Philadelphia Flower Show Blooms Outdoors For The First Time, Faith and Liberty Discovery Center Debuts On Independence Mall & Wawa Welcome America Fourth Of July Celebration Returns
Greater Philadelphia has a big summer planned for visitors eager to safely explore once again. As the warm-weather season nears and COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, the region is ready to welcome visitors back as it debuts long-awaited new and renovated museums, unveils inspired exhibits, celebrates the return of beloved annual events and opens brand new hotels that have been in the pipeline for years.
Those looking to connect and reconnect with loved ones after a long hiatus from travel can tour the brand-new Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, making its debut just steps away from Independence National Historical Park’s Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall on May 1, 2021; explore the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show outdoors for the first time in its 192-year history; and celebrate the nation’s birthday in its birthplace during the annual Wawa Welcome AmericaFourth of July festival.
When it’s time to take a break after days spent touring the town, visitors can do so at the city’s first W Hotelor at the Guild House Hotel, a boutique property in a National Historic Landmark building, both opening this summer. Another great option for spending a night or two is the ever-popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes hotel parking and buy-one-get-one-free tickets for 19 attractions, many of which are hosting special exhibits this summer (see below). It’s available at 40 hotels and bookable at visitphilly.com/overnight.
There is so much to celebrate in Philadelphia this summer. Here’s a look:Attraction Openings & Renovations:
- Faith and Liberty Discovery Center – This $60 million, 40,000-square-foot immersive experience is the latest development in a decades-long transformation of Independence Mall. It will explore the nation’s founding tenets shared in the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bible. The space will include interactive galleries, a 3D theater and an education center. Among the highlighted Americans: civil rights and Baptist leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic anti-war activist Dorothy Day and Quaker William Penn, founder of colonial Philadelphia. The Center will also direct visitors to explore the Faith and Liberty Trail, including some of the nation’s early religious institutions such as Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, home to the denomination’s founding congregation, and Mikveh Israel, home to Philadelphia’s oldest Jewish congregation. May 1, 2021.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art – When the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art debuts its much-anticipated interior expansion and renovation by Frank Gehry, the museum will inaugurate the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Galleries, dedicated to American art from 1650 to 1850, with the first major reinstallation of the American Art collection since the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. The space features the work of the Peale family of artists, presidential china, American landscape paintings, works by German and British immigrants and much more, encouraging visitors to think broadly about art, history and geography as it presents the work of many groups—Indigenous, European and African. On permanent display beginning May 7, 2021. In the new Daniel W. Dietrich II Galleries, New Grit: Art & Philly Now shows off the work of 25 living artists with ties to Philadelphia. The artists work across a range of media, including ceramics, glass, painting, sculpture, photography and video. Planned over a multi-year period, the works reflect on Black Lives Matter, immigration, incarceration and other timely societal issues. May 7-August 22, 2021. Visitors to the museum can also enjoy the renovated Lenfest Hall, a new Forum space and views that show off the city skyline from inside the building.
- Dilworth Park Roller Rink – For the first time, visitors to Dilworth Park can roller skate in City Hall’s front yard. The retro rink features a funky checkerboard floor, market lights and a rainbow of overhead hula-hoops designed and fabricated by the local Lucky Dog Studio. Hour-long skating sessions are available seven days a week; advanced reservations are encouraged. April 30-June 27, 2021.
Museum Exhibits & Events:
- Gideon Mendel: Drowning World, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University– On display at Philadelphia’s natural history museum, this exhibit offers a unique photographic exploration of flooding and a stark portrayal of the human condition within the context of overwhelming climate events around the world. The show features 37 photographs, two found-object displays and a video by Mendel, a leading contemporary photographer and a native of Johannesburg, South Africa. May 1-October 17, 2021.
- Designing Motherhood, The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia – Philadelphia’s fascinating museum of medical history mounts an exhibition that looks at the political, economic and social implications of how the world has medicalized reproduction. Produced in collaboration with the Maternity Care Coalition and others, the exhibit tells five stories: Means of Reproduction, Midwives, Parturition, Exam and Milk. Visitors can use their smartphones to scan QR codes to learn about the objects on display. May 6, 2021-May 8, 2022.
