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:
18-hole, par 67 course
Length of 4,620 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 63.3 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 104 from the farthest tees
See helpful course notes
18 hitting stations at driving range
In a go kart, you're much closer to the source of horsepower than when you're riding in a car. All that invisible force leaps to life when you hit the accelerator, gently pushing you back into the seat. Drivers at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix feel that pull as they whip around a quarter-mile racetrack in gas-powered Sodi GT5 Proline karts. They slip past one another while making 11 brake-stomping turns, all with a vantage point not afforded by watching races on TV.
The karts feature air-intake units that trap their exhaust and keep the atmosphere fresh, and the track?constructed from 1,300 used Goodyear tires and the shredded remains of Mario Andretti's learner's permit?is outfitted with three observation platforms for track marshals to regulate each lap and guarantee riders' safety. Three-point safety belts, roll bars, helmets, and neck braces also protect racers during their white-knuckle trips around the track. A full-time mechanic keeps finish lines crowded by calibrating karts to run within three-tenths of a second of one another and hanging hundreds of pi?atas from the checkered flag. At the facility's bar, Octane, racers can refuel with drinks and food while watching stock-car races on the five 42-inch TVs.
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.
The 18-hole course at Chapel Hill guides golfers along lush fairways framed by dense tree lines and confronted by water on 11 holes. Six holes—beginning with No. 1—demand precise course-management skills when navigating shots around the stream that cuts through their fairways, demanding that players lay up, muscle their shots over, or swap their golf ball out for a beach ball. Laid end-to-end, the course measures 6,089 yards from the blue tees, the farthest of four available for play on each hole.
Course at a Glance:
* 18-hole, par 70 course
* Total length of 6,089 yards from the back tees
* Course rating of 69.7 from the back tees
* Course slope of 125 from the back tees
* Four sets of tees per hole
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.