10. MÜTTER MUSEUM
The Mütter Museum is America’s finest collection of medical history. If you enjoy learning about human anatomy and the many medical discoveries humans have made over the centuries then you will want to ensure you schedule in time to visit. The museum is extraordinarily popular and has been featured in countless television shows and films.
Among its many exhibits are slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, a jaw tumor from President Glover Cleveland, and a liver from a pair of conjoined twins. For those who have any health anxiety, visiting the museum and seeing how far humans have come may help set your mind at ease and help you appreciate the body and mind more.
9. THE WHISPERING BENCH
In West Fairmount Park there is a nice memorial dedicated to heroes from Pennsylvania’s Civil War. The structure has an archway with a bench along the curvature and supposedly if you sit on one end of the bench and whisper, the person all the way on the other end will be able to hear you as if you’re sitting directly beside them.
Specifically, you have to whisper into the wall behind the bench for it to work. The monument took more than ten years to build. Many people visit the whispering bench to feel close to loved ones they may have lost or older family members, but also because of the magical oddity of the bench.
8. EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY
Once the most expensive prisons in America, Eastern State Penitentiary has fallen into disarray. But it is left standing as a museum and supposedly one of the most haunted places in the world. The prison once held big-name criminals like Al Capone. Each year an event is known as the “Terror Behind the Walls” is hosted in the old prison.
It has grown in size over the years and turns the prison into a massive haunted house with three separate attractions within. The popular Travel Channel series, Ghost Adventures, has also visited the Penitentiary and conducted experiments within the prison walls. Ghost tours are another popular attraction for people fiending for a good scare.
7. CAVE OF KELPIUS
Even in modern times, it is common to hear elaborate doomsday prophecies and theories. At least one or two pops up every year and gains some kind of significance although there are countless others no one ever acknowledges. Well, Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park hides away a cave believed to have been home to one of the first apocalyptic cults.
The cave is known as the Cave of Kelpius. It may have housed a cult of mystics, although this has yet to be proven. The true reason for the cave is a topic of much debate but you can go visit it for yourself and see what you make of it.
6. THE NERVE OF HARRIET COLE
In the 1880s, an African American woman named Harriet Cole died of tuberculosis. Before her death, she had agreed to donate her body to science. Scientists spent five painstaking months extracting the entire nervous system from her body so that they could get a look at one in person.
Her nervous system is now kept housed in a glass case at the Drexel University College of Medicine. It has been used to teach classes around the world and images of Cole’s nervous system have appeared in many anatomy textbooks too. If you’ve ever taken a medical class of any kind, odds are you’ve come across a photo or two.
5. THE MOON TREE
On the Apollo 14, an experiment was conducted to see if tree seeds taken into space would still germinate when delivered back to earth. Seeds from several varieties of trees were taken and then dispersed around the world when returned. They became known as “Moon Trees.”
The first Moon Tree was planted in Washington Park in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the sycamore died but the Forest Service replanted it with a cloned seed created from a clipping originating from the original moon tree and you can visit it today. It’s one of many around the world, the Forest Service is still trying to track them all down.
4. PIZZA BRAIN
Almost everyone loves pizza which is why stopping at the Pizza Brain eatery and museum in Kensington is a must-do if you’re ever around Philadelphia. Pizza Brain holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest collection of pizza-themed memorabilia around the world. Also, their pizza is award-winning.
They’ve won many awards for their food and appeared on several Food Network shows. The Pizza Brain is a highly publicized location and well worth your time to visit it. In addition to the museum showcasing the history of pizza, there are also items important to pop culture and inspired by franchises like Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
3. MUMMER’S MUSEUM
Mummers are sort of like cousins to mimes. They’re eccentric performers, dancers, actors, and artists who often don the classic mime mask and other elaborate costumes. The tradition of mummery in Philadelphia began in the 17th century and since then it has been a tradition for the mummers to perform at the Thanksgiving parade.
If you aren’t able to attend the parade, you can still go to the Mummer’s Museum to learn about their colorful and eclectic history. You can take a guided tour or a self-guided tour through the many exhibits. They even have an area with mummers costumes that guests can try on for themselves.
2. THE INSECTARIUM
Many people out there are not a fan of creepy crawlies. Despite bugs being an integral part of our ecosystem, they’re not necessarily pretty to look at. The Insectarium is a devoted center of scientist that takes pride in their massive anthropoid collection and allows guests to view insects from safely behind the glass.
Plus they have a 7,000 square foot butterfly pavilion, the most recent new addition to the building. You can learn about the impact insects have on our ecology through community classes and by visiting the various exhibits spread across two floors. Some of the anthropods you’ll see are cockroaches, tarantulas, honeybees, water bugs, ants, crickets, scorpions, and more.
- EDGAR ALLEN POE’S HOUSE
Edgar Allen Poe is one of the world’s most famous poets due to his distinctly dark fascinations with the macabre. His poems were known for being somber and rather sinister. He spent six years living in a house in Philadelphia and it has been preserved as a historic site and museum for fans of Poe to visit and learn about his life and legacy.
You can take a guided tour of the home, visit the taxidermied raven that supposedly inspired him, and even go into a mysterious reading room to listen to people conduct dramatic reads of Poe’s most famous works.