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Philadelphia Off the Beaten Path

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With so much history running through Philadelphia, it's no surprise there are a few hidden gems off the well-beaten tourist trail. Many of the attractions in this list are generally quieter and less well known than some of the other sights in the city.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Like a Local

7 Places

4 City Tips

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7 Places

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Art Galleries

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Historic Sites

Boathouse Row

Architectural Buildings, Neighbourhoods

Eastern State Penitentiary

History Museums

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Historic Sites, Parks, Architectural Buildings, Gardens

Independence Seaport Museum

History Museums, Speciality Museums

Mutter Museum

Speciality Museums, Science Museums

Stephen C's City Tips

  • Philadelphia is a fantastic walking city, and best experienced on foot.
  • Streets are based on a grid design.
  • The Phlash shuttle bus runs between Penn's Landing and the Philadelphia Museum of Art every 15 minutes. There are single-ride and all-day tickets available.
  • Bus, subway, and trolley all require tokens or exact change.
  • Save
    Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
    Art Galleries
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    Stephen C Says:

    You'll find an interior gallery space and an outdoor labyrinth of mosaics and artwork at Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. Local artist Isaiah Zagar began constructing the space out of discarded items in the 1960s. He didn't own the land at the time, but an outpouring of community support led to the creation of a non-profit organization and the opportunity to purchase and maintain the space. You can find a large body of Zagar's work distributed throughout the South Street corridor.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • To see more of Isaiah Zagar's work join a neighborhood walking tour, April-October.
    • The outside area may be closed if the weather is bad.
    • Reduced admission prices for students with ID.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #17 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Chakra Energy Experience in the Mosiac Garden 21/07/2016
    • A Unique Slice of Philly 21/07/2016
    • Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
    Address:
    1020 South St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19147
    Phone:
    12157330390
    Price range:
    US$7 - US$7
    Hours:
    Wed - Mon
    11:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    This house was leased by American author Edgar Allan Poe for a brief period in 1843. Outside, there is a statue of a large raven, representing one of his most famous poems, 'The Raven' (not written here). Though Poe lived in several homes in Philadelphia, this is the only one that survives.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Admission is free.
    • Closed from noon to 1pm and on Saturdays.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #78 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Poe's home 06/07/2016
    • Guide was excellent, but the house was disappointing 01/07/2016
    • Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
    Address:
    532 North 7th St
    Philadelphia, PA 19123
    Phone:
    215/597-8780
    Other:
  • Save
    Boathouse Row
    Architectural Buildings, Neighbourhoods
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    Stephen C Says:

    Walk, run, jog, or bike along Kelly Drive and you'll pass through Boathouse Row, a collection of social and rowing clubs with a long history. This is a popular spot among locals for exercising and getting out in the fresh air.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Bikes for hire at 1 Boathouse Row.
    • Visit at night to see the lights! Best viewed from the Schuylkill Expressway.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #37 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A lovely walk 17/07/2016
    • It's a driveby 16/07/2016
    • Boathouse Row
    Address:
    Kelly Dr.
    E. Fairmount Park
    Philadelphia, PA 19130
    Phone:
    215 769 9693
  • Save
    Eastern State Penitentiary
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    This is a former American prison, operational from 1829 to 1971. Notable inmates were Willie Sutton and Al Capone. The structure was built with the Quaker-inspired belief that solitary confinement could reform criminals, and its wagon-wheel design inspired a number of other prisons.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Dress appropriately for the weather.
    • Accessible via the Philadelphia Phlash route.
    • A scavenger hunt activity guide is offered here, free with admission for children ages 7-12.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • ESP 23/07/2016
    • first penitentiary 23/07/2016
    • Eastern State Penitentiary
    Address:
    2124 Fairmount Ave
    Philadelphia, PA 19130-2603
    Phone:
    215 236 3300
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
    Historic Sites, Parks, Architectural Buildings, Gardens
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Originally established as a Japanese-style landscape for the 1876 Centennial Exposition, this garden is a wonderful center of peace and tranquility in Fairmount Park.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Feed the Koi carp for a small fee.
    • Check the website for events: Sometimes tea ceremonies are held in the villa.
    • Free parking.
    • Reduced admission prices for students with college ID.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #88 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Visit Fairmount Park 08/07/2016
    • Wonderful 04/07/2016
    • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
    Address:
    Horticultural and Lansdowne Drs.
    Philadelphia, PA 19131
    Phone:
    12158785097
    Price range:
    US$8 - US$8
    Hours:
    Wed - Fri
    10:00 - 16:00
    Sat - Sun
    11:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Independence Seaport Museum
    History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    Wander around an actual ship and submarine at the Independence Seaport Museum — dedicated to the maritime history of the Philadelphia region.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Check the website for parking deals.
    • This museum is great for kids.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #55 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Can't miss the ships 23/07/2016
    • Best Preserved Historic Ships and Interesting Displays 16/07/2016
    • Independence Seaport Museum
    Address:
    211 S Columbus Blvd.
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    Phone:
    +1 215-413-8655
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Mutter Museum
    Speciality Museums, Science Museums
    See more photos
    Stephen C Says:

    The collection you will see at this medical history museum was originally gathered for the purpose of biomedical research and education. Abnormal body parts preserved in fluid and the tallest skeleton on display in North America are just a few of the items on display. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia continues to add to the collection.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Einstein's brain is on display here!
    • There is an admission fee.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #26 of 412 things to do in Philadelphia
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Small and disappointing 22/07/2016
    • Not your typical museum 21/07/2016
    • Mutter Museum
    Address:
    19 South 22nd Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Phone:
    12155608564
    Price range:
    US$16 - US$16
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
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