Arriving in Philadelphia
The cheapest way to get from the airport to the conference hotel is by catching a train. It costs $8 one way. The system is called SEPTA and you get off at Suburban Station (www.septa.org/welcome/airport.html).
From the airport, taxis charge a flat rate of $28.50 to the downtown area. www.phl.org/Pages/Passengerinfo/TransportationServices/taxi.aspx
If you are travelling by AMTRAK train, you will arrive at 30th Street Station (www.amtrak.com/stations/phl.html), which is about a 20-minute walk to the hotel.
The Hotel to the Conference Center
It is a 4-minute walk of two city blocks between the Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square Hotel and the Convene Conference Center.
The IACM 2018 meet-up spot – DRINKER’S PUB
This year we’ve nominated a bar near the Sonesta hotel as a designated IACM2018 meeting point. To catch up with existing, or meet new IACM friends, head to the aptly named Drinker’s Pub (www.drinkersrittenhouse.com). It is located at 1903 Chestnut Street, a 4-minute walk from our conference hotel. We’ve chosen it because the prices are at the more modest end of the budget and so accessible to our student members and it’s nice and close to the hotel. Please wear your conference lanyard if you’re there and strike up a conversation with loitering IACMers, though talking to random strangers is OK, too.
Good Coffee near the Sonesta
In my personal campaign to support indie coffee shops, I’ve found one perfectly located between the Sonesta Hotel and Convene: The Nook Bakery and Coffee Bar. They small batch roast ethically sourced coffee and have good reviews.
Museums & Art Galleries.
If you’re reluctant to read all that follows, and just want a summary of museums and art galleries in Philadelphia, here it is: www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia-museums/
There are over 100 museums and galleries in Philadelphia and many of them celebrate that Philadelphia is a city of ‘firsts’. Some of those firsts are quite obscure: the Fireman’s Hall Museum commemorates that Benjamin Franklin set up the first fire brigade in the U.S. in 1736 (hwww.firemanshallmuseum.org/); the Eastern State Penitentiary (www.easternstate.org) wasn’t the first jail, but it was the first to refine separate incarceration and also once the most expensive jail in the world. The Old City Hall (www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/oldcityhall.htm) was the first home of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1791 to 1800. And the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is the first school of Fine Arts in the United States and the oldest art museum (www.pafa.org). You can even go and look at the outside of the First bank in the United States, which is located in Independence National Historical Park.
Many IACMers, especially if you’re on your first visit to Philadelphia, will be drawn to the Independence National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm). It is important, if you want to get into Independence Hall, where the declaration of independence was signed, and where the United States Constitution was signed 11 years later, then you should pre-book your tickets. Because so many of you are likely to be interested in this site, here is the full details about ticketing from national parks website.
Admission [to Independence Hall] is by tour only. Timed entry tickets are required March – December. No tickets are required in January – February, or after 5 p.m. during summer hours. No tickets are required on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve (December 24), or Independence Day (July 4). A limited quantity of free tickets are available each day at the Ranger’s Desk in the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets. This is the only place to obtain your free, timed entry tickets. Same day ticket distribution begins at 8:30 a.m.; distribution is first come, first served. Arrive no later than 8:45 a.m. for the best selection of tour times. For same-day ticket availability phone, 215-965-2305. Tickets may also be reserved in advance (handling fee of $1.50 per ticket applies). For advance reservations, make your reservation online or call 1-877-444-6777. Find more information about obtaining Independence Hall tickets on our website
The website for getting timed tickets to Independence Hall is www.recreation.gov/tourParkDetail.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=77815
Another area that many IACMers are likely to visit is Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The stellar museums along the parkway would easily occupy a couple of days if you are into art, but the Parkway itself is worth the walk from the Sculpture Garden with various interesting statues at the north end of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, down the famous stairs (easier than up!) and along to Logan Square and then onward to the Love Park which has the iconic LOVE sculpture. In addition to the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art (www.philamuseum.org/), with a mere 200+ galleries, you can also visit the Rodin Museum (www.rodinmuseum.org/), the Barnes Foundation (www.barnesfoundation.org/), and the Franklin Institute Science Museum (www.fi.edu). Fans of art museums could find the Art Geek website (www.artgeek.io) a great place to see a run-down of art galleries in Philadelphia. Just type in Philadelphia and they will give you lots of ideas.
There are myriad other museums that warrant a visit. Please take a look at the summary webpage to see what takes your fancy (www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia-museums/). In the downtown area, I had a hankering to visit the Museum of American Independence (www.amrevmuseum.org/). The African American Museum (www.aampmuseum.org/) is another of those firsts that I mentioned earlier, it is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. If you fancy a bit of the weird and confronting, the Mütter Museum (www.muttermuseum.org/) offers a collection of anatomical specimens and models. Do tell me about it, but please, I don’t want to see your pictures. Lastly, if you are travelling with your kids, you might want to take them to the Please Touch Museum (http://www.pleasetouchmuseum.org/) which is designed for them.
