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ESCAPE KEYS: Philadelphia

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 95 north into Pennsylvania, then take Exit 13, Penrose Avenue/PA-291 toward I-76 west/Valley Forge. Continue for 3.5 miles and turn left at a traffic light to South 26th Street/PA-291 east. In about a mile, merge onto I-76 west. Take Exit 341 for Montgomery Drive. Turn left at the light to Montgomery Drive. Turn left to Belmont Avenue. Turn left to Avenue of the Republic. The museum will be on the left.

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THE MUSEUM: The Please Touch Museum is in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park (4231 Avenue of the Republic, formerly North Concourse Drive, 215-581-3181, http://www.pleasetouchmuseum.org). Hours are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Afternoons and Mondays are less crowded (no school groups); rainy days tend to be busier. Admission $15, children younger than 1 free. Carousel rides are $3.

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Please Touch is in the Centennial District of Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Nearby are the Philadelphia Zoo (34th Street and Girard Avenue, Fairmount Park, 215-243-1100, http://www2.philadelphiazoo.org), the Horticultural Center (North Horticultural and Montgomery drives, 215-685-0701) and the Japanese House and Garden (closed November-April), as well as walking paths on both sides of the Schuylkill River, site of the city's iconic Boathouse Row. All at http://www.fairmountpark.org.

WHERE TO EAT: The museum's Please Taste Cafe serves such kid-friendly foods as pizza, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, as well as more-adult fare. Nearby in the park is the Centennial Cafe (at the Ohio House, 4700 States Dr., 215-877-3055) near Belmont Avenue, the only other surviving structure from the Centennial. All-day menu ranges from omelets, waffles and breakfast dishes to sandwiches, salads and soups.

WHERE TO STAY: Through Jan. 31, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. is offering a "Play & Stay" package that includes a night's stay at a choice of hotels, free hotel parking, two adult and two children VIP museum tickets (with a "Speed Pass" to skip lines), four carousel rides and premier seating at theater shows. For details, visit http://www.gophila.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: A map of Fairmount Park can be found at http://citymaps.phila.gov/ParksAndRec.

-- R.D.


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