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Fun in Philly
Things to Do In and Around Philadelphia

Fun in Philly

Philadelphia is the home to 1,580,863 citizens, the birthplace of the Continental congress and Philly cheesesteaks and the location of the 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. While visitors may want to visit the always-worthwhile historical staples, there are several lesser-known destinations to visit to make this trip unforgettable.

Fun in Philly

Photo: M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia's iconic Liberty Bell bears an engraved quote, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Each day, hundreds of visitors freely pass by those words and consider what liberty and freedom mean to them. Just across the way, in the background, can be seen Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Fun in Philly

In the heart of Philadelphia's Historic District, the Museum of the American Revolution is the country's first venue dedicated solely to the exploration of the war that transformed a set of colonies into an independent nation. Among historic art, artifacts and recreations, the museum's standout holding is George Washington's tent, preserved the 1700s.

Welcome to Philadelphia, a historical city full of culture, fun and food! Founded in 1682 by William Penn, the city is the location of the first and second Continental Congresses as well as the original capital city and home to Presidents George Washington and John Adams. While the federal and state governments left the City of Brotherly Love in the early 1800s, it remains full of life, with numerous famous historical and cultural sites as well as many exciting activities and delicious food and drink.

Visitors of the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will find the weather with highs in the mid 60s and lows in the low 50s. As long as one wears the proper layers of clothing for the weather, there is no reason to avoid all of the fun activities and locations that are offered in Philadelphia.

Events at the ASLA Show are scheduled from October 19-22. However, you will have plenty of chances to check out all of the places that make Philadelphia such a great city to visit.

History and Art
Due to the city's central role in the birth of America as a nation, it is no wonder that there are several museums and attractions recalling the days of the founding fathers. Of course, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are excellent pieces of history to admire and learn about. Representing important parts of the founding of the United States, they are certainly worth a visit. The Liberty Bell Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Independence Hall keeps the same hours. Admission to both sites is free. To learn more about the Liberty Bell, visit To find out more about Independence Hall, visit

If you are looking for more unique offerings of American history, stop by the Museum of the American Revolution. It houses artifacts from the first American war that have been preserved since the battlefields of the Revolution, as well as items own and used by George Washington, Patrick Henry, Marquis de Lafayette and others. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and general admission tickets are $19.

You could also enjoy a fresh look at history in the fresh air at the President's House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation. In view of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the open-air Independence National Historical Park is located at the site of the first executive mansion that housed the first two U.S. presidents. The exhibit is free and is open 24 hours, allowing for quiet contemplation and reflection as visitors explore the paradox and American slavery and freedom while viewing illustrated glass panels, timelines and video re-enactments. The site features structural fragments of the home where Presidents Washington and Adams lived during their terms that were unearthed at the location in 2007.

Philadelphia has a long artistic tradition, and is home to several premier art collections. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has holdings of Renaissance, American, Impressionist and Modern art. If you wish to get a two-for-one deal, you can also snap a picture of yourself on the steps of the museum - the very same steps featured so memorably in Rocky when Sylvester Stallone reaches the top as "Eye of the Tiger" plays.

Fun in Philly

Local and national jazz acts take the stage at Chris' Jazz Café every night but Sunday. Open-mic nights, comedy acts and performers of other genres, including funk, soul, R&B and world music round out the calendar.

Fun in Philly

Re-opened in May 2018 after a two-year, $26 million renovation, JFK Plaza - better known as LOVE Park - now features an updated fountain, benches, new greenery and the iconic Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture itself in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia.

Fun in Philly

Photo: R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA
The 3,600-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park provides a venue for numerous outdoor activities, including biking, running, horseback riding and much more. Offering 19.5 miles of hiking trails, you can see views of rolling countryside and structures dating back to the Revolutionary War. The now peaceful setting serves as a reminder of the country's great historical past, when George Washington and his troops camped there in the long, harsh winter of 1777-1778.

Fun in Philly

In South Philadelphia, Pat's King of Steaks has been serving up its famous Philly cheesesteaks to residents and visitors since 1966. Pat's and its across-the-street rival, Geno's Steaks, stay open 24/7 to serve their patrons who line up outside both establishments at all times of day and night.

You do not have to stay inside to enjoy some of the art offered by the museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts a one-acre sculpture garden, which is divided into five sections: the Upper Terrace, the Lower Terrace, two graveled galleries and a paved plaza. Designed by OLIN landscape architects and featuring works from artists such as Scott Burton, Claes Oldenburg and Gordon Gund, the Sculpture Garden was built in order to strengthen the bond between the museum and the city.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 8:45 p.m. on Fridays. General admission is $20.

If you simply cannot get enough of the landscape, even while attending the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill is showing a "Pennsylvania Landscape in Impressionism and Contemporary Art" exhibit during the dates of the show. The museum opens Tuesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. on Fridays, 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. General admission is $10.

The Music Scene
If you are looking to learn about Philly's music culture, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts offers daily free tours that highlight the history of the center, architectural features and the Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden. There will be a demonstration of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 20. You can also catch performances by the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and orchestrator and arranger Benjamin Wright with the Philly POPS Orchestra during the week of the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. To view the performance schedule and to purchase tickets, visit

As the birthplace and hometown of Billie Holiday, John Coltrane Dizzie Gillespie and more, Philadelphia has developed a reputation for good jazz. There are several great clubs to visit when you want to hear some jazz, such as South, located on N. Broad Street, and Warmdaddy's, found on S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.

