Posted April 3, 2015

12 Philly attractions to visit this spring

Ryan S. Brandenberg
There are plenty of destinations to explore in Philadelphia during spring 2015.

With the cold, dark days of winter behind us, it’s a perfect time to get out and explore the city.

This list of affordable attractions highlights why Philadelphia was No. 3 on The New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Go in 2015.

1.         The Barnes Foundation Free First Sundays

The Barnes Foundation, which opened its state-of-the-art Philadelphia campus on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in May 2012, now offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Tour the museum’s large collection of fine art, attend talks and performances, or engage in hands-on activities. Tickets are available on-site, starting at 9 a.m.

2.         Dilworth Park

Dilworth Park, located at the foot of City Hall, is the perfect spring destination. People watch on the expansive Great Lawn, grab a drink or a bite at the Jose Garces café, cool off in the chlorinated fountain, check out a live performance, or attend a zumba class or other workshop.

3.         Franklin Square

One of Philadelphia’s original five public squares, Franklin Square, which reopened for the season on the first day of spring, offers a miniature-golf course, carousel and picnic area for the kid in all of us. The Stephen Starr-owned SquareBurger, open seasonally from April through December, sells hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes.

4.         Main Street Manayunk

Just a short trip from Main Campus and Center City, Manayunk, which is situated along the banks of the Schuylkill River, offers small-town charm in the big city. Stroll down Main Street and through the surrounding neighborhood for an assortment of unique shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés.

5.         Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

This public art gallery and community art center designed by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar is a must-see on South Street. Constructed of recycled glass, tiles, bottles, mirrors and other objects, this huge display of public art includes both an indoor and outdoor space.

6.         Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “pay-what-you-wish” days

Philadelphia’s most famous museum and home of the “Rocky steps” is now more accessible than ever with pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of each month, plus Wednesdays from 5 to 8:45 p.m. Explore the museum’s main building and its exquisite fine art collection on Wednesdays, and even partake in hands-on activities, like drop-in art-making workshops and yoga sessions.

7.         Race Street Pier

The Race Street Pier, part of the Delaware Riverfront’s revitalization project, is a bi-level promenade located next to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Check out the views from the multitiered seating area or enjoy a picnic on the adjacent, spacious lawn.

8.         Reading Terminal Market

Take a trip to historic Reading Terminal Market, the largest public market in the city, for a wide selection of locally grown and exotic produce; fresh meats, seafood and poultry; mouth-watering baked goods; kitchen items; and a large variety of options for take-out or sit-down dining.

9.         Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk

Completed in October 2014, this extension of the Schuylkill River Trail runs along the Schuylkill River from Locust Street several blocks south to the South Street Bridge. With four scenic overlooks, the boardwalk is conducive to both river watching and people watching.

10.       Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

A visit to Shofuso, ranked the third-best Japanese garden in North America for 2013, immediately transports visitors to the Far East. Originally constructed in the 1950s, the site features multiple gardens, a koi pond and island, a museum, and amazing city views in a tranquil setting. Regular events include tours, tea ceremonies, dance lessons and workshops.

11.       Wagner Free Institute of Science

Tour the three-story, 19th-century exhibition hall of the Wagner Free Institute of Science, located close to Main Campus, for a large collection of natural history specimens, including fossils, rocks and minerals, dinosaur bones, and even a look at the first American saber-toothed tiger.

12.       Washington Avenue Pier

South of the Race Street Pier is the latest addition to the Delaware Riverfront, the Washington Avenue Pier. Completed in the summer of 2014, the one-acre, eco-friendly space was constructed using repurposed materials from the original pier. A major highlight is the 55-foot Land Buoy, a piece of public art featuring a spiral staircase that is perfect for taking in the panoramic river views.

- Erica Brooke Fajge