- Night Tours: Summer Twilight, Eastern State Penitentiary – During new night tours, visitors can explore the historic cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary as the sun goes down. Admission includes an audio tour, featuring the voices of former prisoners and correctional staff, along with access to the Prisons Today exhibit and points of interest like Al Capone’s cell. Also new: the Fair Chance Beer Garden on the penitentiary’s baseball diamond, offering craft beer from Triple Bottom Brewing Company, and an Andrea Walls digital art installation to be projected onto the exterior of Eastern State. Thursdays through Saturdays, May 7-September 4, 2021.
- Measurement Rules, Mercer Museum– This interactive, family-friendly exhibitexplores different measurements of length, time, volume and weight in a variety of ways, including giant tape measures, treadmill odometers, bead tables, balance scales and more. The Mercer Museum adds its own perspective to the traveling display by showcasing rare and early examples of historical measuring instruments drawn from the private collection of Bucks County residents Jim Hill and Kathy Hausman. May 23-September 6, 2021.
- Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today, Museum of the American Revolution– Just in time for Flag Day, this red, white and blue exhibit showcases dozens of rare American flags alongside historic early state constitutions and the first printing of the proposed U.S. Constitution of 1787 to shed light on the triumphs and tensions that the United States faced as new states joined the union. June 12-September 6, 2021.
- Graphic Content, National Liberty Museum– On display summer through fall, this exhibitgives space to graphic-centered artworks that act as social commentary, taking inspiration from counterculture traditions and giving voice to those outside the mainstream. The artwork on display embodies each artists’ unique, uncensored response to the current social and political climate. June 18-Fall 2021.
- Ralston Crawford: Air + Space + War, Brandywine River Museum of Art – After months of renovations, the Brandywine River Museum reopens with an exhibit that explores U.S. aviation and military history through the art and personal experiences of American Modernist Ralston Crawford. The show features nearly 80 works by the artist, including drawings, photographs, paintings and lithographs from the 1940s that narrate his involvement with World War II. June 20-September 19, 2021.
- Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition, The Franklin Institute – Philadelphia’s beloved science museum begins the year with a world-premiere exhibit that helps guests hone problem-solving skills and fosters creativity. Visitors will put their creative skills to action by testing solutions to problems based on current scientific research, including designing a ball that works for astronauts in low gravity, building a sustainable neighborhood and restoring sea life to coral reefs. Through July 18, 2021.
- Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint, Barnes Foundation – In its world premiere and only U.S. showing, this groundbreaking exhibition explores the affinities between the work of Chaïm Soutine and Willem de Kooning. Organized by the Barnes Foundation and the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint presents nearly 45 works by these titans of 20th-century art and considers how Soutine’s paintings served the art of de Kooning, shaping his groundbreaking figurative/abstract works in the late 1940s and beyond. Through August 8, 2021.
- Through the Lens: Modern Photography in the Delaware Valley, James A. Michener Art Museum – On view in Bucks County, this exhibition explores nearly 70 years of artistic experimentations with photographic processes and subject matter by artists in the Delaware Valley region, including Paula Chamlee, Susan Fenton, Emmet Gowin, Jack Rosen, Charles Sheeler and others. Work ranges from carefully hand-painted, bucolic landscapes to decisive snapshots taken on the street and features highlights of the Michener’s photo collection, including many never-before-on-view images. Through August 15, 2021.
- Multiple exhibits, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – The first art museum and school in the United States displays two exhibits right through summer. Approximately 25 paintings make up Only Tony: Portraits by Gilbert Lewis, an exhibit that shows off the artist’s exquisite portraits of one model, Tony, and solidifies the importance of Lewis’ work within the history of figurative painting. Also on display: Taking Space: Contemporary Women Artists and the Politics of Scale, inviting viewers to consider how space, size, scale and repetition can be interpreted as political gestures by women artists. Through September 5, 2021.
- Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age, Philadelphia Zoo – During this immersive, multi-sensory experience at America’s first zoo, 24 enormous animatronic dinosaurs take guests on a prehistoric journey, highlighting the volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes and other powerful occurrences that changed the planet forever. Among the life-like giants on display: T. rex, triceratops, anzu and woolly mammoth, among others. Through September 30, 2021.
Food & Drink:
- Terrace on Tap – The popular pop-up outdoor dining experience returns to the second-floor Liberty View Terrace at the Independence Visitor Center this spring and brings with it local brews, specialty cocktails and seasonal bites from Brûlée Catering. Terrace on Tap offers free activities for kids and stunning panoramic views of Independence Mall. Weather-dependent Thursday through Sunday through the summer, based on availability.
