I enjoy the busy excitement and learning of CCM’s Annual Conference, but occasionally, I need an infusion of fresh air, natural beauty and culture. In my opinion, this year’s location really delivers. I grew up on the Parkway and spent my childhood exploring the wonderful places to “hang out.” There are even more now. Here are a few to check out. (Ask the Four Seasons concierge for detailed directions and museum hours.)
Rodin Museum – Outside of Paris, Philly is home to the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work. A tiny gem among the Parkway museums, the Rodin boasts an enchanting garden and is home to the awesome bronze The Gates of Hell. To discover, walk west and turn right at The Thinker.
Perelman Building – Compared to the overabundance of the Art Museum at the west end of the Parkway, this annex is easily navigated in an hour or a two. Some exhibits complement the main Museum’s, and there’s a nice gift shop. My favorite finds are usually in the galleries of Costume and Textiles, Photography, or Modern and Contemporary Design.
Boathouse Row – Follow the Parkway west behind the Art Museum and a woodland world unfolds along Kelly Drive (named for Philly native, actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly). Pick a quiet spot among the clubs’ cottages to watch for sculling teams prepping for the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta held May 7, 8.
Fels Planetarium (The Franklin Institute) – Take in a 1-hour show. Tales of the Maya Skies begins May 1.
Swann Fountain (Logan Square) – Visible from the Four Seasons, this is one of several Alexander Stirling Calder creations in Philly. Another is the Shakespeare Memorial located at 19th St. on the north side of Logan Circle. (You read right, I’m using “circle” and “square” interchangeably. Logan is among the original “squares” William Penn included in his city plans, but frankly, many of us call it Logan Circle, probably due to the fountain’s shape. If you want to see a square, trot north to Rittenhouse.)
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul – The copper-domed basilica is the center of Philly’s Roman Catholic community. Modeled after Rome’s San Carlo al Corso church, its cross-shaped nave is 236-ft long. St. John Neumann, the first American bishop to be canonized, oversaw the middle years of its construction in the 1800s. (Catholic school alumni take note – Neumann was first to organize a U.S. Catholic school system!) Philadelphia architect Napoleon LeBrun also put his hand to the Academy of Music at Broad & Locust and numerous other churches in the city.
Academy of Natural Sciences – We’ll hold several Conference sessions here Wednesday, but it’s worth another glance if your kids (or you) are enthralled with mummies, dinosaurs, insects or gems.
JFK Plaza/”LOVE Park” – This mecca of skateboard enthusiasts earned it’s colloquial name during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976 when it became home to Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture. It sits at the east end of the Parkway at 16th Street. Catch the Trolley at the Welcome Center to tour parts of the massive 9200-acre Fairmount Park and the mansions that lie beyond the Art Museum.
Sticking around for Mother’s Day, May 9? Watch the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure on the Parkway from 6 am – 12 pm.