Tours: All sorts of Tours
Surprisingly, Philadelphia does not get a first as the most walkable city in the U.S.A., but it does come in a valiant fourth. There are so many tours you could go on – I have prepared the following entirely subjective list of organized ones that captured my fancy for you to consider if you wish to avoid your own search. I have veered toward smaller tours. They are, of course, completely independent of the IACM and no one paid me to select them, nor have I tested them. If they turn out to be rubbish – ooops! I like hearing tour guides tell tales, but nowadays of course, you can download an App nowadays and go off wandering by yourself (www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/philadelphia-600.html)
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia is a not-for-profit group that promote the appreciation of Philly’s buildings and neighbourhoods. They are on this list because they say they aren’t catering for a “typical” tourist market and claim they’re a great option for the adventurous and inquisitive. They list over 50 tours ($15 for adults) on their website which will be scheduled for 10am on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays. Unfortunately, they do not have their July timetable up yet. But if this sounds like something that would take your fancy, have a look closer to the conference dates. www.preservationalliance.com/what-we-do/architecture-walking-tours/. The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia also offers three self-guided walking tours, with downloadable pdfs. Two of these are centred around Rittenhouse Square (very near our hotel). http://www.preservationalliance.com/explore-philadelphia/self-guided-walking-tours/
As most IACMers have studied hard, I suspect we believe there’s value in expertise (or is that just me?), I figured you might be attracted to Context Tours which are led by MA or doctoral level guides who are historians. They aren’t cheap ($85 per person) but they are small (6 persons maximum, so they claim) and hopefully you get what you pay for, right? www.contexttravel.com/cities/philadelphia
In a similar price bracket, but of a completely different ilk, is the Independence After Hours tour (www.historicphiladelphia.org/independence-after-hours/) . Dinner (three courses) is included and the tour is led by a costumed “Colonial host” who takes you into Independence Hall after dinner where you get to listen into to a couple of “founding fathers” discussing the creation of the declaration of independence. This tour will either be completely naff, or quite good, depending on your sensibilities. It is available on Saturday night, prior to the conference at 5.30pm.
Of the big-name (and bigger number of participants) commercial tours, the one that comes up regularly in recommendation lists is the Constitutional Walking Tour (www.theconstitutional.com/guided-tours/guided-tours-overview). They offer three tours a day and are $19 for adults.
Even cheaper, Free Tours by Foot (www.freetoursbyfoot.com/philadelphia-tours/). Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ and you are expected to pay what you think it is worth. You DO have to make a reservation and on the Sunday we’re kicking off IACM2018 they are offering three walking tours and two food tours.
The last of the conventional guided walking tours that I am going to proffer is by Mural Arts Philadelphia and is a 2 hour walk around some of the city’s murals (www.muralarts.org/tours/mural-mile-7-8/). It’s $23 and starts at 11am on Sunday, 8 July. I was impressed with what I saw of the murals, and at the very least, I recommend you wander some of the streets with their self-guided tour (www.muralarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ToursMap2018_web.pdf).
And that brings us to the unconventional tours…
If you are in town on Saturday 7th July, you could go on Historically Hilarious and Family Friendly BYOB tour. It and other tours run by Founding Footsteps (www.foundingfootsteps.com/tours/) are a more light-hearted take on touring.
If you think this walking thing is over-rated and want to do a pedalling tour, Big Red Pedal Tours (http://www.bigredpedaltours.com/) offer some bookable history tours and drinking tours. Their historic square mile tour is $29 and their food tour is $48.
Walking or cycling too sedentary? Then you can do a running tour (why oh why? Just answer me that!). City Running Tours (www.cityrunningtours.com/philadelphia#group) offer a variety of running tours, but their calendar for July is not on-line yet.
If you are a foodie and want a guided tour of spots to eat in Philly, there are two operators that intrigue me with their offerings. City Food Tours (www.phillysfoodtour.com/copy-of-public-tours) offer a few options on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the conference. Should you want to combine cheesesteak tasting with Segway riding (why am I even suggesting this?) and you think you are capable of eating 5 offerings of ¼ of a cheesesteak, then here’s your vendor: Philadelphia Cheesesteak Tour by Segway (www.ca.viator.com/showDetail.jspa?itemId=650026836).
Craft beer is not my thing, so I’ll admit “craft beer tours of Philly” warranted the most cursory of reads. Most IACMers are accomplished researchers, so here’s your chance to do some, based on a promising looking article: www.beerscenemag.com/2016/07/4-philly-beer-tours-you-need-to-attend/
Like every other major city in the world, Philadelphia offers hop-on, hop-off bus tours. There are various companies who offer such tours, and the best bet may be to wander to Independence Visitor Center at 5th and Market streets where the different bus companies all stop and vie for business. Two of them are Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours (www.philadelphiasightseeingtours.com) and Big Bus Philadelphia (www.bigbustours.com/en/philadelphia/philadelphia-bus-tours/). You can choose the colour bus you want!
SHOWS ON AROUND IACM2018
It maybe that you are from a small town and fancy taking in a ‘big city’ show when you are in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it is not the season for the main companies in Philly to be performing. Nonetheless, there are a few shows on that may be of interest.
Mamma Mia (the musical) is on at the Walnut Theater on the 6th, 7th and 8th including matinee performances (www.walnutstreettheatre.org/season/show/mamma-mia).
On the 11th July – the Wednesday night after the conference finishes, you could take in a Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers concert at the BB&T Pavillion in Camden New Jersy (technically across the State Line, but its just over the river and a 30-minute taxi ride from the hotel). See www.thedoobiebrothers.com/events
Also, on the 11th of July, you can take in the opening night of Philadelphia’s contemporary ballet company, Ballet X. Their show BalletX Summer Series is on downtown. You can book tickets at www.tickets.wilmatheater.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=49656
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