New Location!Who doesn´t love the Please Touch Museum? And now, taking kids to the Museum is better than ever. The nation´s premier children´s museum – which has been a beloved landmark since it opened in 1976 – has a new home in Fairmount Park, opening its doors to a world of educational, hands-on fun. The new location in Memorial Hall – a National Historic Landmark built in 1876 for the Centennial Exhibition celebrating the country´s 100th birthday – will boast three times more space for exhibitions and programs. Just outside the museum, kids and adults will also delight in riding the meticulously restored 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, built in Philadelphia for a now-defunct amusement park 10 blocks from Memorial Hall. Visit The Please Touch Museum for more info!
The ExperienceThe city´s award-winning children´s museum is fun-filled, totally hands-on, and so delightful that adults are entertained, too. Each nook and cranny has a different theme – from the fantastic to the practical. In Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland, kids can play croquet with the Queen and sip tea with the Mad Hatter; nearby, oversized props bring Maurice Sendak´s classics to life. Kids can take the wheel of a real bus and sail a boat on a mini-Delaware River; in “Nature´s Pond,” the youngest visitors (age 3 and under) can discover animals nestled among high grass and a lily pond, or enjoy stories and nursery rhymes in “Fairytale Garden.” Please Touch is also a first live theater experience for young children – Please Touch Playhouse performances are original and interactive and take place daily! Please Touch Museum tends to be busier on rainy days. You may want to schedule your visit on fair weather days. Mornings are also a busy time with most school groups visiting during this time. Afternoons are a great time to visit the museum as well as Mondays when groups are not scheduled.
HistoryOne of the lasting museums from the tourist upgrade of Philadelphia that coincided with the 1976 Bicentennial celebration, Please Touch Museum® filled a gap in the city´s cultural scene. Other museums in the area certainly have sections for children, but Please Touch Museum´s new home not only offers three toddler areas, but also exciting exhibit components for older siblings (for ages 7 and up).
Visiting TipsPlease Touch Museum tends to be busier on rainy days. You may want to schedule your visit on fair weather days. Mornings are also a busy time with most school groups visiting during this time. Afternoons are a great time to visit the museum as well as Mondays when groups are not scheduled.
Insider TipThe museum has a full schedule of craft activities and music, dance and storytelling performances, which are entertaining for both kids and adults.
Great Kids’ StuffIn The Supermarket, kids take control: They can stock the shelves, load their cart and ring up the order. Buy Tickets Online In Advance You can buy admission tickets to the Please Touch Museum online through our partners at the Independence Visitor Center. Just click the button below.
The ExperienceWhen you´re at Longwood Gardens, it´s easy to imagine that you´re at a giant, royal garden in Europe. Stroll along the many paths through acres of exquisitely maintained grounds featuring 11,000 different types of plants. Encounter a new vista at each turn: the Italian Water Garden, Flower Garden Walk, aquatic display gardens and many others. Amble through Peirce´s Woods, eight outdoor “rooms” of distinct woodland habitats. Inside the Conservatory is a lush world of exotic flowers, cacti, bromeliads, ferns and bonsai. Each season brings a different pleasure: spring magnolias and azaleas; summer roses and water lilies; fall foliage and chrysanthemums; and winter camellias, orchids and palms. On land Quaker settler George Peirce purchased from William Penn, Peirce´s grandsons planted an impressive arboretum. The presence of a sawmill on the property prompted industrialist Pierre Samuel du Pont to buy the land in 1906 to save the trees. Christmas is spectacularly celebrated with carillon concerts, poinsettias and thousands of lights; summer evenings are embellished with concerts, illuminated fountain displays and occasional fireworks.
Come PreparedLongwood Gardens is open daily, year-round.
Don´t MissIndoor Children´s Garden – Surrounded by tree-covered seating and Longwood´s famous fountains, the new Indoor Children´s Garden provides a safe and engaging space where children can learn about nature with amazing plants and fun activities around every corner. The Garden features a Central Cove, a Rain Pavilion and a Bamboo Maze, filled with a jungle of tree-sized bamboos for children to explore.
Outsider´s TipThere are 17 fountains in the Indoor Children´s Garden to enjoy, where children will want to splash and play. An extra shirt or small towel might come in handy!
Buy Tickets Online In AdvanceYou can buy admission tickets to Longwood Gardens online through our partners at the Independence Visitor Center. Just click the button below.
The Zoo 150th BirthdayThe Philadelphia Zoo celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. So stop by and celebrate this major achievement at America´s first zoo!