- Dinner at Dilworth – On 17 Wednesday evenings from spring into summer, diners are encouraged to bring takeout meals from local restaurants to enjoy at Dilworth Park, City Hill’s front yard, featuring a fountain, lush lawn, tree groves and a café serving to-go drinks. Diners will be treated to live performances each week — from orchestral serenades and ballet ensembles to jazz instrumentals and beyond. May 5-August 25, 2021.
- New Brewery Openings – Thelengthy Craft Beer Trail of Greater Philadelphia — a perfect summertime excursion —will soon grow even bigger with new breweries and expansions debuting in and beyond the city. Each drinking destination offers an experience that’s wholly different from the next. In 2021, look for Victory Brewing Companyto open on the Ben Franklin Parkway; Cartesian Brewing to come to East Passyunk; Mystic Ways Brewing in Perkasie; and Aristaeus Craft Brewing Co. in Langhorne.
- New Restaurant Openings – The Philly restaurant scene just keeps getting better and better — despite the toughest year on record for restaurants in 2020. Noteworthy additions on the way in 2021 include: Honeysuckle from chef and artist Omar Tate (Esquire magazine’s Chef of the Year); Grace and Proper in the Italian Market from the team behind Hawthorne’s and The Cambridge; Lamberti Pizza & Market in Washington Square West; and Middle Child Clubhouse, a second, much-bigger location of the popular Center City sandwich shop.
Shows & Sports:
- Is There Still Sex in the City?…An Intimate Conversation with Candace Bushnell, Bucks County Playhouse– Candace Bushnell, the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author and creator of Sex and the City, stars in her new one-woman show, touching on her arrival in New York City with $20 in her pocket, working her way up the ladder, creating Sex and the City and finding herself single again in her 50s. June 22-July 19, 2021.
- The Game Together Tour, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center – This five-day event includes a flag football tournament, esports competitions in more than 10 different games, a cosplay contest, basketball events, industry seminars, a streaming area, music performances in the Music Meets Gaming area, an indie developer pitch contest and more. August 25-29, 2021.
- Garden Railway – Morris Arboretum’s display features a quarter-mile track with seven loops and tunnels, 12 different rail lines, two cable cars and nine bridges, including a trestle bridge that visitors can walk under. May 29-October 11, 2021.
- Philadelphia Latino Film Festival – For one weekend, film fans can find works by established and emerging Latino and Latin American filmmakers. The lineup for the 10th annual festival, which will be virtual this year, includes feature films, shorts, animations and documentaries, along with workshops and discussions. May 30-June 6, 2021.
- Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show – This popular twice-a-year event — the oldest outdoor fine arts show in the country (94 years strong in 2021) — turns Rittenhouse Square into an exquisite outdoor gallery featuring works by more than 140 professional artists on the perimeter and works by student exhibitors in the center of the park. June 4-6, 2021.
- PHS Philadelphia Flower Show – The nation’s longest-running horticultural event is making history in 2021 by moving outdoors for the first time in its 192-year history. The 2021 show, themed “Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece,” uses South Philadelphia’s expansive and lush FDR Park as the setting for its breathtaking displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers. As always, the annual gardening celebration features top-of-the-line horticulture and landscape design, demonstrations, entertainment, themed nights and a marketplace. June 5-13, 2021.
- Flag Festival – Taking place at the Betsy Ross House, the Flag Festival features a flag-raising ceremony with Betsy herself, storytellers and reenactors, the assembly of an American flag made entirely of M&Ms and a naturalization ceremony to welcome 13 new citizens.June 13-19, 2021.
- Juneteenth – Philadelphia marks the anniversary of African Americans’ emancipation from enslavement with entertainment, a virtual cultural marketplace and a Juneteenth Freedom Float House tour. June 13-20, 2021.
- Linvilla Orchards Festivals – Summer is high season for festivals at this popular Delaware County farm. Family favorites include Strawberry Festival, which kicks off Linvilla’s pick-your-own-fruit season (June 5, 2021); Summer Food Truck Frenzy, complete with international delights from loads of food trucks (June 19, 2021); Blueberry Festival, featuring blueberry-picking, a pie-eating contest and more (July 10, 2021); and Peach Festival, offering peach-picking, hayrides, face painting and more (August 7, 2021).
