 1960’s, Zagar and his wife Julia devoted themselves to renovating derelict buildings and adding colorful mosaics on both private and public walls. In 2008, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens opened to the public and visitors now have the opportunity to participate in tours, art activities, hands-on interpretive experiences, workshops, concerts, exhibitions, and much more!
Covering an indoor and outdoor space equivalent to half a city block on Philly’s famous South Street, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a combination of glass, cement, mirrors, bottles, ceramic shards, found objects and knick-knacks artistically combined to create a whimsical architectural space. The museum is open Wednesday-Monday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM and CLOSED on Tuesdays. Admission is $10.00 for adults, $8 for Students with ID, Military & Seniors, $5 for ages 6-12, and FREE for children 5 and under. You can also take guided tours of the Magic Gardens, just go to their website for more information.
Zagar’s work is all over Philadelphia. You never know when you will come upon one of his installations. The first time I came across his work I was walking through Philly and I came across a mural on a wall in a parking lot. I couldn’t believe what I came saw, a mosaic wall filled with broken tiles, found objects and mirrors. It was magnificent and a great surprise. After doing some research I learned about the Philadelphia Magic Gardens and I couldn’t wait to visit. I was not disappointed and you won’t be either!
5. You can visit a haunted penitentiary.
Everyone knows Philadelphia’s rich history. It was in Philly that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Ben Franklin lived and is buried in Philadelphia. You can tour Independence all and see the Liberty Bell. Betsy Ross sewed the first flag not far from Independence Hall.
Yes, you can visit all these historic places when you are in Philly. BUT did you know that you can also visit the haunted (or so they claim) Eastern State Penitentiary? According to their website: Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.
Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.
Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.”
While we didn’t see any ghosts, you might spot a few when Eastern State Penitentiary turns into a giant Haunted House September through October for Terror Behind the Walls. Check it out if you dare!
If you are a photographer, you should plan a day around shooting at there. The penitentiary’s ruins are mesmerizing and beautiful.
Eastern State Penitentiary: 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130 Phone: (215) 236-3300
These are just 5 of my favorite places I love to go when I visit Philly. If you are planning a trip to Philadelphia you should check out a couple of websites to see what’s going on: