That's the question pretty much everyone asked before we left on our trip. I might have been all haughty like, "Only the birthplace of our nation, that's all," except it was probably a question I would also have asked before C and I went there a couple of years ago. We went for one night and one-and-a-half days, to see the exhibition of King Tut artifacts at the Franklin Institute (yes, I'm a bit of an ancient Egypt nerd), and managed to see the rest of that museum and some of the city's other sites. We realized there was a ton of stuff there for kids, and resolved to return with ours some day.
So, what is in Philadelphia?
First, there is the long train ride, perfect for games of checkers,
reading, knitting, poem-writing,
There is a twenty-eight story, twelve-sided hotel
with a greasy, free breakfast and two TVs in the suite, so that three TV-deprived kids can watch Harry Potter in one room and Cartoon Network in the other. And it allows for ample, creative sleeping arrangements.
And, if you can ignore the boys wrassling on the fold-out couch, you can pretend you're a hip, young, single, modern-day Mary Tyler Moore, living in a one-room high-rise apartment.
There are sculptures and fountains and parks everywhere,
And amazing architecture, in the neo-classical tradition,
There is, of course, Ben Franklin,
(now, finally, E and Z get why he's on the $100 bill, even though he was never president).
There is, I'm sure, amazing food, though we found take-out sandwiches eaten in the hotel room more suited to our manners and our budget, though we did have one lunch at the City Tavern, where our founding fathers once congregated for a pint (I stole the recipe for Thomas Jefferson's favorite sweet potato biscuits from one of the cookbooks on display), in the room where the first Fourth of July was celebrated.
Don't forget about the Liberty Bell,
And this room in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation and the Constitution were all signed.
The main part of the hall was under restoration, with that funny shroud showing what it would look like, but for all the scaffolding.
And there is science: at the Academy of Natural Science there are dinosaur digs,
butterflies that land right on your shoulder,
dioramas for budding artist/naturalists to copy,
and at the Franklin Institute, there are airplanes to fly,
as well as electricity to play with and Leonardo Da Vinci's machines to marvel at and a scary Black Hole planetarium movie and an Imax airplane movie. And, of course the jars of brains and conjoined fetuses at the Mutter museum of medical oddities (two of our party had to leave early--they were too grossed out, but E, M and I stuck it out through its disgustingly disturbing delights)--no photos allowed, though.
Of course there are plenty of grownup place to go, like the Rodin museum and the Art Museum (we didn't even walk down that far, 'cause who wants to explain the Rocky Balboa statue to three already rambunctious boys?). Despite C's insistence on calling it "Filthadelphia," I found it a remarkably clean and lovely city (no doubt we avoided the seedier parts), incredibly walkable and so full of interesting things to see and do that I could almost imagine living there.