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Pennsylvania See And Do

Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 299 1000

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences focuses on environmental research and the discovery of ecosystems. Kids will love the live animals—especially the butterflies in the simulated tropical rain forest—and Dinosaur Hall (who wouldn't want to climb inside the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex?). The dioramas that use mounted game animals collected in the twenties and thirties are cool in an old-school way.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

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Art Galleries
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania

In the past 30 years, a vital arts community has grown up in Old City as its small factories and warehouses have been converted into galleries for the visual and performing arts. One of the originals, Clay Studio, is a nonprofit that promotes ceramic arts; exhibits change monthly, but look for the meticulously crafted tableware of Elizabeth Lurie and work from visiting international artists, such as Eva Avadir's ceramic sculptures and Fiona Thompson's oversize domestic objects, like her salt and pepper shakers (139 N. 2nd St.; 215-925-3453;; Closed Monday). Another of the neighborhood's early adopters, the Painted Bride Art Center, supports groundbreaking contemporary work such as the photographs of Amie Potsic and performance pieces from the late Spalding Gray (230 Vine St.; 215-925-9914; A newer addition, Bahdeebahdu, is the not-to-be-missed workshop/gallery of Warren Muller and RJ Thornburg (whose business cards read "luminary" and "fabulist," respectively). From light fixtures fashioned out of found shovels, test tubes, and old coffee pots to unusual furniture pieces (like a chaise created from 6,400 nickels), these designers never fail to surprise and amuse (1522 North American St.; 215-627-5002;; open by appointment, closed Sunday, Monday, and the month of August). On the first Friday of each month, the Old City Arts Association hosts a neighborhood open house. Participating galleries are free and open until 9:00 p.m. on "First Fridays" (800-555-5191 or 215-625-9200; Philadelphia is also a city committed to public art; it has more outdoor sculpture than any other city in the country. The murals that started out as an anti-graffiti project in 1984 now cover 2,760 walls, forming the nation's largest outdoor art gallery. Self-guided and group tours are available (1729 Mount Vernon Street; 215-685-0750;

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Fairmount Park
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 683 0200

Fairmount Park, one of the country's largest and oldest city park systems, encompasses 9,200 acres, including 62 neighborhood and regional parks. Within its confines is the Beaux Arts Memorial Hall, built for the Centennial Exposition of 1876, and where the Please Touch Museum moved in 2008 (215-963-0667; The panoramic city vista from Belmont Plateau was mentioned by local boy Will Smith in his 2002 song "Summertime." And the Philadelphia Zoo, the country's first chartered zoo, opened here in 1874; it's set on 42 acres of Victorian gardens (215-243-1100; Kelly Drive, a long concrete pathway great for jogging and biking, stretches four miles from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Twin Bridges near Manayunk. Across the river, you can see Boathouse Row, 12 Victorian-style boathouses that are home to the city's sculling community as well as championship medalists. Each boathouse is outlined with white lights that, when illuminated at night, make for one of Philadelphia's most iconic cityscapes.

Franklin Institute Science Museum
222 N. 20th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 448 1200

You gotta love the walk-through heart, which thankfully has been refurbished and expanded since it was built in 1953. (The graffiti has been erased and the crumbling papier-mâché has been re-mâchéed.) The museum, originally constructed as a tribute to Benjamin Franklin's inventions, now specializes in hands-on science and technology exhibits. You can climb aboard a 350-ton, 101-foot Baldwin steam locomotive, the largest ever built; the Franklin Air Show, a great collection related to powered flight—including a T-33 jet trainer—just might capture the attention of those foot-dragging teens.

Open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm.

Masonic Temple
One N. Broad Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 988 1900

The city's best-kept secret, this ornate 19th-century temple designed to house the state's Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania hides in plain sight across from City Hall. In addition to a small collection of Masonic artifacts, and the largest collection works by American sculptor William Rush, there are seven halls that represent specific architectural styles: Corinthian, Ionic, Renaissance, Norman, Gothic, Oriental, and, of course, Egyptian.

Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am to 12 pm.

