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Although it isn’t always sunny in Philadelphia, the historic city is filled with attractions and events that will keep you busy no matter the weather. From the Liberty Bell to South Street, Philly is packed with old and new charm. You must try the soft pretzels, and, of course, their famous cheesesteaks. If you enjoy museums, Philadelphia proudly contains the most art within one square mile in all of America, stretching from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art whose steps were made famous by the classic Rocky films. Boathouse Row is a scenic spot to break away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. There you’ll find bikers, dancing roller skaters, and families going for leisurely strolls alongside the Schuylkill River. Philadelphia is the birthplace of not only our country, but also many famous artists and actors, including: Will Smith, Kevin Bacon, Pink, Tina Fey, Bill Cosby, Bradley Cooper, David Lynch, M. Night Shyamalan, Ben Franklin, and Noam Chomsky.
Philadelphia hosts tons of concerts every year at a multitude of venues. Some of their more intimate spots include the Electric Factory, Trocadero, Theatre of the Living Arts, First Unitarian Church, and Union Transfer. Philly’s major arena is the Wells Fargo Center, which is where the big-name acts perform. There are many notable musical artists from Philly like The Roots, Cinderella, Will Smith, The Hooters, mewithoutYou, Circa Survive, Dead Milkmen, Hall and Oates, and G. Love and Special Sauce. The Philadelphia Orchestra is also very popular as well as their home venue, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which is a tourist attraction merely for its unique architecture. Philadelphia is now host to Jay-Z’s yearly Budweiser Made in America Festival as well, and in the past was one of the world-wide locations for Live Aid (1985) and its 2005 revival, Live 8. Additionally, every 4th of July, Philadelphia puts on a huge free concert on the Parkway, which has previously featured artists such as Nicki Minaj, Elton John, Goo Goo Dolls, and Ariana Grande.
Theater is also big in Philadelphia with over 120 theater organizations in the city. There are many beautiful playhouses along the Avenue of the Arts, including the Academy of Music, Wilma Theater, Walnut Street Theatre, and Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Dance and opera are a huge part of the arts culture in Philadelphia as well with the residence of the Pennsylvania Ballet, The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, which all put on extraordinary productions throughout the year. Touring Broadway shows often come through the city as well, the most recent ones being Newsies, Motown: The Musical, Kinky Boots, and The Lion King. The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre also puts on rotating productions of the Bard’s greatest plays.
If you’re planning on going to Philadelphia, you should probably leave your home team’s merch behind. Philly sports fans are diehards, and they don’t take well to Yankees or Cowboys jerseys especially. There are constant outbursts of Eagles chants at all sporting games and fans are known to get pretty rowdy. The Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park and the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, both of which replaced the old Vet Stadium. The Vet was demolished in 2004 to many people’s dismay and was famous for its “Eagles Court” where overly raucous fans were sent to deal with a Municipal Court Judge. This fact alone should inform you of the nature of Philadelphia sports games; in other words, Philly takes their sport teams very seriously. When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, fans did millions of dollars in damage to the city, simply because they were excited. NBA fans aren’t as intense as baseball and football in the city, but the Sixers are known for legendary players like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson. Philly’s NHL team, the Flyers, has a reputation as the Broad Street Bullies, who attracted attention via the 2010 documentary of the same name by HBO Sports. Philadelphia also has a MLS team called the Philadelphia Union who plays at PPL Park on the Delaware River.
Overall, Philadelphia is a culturally rich urban center. Tourists should definitely visit the Constitution Center (adjacent to the Liberty Bell) where you can learn a great deal about the city’s history. The Franklin Institute is also a fun place to go where children and adults can explore myriad subjects from anatomy to physics in interactive learning areas. One of their most famous exhibits is the Giant Heart in which visitors can walk through a massive replica of a human heart to learn about the organ’s various functions. Eastern State Penitentiary is a National Historic Landmark that is interesting to tour as well. This creepy Gothic Revival prison offers ghost stories and tales of the notorious criminals that used to be imprisoned there like Al Capone and Willie Sutton. It was also used as the film location for the movie Twelve Monkeys. Love Park, across from City Hall, contains Robert Indiana's famous LOVE sculpture that is so often depicted in Philadelphia postcards. If you visit around the holidays, you will find a Christmas Village modeled off of German Christmas markets where you can browse and shop for holiday gifts. And when you need a break, head to the Reading Terminal Market for a vast selection of delicious food. No matter what your interests may be, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Philadelphia.
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