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TO THE CRADLE OF LIBERTY & BEYOND

Interested in taking the most scenic route from the northwestern part of the city into historic downtown Philadelphia? Take cobblestone Germantown Avenue from Chestnut Hill, a classy section of shops and homes resembling a quaint English village, to Cresheim Valley Drive. This is the northeasternmost tip of Fairmount Park, at nearly 9,000 acres, the largest municipal park in the world.

Cresheim Valley Drive becomes Emlen Street and feeds into Lincoln Drive, a thoroughfare with stately homes and churches. At Wissahickon Avenue, Lincoln becomes a twisting scenic parkway lining Wissahickon Creek, which flows into the Schuylkill River.

From Lincoln, take Kelly Drive or West River Drive along either bank of the river. The stunning tree-lined riverscape, with eye-catching sculptures at strategic points, invites picnickers, bicyclists and joggers, as sculls race across the water From West River Drive, you can turn off to the Philadelphia Zoo, the nation's oldest, or catch a glimpse of colorful Boathouse Row and the stately Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the world's major art museums, worth a visit in itself.

The front staircase of the museum, overlooking the broad, flag-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway, affords a view of one of the grandest city skylines you will ever see. A mile ahead, at the other end of the Parkway, is City Hall. A few blocks before it is Logan Circle with its cool Swann Fountain. Even closer, on your left, is the Rodin Museum, with the largest collection of Rodin originals this side of Paris.

To the right, a bank of sparkling tallest, Liberty Place One and Liberty Place Two, lie just beyond two of the premier science museums in the world. The Franklin Institute contains the Fels Planetarium, the Mandell Futures Center and the Tuttelman Omniverse Theater, which projects films and adventure onto a screen 79 feet long and four stories high.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, the oldest institution of its kind in the country, draws visitors from around the world to its outstanding "Discovering Dinosaurs" exhibit.

Just off the Parkway is the wonderful Please Touch Museum, a unique blend of artistic, scientific and cultural elements aimed at encouraging children, especially those under 7, to use their senses.

Not far from the Parkway, at Broad and Cherry, stands the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a magnificent example of High Victorian architecture housing one of the finest collections of American art in the country.

Philadelphia's top tourist draws, however, continue to be the 18th century landmarks in Independence National Historical Park, those buildings most closely associated with the colonial period, the birth of the nation, and the city's early days as the nation's capital.

Since January 1, 1976, the glass-structured Liberty Bell Pavilion has served as permanent home for the Liberty Bell, signifying the nation's freedom. Prior to that, it was housed at elegant Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress decided to defy the British crown, where Washington accepted his commission as Commander in Chief of the colonial forces, and where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed.

Other major sites in Independence Park are Congress Hall, Carpenters' Hall, Old City Hall, Graff House and the Second Bank of the United States. Near these attractions are the Betsy Ross House, where the nation's "first seamstress" is alleged to have stitched the first American flag; Elfreth's Alley, the quaint and narrow street said to be the oldest in continual use in the nation; and Christ Church, where many signers of the Declaration knelt in prayer. The Church's Burial Ground, nearby, contains the graves of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration.

The city's revitalized riverfront also draws many visitors and locals as well. At Penn's Landing, a site which marks where William Penn first set foot in 1682, you will discover the Port of History Museum, several historic ships (including the U.S.S. Olympia), and a sculpture garden. Concerts and festivals are held here throughout the year.

At Penn's Landing, you can also catch the Riverbus for your 20 minute ride to the New Jersey State Aquarium, across the Delaware in Camden, or board The Spirit of Philadelphia for a river cruise or tour of the harbor.

Live entertainment and casual dining can also be found at various clubs along the riverfront. Another popular haunt for the young at heart is South Street, with its wild and wonderful restaurants and boutiques. The antique shops of Pine Street are also worth a visit.

Closely associated with Philadelphia history and culture are the century old Reading Terminal Market (right by the brand spanking new Pennsylvania Convention Center), where the city's freshest produce and best luncheon specials can be had; the Italian Market, in the heart of South Philadelphia; and the Mummers Museum, featuring audio-visual displays celebrating the city's world-famous Mummers string bands and New Year's Day Parade.

As Philadelphia is a city of ethnic diversity and proud neighborhoods, a visitor would also do well to wander through Chinatown (and dine at one of its fine restaurants), the neat row houses of South Philadelphia, or the campus atmosphere of University City, site of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Visitors to Philadelphia might also enjoy a trip to the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. That includes the Spectrum, where the Flyers, 76ers and major rock concerts play, and Veterans Stadium, home of the Eagles and the Phillies.

Theatre is also alive and well in Philadelphia, with productions running at The Forrest Theater, The Wilma, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Drama Guild and People's Light & Theatre Company.

The city is also proud of its world-class Philadelphia Orchestra, which presents its winter series at the stately Academy of Music, and its summer series under the stars at the Mann Music Center.


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