- Philadelphia Auto Show – Traditionally a winter event, the Philadelphia Auto Show cruises into summer this year, transforming the Pennsylvania Convention Center into a car lover’s dream with hundreds of pre-production, hot-production, classic and exotic vehicles from just about every maker. June 19-27, 2021.
- Manayunk Arts Festival – Featuring artists from around the country, along with crafts, food and music, the tri-state’s largest outdoor, juried arts festival runs along Main Street in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood. June 26-27, 2021.
- Wawa Welcome America – This Fourth of July festival in the nation’s birthplace includes several days of multicultural, family-friendly programming. The event typically culminates with a stunning fireworks display over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Late June-July 4, 2021.
- Blobfest – Phoenixville, Chester County, where parts of the campy 1950s horror/sci-fi flick The Blob were filmed, hosts a wacky three-day extravaganza of screenings, themed competitions, a street fair and the recreation of a pivotal scene, during which frightened townspeople flee the still extant Colonial Theatre. July 9-11, 2021.
- Philadelphia Folk Festival – The hills of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania come alive every summer with the sound of folk music during the long-running Philadelphia Folk Festival at Old Pool Farm. Thousands of attendees gather to sing along, clap or just enjoy the music of new and favorite performers. The annual fest features a jam-packed lineup, workshops, activities and events for those of all ages. The festival is the longest-running outdoor music festival of its kind in North America. August 19-22, 2021.
- Citadel Country Spirit USA– Ludwig’s Corner House Show Grounds in Glenmoore, Chester County hosts three days of performances by country music’s biggest stars and serious up-and-comers, now a late summer tradition in the Brandywine Valley. Among this year’s lineup: Brantley Gilbert, Miranda Lambert and Chris Young. August 27-29, 2021.
- Chester County Balloon Festival – Celebrating its 14th year, the Chester County Balloon Festival features 15 hot air balloons taking flight twice per day, a balloon glow and balloon rides. Adding to the fun: a beer garden, live music, crafts, food, Saturday night fireworks and more. On September 11, the festival will host a 9/11 Memorial Flight to honor the lives lost during the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. September 10-12, 2021.
- Kennett Square Mushroom Festival – The “Mushroom Capital of the World” hosts a two-day festival in honor of the beloved vegetable every September. It’s full of mushroom-themed food, music, exhibits and activities. September 11-12, 2021.
- XPoNential Music Festival on the Camden Waterfront – WXPN, the public radio station of the University of Pennsylvania, brings together musical legends and new performers for this can’t-miss fest at Wiggins Waterfront Park and BB&T Pavilion. September 17-19, 2021.
- Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show – The fall edition of this twice-a-year event — the oldest outdoor fine arts show in the country — brings paintings, glassware, sketches and more art to Rittenhouse Square for an outdoor gallery sale. September 17-19, 2021.
- Philadelphia Distance Run – On hiatus since 2010, the Philadelphia Distance Run makes its return this fall. Known for its fast, flat course, the iconic half-marathon hopes to draw both elite and endurance runners. Students Run Philly Style will be beneficiary. September 19, 2021.
- Element Philadelphia Hotel – Element’s largest global property opens in the very center of Center City, next door to its dual-branded property, the W Hotel Philadelphia. Element guests will enjoy a kitchen in every guest room or suite, a signature Westin Heavenly® bed, onsite Italian restaurant Dolce and both complimentary breakfast each morning and glass of wine or beer each evening. May 2021.
- Guild House Hotel – Summer brings the grand opening of a boutique property in a National Historic Landmark building that belonged to — and will honor — a 19th-century working women’s advocacy and support group known as the New Century Guild. The rooms and suites — 12 in total — in the Midtown Village hotel are named after members of the Guild, which included notable abolitionists, suffragists, activists, poets and artists. Among them: Eliza Sproat Turner, a teacher, writer and New Century Guild founder; Florence Kelley, a founding member of the NAACP; and Emily Sartain, artist and director of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). Amenities at the invisible service hotel include luxury bath and body products; specialty coffees, teas and chocolates; and customized itineraries, airport pickup and curated experiences upon request. June 6, 2021.
- W Philadelphia – Less than one block from iconic City Hall, this 295-room hotel will bring modern luxury with a stylish dose of Philly vibrancy and artistry. Among the amenities, including the FIT gym, the Living Room cocktail lounge and bar terrace, is a year-round heated pool — outdoor pool, that is. Summer 2021.
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676