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The Grown-Up's Guide to Philadelphia Attractions

Attractions in Philadelphia


It's true: Philadelphia is a magnet for families with kids and school groups come to explore its historical significance. But that doesn't mean it's bereft of adult pleasures. While you can expect to be surrounded by youngsters on forays to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center -- and everyone should experience those attractions at least once -- America's Cradle of Liberty also lures adults who appreciate fine food and wine, world-class art, and scenic attractions. These are among Philly's tops for couples traveling free of children. And if children are part of your entourage, add Theme Parks in Pennsylvania to this list.

1. Check into a Top Philadelphia Hotel

Susan Breslow Sardone
Whether your taste runs to intimate inns, full-service hotels, or luxury accommodations, a Philadelphia Hotel complete with a soft bed and a warm welcome awaits you. These are among the places couples are likely to enjoy most as a home away from home. Do note that most Philadelphia hotels don't provide parking, so factor that cost into your budget.

2. Tour and Explore Philadelphia

Susan Breslow Sardone
Get your bearings by taking a Big Bus Tour of Philadelphia shortly after you arrive. The narrated, hop-on, hop-off tour takes about 90 minutes and stops at 20 of the city's major attractions. See one you'd like to know more about? Just get off the bus and explore, then wait for another one to come along and continue your tour. Pictured: Philadelphia City Hall.

3. Eat at the Reading Terminal Market

Susan Breslow Sardone 
It won't cost you a lot to eat at the Reading Terminal Market located at 12th and Arch streets, but you will eat well. Since 1893 the market has been supplying Philadelphians with fresh fare from the sea, the land, and the field. Our favorite spot became the counter at Pearl's Oyster Bar, not only for the succulent fried oyster platters but for the aphrodisiacal slogan: "Eat fish, live longer. Eat oysters, love longer."

4. Appreciate the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Susan Breslow Sardone
You've seen her famous steps in movies ranging from Rocky to In Her Shoes, but the real attractions are inside this stately museum, one of the oldest in America. Whether you come to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a blockbuster show (timed admission tickets required, and do spring for the curator's audio tour); want to wander the new Perelman Building that specializes in modern photography, textiles, and design; or spend time in the medieval cloister that evokes thoughts of dashing knights, you'll find your senses exhilarated. If you get hungry, there's a surprisingly romantic restaurant on the first floor.

5. Shoot Yourselves in Love Park

City of Philadelphia
Once the site of amazing skateboarding, Love Park is now a place to pause on your exploration of the city, perhaps picnic, and definitely shoot a couple photos of yourselves near the famous Robert Indiana bright-red L-O-V-E statue. As you travel around Philadelphia, you're bound to find many wonderful examples of art in public spaces.

6. Soar at the Philadelphia Zoo

Susan Breslow Sardone
As popular with adults as it is with children, the 42-acre Philadelphia Zoo offers an uncommon "soaring safari" in its Zooballoon. On a ten-minute journey, the huge helium balloon sails to a height of 400 feet and affords views of both zoo animals and the Philadelphia skyline. Day and evening flights are available April through October, weather permitting.

7. Visit Boathouse Row

There's something about being serenaded by young men and women rhythmically chanting, "Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!" that can definitely enhance thoughts of romance. You'll hear it along Philadelphia's Boathouse Row, a National Historic Landmark on the east bank of the Schuylkill River. The Victorian-era boathouses, which contain racing shells, draw participants in rowing regattas. Whether you come during the day to cheer on the athletes or at night to see the houses lit up, it's one of Philadelphia's unique attractions.

8. Visit the Barnes Foundation

Susan Breslow Sardone
This magnificent collection moved from the suburbs to an architecturally distinctive structure in Philadelphia built for it in 2012. The quantity of priceless paintings is simply staggering -- there are 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, and 59 Matisses as well as important works by Picasso, Soutine, Rousseau, Modigliani, Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Seurat, Manet, and Monet. The presentation is unlike that of a museum or gallery. Even in the new home, paintings are arrayed in relation to one another, with multiple framed masterpieces on a wall. Aided by insights from the Barnes Foundation audio tour, a visit likely to be both informative and uplifting.

9. Stroll in Rittenhouse Square Park

Susan Breslow Sardone
Friendly people, comfortable benches, lovely landscaping, and a profusion of flowers make Rittenhouse Square Park, between 18th and 20th streets, an agreeable place to amble. Friday nights, when the weather is warm, it's a great gathering place. And if you happen to love dogs, you'll see all kinds of four-footed creatures out for a walk with their human companions.

10. Dine Like Gourmets

Susan Breslow Sardone
There's more to eating out in Philadelphia than scarfing up treats at the Reading Market or grabbing a couple of cheesesteaks courtesy of Pat’s, Geno’s, or Jim’s Steaks. Philadelphia has a lively gourmet scene with truly inventive restaurants. I can personally recommend Alma de Cuba. At this upscale Cuban eatery, you can quaff minty mojitos, savor a black lobster and crab empanada or octopus appetizer, and enjoy entrees such as pan-seared scallops surrounded with Serrano ham or honey-mustard glazed salmon. Perfectly spiced, each course is a deeply flavorful palate pleaser.
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