Let’s begin the tour with history. Philadelphia is an historic town in a big, modern city. The roots of American democracy are found here. Major historic sites are within a short walk of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where registration and most of the annual meeting’s scientific sessions will be held.
A good place to start is Independence National Park. Most people are familiar with Independence Hall (where the Lights of Liberty sound-and-light show is held nightly) and the Liberty Bell, which are must-sees.
In the same area you will find the visitors center, Betsy Ross House, Carpenters’ Hall, Congress Hall, Christ Church, Franklin Court, Elfreth’s Alley, the U.S. Mint, and many small museums and other historic sites. The area is a walker’s delight, but for those who prefer riding, narrated carriage tours are available.
Venturing away from the city, you can explore Washington’s Crossing State Park and Valley Forge.
A new tour visits a more recent period in history with the opening of the U.S.S. New Jersey, which is located in Camden, N.J., right across the Delaware River.
Philadelphia is resplendent with art. We have incredible museums, outdoor art, wonderful architecture, and cultural attractions galore.
Let’s start with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the museum is magnificent inside and out. It is our "Parthenon on the Parkway." If you are feeling energetic, climb—or run—up the steps immortalized in the film "Rocky." Its permanent collection showcases many of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures. (Don’t miss the three generations of Calder mobiles in one unbroken line of sight.) The museum also houses collections of decorative arts, weapons and armor, textiles, and Indian and Himalayan art.
Across the parkway is the Rodin Museum, which houses the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris.
A world of ancient artifacts can be found in another great museum—the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
If new appeals to you, Philadelphia boasts the Institute of Contemporary Art.
For an architectural treat that should not be missed, be sure to stop by Philadelphia City Hall, located in the middle of Center City. While its purpose is to house city government offices, it is a visual treat with a beautiful courtyard.
A new addition to the city is the National Liberty Museum, dedicated to liberty and honoring heroes of freedom with its glass sculpture "The Flame of Liberty" by Dale Chihouly.
Also unique is the Barnes Foundation, which houses the magnificent impressionist collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes (advance reservations are required).
For the scientific minded there are the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Mutter Museum. If it’s marine life you enjoy, visit the New Jersey State Aquarium just across the river. There are also many heritage museums including the National Museum of American Jewish History, the African-American Museum, and the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies.
Let’s now get in step with the lively arts. Philadelphia offers fun for everyone. Performances of music, theater, and dance abound. Visitors in May will have the opportunity to see the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which opened its doors in December. It is home to the famous and fabulous Philadelphia Orchestra. Due to an extended season there will be an orchestra performance Saturday evening, May 18, with Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting. The Kimmel Center is located on the Avenue of the Arts, where you will find many theaters and restaurants and the venerable Academy of Music.
There will be many venues in Center City to enjoy. Broadway musicals and dramas fill stages large and small. Performances range from classical, opera, rock and roll, and dance, to blues and jazz. There is indeed something for everyone.
For musicians and fans of blues and jazz, there are many clubs and jam sessions. Open jam sessions are held every Tuesday night for blues musicians at Warmdaddy’s and for jazz at Chris’ Jazz Cafe, Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus, and the 23rd St. Café.
Whatever your interests or tastes, day or night, Philly has it all. ▪
Dr. Kanefield is chair of the APA Task Force on Local Arrangements.