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10 unique Philly places to take your out-of-town guests

Posted on December 24, 2018

With the holidays underway, out-of-town guests have already started to make their way to Philly.

While tourist-heavy attractions can be fun, there are a lots of other gems in this city that are less well-known and less frequented.

We’ve nailed down 10 places that are much less touristy than your typical spots, but still offer that typical Philly experience. Bonus: Many of them are free, and they’re all accessible via public transportation.

1. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

This one is a little out of the way, but it’s perfect if you’re picking up your visitors from the airport and want to make a pit stop. John Heinz is the nation’s first urban refuge and it features plenty of flat trails and opportunities for bird watching. Best of all (amid the season of buying things), it’s free.

2. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

It’s easy to spend an entire day at Penn’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, where there are, roughly, one million artifacts on display or being tended to on a daily basis. Bonus: You can buy a double ticket here, which also offers admission to the creepy but cool Mutter Museum.

3. Cira Green

You don’t have to try hard to get a great view of Philly. Take your folks up to the free Cira Green, a beautiful park on top of a parking garage in University City. You’ll see views of the Schuylkill River and Center City, plus down to the art museum and back toward West Philly.

4. Awbury Arboretum

This 55-acre arboretum is the largest open space in the historic Germantown neighborhood, so there’s plenty to admire. There are more than 200 plant species, trails, ponds, woods, meadows, and lots of wildlife sightings.

5. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The PAFA boasts what is undoubtedly one of the most stunning interiors in the city. The historic landmark building, designed by Frank Furness, features an array of exhibits on view at the moment.

6. Wagner Free Institute of Science

This historic museum dates back to 1855, when it began providing free education classes on science to Philly residents. Today, it remains relatively untouched and features a museum in a gorgeous 3-story space with natural artifacts gathered mostly by William Wagner himself.

7. Pennsylvania Hospital

We know: A hospital is probably the last place you’d want to visit with your family. But consider this: It’s steeped in history, given that it’s the first hospital in the nation. Plus: It boasts the first surgical operating theater—yes, theater—in the country. It’s a beautiful space to boot.

8. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Edgar Allan Poe spent six productive years living in Philadelphia at N. 7th Street. At this National Historic Site, you can tour the home he rented for what he’s called some of the happiest years of his life. Just note: The house is only open Friday-Sunday.

9. Fabric Row

If you want to avoid the shopping crowds on Chestnut Street, take your visitors to Queen Village’s Fabric Row, where, as our friends at Racked put it, “you can find some of best vintage shopping on the East Coast.” There are indie shops and boutiques, cute cafes, and it’s a short walk to the popular South Street.

10. Cherry Street Pier

This vibrant and open pier is a new addition to the Old City landscape, and one that’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re planning more tourist-y stops in the area. It just opened after a long renovation process, and offers vendors, an outdoor garden, and 14 artists working on site. Stop by and watch them go, buy a painting, grab a bite, and look out over the killer views of the Delaware and Ben Franklin Bridge.

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