Looking for fun, unique things to do in Philadelphia? As the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia is definitely known for its history, but that’s not all their is to do in this amazing city. Here are 8 unique things to do Philadelphia that are off the beaten path.
1. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
One of the gems on South Street, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is the largest work by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The mosaic spans 3,000 square feet and is made up of everything from old glass bottles to bike wheels. The museum is truly a one-of-a-kind space that celebrates folk art and the beauty of the city.
Over the years, tours of the Magic Garden have become more and more popular due to the fact that it’s a popular “Instagram location”. They only let so many people in at a time, so definitely book your tickets in advance online.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are located at 1020 South Street.
2. The Mütter Museum
Part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, The Mütter Museum is one of the few museums in the world dedicated to medical history. Inside, you’ll find a collection of anatomical specimens, preserved models, and medical instruments designed to help the public understand and appreciate the research to diagnose and treat diseases. Some notable exhibits are the Soap Lady, a specimen from Einstein’s brain and the tallest skeleton in North America.
If you get squeamish or are traveling with small children, you’ll probably want to skip this museum. If you’re like us, and medical oddities fascinate you, this is definitely the place for you. We’ve never been to a museum quite like it.
The Mütter Museum is located at 19 South 22nd Street.
3. Tattooed Mom
Another great place on South Street, Tattooed Mom is one of the most unique bars you’ll probably ever visit. The place is decorated with bright colors and interesting street art, the food is tasty (lots of great vegan options) and the cocktails are interesting. The bar holds lots of different events (everything from comedy nights to arts and crafts) so there is always something fun going on here.
Tattooed Mom is located at 530 South Street.
4. Eastern State Penitentiary
Now a ruin, Eastern State was formally the most expensive and famous prison in the world. It was home of some of the most notorious criminals, including Al Capone can “Slick Willie” Sutton. Touring the Penitentiary gives you a fascinating look at prison life as well as some insight on how things are conducted present day.
Many people believe that Eastern State is haunted and the prison has been featured on several TV shows about the paranormal. Every October, the prison transforms into a haunted house for Terror Behind the Walls, which is known as one of the best haunted house attractions in the country.
Eastern State Penitentiary is located at 2027 Fairmount Avenue.
5. The Italian Market
With its bright metal awnings and signature shops, the 9th Street Italian Market is a unique and special place in the heart of South Philly. It’s home to top-notch butchers, bakers, cheese shops and produce stands. Although it has changed a lot over the years, many of the businesses and traditions from the markets early days still remain. It’s one of the few places where you’ll see people light fires in barrels to stay warm in the winter.
If you’ve ever seen Rocky, it’s where a vendor tosses Sylvester Stallone an orange in running montage. The Italian Market is one of the places you’ll go if you partake in one of the cities many “Rocky Tours”, but you can easily visit and enjoy the market on your own.
The Italian Market is located on 9th Street, between Christian Street and Washington Avenue.
6. Elfreth’s Alley
Elfreth’s Alley dates back to the 1700s and is the oldest residential street in the United States. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966, the alley is a great showcase of the homes built in the early days of Philadelphia, many of which are still residential homes today.
Visit the Museum House, where you’ll learn about the history of residents and the streets on-going preservation efforts. Note, the Museum House is open seasonally, but private tours are available year-round on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
7. Reading Terminal Market
As the largest market in America, Reading Terminal has been a Philadelphia staple since 1893. It boasts a huge variety of restaurants and bakeries, as well as fantastic produce stands, seafood vendors, and locally sourced butcher and cheese shops. There really is no other place like Reading Terminal.
This is a great place to go with family or a large group of people. Buy food from several different vendors, then share, so you can try a bunch of different things. Some of my favorite places are DiNic’s for roast pork sandwiches, The Original Turkey, 4th Street Cookies and the Amish Pretzel Stand (closed Sundays). There is no shortage of food and definitely something for everyone here! I recommend if you can to go during the week, as the weekends can get a bit insane here.
Reading Terminal Market is located at 12th and Arch Streets.
8. The Rail Park
The Rail Park is a new addition to Philadelphia that stretches a 1/4 mile over Noble Street. Similar to The High Line in New York City, the park is an ongoing revitalization of abandoned elevated rail space in Philadelphia. While it’s still under construction, Phase 1 is free and open to the public. Swing on the giant bench swings and take in some cool views of the city.
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