The Franklin Institute brings hands-on science fun at Pennsylvania's most visited museum. Spanning three floors, the Institute gives a voice to human ingenuity—past and future—with hundreds of interactive exhibits such as The Giant Heart, Changing Earth, and Sports Challenge, as well as explosive live science shows, an indoor SkyBike ride, and the city's tallest IMAX theater,which is 5 stories high. Though now filled with a range of space-age attractions, the Institute began with single purpose.
Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating established The Franklin Institute in 1824, to honor the life and achievements of Benjamin Franklin. In the following decades, the Institute hosted forward thinkers such as Nikola Tesla, who gave a demonstration on wireless telegraphy in 1893. In 1930, the board decided to expand the space into a new science museum—and raised the funds in 12 days. The museum opened to the public in 1934—and in the same year hosted the first public demonstration of an all-electronic TV system.
A visit to The Franklin Institute’s includes access to three floors of permanent interactive exhibits including the iconic, two story tall Giant Heart. Other exhibits include Space Command, which invites visitors to recover an unmanned space probe and examine real astronaut equipment. At Changing Earth, visitors create their own weather patterns, play with steams of water, and build structures that can stand up to earthquakes or all-elephant 5Ks.
At various daily showtimes, the Franklin Theater’s high-contrast screen displays 3D films on animals, earth ecosystems, and human history. In the recently renovated Fels Planetarium, the second oldest in the nation complete with a rooftop observatory, audiences witness projections of weather and space spread across a 60-foot seamless aluminum dome. Daily live science shows draw an enthusiastic crowd, and interactive science carts invite visitors to observe a live heart dissection or try their hand at paper-making.
One of Philadelphia's largest bike stores, Breakaway Bikes pampers pedalers of all experience levels with an array of accessories, bikes, and services complemented by a cycle-savvy staff. Wheel-less wanderers can find a compatible cruiser amid the selection of colorful and powerful bikes, which brings together road, hybrid, mountain, and urban models from top brands. Outfit your two-wheeler with an Xlab torpedo-mount hydration station ($44.99), or outfit yourself in gloves ($19.99–$29.99) to prevent blisters and shorts ($59.99–$224.99) to prevent derriére dilapidation. A plethora of bike parts, tools, and locks ($9.99–$89.99) keep rides fully functional and safe from jealous thieves on run-down unicycles.
Bartram's Garden was the first botanic garden devoted to American plant life, and, at more than 280 years old, it remains the country's oldest living botanic garden. It sits on the Schuylkill River and was founded by John Bartram in 1728. The garden is stuffed with a variety of indigenous plants. You'll see the oldest ginkgo tree in North America and the extremely rare Franklinia, named for Ben Franklin, oft-overlooked inventor of the odometer and the dairy cow. The National Historic Landmark Bartram house was built in 1731 and renovated throughout the 18th century. Bartram quarried the stone for the house himself.
The National Museum of American Jewish History's core exhibition traces more than 350 years of American Jewish history, documenting their triumphs and struggles since first settling in 1654. Spread across 25,000 square feet on five floors, the exhibition's historical objects and lifelike environments cover subjects such as the late 19th-century Jewish immigration and the involvement of American Jews in the Civil Rights Movement. As the exhibition moves into the present day, visitors can share their own stories and opinions in two of the museum's interactive stations: It's Your Story and the Contemporary Issues Forum. After sharing their own journeys, guests can explore the Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame, where multimedia displays and original artifacts highlight the lives of prominent Jewish Americans, including Irving Berlin and Estée Lauder.
Cups of Old City Coffee, baked goods from LeBus, and vegetarian and dairy cuisine from Di Bruno Bros. reenergize museum-goers at the Pomegranates Café; kosher fare is also available. Additional museum programming includes educational opportunities for adults and kids, as well as live events such as lectures, discussions, and concerts.
Owner Nancy Nagle stocks a colorful rainbow of knitting supplies in her bright and eccentric gallery, which has become a go-to outlet for the local knitting community. To meet the demand, she constantly stuffs her shelves with new styles of material, ranging from traditional yarns to luxury fibers—banana, recycled silk, and Wookiee fur—to carry-along yarns with sequins, flags, and lash. Nagle’s passion for fiber arts has introduced her to a community of artists who dye and spin some of her more than 20 brands of yarn. She uses the shop as a gallery to display the work of these local artists—including Philadelphia native John Stango—as well as share her own bold collection of woven work such as hats, shawls, and sweaters.
City Paper's A.D. Amorosi describes the two-floor Nangellini as a "doubly colorful" space as "bright and open as a bay window in Sag Harbor." Amorosi admires the gallery's art collection, and between the vibrant space's "faux-tin ceiling" and "matronly rugs," Nancy leads open and privately scheduled classes on knitting, crochet, and lace work. Classes cover all the basic techniques required for newcomers to begin creating their own woven pieces, such as scarves and felt toupees.
Within City Fitness Philadelphia's sprawling, warehouse-style facilities, the energetic and passionate staff motivates patrons to burn fat and build muscles to reach their fitness goals in a supportive environment. Within the open gym's vibrant walls, guests torch calories on the Star Trac cardio machines while keeping cool with built-in personal fans and staving off boredom with personal LCD TVs. For group sweat sessions, up to 12 students synchronize their workouts in small group classes, during which motivating instructors lead their wards through such regimens as as ab-chiseling routines and high-energy cardio kickboxing. Patrons pair up with a certified personal trainer for the one-on-one iTrain program, powered by MBSC Thrive, which sends them on a fitness journey focused on nutrition, cardio fitness, core strength, and functional performance training to enhance day-to-day activities such as lifting heavy boxes and protecting your young from silver wolves. After a grueling workout, guests can chug no-sugar-added fruit smoothies packed with natural proteins at the juice bar or complement a beach-ready body with a beach-ready bronze with onsite tanning services.
Find reviews and articles on outdoor activities, attractions, things to do.