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.
Designed by Mark Ormison in 1897, the fairways of Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park sprawl over 51 acres and invite linksmen to frolic among foliage that has been flourishing for more than a century, while also gazing out on metropolitan views. Players find themselves challenged right from the get-go with a second hole that is also the toughest, but can strive for birdies at holes 8 and 17 to recover. At the 11th hole, golfers encounter a quirky rectangular green, whose geometric origins are likely found in a house having occupied the space long ago. The course is managed by the local charity The First Tee Pittsburgh, which strives to encourage good character, values, and healthy life choices in children through the game of golf, and proceeds from the course benefit its programs.
Before hitting the course, players can hone their form at the course’s driving range in good weather, take lessons with a Class A PGA professional, or strengthen their swings at the Full Swing simulator, which tracks ball flight, speed, and distance in real time. The simulator offers high-definition projections of more than 35 notable courses, including Pebble Beach, Oakmont Country Club, Pinehurst Country Club, and Harbour Town Golf Links, and lets golfers sharpen their swings in the dead of winter without fear of losing a limb to frostbite or abominable ground squirrels.
Course at a Glance:
Since 1979, the staff of Lehigh Valley Racquet and Fitness Clubs has made it their mission to obliterate any barriers keeping their members from working out. Each club is open 24 hours a day year-round, with free childcare available during specific times of day. That commitment to availability helps even the busiest people find time to hop on Hammer Strength and Cybex strength-training circuits, StairMasters, and other equipment. Group fitness classes get students sweating as they execute punches in Turbo Kick cardio-kickboxing sessions or dance to Zumba's Latin-inspired workouts. Full-body boot-camp workouts are also available, mixing in calisthenics, strength training, and agility drills to continuously challenge bodies. All of the clubs? personal trainers hold bachelor's degrees in health-related fields or have national certifications from accredited organizations.
After their workouts, members can unwind in the whirlpool, sauna, or steam rooms, then drop off their free rental towels for cleaning. For sports lovers, the Allentown location also boasts basketball, volleyball, squash, and badminton courts, as well as 11 outdoor and 8 indoor tennis courts.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable members to work on their physical well-being with a cornucopia of fitness equipment. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength and cardio equipment, which features built-in TVs and other media diversions. For those who exercise during conventional hours, Snap's friendly, unintimidating atmosphere welcomes patrons of all ability levels, unlike schoolyard dodge-ball squads. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling. For a dose of custom advice, patrons can seek out a personal-training session with a certified coach, who helps them assess and address their fitness goals. Clients reap the benefit of individual attention as a personal trainer helps them tackle weight loss, prepare for an arm-wrestling competition, or unveil the mysteries of arcane cable-weight machines.
In 1989, Dan Gallagher and Dan Smith joined their respective names and began pursuing one common goal: to bring a contemporary alternative to Berks County's dining scene. The 40-seat eatery was successful in the Dans' hands until 2005, when Bill Woolworth and MD. Monir stopped in for dinner, fell in love with the place, and decided to buy it.
Though much of the space's original charm remains intact, the new owners gussied up the decor with white tablecloths and floral arrangements, and they solicited the help of executive chef Jason Hook to lighten the rotating menu. Jason draws on his experience studying in France and working at The Four Seasons in New York to craft healthful, contemporary French- and Californian-inspired dishes. In every preparation, he highlights the ingredients' natural tastes, often pairing local cuts of meat and poultry with fresh, seasonal ingredients and luxurious flourishes such as truffles or Lamborghini-scented foam.
Hook, Woolworth, and Monir also frequently evaluate their wine selections to ensure that they pair well with the evolving menu, which changes every week. While sipping glasses of red or white, diners can question servers about the building's rich history in the Penn's Common Historic District. Before the restaurant settled into the space, it was inhabited by an old-style soda dive, a prison doctor's home, and a grassland populated with roaming dinosaurs.
As the morning begins, a row of toddlers takes turns tumbling feet over head while their parents guide them into the correct movement. Later, school-age kids sit in a circle, legs stretched before them as they try to touch their toes. The trained staff of My Gym Children's Fitness Center imbue kids with life skills through music, physical activities, and games. Many classes incorporate physical exercises with social and developmental skills, while summer camps are also available seasonally. All classes take place in a well-padded room, led by staff trained in child development and fluent in Muppet.