20 New and Notable Philly Attractions for 2013
PHILADELPHIA, PA - If you haven’t updated your Philadelphia guide lately, you might be missing some major new museums and attractions. Over the past few years, the region welcomed some destination-defining-and trip-defining-attractions, including the Barnes Foundation, the renewed Rodin Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History and The President’s House, as well as new fashionable hotels and fun festivals.
Between all their touring, visitors fuel up in a city that’s become a top dining destination, evidenced by recent multiple-page features in Travel + Leisure and Bon Appétit. The Italian Market, Reading Terminal Market, BYOB spots, red-gravy restaurants, chef-centric eateries, ethnic outposts, food trucks and alfresco dining rooms make Philly’s food scene an attraction in itself.
After the check’s paid, here are the 20 newest spots to check out in Philadelphia:
New & Must-Do Attractions:
1. Opened in May 2012, the Barnes Foundation displays the world-renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, as well as African sculpture and Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts-all moved from a Pennsylvania suburb to Center City’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
To house the late Albert Barnes’ treasured art holdings, architects designed a building that combines the vision of their original owner Dr. Albert Barnes with a contemporary and green execution. It paid off when it achieved highest level of environmental certification from the U.S. Green Building Council-LEED Platinum. The 93,000-square-foot building also includes a changing exhibition gallery, conservation lab, auditorium, library, cafe and gift shop. Reservations are highly suggested. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 640-0171, www.barnesfoundation.org
2. In November 2010, Independence Mall welcomed the opening of the gleaming new National Museum of American Jewish History, a modern 100,000-square-foot, five-story glass structure architecturally designedto reflect the welcome embrace of America and the perennial fragility of democracy. Inside, exhibitions, rare artifacts and interactive displays mark the contributions, hardships and successes of American Jews through every phase of the country’s history and invite all people to remark on the characteristics that make humans similar instead of different. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, www.nmajh.org
3. When walking through The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation on Independence Mall, visitors see structural fragments of the home where Presidents Washington and Adams lived during their terms and where nine enslaved people served the first president. Just steps from the Liberty Bell Center, people learn about the events that transpired at the President’s House through illustrated glass panels, timelines and video re-enactments, and they can partake in silent reflection at the free, open-air site. 6th & Market Streets,(215) 597-0060, www.nps.gov/inde
4. Inspired by Rome’s famed gathering centers, The Piazza at Schmidts sits in the former plot of Schmidt’s Brewery, embracing the neighborhood’s industrial past and vibrant present all at once. Surrounded by a mix of artists’ studios, boutiques and restaurants, it’s bursting with activity all year long with festivals, concerts and a farmers’ market. People bring their own chairs to catch games and movies on its 40-foot LED screen. 2nd Street & Germantown Avenue, www.atthepiazza.com
5. Shoppers stroll through the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick-about an hour outside of Philadelphia-in search of bargains at the 150 outlet stores. The mall is home to everyday favorites like Gap, Adidas and Anne Taylor, along with splurge-worthy spots like Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Cole Haan. And remember, there’s no tax on clothing in Pennsylvania. 18 West Lightcap Road, Limerick, (610) 495-9000, www.premiumoutlets.com
6. The Rodin Museum unveiled its redesigned outdoor sculpture garden in 2011, and in 2012, museum officials opened the doors to a fully renovated interior. The relocation of many sculptures back to their rightful place in the garden has opened up indoor space for a reconfiguration of existing items, modernized visitor amenities and areas for lively public programming. A highlight of the revamped museum is the main gallery placement of a marble replica of The Kiss. 22nd Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 568-6026, www.rodinmuseum.org
7. The September 2012 opening of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent revealed an extensively revitalized home for a treasure trove of objects that chronicle the everyday lives of three centuries’ worth of Philadelphians.
New exhibits showcase everything from 18th-century portraits to 21st-century community movements; installations that explore the city’s craft beer movement; dynamic displays that celebrate Philadelphia sports fanaticism; and stories of the city’s growth using street intersections as a guide.
The reconfigured space allows curators to display items rarely or ever before seen, such as Joe Frazier’s boxing gloves, Benjamin Franklin’s wine glass, a Quaker bonnet, the famous Wampum Belt and George Washington’s presidential desk. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830, www.philadelphiahistory.org
Parks & Outdoor Venues:
8. When it opened in 2011, Lenfest Plaza became an OLIN-designed anchor for burgeoning North Broad Street. Because the plaza is owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, public art and performance are focal points. Alongside a permanent stage, sculpture and other artwork rotate. The installation of Claes Oldenburg’s 51-foot Paint Torch sculpture-his only large-scale work to incorporate light sources-makes Philadelphia home to more outsized Oldenburgs than any other city in the world. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, www.pafa.org
9. In the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge juts the Race Street Pier, a stretch of land that’s been landscaped to provide two levels for recreation on the Delaware River waterfront. The upper terrace, dubbed the "Grand Sky Promenade," is paved with a sustainable, synthetic decking material fashioned from reclaimed plastic and wood.
The promenade is connected to the grassy lower terrace by a multi-tiered seating area that’s perfect for picnicking and watching the tide roll in. Fully lighted rails and more than 200 embedded LED solar light blocks extend the pier’s hours of use well into the evening. Columbus Boulevard & Race Street, (215) 928-8801, www.delawareriverwaterfrontcorp.com