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20 New and Notable Philly Attractions for 2013

Sunday Dec 23, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - If you haven’t updated your Philadelphia guide lately, you might be missing some major new museums and attractions. Over the past few years, the region welcomed some destination-defining-and trip-defining-attractions, including the Barnes Foundation, the renewed Rodin Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History and The President’s House, as well as new fashionable hotels and fun festivals.

Between all their touring, visitors fuel up in a city that’s become a top dining destination, evidenced by recent multiple-page features in Travel + Leisure and Bon Appétit. The Italian Market, Reading Terminal Market, BYOB spots, red-gravy restaurants, chef-centric eateries, ethnic outposts, food trucks and alfresco dining rooms make Philly’s food scene an attraction in itself.

After the check’s paid, here are the 20 newest spots to check out in Philadelphia:

New & Must-Do Attractions:
1. Opened in May 2012, the Barnes Foundation displays the world-renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, as well as African sculpture and Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts-all moved from a Pennsylvania suburb to Center City’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

To house the late Albert Barnes’ treasured art holdings, architects designed a building that combines the vision of their original owner Dr. Albert Barnes with a contemporary and green execution. It paid off when it achieved highest level of environmental certification from the U.S. Green Building Council-LEED Platinum. The 93,000-square-foot building also includes a changing exhibition gallery, conservation lab, auditorium, library, cafe and gift shop. Reservations are highly suggested. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 640-0171, www.barnesfoundation.org

2. In November 2010, Independence Mall welcomed the opening of the gleaming new National Museum of American Jewish History, a modern 100,000-square-foot, five-story glass structure architecturally designedto reflect the welcome embrace of America and the perennial fragility of democracy. Inside, exhibitions, rare artifacts and interactive displays mark the contributions, hardships and successes of American Jews through every phase of the country’s history and invite all people to remark on the characteristics that make humans similar instead of different. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, www.nmajh.org

3. When walking through The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation on Independence Mall, visitors see structural fragments of the home where Presidents Washington and Adams lived during their terms and where nine enslaved people served the first president. Just steps from the Liberty Bell Center, people learn about the events that transpired at the President’s House through illustrated glass panels, timelines and video re-enactments, and they can partake in silent reflection at the free, open-air site. 6th & Market Streets,(215) 597-0060, www.nps.gov/inde

4. Inspired by Rome’s famed gathering centers, The Piazza at Schmidts sits in the former plot of Schmidt’s Brewery, embracing the neighborhood’s industrial past and vibrant present all at once. Surrounded by a mix of artists’ studios, boutiques and restaurants, it’s bursting with activity all year long with festivals, concerts and a farmers’ market. People bring their own chairs to catch games and movies on its 40-foot LED screen. 2nd Street & Germantown Avenue, www.atthepiazza.com

5. Shoppers stroll through the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick-about an hour outside of Philadelphia-in search of bargains at the 150 outlet stores. The mall is home to everyday favorites like Gap, Adidas and Anne Taylor, along with splurge-worthy spots like Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Cole Haan. And remember, there’s no tax on clothing in Pennsylvania. 18 West Lightcap Road, Limerick, (610) 495-9000, www.premiumoutlets.com

Major Revamps:
6. The Rodin Museum unveiled its redesigned outdoor sculpture garden in 2011, and in 2012, museum officials opened the doors to a fully renovated interior. The relocation of many sculptures back to their rightful place in the garden has opened up indoor space for a reconfiguration of existing items, modernized visitor amenities and areas for lively public programming. A highlight of the revamped museum is the main gallery placement of a marble replica of The Kiss. 22nd Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 568-6026, www.rodinmuseum.org

7. The September 2012 opening of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent revealed an extensively revitalized home for a treasure trove of objects that chronicle the everyday lives of three centuries’ worth of Philadelphians.

New exhibits showcase everything from 18th-century portraits to 21st-century community movements; installations that explore the city’s craft beer movement; dynamic displays that celebrate Philadelphia sports fanaticism; and stories of the city’s growth using street intersections as a guide.

The reconfigured space allows curators to display items rarely or ever before seen, such as Joe Frazier’s boxing gloves, Benjamin Franklin’s wine glass, a Quaker bonnet, the famous Wampum Belt and George Washington’s presidential desk. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830, www.philadelphiahistory.org

Parks & Outdoor Venues:
8. When it opened in 2011, Lenfest Plaza became an OLIN-designed anchor for burgeoning North Broad Street. Because the plaza is owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, public art and performance are focal points. Alongside a permanent stage, sculpture and other artwork rotate. The installation of Claes Oldenburg’s 51-foot Paint Torch sculpture-his only large-scale work to incorporate light sources-makes Philadelphia home to more outsized Oldenburgs than any other city in the world. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, www.pafa.org

9. In the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge juts the Race Street Pier, a stretch of land that’s been landscaped to provide two levels for recreation on the Delaware River waterfront. The upper terrace, dubbed the "Grand Sky Promenade," is paved with a sustainable, synthetic decking material fashioned from reclaimed plastic and wood.

