This tour is best Tuesday through Friday, when both museums and City Hall are open for business.
Start at the (1) Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (118 North Broad Street; www.pafa.org), an elaborate architectural wedding cake designed by Philadelphia icon Frank Furness. The grand staircase hall is a work of art, embellished with gold leaf, silver stars, intricate carvings and bronze ornaments. Don’t miss “The Gross Clinic,” Thomas Eakins’ fascinating medical masterpiece, considered the Mona Lisa of Philadelphia, only bigger. Eight by six feet (2.4 meters by 1.8 meters), the work is now shared on a rotating basis by the academy and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Exit the museum, make a right on North Broad and a left on Arch Street. Proceed to the (2) Fabric Workshop and Museum (1214 Arch Street; www.fabricworkshop.org), America’s only nonprofit workshop dedicated to new work in fabric by emerging artists. If you aren’t snagged by weaving, walk back up Arch and turn left on North Broad.)
Proceed to the (3) Masonic Temple (1 North Broad Street; www.pagrandlodge.org), where the exterior is patterned after a Norman cathedral. “The interior will knock your socks off, fantastic carvings, incredibly over the top,” says Ron Avery, author, Philadelphia: Beyond the Liberty Bell. The museum includes George Washington’s Masonic apron, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette.
Turn left when you leave the building and walk around City Hall. (You’ll return here at the end of your walk.) Proceed down Broad Street to (4) the Bellevue at the Park Hyatt (Broad and Walnut; www.parkphiladelphia.hyatt.com) a splendid hotel built in 1904. There’s now high-end retail including Nicole Miller and Tiffany & Co. on the ground floor. You can take the elevator to the 19th floor to gaze at the sumptuous Barrymore room, named for the famous Philadelphia family of thespians.
If you’re hungry, stop at (5) Bliss (224 South Broad; www.bliss-restaurant.com) to indulge in contemporary Asian-inspired Mediterranean fare. Go to the (6) Academy of Music (240 South Broad; www.academyofmusic.org) where Broad intersects Locust, the oldest opera house in America.
Press on to the (7) Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (260 South Broad Street; www.kimmelcenter.org) and tour the hall where the Philadelphia Orchestra plays. You can visit the (8) rooftop garden rain or shine. (It’s under a glass dome.)
Exit, cross the street and turn left, heading back toward City Hall. Admire the funky façade of the (9) Wilma Theater (265 South Broad Street; www.wilmatheater.org) an innovator in the arts since 1973. Proceed on Broad and turn right on Sansom Street. Turn left on 13th Street where you’ll land smack in the middle of cool shopping, including (10) Sailor Jerry (116 South 13th Street; www.sailorjerry.com) a local clothier whose designs are based on seamen’s tattoos and (11) Scarlet Fiorella (113 South 13th Street; www.scarletfiorella.com) a purveyor of antiques with a twist.
Continue on 13th Street and turn left on Market Street, where you will see (12) City Hall, completed in 1901 in French Second Empire style, rising 548 feet (167 meters). For years, no building in Philadelphia could be constructed higher than the hat of William Penn, whose bronze figure tops the tower. Although there are now taller structures in the city, it remains one of the world’s tallest masonry buildings.” Be sure to go during business hours so you can go inside. It’s magnificent, with lots of statues,” says Dave Davies, columnist, Philadelphia Daily News.
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