John Morris made his fortune in iron and then, with the help of his sister Lydia, turned to a far more delicate medium: exotic plants. Starting in the 1880s, the duo traveled the world in search of specimens to bring back to their Philadelphia home. That formidable collection blossomed into the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania after the siblings donated their estate to the University of Pennsylvania in 1933.
Their carefully manicured English-style gardens, complete with swan pond and azalea meadow, now also belong to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors today stroll winding footpaths among 13,000 plants, hailing from 27 countries; there's a prominent Japanese influence in several areas, including the Japanese Hill and Water Garden. Stately trees dot the property, including trident maple, Engler beech, and Bender oak—the latter of which researchers believe may predate the Morris estate by more than 100 years. And some notable plants are kept inside: the Victorian-style fernery encases tropical fronds and trickling waterfalls in a balmy paradise of glass.
Children especially flock to the Garden Railway, where G-scale model trains chug through a miniature garden, passing buildings made entirely of natural materials by skilled chipmunk carpenters. The Garden Railway runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends through mid-October. They and their minders also tend to enjoy scrambling across wooden bridges suspended high above the forest floor to get a bird's-eye view of the arboretum at the Tree Adventure.
For Maria de Sousa, tango dancing was part of her Argentinian heritage. She embraced the style as a way to reconnect with her native country, and traveled back and forth between her American home and Buenos Aires to master her steps. Conversely, for Pierre Baston, his passion for tango began as a foreign fascination. He watched a dinner show while visiting Buenos Aires that enraptured him, inspiring him to immerse himself not only in dance lessons, but historical and cultural research—he still collects authentic tango sheet music from the early 20th century. Both dancers became certified through a master's program at the Escuela Argentina de Tango in Buenos Aires, and now elucidate the art of dipping and spinning at eight Philadelphia locales.
Maria and Pierre walk students of all experience levels through tango's passionate choreography. They host group classes for social learning experiences, and lead private seminars at their studios or a venue of the client's choice. Because they coordinate all the necessary partner match-ups and music, their protégés needn't bring a companion or play Keep Away with a violin's bow to make it whine.
For more than 25 years, the Harcum Music School has been bringing music into the lives of children and adults through intimate one-on-one lessons. The family-friendly music school operates out of the white-cottage home of Richter Hall on the campus of Harcum College in Bryn Mawr. Inside, passionate instructors cultivate first-time students in all manner of instruments, from the precise fingerpicking of the mandolin and banjo to the slap hands of the electric bass.
Looking for a new museum experience? Check out Barnes Foundation in Merion Station and explore the many wonders of art.
Pick up a tasty meal at their restaurant, located conveniently within the museum.
Load up the mini-van and bring the kids to this museum — they'll love the scene here as much as mom and dad.
Parking is plentiful, so visitors can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Amazing Havertown theater awaits when you buy tickets for any of Kristina Pulcini Ballet Academy's shows.
Don't worry about packing a snack. This club has a great restaurant so you can keep the fun going.
Load up the mini-van and bring the kids to this club — they'll love the scene here as much as mom and dad.
Parking is plentiful, so guests can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Though no one's actually getting behind a wheel at Allen & Allen, there's still plenty of action to be seen. Joel Allen and his crew boast an impressive selection of slot and RC cars for racing on custom-built tracks, as well as in drag races. Either can be arranged at Allen & Allen or at a private location, with party options for drivers of all ages.