The promenade is connected to the grassy lower terrace by a multi-tiered seating area that’s perfect for picnicking and watching the tide roll in. Fully lighted rails and more than 200 embedded LED solar light blocks extend the pier’s hours of use well into the evening. Columbus Boulevard & Race Street, (215) 928-8801, www.delawareriverwaterfrontcorp.com

10. The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul now has a front yard worthy of its grandiosity. Opened in May 2012, Sister Cities Park boasts a contemporary, eco-forward pavilion that houses a cafe and a visitor center. The pavilion is surrounded by an outdoor children’s garden, a boat pond and a fountain that pays tribute to Philadelphia’s 10 sister cities. 18th Street &Benjamin Franklin Parkway, www.sistercitiespark.org

11. Penn Park, a 24-acre urban recreational area on the banks of the Schuylkill River, is a prime component of the University of Pennsylvania’s 30-year master development plan to connect the campus to the rest of the city. Bike trails, walkways and native trees are just the beginning of the improvements to the former parking lots.

Areas for relaxation, vegetation and formal and informal athletics add 20% more greenspace to Penn’s campus, while an elevated walkway and a raised central plaza offer prime vistas of the river and Center City’s highrises. 31st Street between Walnut & South Streets, www.pennpark.upenn.edu

12. After a crowdsourcing naming initiative, the former asphalt lot that’s now a green plaza outside the south side of 30th Street Station is being called The Porch at 30th Street Station. With plantings, trees and lots of seating, it makes for an ideal canvas for festivals, performances, yoga classes, a new farmers’ market and a pleasant place to sit and eat lunch from a nearby food truck. 93 N. 30th Street, (215) 243-0555, www.universitycity.org

Games: On The Field & In The Slots:
13. Soccer fans have plenty to cheer about in Philadelphia-the Philadelphia Union team and PPL Park stadium both debuted in 2010. The 18,500-seat home stadium, located in Chester, Pennsylvania, boasts scenic views of the Delaware River, a restaurant, 30 luxury suites, a club section and dedicated areas for tailgating, picnicking and music. 1 Stadium Drive, Chester, www.philadelphiaunion.com

14. In South Philadelphia, where the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles wow crowds throughout the year, the new Xfinity Live! Philadelphia dining and entertainment complex opened where the storied Spectrum once stood. Game-goers and even non-sports fans head to the 80,000-square-foot space to enjoy the Victory Beer Hall, Old Original Nick’s Roast Beef, an upscale steakhouse, a Mitchell & Ness souvenir shop, massive and plentiful TV screens, live music, family programs and much more. 11th Street & Pattison Avenue, www.xfinitylive.com

15. The Philadelphia region hit the jackpot in 2010 when it welcomed its third casino-this one close to downtown Philadelphia. SugarHouse Casino in the Fishtown section of the city joined Parx Casino® in Bensalem and Harrah’s Chester to make Philadelphia the only major city to have casinos with both slots and table games.

All easily accessible along the I-95 corridor, the shiny new gaming parlors boast thousands of slot machines, hundreds of table games, live racing, restaurants, lounges and more. SugarHouse, 1010 N. Columbus Boulevard, (267) 232-2000, sugarhousecasino.com; Parx, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem, (888) 588-PARXS, parxcasino.com; Harrah’s, 777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Chester, (800) 480-8020, www.harrahschester.com

Fresh Festivals:
16. During the biennial Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), taking place March through April 2013, the Kimmel Center presents a celebration of the city’s diverse artistic fabric while exploring a theme for that year. For its second showing in 2013, PIFA asks organizations to use "If you had a time machine..."

For one month, more than 50 participating arts organizations stage events and performances throughout the city, including classical and contemporary music, dance, theater, painting, circus acts and more. It all culminates with a street fair on the Avenue of the Arts. (215) 790-5800, www.pifa.org

17. The Philadelphia Science Festival comprises a two-week, community-wide celebration of all- things science in April 2013. With hands-on events for kids, sophisticated activities for adults and a carnival that takes place along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Science Festival takes science out of the lab and demonstrates the role it plays in everyday life. (215) 448-1200, www.philasciencefestival.org

18. Philly Beer Week,an annual celebration of the Philadelphia’s vibrant beer culture, takes over the city and region for 10 days in June 2013 and features events ranging from tastings to lectures to beer-pairing dinners. www.phillybeerweek.org

A Couple Kimptons:
19. Kimpton made its Philadelphia debut in 2009 with the Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, 
a 24-story property housed in the 80-year-old American Institute of Architects building. Themed "Art in Motion," the Art Deco building’s interior design pays homage to fashion, dance, literature, architecture and the visual arts-as evidenced by the original artwork on display by local Philadelphia and national artists.

What’s more, Hotel Palomar delivers a stylish and modern design while preserving many of the building’s historic details. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has recognized the hotel for its design innovation and its unique sustainable building site. 117 S. 17th Street, (215) 563-5006, www.hotelpalomar-philadelphia.com

20. The 100-year-old Lafayette Building, located on Independence Hall, found new life as a Kimpton-owned Hotel Monaco in 2012.The 10-story structure transformed into a four-star hotel housing 268 rooms; a bevy of luxury suites; the 120-seat Red Owl Tavern, serving modern American fare and craft cocktails; and Stratus, the largest rooftop lounge in Philadelphia.5th & Chestnut Streets, www.monaco-philadelphia.com

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more.

Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at 
(800) 537-7676.

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