Philly Tour Continued

This is the third day’s post about my Road Scholar Signature City Philadelphia adventure. I loved it’s every minute.

It began as everyday with breakfast in the Balcony Cafe buffet. After that we gathered things from our rooms for a walk up South Broad Street – Avenue of the Arts – toward Philadelphia’s gigantic City Hall. The largest municipal building in the country.

Tish Byrne Tour Leader

Along the walk our tour leader Tish Byrne took us into various Victorian, Beaux Arts and Art Deco buildings on South Broad Street to view their opulent rooms, high flying ceilings, and decor. Tish is a walking Philly history encyclopedia.

Sadly I don’t have notes on these Tish impromptu itinerary additions as we didn’t stop for writing. The only one I’m sure of is the new Wells Fargo on Broad Street. It is a small, fun museum as well as a bank.

Current Broad Street Wells Fargo Museum

This walk is a great jaunt for architecture lovers plus the beautiful interiors are stunning. I know some of the building’s names, others I don’t. In any style their beauty is still gorgeous.

There were other buildings on our walk to City Hall. But there’s only so much architecture you can view in a blog before you fall asleep unless you’re a full on aficionado. If you are one, Philly is a city you must see.

City Hall

Our first designated stop was a walk around this enormous building.

Philadelphia City Hall in the distance.

Masonic Temple

Masonic Temple exterior

Next we hurried to the medieval Norman-style Masonic Temple for a pre-scheduled member guided tour. At the entrance you see the bronze double-statue The Bond created by James West showing the famous Masons Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

The Bond statue by James West

Inside we toured its seven magnificent themed Lodge rooms. Constructed in 1873 the aging work is maintained and regularly used by multiple Masonic Lodges. Each lodge room is both sumptuous and dramatically different from its other rooms.

There is little I can write about the rooms that adds to their beauty. Instead I give you multiple photos showing their awesomeness.

Middle Eastern themed room
Romanesque themed room
Egyptian themed room
Renaissance themed room.

The many details in the Renaissance themed room are amazing.

Windows in the ballroom

After seeing these pictures maybe you want to take your own guided tour. If you do have a look at a 13 minute YouTube video by clicking here.

Reading Terminal Market

The morning walk was a short distance from the hotel but filled with great art and architecture. Next up was lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. Think of it as a gigantic local food court on the ground floor of the old Reading Terminal station. After Tish walked us around the huge floor most on the tour wanted a philly cheesesteak sandwich. Virginia and I thought the lines were so long at the popular By George! stand we decided to share a hoagie at Carmen’s instead.


Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts

Next we walked on to the PAFA. A museum and art school founded in 1805 internationally known for its 19th and 20th century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. The first art museum and art school in the United States. Another Philly First.

Bus City Tour

After the docent-led tour of the PAFA we boarded a Global bus where Tish led us on a Philadelphia city tour. Including drive-bys of possible options we could see during our free time. We passed by the

The “Rocky Steps” in front of Philadelphia Museum of Art

We ended at the beautiful Schuylkill river walk, overlook and gezabo.

Boat House Row
Fairmount Water Works
Schuylkill Promenade and Gazebo

The city bus tour continued on through town stopping at the Magic Gardens. This outdoor, continuing mixed media art surround has miles of completely covered mosaic walls. The creator, Isaiah Zagar, recycled into art tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, chronicling his life.  

There’s way more than these two photos show. You can take your own virtual Magic Gardens tour here.

This would be the most ambitious day we would have on the tour. I was glad when we went to dinner. Thankfully it was just around the corner from our hotel at the Marathon Grill. Delicious food and great company.

But my camera’s SD card was full. So I don’t have pictures for you of that. Please, check my coming blog post for the next day’s tour fun and photos.

Categories: Travel

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