Built in 1750, the old bank barn on the Sweetwater Farm bed-and-breakfast property boasted a diverse resumé before it fell into disrepair more than two centuries later; it held malting barley for distilled spirits, sheltered herds of livestock, and even hosted a party or two. After a two-year renovation completed in 2010, the barn came out of retirement to fulfill its new purpose: hosting french-oak barrels and stainless-steel fermentation tanks—custom-made in South Africa—that quietly ferment and age small-batch wines from the property's 5-acre vineyard.
Grace Winery's European-origin varietals, grown on California vines that were transplanted by hand and carrier pigeon, include merlot, pinot gris, and petit verdot. Winemaker Sean Kramer combines new technology with tried-and-true tradition to create wines such as the bright 2010 rosé, which was served at the brunch the day after Prince Albert of Monaco’s wedding. His other wines include the 2010 chardonnay reserve, aged for 14 months in french oak that imbues it with dark caramel and butterscotch flavors, and the crisp 2011 pinot gris, whose light honeysuckle aromas lead to delicate hints of citrus and melon.
Propelled by an affinity for fresh air, the family that helms Hispaniola Cycling fosters the same free-spirit mentality in its guests who embark on the outfit’s bike tours, which include cycles and helmets. Hispaniola’s guides are experts on the local topography, calling upon their respect for Mother Nature and a healthy fear of her mood swings to guide groups for spins around town or weekend jaunts through Valley Forge and along the Schuylkill River Trail. They can also expand fitness with wellness tours and camaraderie with corporate tours that follow custom routes around worksites, kick-starting employee heart rates a midday slump after they wrestle faulty fax machines.
The iconic crack in the Liberty Bell. The Betsy Ross House, where Betsy sewed the first American flag. Swann Fountain's jets of spray. Aboard Wheel Fun Rentals' new-model Segways, tour groups cruise between Philadelphia landmarks like these at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. Riders choose between two tours: a 90-minute Old City historic tour and a three-hour city tour that blends old landmarks with newer ones, such as China Town and City Hall, where the mayor stores nearby cities he has conquered. As the tours roll through town, expert guides share relevant facts and stories, to which participants listen on headphones.
Knowledgeable, friendly locals enlighten visitors on their city's rich history, art, culture, and dining scene during Philadelphia Urban Adventures' informative walking excursions. Following a philosophy of responsible travel—which aims to support local businesses whenever possible—the guides steer sightseers through intriguing neighborhoods and districts such as Center City, the 9th Street Italian Market, and the campuses of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Along the way, they make pit stops at local pubs, cafés, galleries, and food trucks, working to cultivate an authentic experience for all guests. They also dispense helpful tips, such as how to talk to locals and where to find good views of cheesesteaks in their natural habitat.
The Rosenbach Museum, which is built from the rare book, manuscript, antique, and fine art collections of the Rosenbach brothers, preserves cultural treasures such as the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard Almanac, illustrator Maurice Sendak's drawings, and artifacts from the Civil War. In addition to special exhibitions, the museum's diligent docents guide guests through the Rosenbach manse's nineteenth-century crannies, exploring the rare book library and fine-art rooms, a replica of poet Marianne Moore's living space, and the giant roll of quarters signifying entry into the National Register of Historic Places.