McNeil Avian CenterOn May 30, 2009 the 17.5-million McNeil Avian Center opened to the public. This new aviary incorporates lush, walk-through habitats where visitors can discover more than 100 spectacular birds from around the world, many of them rare and endangered. And in the multi-sensory 4-D Migration Theater, viewers can follow Otis the Oriole on his first migration south from where he hatched in Fairmount Park.
The Experience at the ZooOne of the best laid-out and most animal-packed zoos in the country is set among a charming 42-acre Victorian garden with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery, ornate iron cages and animal sculptures. The zoo has garnered many “firsts” in addition to being the first zoo charted in the United States (1859). The first orangutan and chimp births in a U.S. zoo (1928), world´s first Children´s Zoo (1957), and the first U.S. exhibit of white lions (1993), among others. In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn´s grandson, its botanical collections of over 500 plant species, its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities. Big Cat Falls The highly anticipated pride of the Philadelphia Zoo, Bank of America Big Cat Falls, home to felines from around the world, opened in 2006. The lush new exhibition features waterfalls, pools, authentic plantings and a simulated research station for aspiring zoologists. Lions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, tigers and seven new cubs are the star attractions.
Visitor DetailsOpen daily, year-round. Parking can be tight so public transit is a great option. Check out the Zoo´s trolley shuttle, available through October, making hourly stops at the Independence Visitor Center and 30th Street Station. Service is available starting at 10 a.m. seven days a week through August 31, 2008, with weekends-only service in September and October. SEPTA Routes 15 and 32 Buses stop within blocks of the zoo. Find specific stops and schedules here.
HistoryThe nation´s oldest zoo was chartered in 1859, but the impending Civil War delayed its opening until 1874. In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn´s grandson; its botanical collections of over 500 plant species; its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities. The Primate Reserve, Carnivore Kingdom, and Rare Animal Conservation Center, with its tree kangaroos and blue-eyed lemurs, are brand new, but there´s still fun to be had in the historic, old-style bird, pachyderm and carnivore houses. In the Treehouse, kids can investigate the world from an animal´s perspective; outdoors, the Zoo Balloon lifts passengers 400 feet into the air for a bird´s-eye view of the zoo.
The ExperienceIt only four pages long, but the U.S. Constitution is among the most influential and important documents in the history of the world. The 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores and explains this amazing document through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. The Kimmel Theater, a 350-seat star-shaped theater, features Freedom Rising, a multimedia production combining film, a live actor and video projection on a 360° screen to tell the stirring story of We the people. Then experience it yourself: don judicial robes to render your opinion on key Supreme Court cases, then take the Presidential oath of the office. In Signers Hall, where life-size bronze figures of the Constitution´s signers and dissenters are displayed, visitors can choose to sign or dissent. One of the rare original public copies of the Constitution is on display.
HistoryFreedom of speech, protection from unlawful search and seizure, and other individual rights were not part of the original Constitution. Recognizing its imperfections, the authors built in a mechanism to amend the Constitution, making it adaptable for unknown eventualities. The first ten amendments guaranteeing numerous personal freedoms – The Bill of Rights – were not ratified until 1791.
Insider TipWhile the Center hosts amazing evergreen presentations, take a look at the Events Calendar for the latest premiere or traveling exhibit.
Kids StuffThe Center frequently hosts special events with a focus on children that include informative and engaging hands-on activities. For specific information, check out the Center website.
