Sightseeing in Philadelphia

Select Local Merchants

Visitors to Elfreth's Alley Museum walk the same floors that two dressmakers once did in the 1790s. Today, the museum space?s restored rooms fill two of Elfreth's Alley's 32 historic homes; many of the others are still occupied by families. Staffers relate these houses' history from their construction in 1755 to the roles they?ve since played in a locale known for its connection to the arts and industry. During regular tours, guides share insight into why alleys and side streets were built, how middle-class people lived and worked in the 18th century, and why alleys were never known as roadlets. Visitors can take in exhibits including Fashioning Philadelphia, which recounts the lives of the area?s dressmakers, shoemakers, and tailors through the centuries, and The Irish and Elfreth's Alley in 1900, which tells the story of immigrant family life during the 19th and 20th centuries.

126 Elfreths Aly
Philadelphia,
PA
US

The curator at Woodmere Art Museum hangs gallery walls with pieces from the museum's collection of works of Philadelphia art. Museum founder Charles Knox Smith narrates local stories to accompany the pieces in his collection of artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries, which includes Sarah Fisher Ame's bust of Abraham Lincoln. Future exhibitions such as Force of Nature will give patrons a glimpse of Elaine Kurtz's abstracted perceptions of natural forces and austere, minimalist portrayals of Mother Nature's perfectly sorted recycling bin. Woodmere's nine galleries and salons provide ample space for the Special Exhibitions, which rotate throughout the year.

9201 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia,
PA
US

The Chestnut Hill Gallery is a thriving art gallery and full-service custom framing center located in the heart of Chestnut Hill’s historic district. We are thrilled to represent over 60 local, national and international artists offering a diverse and rich collection of landscapes, urbanscapes, and still lives.

8117 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia,
PA
US

From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the creation of the Constitution, Philadelphia has been home to some of America's biggest historical events. The Philadelphia History Museum celebrates the full gamut of the city's more than 300-year legacy. Mere steps from the Liberty Bell, the museum's eight renovated galleries spotlight artifacts and artwork from a collection of more than 100,000 items. With topics spanning from early America to sports, this assemblage includes George Washington's writing desk, John Brown's musket, and Joe Frazier's championship boxing gloves.

The museum includes plenty of interactive elements, too, such as the world's largest map of Philly, across which visitors can walk or fulfill their dreams of doing the worm through every neighborhood. Besides its exhibitions, Philadelphia History Museum hosts a rotating schedule of programs and events, ranging from insightful lectures to concerts.

15 S 7th St
Philadelphia,
PA
US

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but judging the Athenaeum of Philadelphia by its facade wouldn't lead you too far astray, either. Designed in 1845 by architect John Notman, it's an iconic example of Italian Revival style architecture, and one of the first Philadelphia buildings built from brownstone. Perhaps most relevantly, it's also a National Historic Landmark?and inside, you'll find a fittingly historic collection of tomes on architecture, interior design, and other topics. Some are housed here as artifacts, others as reference materials. Anyone who wants to take in the latter can do so while kicking back in the space's large reading rooms, whose 24-foot ceilings are ideal for anyone with an interest in history or in possession of a two-story book.

219 South 6th Street
Philadelphia,
PA
US

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.

1020 South St
Philadelphia,
PA
US