Sensory overload doesn’t begin to describe Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. A seemingly boundless compilation of colors, textures, and shapes, the labyrinthine mosaic creation spans 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The masterpiece originated in the brain of Isaiah Zagar, a Philadelphia native who grew up in New York. During his third year of art school, he stumbled upon Clarence Schmidt’s folk-art-inspired installations—assemblages of found objects and recycled materials—and the young artist’s view of the art world changed. “I didn't know that I was looking at art,” Zagar reflects in his mission statement. Self-admittedly, Zagar has been somewhat “copying” Schmidt’s dynamic, free-flowing style ever since.
The years after art school brought Zagar an onslaught of new opportunities. He spent time as an artist in China and India, joined the Peace Corps with his wife Julia, settled in Peru for three years, and even tried his hand at ceramics in Wisconsin. In the ‘60s, he and Julia returned to his birthplace—specifically, the waning South Street neighborhood. Isaiah quickly leapt into action, renovating dilapidated buildings and often adding mosaics to formerly barren walls. Eventually, Isaiah’s imagination outgrew their projects, and in 1994 he began constructing a new piece in a vacant lot near his studio—the project would become Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah spent 14 precious years, which he should have applied to Y2K preparations, scooping out tunnels, erecting multitiered walls, and splashing the entire space in colorful tile. The finished product stretches across half a block of South Street; the outside enclosure shimmering with vibrant tiles, the inside housing folk art, colored glass bottles, and countless sparkling mirrors. Now a nonprofit organization, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens invites visitors to enjoy its visual candy with guided or self-guided tours.
Kimberly Garsed founded Urban Dog Playcare to provide dog owners with a place to put their pets when they were otherwise engaged with work or play, thus making it possible for more people to welcome dogs into their families. Kimberly has more than 20 years of experience training dogs, and her core staff draws on more than 10 years of experience when attending to the health and happiness of their clients’ canines. During playcare, four-legged friends roam around a 5,000-square-foot facility with five distinct play areas, two of which have a rubber surface to cushion dogs’ feet and better facilitate their self-directed gymnastics competitions. Owners can keep tabs on their pooches through the facility's webcam, unless the staff and their charges have embarked on one of the frequent custom field trips to exotic, pet-friendly locales such as the Santa Monica Mountains.
Boarders visiting the hospitable facility eat nutritious meals and tire themselves out during vigorous walks before being escorted to slumberland by a skilled dog wrangler who continues to watch pets into the wee hours. Dogs sleep atop beds or blankets in kennel runs or crates with housemates. Because the dog wrangler stays with the doggies all night, the animals are never alone.
When SneakerKing first claimed the throne in 1946, there wasn't much to choose from when it came to athletic footwear. Back then, the best an athlete could get was a flimsy canvas foot covering, and basketball nets couldn't be taller than 3 feet since nobody had shoes to jump in. But as shoes became springier and blingier, SneakerKing grew into one of Philadelphia's largest retailers of casual and athletic footwear.
Toes have room to wiggle in the store's giant inventory of running shoes, winter boots, hiking boots, moccasins, and slippers from almost every major brand, including New Balance, Saucony, Sperry, Sorel, and Vans.
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The 200-year-old stone walls of Christine’s Creekside Inn sheltered an 18th-century grist mill, a knitting mill, and a Prohibition-era speakeasy before hosting executive chef and owner Doug Delong. This is a second homecoming for Delong, who was one of the original chefs here during the early 1990s when the restaurant was called Old Mill Inn. After an apprenticeship at the Green Hills Inn to study American and French cuisine, Delong returned to restore the elegance of the restaurant and pour two decades of experience into his hearty meat- and seafood-focused cuisine. Italian taste dominates the menu, so veal and chicken are draped in traditional sauces with lemon and capers, artichokes, or marsala wine to complement their tiny borsalino hats. Steaks are hand-cut from certified Angus beef and pair nicely with wine or a microbrew from the diverse list of 14 bottled beers.
Delicate iron chandeliers descend from timber beams in the peaked ceiling, but their soft glow seems unnecessary against a wall of arched windows that reach nearly two stories on their tippy toes. The broad hall exudes both cathedral grandeur and country charm, making it suitable for an elegant night out or a wedding reception.
Winner of more than 100 mixed-martial-arts competitions, Tiger Schulmann shares his pride and love for fighting and self-defense with both adults and children in gyms across five states. From first-time grapplers to expert muay thai fighters, students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome to dive into a class at Schulmann’s. At more than 47 locations, adults can take classes in kickboxing, MMA, and jujitsu—the last of which instills students with the skill and confidence to take down opponents of any size, strength, or telekinetic ability. Kids, meanwhile, can learn martial arts for fun, or gain useful experience in bully prevention; the kids’ classes help victims immediately identify and safely diffuse situations when pitted against an aggressor.