So many things to do - it’s a tough decision to have to make when you visit Philadelphia. I’ve written several posts about Philly, but every time I go, I discover something new to share. Visitors to the city are overwhelmed just trying to cover some of the popular sites like Independence Hall and Reading Terminal Market. Summer brings plenty of outdoor activities like street festivals, outdoor music and movies, and more, in addition to all the amazing tourist attractions. But once you knock off the top 3 or 4 things on your list, consider one of these 5 unique attractions which you definitely won’t find anywhere else.
1. Stroll through the Magic Gardens. Imagine strolling through a garden with walls covered in glass mosaics and other cool art. That’s what you will find at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, where Isaiah Zagar has been working since the late 1960’s to transform the South Street neighborhood. It was raining and early morning on my last visit, so I had to view the garden from the street and a locked gate. I was still able to take some colorful pictures through the gate, but definitely want to come back and visit next time I’m in town! As I headed through the nearby streets on the way to the 9th Street Italian Market Festival (sorry, you’ll have to wait another year for that festival to come back!), I also discovered some of the neighborhood mosaics.
2. Tour a Haunted Prison. Hop on the PHLASH bus, and when you see a castle-like structure with 30 foot walls, you’ll know you have reached Eastern State Penitentiary. As you approach this historic building, take a minute to imagine what life was like behind the walls. Admission includes the audio tour which will fill your ears with stories about life in this famous prison. Stop by the cell once inhabited by Al Capone, and then continue on to see where a daring escape took place. By the end of the tour, you can decide for yourself if you agree with the many people who think the prison is haunted. Take a look at Why You Should Visit Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia to find out why I think it’s worth a visit. And if you really want to be scared, go back in the fall for the Terror Behind the Walls. I would probably run out screaming after the first 5 minutes, but if you like to be scared, I think this would be the place to go.
3. Walk Down the Oldest Residential Street. So much history and so little time. Taking a tour is a good way to cover lots of ground. Last summer, during an Urban Adventure Tour, our tour guide took us to Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest, continually inhabited street in America. With cobblestone streets and historic architecture, it’s worth a stroll to visit the place filled with several hundred years of American history. Although the houses are currently privately owned, you can pick up a guide book at the museum to learn more about the residents who lived on this historic street.
4. Run the Rocky Steps. This is a Philly classic, much like a cheese steak, but who doesn’t want to be like Rocky in that inspirational scene from the movie? The steps lead up to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it’s a perfect place to hang out and watch as tourists from all over the world run up and down. Photo opportunities are everywhere, especially the city view from the top of the stairs. Don’t forget to take a picture with the Rocky statue at the bottom.
5. Eat at the Oldest Italian Restaurant in the Country. So much history in Philly, and even the food comes with a story in this town. Ralph’s has been in business since 1900, and if you are looking for old-fashioned Italian food that will bring back memories of your grandmother’s cooking, then stop by for lunch or dinner. The best part is that the restaurant is located on 9th street, home to the 9th Street Italian Market. Take some time to stroll the street and pick up some of your Italian favorites for the road.
If you still want more to do, check out Visit Philly’s website for all the latest events and happenings. I’m sure you’ll find something.