However, DownBeat Magazine has listed Chris' Jazz Café as one of the "100 Great Venues Around the World to Hear Jazz." During your trip you can stop by the CafA(C) at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. on Friday or Saturday to hear saxophonist Eric Alexander with the Larry McKenna / John Swana Quintet, while sampling reasonably priced cuisine. To buy tickets to see Eric Alexander and to check out the menu, visit

Fun in Philly

In South Philadelphia, Pat's King of Steaks has been serving up its famous Philly cheesesteaks to residents and visitors since 1966. Pat's and its across-the-street rival, Geno's Steaks, stay open 24/7 to serve their patrons who line up outside both establishments at all times of day and night.

Fun in Philly

Photo by J. Smith for GPTMC
Rocky, the iconic movie written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, is set in Philadelphia. Most people who have seen the film will remember the scene in which Rocky triumphantly reaches the top of the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This famous statue depicting the fictitious fighter stands within view of the museum, with arms held aloft in representation of an unbreakable spirit.

Fun in Philly

Photo: A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA
Just below the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, a gourmet picnic menu and a beer garden unite at Morgan's Pier, a waterfront favorite. Patrons here enjoy brews and food during sunset and live music or DJs late at night. Open weekdays 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Getting Outside
Philadelphia is home to several parks, such as the often-photographed JFK Plaza (also known as LOVE Park), Franklin Square and Independence Mall. The Mall is located in the middle of several historic sites, allowing people to relax in a green space in between visiting museums and engaging in other activities.

If you are looking for some hiking destinations, there are several just a short car ride outside of the city. Valley Forge National Historical Park boasts beautiful views and historic structures dating back to the Revolution. It can be found only an hour outside Philadelphia. Find out more at Ridley Creek State Park, another National Historic Landmark, includes over 2,500 acres of trails and is also only an hour away. Learn about the park at Even closer (by 30 minutes) is John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. You can traverse 10 miles of flat trails, and you may potentially see some animal life while you are there. The diverse habitats located in the area support a variety of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds, as well as many mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and insects.

Food and Drink
If you have never eaten a Philly cheesesteak IN Philly, you should probably try one on this trip. Head to Geno's Steaks or Pat's King of Steaks, both located on 9th Street. They serve the hungry public 24 hours a day, so stop by whenever you want for a bite of the sandwich that was made famous in the city by Italian immigrants. In fact, rumor has it that the original "Pat" of Pat's King of Steaks was the first to produce the Philly delicacy. Regardless of its origins, if you want to sink your teeth into the heart and soul of Philadelphia, get yourself a Philly cheesesteak.

If you are looking for a place to engage in the recent history and culture of the city, Philadelphia is well known for its beer gardens and breweries. One such location is Independence Beer Garden. Offering American fair and games like Ping-Pong and giant checkers, it is located right across from the Liberty Bell Center. The Independence Beer Garden is open from 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight on Sundays.

The Watering Hole Beer and Wine Garden gets you a two-for-one, if you want to see some animals while wining and dining. Located at the Philadelphia Zoo, you can watch creatures roam in their enclosures while sipping a drink. Admission to the beer garden is free after regular zoo hours. The zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other local beer gardens include Morgan's Pier, which offers views of the Delaware River and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and Skygarten. Located on top of Three Logan Square, the rooftop beer garden overlooks downtown Philly. This is a spot you do not want to miss, as 2018 will be Skygarten's last season in the city. Skygarten is open Wednesday and Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Fun in Philly

Photo: R. Kennedy for GPTMC
Located in the original 1885 building of Weisbrod & Hess Oriental Brewing Company in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, the 40,000-square-foot Philadelphia Brewing Company offers free tours each Saturday.

Fun in Philly

Photo: R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Row is the location of individually owned boutiques and nationally known brands that offer what's new in clothing, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics and other must-have items. It is the perfect place to find a souvenir for someone back home. Rittenhouse Row is also a hot destination for fine dining and nighttime entertainment.

Fun in Philly

Photo: M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia
When it opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia set international standards for both its radical approach to its treatment of criminals and its distinctive wagon-wheel architectural design. Visitors can tour the 11-acre, Gothic-style historic prison, learn about life inside the cell blocks, see Al Capone's restored 19th-century cell and view critically acclaimed art installations.

If you want a behind-the-scenes peak at the brewing culture of Philadelphia, visit the Philadelphia Brewing Company on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for a free tour of the facility with free tastings included. The tours are informal, so there is no need to call ahead unless you have a large group. Simply show up during the tour hours, and you will be placed on the next available tour. Because the Philadelphia Brewing Company is a production brewery with no kitchen, the facility does not serve food.

What Else is Happening?
While there are slim pickings during the weekend of the Show for sports fans, if you get into town early, you can watch the 76ers play their home opener against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, October 18. Unfortunately for those who rejoiced at the Eagles' victory last year at the Super Bowl, there are no home games around or during the Show.

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO coincides perfectly with Octoberfest. You can celebrate Philly-style at Dilworth Park. Their Octoberfest celebration lasts from October 18-21, and includes live music, food and, of course, beer.

If you are looking to celebrate Halloween a little early, you can catch The GLOW: A Jack O' Lantern Experience. This event takes place every night in October in West Fairmount Park. Walk through a beautiful, glittering trail of over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins of varying sizes.

If you prefer the spookier side of Halloween festivities, the Eastern State Penitentiary, a historic prison that has been transformed into a museum, has daily tours that run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, after dark, things get creepy. From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the museum transforms into a giant interactive haunted house called Terror Behind the Walls. The event is only on select evenings in September, October and November, and luckily, it is running during almost all of the days of the Show as well as the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before.

These sites and activities are only part of what Philadelphia has to offer; there are just too many to fit in these pages. With hundreds of museums and historical sites as well as countless other cultural events and experiences, Philadelphia has something for everyone.

As seen in LASN magazine, October 2018.

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July 15, 2019, 8:04 pm PDT

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