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Mummers Museum
1100 S. 2nd Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 336 3050

At this modest South Philly museum, the local New Year's institution of mummers—men and women in sequined, lavish, and scaffolded costumes, some playing hokey songs on banjos while doing a very particular strut down Broad Street—is celebrated in all its feathery blingdom. The Philly mummer is no doubt more glitzy than the original German and Swedish versions, and the museum is more a sociological adventure than a display of high art. That said, younger kids love the over-the-top costumes, and you can go home with a mummer bobble head, humming the made-for-strumming "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

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Mütter Museum
19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 563 3737

Creepy, curious, and gorgeous coexist at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, where your inner hypochondriac can come face-to-face with medical oddities. The 19th-century redwood display cases house 20,000 pathological and anatomical objects, including 139 Eastern European skulls, the preserved, connected livers of Chang and Eng (the duo for whom the term "Siamese twins" was coined), and a cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland. The meticulously archived extractions from a doctor who specialized in treating choke victims are amazing—and explain why Cracker Jack now gives away only digestible prizes.

Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 409 6600

Forming the northern anchor of a four-block Independence-palooza (which includes a visitor center, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall), the exterior of the Constitution Center might seem jarringly modern. But don't be put off: The 160,000-square-foot museum, designed by I.M. Pei's firm and opened in 2003, is a must-see on the historic trail. Avoid crowds by going on a weekday afternoon, when you'll be able to get to more than 100 interactive and multimedia exhibits. Best hands-on setups: taking the presidential oath of office and reading landmark legal cases at a replica Supreme Court bench. Before leaving the neighborhood, make a stop at the Curtis Center, a Georgian Revival building on the southwest corner of Independence Park (at 6th and Walnut Street) that once housed the Saturday Evening Post and whose lobby contains the Dream Garden, a 49-foot mosaic by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It's based on a painting by Maxfield Parrish and is comprised of about 100,000 pieces of glass.

Open Mondays through Fridays 9:30 am to 5 pm, Saturdays 9:30 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
128 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 972 7600

The nation's oldest museum and school of fine arts, founded in 1805, preens in the middle of Center City. Architects Frank Furness and George Hewitt made a beautiful High Victorian Gothic building to house an impressive collection that includes Thomas Eakins (check out his 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic), Winslow Homer, and Benjamin West. If you're in town for the hugely popular annual student show in May, you can compete with locals for well-priced works from the masters of tomorrow.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 763 8100

Founded as a museum of decorative arts during the 1876 Centennial Exposition and inspired by Greek temples, the PMA sits on nine acres and still gets a lot of Rocky-imitating traffic up its front steps. Now the third-largest art museum in the country, there are significant Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern holdings, and the country's largest group of work by the city's own Thomas Eakins. The reconstructed medieval cloister is straight out of The Name of the Rose; and the museum oversees the largest Rodin collection outside of Paris, just down Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 22nd Street. The museum is also frequent host to blockbuster exhibits, such as the Fall 2007 "Renoir Landscapes" show (the first U.S. exhibition devoted to the famed artist's impressionist landscapes). The Costume and Textiles collection, which numbers over 20,000 objects, as well as the Print, Drawings, Photos, and Modern and Contemporary collections, are now housed in the Art Deco Perelman Building (across the street from the main building).

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm (open until 8:45 pm on Fridays).

Rare Book Department
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 686 5416

More than 4,000 years of the written word are represented in the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The comprehensive collection ranges from Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets (dating from 3000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) and illuminated manuscripts to children's classics. (The Sumerian tablets can only be seen on a guided tour, which take place Monday through Friday at 11 a.m.) The centerpiece is the Elkins Room, a 62-foot-long paneled Georgian library room that was removed from the Main Line estate of industrialist William McIntire Elkins and installed in 1949. It contains Charles Dickens memorabilia and Elkins's literary collection.

Open Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 5 pm.

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Rodin Museum
22nd Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 568 6026

Even before you enter the museum itself, the landscaped sculpture garden of the Rodin Museum is a welcome respite from the sightseeing hordes. But don't just take in the famous Thinker sitting outside and leave it at that. An early American movie-theater magnate, Jules Mastbaum, had the museum built for his collection of the sculptor's work, and among the 124 sculptures here, you'll find bronze casts of Rodin's most famous pieces, including The Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 898 4000

You could go just for the buildings on the southeastern edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus: The first was completed in 1899 and adorned with red-brick-and-white-marble walls topped by terra-cotta tile, Tiffany Glass floral and faunal mosaics, and sculpture by Alexander Calder père (father of the mobilemaker and son of the man who sculpted the William Penn statue atop City Hall). But inside, the Guastavino domes are their own reward, and the "Worlds Intertwined" exhibit of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artifacts and the not-to-be-missed Egyptian Galleries add up to a stunning collection of ancient civilizations.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sundays 1 pm to 5 pm. Only select galleries are open on Sunday and in summer.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.