Photo credit Moon + Arrow / NYT.
Philadelphians can be tough on their hometown, griping about the traffic, the crime, the long-suffering sports teams. But these quibbles are mere blips compared to the attractions that await visitors: the colonial charm of the Old City, a barbacoa breakfast in the historic Italian Market, glittering mosaics on South Street and the fine restaurants in Fishtown. […]
10 a.m. – Tour a magic garden
The local artist Isaiah Zagar has spent decades beautifying the streets of Philadelphia, installing glittering, kaleidoscopic mosaics on hundreds of facades, both private and public. His masterpiece, arguably, is the Magic Gardens, a formerly abandoned lot on South Street that is entirely encrusted with bits of mirror, crushed ceramics, glass bottles, bicycle wheels, found objects and original folk art. Explore this psychedelic art environment, with its maze of tunnels and excavated grottoes, on a guided group tour that highlights the artist’s many recurring motifs and hidden messages. Morning tours ($25) begin an hour before the site officially opens and include a visit to a mesmerizing mosaicked basement gallery that is otherwise closed to visitors.
12 p.m. – Shop for local treasures
A short walk east, the Queen Village neighborhood is home to small independent shops stocked with clothing, books and art that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Browse the shelves of Brickbat Books, a used-book store with creaky wood-plank floors and a select mix of artist monographs, illustrated children’s books, poetry and literature. Then stop at Moon + Arrow, a serene home goods store filled with soft knitwear, organic elixirs, wooden toys and jewelry handmade from recycled metals. Next door, Philly Vintage Bazaar is the place to find hand-painted leather jackets, 1950s pin-up-style dresses, bejeweled collar clips made by a local artisan or a 1980s Budweiser-print bikini.
Originally published by the New York Times.
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