Unique Places to Visit in Philadelphia
31 May 2022

Unique Places to Visit in Philadelphia

Unique Places to Visit in Philadelphia

Unique Places to Visit in Philadelphia

Philadelphia can be connected to a plethora of words, like cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, “Rocky” and brotherly love. Although most tourists flock to Old City to see Independence Hall, where the United States Constitution was debated and adopted by America’s Founding Fathers, there are hundreds of hidden gems sprinkled throughout the city.

If you’re visiting and looking for unique tourist spots in Philadelphia — or if you just want to avoid any overwhelming crowds — we’ve curated a list of seven hidden gems you may or may not have heard of before.

7 Hidden Gems in Philadelphia

Some of the best hidden gems in Philly include:

1. Wagner Free Institute

The Wagner Free Institute of Science offers a unique experience modern museums cannot — the museum was built in the 1800s and hasn’t changed much since.

William Wagner was a merchant who hosted scientific lectures out of his house until they became so popular he needed more space. The Wagner Free Institute came about to showcase Wagner’s natural history collection and help him live out his idea that education should be available to everyone.

The building has been hosting free classes for over a decade and a half. The museum still uses handwritten labels to identify taxidermy, entomology and sea life in their original rosewood cases.

This gem of weird Philadelphia offers a rare glimpse of knowledge during a time of exciting scientific change. The Wagner Free Institute is located in North Philadelphia, a few blocks west of Temple University’s main campus.

2. Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course

Get active during your trip to Philadelphia at Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course, one of the earliest permanent disc golf courses in the world. This 27-hole disc golf course is in Fairmount Park and is free for the public to enjoy time in nature.

This course is essentially a hike joined with an active game, providing a fun time for friends or family. The park is open year-round from sunup to sundown, hosting beginners and club members happy to answer questions or show you around.

3. Penn Museum

Nestled in University City, the Penn Museum, dedicated to anthropology and archaeology, is part of the University of Pennsylvania campus.

The core collection is composed of art and artifacts discovered largely by Pennsylvania University’s archaeologists and researchers during the 19th and 20th centuries. Exhibits are organized geographically, and this museum is so packed full of treasures it may be hard to see everything in one day.

The real draw of this museum is within the Egypt Galleries, showcasing the ways Egyptians buried and honored their dead, including royalty and pharaohs. They have mummies, coffin masks and statues on display. You can’t miss the Sphinx, the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

4. The Shofuso House

One of the best traditional Japanese gardens in North America is nestled near the banks of the Schuylkill River, right in Philadelphia. The Shofuso House was designed by the architect Junzō Yoshimura and built in Nagoya in 1953.

The Shofuso House

The house includes a tea room, bath, kitchen and hinoki bark roof. The garden has traditional Japanese elements such as a koi pond, tea garden, island and walled courtyard.

Check out this peaceful spot in West Fairmount Park for an immersive experience. When visiting, shoes are required in the garden, while socks or stockings are required in the house.

Pro tip — be sure to buy some food to feed the koi fish for the best experience.

Bonus: The Pavilion in the Trees

Fairmount Park is full of secret places in Philadelphia — a walk to the east from the Shofuso House will bring you to the Pavilion in the Trees, a public art piece part of a larger collection of art pieces inspired by Black and African American artists in Philadelphia. The Pavilion is inspired by the childhood longing for a treehouse.

It’s a destination for contemplation and to grow an intimate connection to nature.

5. Shane Confectionery

This candy shop is one unique place to visit in Philadelphia that will always provide a sweet time no matter what. Shane Confectionery is the country’s oldest candy store.

This candy store still uses historical techniques to produce clear toy candy, house-made chocolate, lollipops and more. Their honey is especially sweet as it’s made by the bees living on the store’s rooftop hives.

Shane Confectionery is located in Old City, so if you’re stopping to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall or the Betsy Ross house, be sure to grab a historically sweet treat.

6. Mural Arts Tours

If you’ve ever been to Philadelphia, you probably recall viewing the murals adorning the sides of rowhomes. Many of the murals around the city are the product of Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s largest public art program.

There are dozens of mural arts tours focused around specific neighborhoods, walking or on the trolley. Tours often sell out, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. If you can’t snag tickets in time for your trip to Philly, you can still take a self-guided mural arts tour.

7. The Rosenbach

The Rosenbach is a historical library hidden in plain sight a few blocks south of Rittenhouse Square, in the heart of Philadelphia. The museum was founded as a testamentary gift in 1954 by the Rosenbach brothers, dealers in books, manuscripts and fine art.

The brothers’ personal collection lives on as one of the most impressive collections of rare books and manuscripts in the entire world, earning them a spot in the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The museum’s special exhibit regularly changes to highlight the depth of its collection, and tours are offered daily on the hour to view the historic Rosenbach brothers’ home.

The unbeatable highlight of The Rosenbach is their hands-on tour. This tour is guided by experts who give visitors the chance to turn the pages of a rare book, feel the weight of a teacup and more. The hands-on tour provides access to rare and important items that aren’t available to the public.

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