Formerly the largest prison facility in America, the Eastern State Penitentiary is now Philadelphia’s major tourist attraction. What was once the most expensive prison in the country now stands in ruins, but that does not stop curious tourists from visiting the attraction. A first-of-its-kind, the penitentiary implemented previously unheard ideas of incarceration, which prioritized reformation over punishment. Today, the vaulted cell blocks and central rotunda invite many a tourists keen on knowing the eventful history of this fascinating establishment. What adds to the curiosity of the masses is the fact that the prison was home to notorious inmates such as ‘Slick Willie’ Sutton and Al Capone.
Philadelphia's South Street is home to one of the most remarkable creations of art in the city. Known as the Magic Gardens, this work by artist Isaiah Zagar spans almost an entire block and engulfs everything in sight including the pathways and building walls. The continuously evolving work is a colourful riot and incorporates tiles, bottles, bicycle tires, spokes; pretty much anything you could think of. With this stunning landscape and installations, the artist draws you into his world for a peek into his mind. This one is not to be missed.
Union Transfer is a joint collaboration of Four Corners Management, R5 Productions and The Bowery Presents. Housed in a historic brick structure dating back to 1889, this music venue opened in 2011 and is now among the prominent concert spaces in town. It features three fully equipped bars and a few concession stands. Most of their shows are for all ages. Some of their previous listings are Metermaids, Jello Biafra, The Antlers, Mischief Brew, Sage Francis and Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Spreading across 9200 acres (3723.11 hectares) with 63 parks, Fairmount Park is among the biggest city park systems in the nation. It features picturesque trails, rolling hills, streams, historical structures, woodlands, public arts and more. The Centennial Arboretum, Horticulture Center, Japanese House and Garden and Philadelphia Museum of Art are some of the interesting sites located in this massive expanse. It also has recreational centers and sporting fields.
Due to its spellbinding architecture and sheer grandeur, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a must-visit place on the list of every tourist in Philadelphia. This beautiful cathedral is the centerpiece of one of the largest Catholic populations in North America. It was designed by celebrated architect Napoleon LeBrun and constructed between 1846 and 1864 by blending Palladian and Italian Renaissance architectural styles. A beautiful “baldachin” or “canopy” over the altar is evidence of the Italian influence while the church façade is in the Palladian style. In fact, you may be forgiven for thinking you are in Europe while viewing this glorious cathedral. Embark on an audio tour and learn more about its eight chapels, 2000-seat sanctuary, vaulted copper dome, and a spectacular apse featuring red marble carvings and stained glass work. During the tour, you will also be familiarized with the fascinating history of the basilica. As Pennsylvania's largest Catholic church, this monument is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art features over 240,000 objects filled with treasures spanning across continents and cultures, drawn from a collection of more than 400,000 works of art like prints, drawings and photographs. The huge stone edifice of the museum, supported by majestic Doric columns, looks over the Schuylkill River. Scale the steps made famous in the 'Rocky' movies.
The Temple University Boyer College of Music presents a multitude of free concerts, master classes, lectures and special events seven days a week throughout the year. The Rock Hall Distinguished Artist Series is known for its recitals by highly regarded faculty and visiting artists. Temple's Greater Philadelphia Concert Series presents a rich array of programs on campus and in the greater Philadelphia region. All programs subject to change. Call ahead to confirm. Admission to all events is free unless noted otherwise.
Temple graduate and undergraduate students produce and star in six fully-mounted productions and prize-winning plays from the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival per season. The performances include a full range of modern and classic, comedy and drama, at the Randall and Tomlinson theaters. Alumnae of the Temple Theater program have gone on to work in stage, television, and opera productions all over the country. Call for specific show times and dates or visit the website. Tickets are more than affordable and there are discount rates for groups. Parking is free during main campus events.
See the humble surroundings that gave rise to one of the most famous First Ladies in US history. Other than being known as the only First Lady to be burned out of the White House in 1814, Dolly Madison became legendary for her reputation as a magnificent diplomatic hostess and decorator. His modest, circa 1775 colonial home was once the home of Dolley Payne Todd, who acquired greater fame as First Lady Dolley Madison. Tickets are required but are free from the Visitor's Center.
The Germantown Mennonite Church, established circa 1690, is North America's oldest living Mennonite congregation. It hosted North America's first gathering of Mennonites in 1725 and served as the home of a summer school taught by pioneer educator Christopher Dock in the 1730s. The Mennonite heritage promotes peace and personal responsibility through the worship of God. The Congregation transcends differences of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual identity, physical ability, marital status and class.
Since 1979, the Horticultural Center has augmented the variety of its botanical life by collecting seeds from Asia, Europe, and the West Indies. Permanent and seasonal plantings display over 2,000 examples of flora. The center is located in Fairmount Park. On the grounds there is a Shofuzo-a reproduction of a 17th-Century Japanese middle-class house and Japanese garden. A donation of $1 is suggested.
The Goldie Paley Gallery at Moore College of Art and Design features contemporary art, architecture, photography and crafts by national and international artists. The mission of the gallery is to seek out and present works of art that might not otherwise be seen by the Philadelphia community. Goldie Paley Gallery inspires creative thought by featuring artists who are not always in the mainstream of cultural consciousness, but whose art is often cutting-edge and profound.