Day 13: A Day in Philly Check out the first twelve days of our road trip here.
Home to the Liberty Bell, Declaration of Independence, and Philly cheesesteaks, the city of 'Brotherly Love' attracts history buffs, artists, and foodies from all around the world. Philadelphia is also a place of firsts: it started the country's first daily newspaper, opened America's first zoo and hospital, and founded the first Medical School.
With so much to see, and only one day to do it, we decided to skip the museums (and the Philly cheesesteaks too 😂), and focused on exploring the city.
In the morning we visited Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, a funky outdoor art venue that covers half a city block. In 1994 Isaiah Zagar, the artist behind this creative urban gallery, cleaned up two vacant lots adjacent to his property. Afterwards he began to mosaic the fence, and other parts of the abandoned lots - slowly forming the Magic Gardens. In the early 2000s, the owners demanded Zagar purchase the land for $300,000, otherwise they would have it demolished. Thankfully an outburst of community support, private donations, and fundraising saved the property that is now known as the Philadelphia's Magic Gardens (pictured below).
Our next adventure included visiting as many of the city's parks as we could. Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn, who hoped to create a "Green Country Town" that included five public squares. Our first stop was Washington Square (pictured below on the left), a leafy retreat steps away from Independence Hall. Full of picnickers, families, and benches, this park is the perfect spot for some afternoon relaxing.
Next, we made our way to Independence Hall, the birth place of our country. Located in the Independence National Historical Park, this is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed. Nearby sits the Liberty Bell, an international symbol of liberty and freedom (fun fact: on the bell, Pennsylvania is misspelled 'Pensylvania,' which was considered an acceptable form of spelling at the time).
Afterwards we headed to Fairmount Park. This 2,050-acre gem, is home to the Philadelphia Zoo, Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens, historic mansions, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse and a few museums. Offering over 50 miles of trails, 43 sculptures, and numerous areas for lounging outside, this was the perfect destination for a sunny afternoon.
Our last park for the day was The Oval. Located right outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it features a large fountain in the center, and is a popular hangout spot in the summer. Our favorite part of this park was its close proximity to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Although we did not visit the museum, we walked up its iconic steps where Sylvester Stallone performed his triumphant run in the film "Rocky." And the views from the top are 👌🏻(pictured below on the right).
At night we boarded a guided bus tour and cruised the streets of Philly. We drove around the city center passing Philadelphia's City Hall, the city's government headquarters for more than 100 years (topped with a 11 meter tall statue of William Penn). We also visited the Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the Barnes Foundation.
The tour included a knowledgeable guide who shares fun facts, historic stories, and information about monuments and buildings as we drive by. We got a glimpse of the Eastern State Penitentiary, where Al Capone was housed in solitary confinement. We passed Spruce Street Harbor Park, a popular summertime pop-up located on Delaware River that features hammocks, a lit up boardwalk and arcade games. And drove through lively South Street, once the most southern point of Philadelphia. Overall, the bus tour was a great way to get to know the city in a short amount of time.
Read about our next stop in Washington DC here 😊 If you haven’t yet, check out the rest of our blogs from this road trip here. And don't forget to follow us on social media through Instagram or Facebook.