A more than 500-acre nature preserve ideal for walking and hiking, Sadsbury Woods is also an important habitat for interior nesting birds and small mammals. An increasingly rare area of interior woodlands, defined as an area at least 300 feet from any road, lawn or meadow, provides a critical habitat for many species of birds, especially neo-tropical migrant songbirds. Situated on the western edge of Chester County, the land remains much as it did centuries ago, and now serves as a permanent refuge in an area facing dramatically increasing development pressure. The colorful birds that breed in the forest during the spring and summer months fly to South America for the winter. To survive here, they need abundant food and protection from the weather and predators, something they´re able to find in Sadsbury Woods. A recent bird count identified more than 40 different species in just one morning. The preserve has been assembled from more than one dozen parcels, an effort that was made possible thanks to landowners who were willing to sell their land for conservation purposes. One such landowner recalled exploring these woods as a child and wanted to ensure that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be able to do the same. Natural Lands Trust is working to expand the preserve, and hopes to eventually protect a total of 600 acres. Support the Natural Lands Trust The Natural Lands Trust seeks volunteers and members to help protect and care for Sadsbury Woods and its many other natural areas. Members are invited to dozens of outings each year including canoe trips, bird walks, hikes and much more. Come Prepared The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset. Pets must be leashed. Alcoholic beverages, motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are not permitted. Horseback riders are welcome, but you must ride in, because there nowhere to park a trailer. Maps and other material are available in the kiosk by the parking area. Outsider Tip The deep forest is a great place for spotting neo-tropical songbirds in the spring and summer months
The ExperienceMuseum Without Walls: AUDIO is a multi-platform, interactive audio tour, designed to allow locals and visitors alike to experience Philadelphia extensive collection of public art and outdoor sculpture along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive. This innovative program invites passersby to stop, look, listen and see this city public art in a new way. Discover the untold histories of the 51 outdoor sculptures at 35 stops through these professionally produced three-minute interpretive audio segments. The many narratives have been spoken by more than 100 individuals, all with personal connections to the pieces of art. Works in Museum Without Walls: AUDIO include the sculpture Jesus Breaking Bread, which is located in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at 18th and Race Streets. The sculpture´s audio program features the voices of three people who are each intimately, yet distinctly, connected to the piece. Listeners can hear Martha Erlebacher, the wife of the now-deceased sculptor and an artist herself, recall the personal challenge Walter Erlebacher set to humanize the figure. Monsignor John Miller, who oversaw the commission of the sculpture for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, discusses the artist confrontation with historic interpretation, and Sister Mary Scullion, who runs the renowned program for the homeless in Philadelphia, Project H.O.M.E., and who also attended the sculpture dedication as a student, talks about the importance of placing the figure outside of the church. In the audio program for the sculpture Iroquois, listeners will hear a first-person account from Mark di Suvero, the artist himself, who discusses the abstract sculpture and its open shapes that invite public interaction and viewing from multiple angles. I think that in order to experience [Iroquois] … you have to walk in through the piece, you have to have it all the way around you and at that moment, you can feel what that sculpture can do, says di Suvero. Lowell McKegney, di Suvero construction manager and longtime friend, compares the sculpture to music and encourages listeners to appreciate it in the same way.
HistoryPhiladelphia has more outdoor sculpture than any other American city, yet this extensive collection often goes unnoticed. This program is intended to reveal the distinct stories behind each of these works, that have become visual white noise for so many of the city residents and visitors.
Audacious Freedom, the major, new exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia , explores the lives of people of African descent living in Philadelphia between 1776 and 1876. Discover how African Americans in Philadelphia lived and worked while helping to shape the young nation in its formative stages. Exhibit themes include entrepreneurship, environment, education, religion and family traditions of the African American population, played out through interactive displays, video projections and vivid photography. The groundbreaking exhibit allows visitors to “walk the streets” of Historic Philadelphia using a large-scale map. Young children can join the action with Children´s Corner, which highlights the daily lives of children during that period.
The ExperienceThe Liberty Bell has a new home, and it is as powerful and dramatic as the Bell itself. Throughout the expansive, light-filled Center, larger-than-life historic documents and graphic images explore the facts and the myths surrounding the Bell. X-rays give an insider´s view, literally, of the Bell´s crack and inner-workings. In quiet alcoves, a short History Channel film, available in English and eight other languages, traces how abolitionists, suffragists and other groups adopted the Bell as its symbol of freedom. Other exhibits show how the Bell´s image was used on everything from ice cream molds to wind chimes. Keep your camera handy. Soaring glass walls offer dramatic and powerful views of both the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, just a few steps away.
HistoryThe bell now called the Liberty Bell was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in the East End of London and sent to the building currently known as Independence Hall, then the Pennsylvania State House, in 1753. It was an impressive looking object, 12 feet in circumference around the lip with a 44-pound clapper. Inscribed at the top was part of a Biblical verse from Leviticus, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” Unfortunately, the clapper cracked the bell on its first use. A couple of local artisans, John Pass and John Stow, recast the bell twice, once adding more copper to make it less brittle and then adding silver to sweeten its tone. No one was quite satisfied, but it was put in the tower of the State House anyway.
Fast FactsThe Liberty Bell is composed of approximately 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and traces of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver. The Bell is suspended from what is believed to be its original yoke, made of American elm. The Liberty Bell weighs 2,080 pounds. The yoke weighs about 100 pounds.
Unlike the other squares, the early Southwest Square was never used as a burial ground, although it offered pasturage for local livestock and a convenient dumping spot for “night soil”.