Philadelphia - celebrating art and culture

Weekend in Philadelphia: Discover a Culturally Vibrant, Artsy Scene

My husband and I took a whirlwind weekend trip to Philadelphia a few months ago! We were completely floored by everything this vibrant city has to offer.

Later, we returned to Boston, and I immediately grabbed my computer and began typing our favorite experiences to share with you.

Finally, I’ve got it all together!

So, if you’re thinking of spending a weekend in Philadelphia, here are some things you need to do:

Barnes Collection

Uniquely displayed art at the Barnes Foundation.

1. First, start your weekend in Philadelphia with a visit to the Barnes Foundation.

By far, the greatest surprise for us in Philly was the Barnes Foundation.

Most impressive is the variety of the collections in the galleries and how the pieces are displayed.

According to the site:

“Albert C. Barnes collected these works between 1912 and 1951, arranging them in “ensembles” that include objects from across history and around the globe.

The ensembles make visual connections between light, line, color, and space…”

Also, while visiting, you must “explore paintings by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh, and other artists, plus African sculpture, metalwork, and decorative arts.”

Trust me; you will be amazed by this museum. It, alone, is worth the trip to Philadelphia.

AVA - American Vocal Academy

2. Next up is the Academy of Vocal Arts.

Tucked along a side street in Rittenhouse Square is the Academy of Vocal Arts.

The Academy of Vocal Arts, or AVA, is one of its kind worldwide. On average, students are admitted through a highly selective audition process and spend four years of training at the school.

The site says:

“The mission of the Academy of Vocal Arts is to be the world’s premier institution for training young artists as international opera soloists. Through rigorous instruction and coaching, and by presentations of Resident Artists from around the world in concerts, oratorios, public programs, and fully staged professional opera productions, AVA will train artists with the high potential for career success while enriching lives in Philadelphia and beyond.”

Impressively, all expenses are covered, and students are provided a living stipend to devote all their time and energy to their training.

White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia

3. A weekend in Philadelphia must include a stop at White Dog Cafe.

According to the site:

“Known for award-winning contemporary American Cuisine and friendly service with four neighborhood locations in Philadelphia, the Main Line, and Glen Mills. Since 1983, White Dog Cafe has provided local, seasonal food that is sustainably raised to our surrounding neighborhoods and communities.”

In particular, I loved the decor. Portraits of dogs are displayed throughout. And our lunch was delicious!

Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia

istock Getty image

4. Rittenhouse Square neighborhood is a dreamy place to visit.

The quaint elegance of Rittenhouse Square is striking.

Notably, the park in the center suggests a slower, more refined elegance than some of the surrounding, busy areas in Philadelphia.

Also, the brownstones lining the streets are handsome and elegant. And the cafes and shops reminded me of Europe. Walking through this neighborhood, you feel like you’re whisked back in time.

According to visitphilly.com:

“With a bevy of high-rise residences filled with top-end luxury apartments and some of the best fine dining experiences in the city, residents can marvel at their options while also enjoying the luxury retail shopping in the area, all of which surrounds the handsome tree-filled park.”

I wish we had more time to stroll through Rittenhouse Square during our busy weekend in Philadelphia. Another reason to visit again soon!

Four Seasons in Philadelphia

5. For a treat, check out the Four Seasons in Philadelphia!

According to the site:

“Embark on a journey above the clouds to discover the modern lifestyle of Philadelphia’s first and only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel. Feel the tranquility of healing crystals when you arrive at the Five-Star Spa and immerse yourself in rejuvenating treatments as you float above the city in the 57th-floor infinity-edge pool.

Savour unparalleled fine-dining by Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and inventive flavours by local James Beard Award-winner Chef Greg Vernick.”

Okay, this hotel is insane. The views, the service, the food, the spa, the gym. the room… everything about this hotel is incredible. Even if you only stop by for a quick glass of wine at sunset, do it! You won’t regret it!
Philadelphia Museum of Art

6. Next, no weekend in Philadelphia is complete without a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

While visiting, we lucked out and had a chance to check out the traveling Matisse exhibit.

It ends on January 29th, so get your tickets now!

The site says:

“Matisse in the 1930s features a collection of the legendary artist’s work during a decade of artistic exploration—from experimentation to failure to renewal—with Philadelphia as a backdrop.

By 1930, Henri Matisse had achieved significant international renown, yet he found himself in a deep creative slump. The turning point came with a commission to decorate the main gallery of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The resulting monumental mural, The Dance (1930–33), turned Matisse’s artistic practice around.

Come learn about his time in Philadelphia and discover how it influenced his work for years to come, through more than 100 paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings.”

So many fascinating, colorful pieces to see. A very worthwhile afternoon visit!

Walking through Philadelphia

7. Lastly, take a walk through the heart of Philadelphia.

On our last day, instead of taking an uber, we decided to walk through the city.

We started around the area of Ben Franklin’s grave and decided to walk back to the Four Seasons from there.

Strolling along, we were impressed by the number of bustling cafes, shops, etc., we discovered on our way through the central corridor.

Our trip took us straight through city hall, another impressive landmark.

When we arrived back at the hotel we decided we would definitely plan a trip back! One weekend in Philadelphia isn’t enough. We need more time to explore this historical, deeply cultured city again.

Do you want to read more?

Read about my favorite block in NYC city here!

Or, see how art meets philanthropy at Dewey Square in Boston.

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