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Trip List by owlyn

Philadelphia's Hidden Gems

30 May 2009  Lifelong Philadelphian
4.5 of 5 stars based on 5 votes

These are things that are never, or almost never, mentioned anywhere. Maybe occasionally in our forum. Maybe.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Sightseeing, Never been before, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • 1. Ed Bacon's Walkway

    Ed Bacon, a former Philadelphia city planner (and father of actor Kevin Bacon), is responsible for the transformation of what is now Society Hill from what was essentially a slum and food distribution center in the 1950s. His vision, though not fully realized, has changed the face, and more importantly, the uses of downtown Philadelphia forever. One of his ideas was to create pathways that more-or-less cut through peolpe's back yards. Well, not exactly, but if you follow this path you will get the idea. This path will take you from the center of Society Hill to Independence Hall (or vice versa if you follow it backwards)
    Starting on east side of 5th Street just above Pine, you will see a a brick walkway (next to the SuperFresh supermarket building) that looks like it goes nowhere. Walk down this path, and you will find that it cuts to the left, and then to the right. Enjoy the greenery and flowers, and views of the back of a couple of houses. The path emerges at 4th Street, near Delancey. Cross 4th Street, and head down Delancey. On your left, you will see Three Bears Park (another item in the list). Turn left and cross the park. Head for the little brick path that looks like it goes into a private courtyard. this is St. Peter's Way. After you cross Spruce Street, continue straight as the path takes you between some houses (on St. Joseph's Way). The modern brown brick houses are special, as they were designed by the internationally famous architect, I.M. Pei. Turn left when you reach the open plaza, and head back to 4th Street. Turn right on 4th and head up to Walnut Street. Cross Walnut and turn right. About a third of the way down the block, you will see an opening in the iron fence. Turn left and walk down this path. Depending on the season, you may see roses, or other flowers. Shortly before you would exit the path, there is another small pathway to the left. Turn onto that. This will take you along the Second Bank of the United States before exiting onto 5th Street just below Chestnut. Across the street is Independence Hall.

  • 2. Museum of Art Gazebo

    The restoration of the gazebo in back of the museum is completed. The view, as always is beautiful. New paths have been installed, as well as an additional "modern" gazebo a few dozen yards from the original. The path that leads down to the river path has been restored, and an additional path added. The entire restoration and additions are beautiful, and well worth a trip the back of the museum for anyone visiting the museum, or just running up the "Rocky" steps. From the "Rocky Steps", the quickest way to the gazebo area is to walk around the left (as you face the museum) side of the museum.

  • 3. Three Bears Park

    311-319 Delancey Street. The official name is Delancey Park, but no one calls it that. The "Three Bears" name comes from the statue of three bears in the park. This lovely little gem is a neighborhood park and is set up perfectly for tots to play and parents to sit and talk while keeping an eye on the kids.

  • 4. Whispering Benches

    Lefft over from the 1876 International Exposition (World's Fair), these very long, curved, stone benches at the base of the Smith Memorial Monument outside Monument Hall (now the Please Touch Museum) in Fairmount Park look innocent enough... But a person sitting at one end can whisper to the person sitting at the other end and can be heard in perfect clarity. Fun for kids of all ages.

  • 5. Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum

    Actually ON the beaten path, at 315 Chestnut Street, almost every tourist walks by this little gem without ever knowing it is there, much less the interesting treasures inside. You will find exhibits on such everyday things as nylon, Bakelite, and computer chips, as well as a fascinating video display of the elements on the periodic table. There is even a gallery for art exhibits (rotating shows).

    Free admission at all times.

    Monday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    First Friday of the month: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    Closed major holidays.

    Not for small children.