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Domestic Destinations: Philadelphia
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Happening neighborhood: A section of Old City, centered on Market Street between Front and Third streets is starting to take off. Lots of restaurants, clubs and galleries have taken root, all with a funkier, more-Philadelphia flavor than in newer parts of the city.

If you only do one thing: Walk from City Hall to the Philadelphia Art Museum in the middle of Fairmount Park, a pleasant stretch that's less than a mile long and includes recommended places to stop along the way (for example, the Rodin Museum, the Franklin Institute of Science Museum). Tour the art museum, then go outside for a picnic along the Schuylkill River. Alternatively, tour the historic buildings of Independence National Historical Park, then head over to the renovated Reading Terminal Market to watch the comings and goings of Philadelphians from all walks of life, who come here, as you should, to buy favorite foods (cheesesteaks to fried oysters) from one of the many vendors.

What's new: The Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition of some 70 works by painter Eugene Delacroix (Sept. 15 through Jan. 3). Philly is the show's only U.S. venue.

Old-faithful restaurant: The White Dog Cafe, still a favorite after 15 years, often sponsors social and political lectures and other events (storytelling, pajama parties) and serves interesting contemporary American food. If you're in the mood for something elegant, try Garden in the city's center.

Of-the-moment restaurant: Fork, in Old City, is unpretentiously hot. Open about a year now, Fork serves American bistro food in an intimate upscale atmosphere. For a posher atmosphere, stop in at Rouge 98.

With the kids: Visit the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute of Science Museum, and the Please Touch Me Museum, all with hands-on children's exhibits (all three located along Benjamin Franklin Parkway).

Side trip: Stroll through Manayunk, on the city's outskirts, a fun neighborhood filled with shops, galleries, bookstores, restaurants and coffeehouses.

Off-the-beaten track: Go to the Eastern State Penitentiary in the Fairmount section of downtown. Built in the 1820s – when it was visited by Charles Dickens and Alexis de Tocqueville – the penitentiary, which closed in 1971, is now open for guided tours that highlight its fascinating history and architecture. (Cells are skylit, and the rooftop offers an amazing panoramic view.) The penitentiary hosts a famous Halloween party and other hijinks when it's open, May through November.

Average per-night lodging rate: $183

Distance from airport to city center: Eight miles.

Information: 800/537-7676, http://www.libertynet.org/phila-visitor

Philadelphia Calendar:
  • String Band Music Under the Stars. Come to the Mummers Museum on Tuesday nights, May through August, 8 to 10, and enjoy block-party atmosphere and free string band music. Bring your own chair. Information: 215/336-3050.

  • "Cover Story – Norman Rockwell's America." The Atwater Kent Museum hosts a show of the artist's 321 "Saturday Evening Post" magazine covers, June 16-Sept. 2000. Information: 215/922-0708.

  • "Planet Golf." Through Sept. 12, the Academy of Natural Sciences explores natural and environmental themes using an interactive 18-hole miniature golf course. For example, one hole allows golfers to follow the life cycle of a Chinook salmon, others explore recycling and dinosaur extinction. Information: 215/299-1000.

  •  
    Recent Post Stories:
    Urban B&Bs: Recommended Inns in Five North American Cities
    A Couple of Things About Philly: Recommendations in a Range of Categories
    Smart Thinking at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Science Museum
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