PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 2018)-- Visitors looking for an exciting destination to visit in 2019 have plenty of new reasons to choose Philadelphia. In the exhibition realm, there is the made-for-kids America to Zanzibar, Muslim Cultures Near and Far at the Please Touch Museum and The Impressionist’s Eye display of rarely seen sculptures, painting and works on paper at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Openings include the East Market consumer space Fashion District Philadelphia and the arrival of the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel atop the Comcast Technology Center. On the theater scene, the debut of Broadway blockbuster Hamilton is much anticipated in the city where the most significant moments in Alexander Hamilton’s life took place.
Here are 18 of Philadelphia’s must-experience experiences for 2019:
1. Independence Visitor Center, spring/summer 2019 – Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor center and the gateway to Independence National Historical Park completes its $15 million Visitor Experience Improvement Project. Renovations and upgrades include a 42-foot, digital “Philly Welcome Wall” with content visitors can explore via touchscreen; two new dedicated desks for National Park Service Rangers and visitor services representatives; a public, wrap-around terrace on the second floor (already complete); and an expanded gift shop, dedicated to Philadelphia-themed merchandise (also already complete). 599 Market Street, (800) 537-7676, PHLVisitorcenter.com
2. John James Audubon Center for Art and Conservation at Mill Grove, June/July 2019 –The historic home and property where John James Audubon, America’s most famed ornithologist, lived and made early discoveries, adds a brand-new center for permanent bird/wildlife exhibits, two galleries for conservation and art, an auditorium, outdoor features and a Fledgling Trail, an interactive exhibit that allows people to experience the earliest stages of a bird’s life, from egg to first flight. 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon, (610) 666-5593, audubon.org
3. Fashion District Philadelphia, September 2019 – Three city blocks transform the old Gallery mall into a retail, dining and entertainment destination. Retailers Asics, Columbia, Forever 21, H&M, Levi’s, Polo Ralph Lauren, Skechers, Zales and Zumiez join already open Century 21 and Burlington stores. Other newcomers: an AMC theater, Dallas BBQ’s first location outside of New York City and the seventh location of City Winery, offering fine dining, concerts and food and wine classes. Market Eats, a collection of quick-dining options, adds to stalwart tenant Tiffany’s Bakery. 8thto 11th Streets from Market to Filbert Streets, fashiondistrictphiladelphia.com
4. Penn Museum, November 16, 2019 – The first major phase of Penn Museum’s building transformation culminates in fall 2019 with the opening of the newly restored Mexico & Central America Gallery and Africa Galleries, complete with new interpretive displays, a transformed Main Entrance Hall and the renovated 618-seat Harrison Auditorium, offering unique new perspectives on the fascinating and diverse collections held by the storied, 130-year old museum. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, museum
Exhibitions & Shows:
5. America to Zanzibar, Muslim Cultures Near and Far, February 2-September 2, 2019 –Please Touch Museum® celebrates diversity in modern and historic Muslim communities around the region and the world using art, technology and innovative programming, including the engagement of six artists-in-residence. The groundbreaking six-month exhibit is designed for kids up to grade 5 and their families. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
6. Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids, February 16-June 9, 2019 – The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University welcomes an exhibit about the ancient, natural inspirations behind and the modern endurance of mythic creatures long heralded in songs, stories and art. On loan from New York’s American Museum of Natural History, fossils, models, ancient and modern cultural objects and interactive technology bring these legendary creatures to life. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1019, ansp.org
7. Reconstruction Era Exhibit, spring 2019 – A new, permanent exhibit at the National Constitution Center is the first in the country devoted to exploring the constitutional legacy of the Reconstruction Amendments—the 13th, 14thand 15th—which ended slavery and promised equality to all Americans in the years after the Civil War. Personal stories, documents and artifacts highlight the constitutional debates and key figures central to the formation and ratification of the amendments. Come summer, a new theater performance dramatizes the Reconstruction era and the ratification of the 14th 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
8. Creatures of Habitat – A Gazillion Piece Animal Adventure, April 6-September 30, 2019 – Life-size LEGO® brick animals appear at the Philadelphia Zoo to tell the story of endangered wildlife and how human behavior impacts and endangers habitats around the world. The zoo created the exhibit to inspire actions that impact global change; even the zoo’s website offers how-to lessons on saving animals and the planet. 3400 Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
9. The Impressionist’s Eye, April 16-August 18, 2019 – Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt and Vincent van Gogh may have made their most lasting impression with oils on canvas, but they and their contemporaries were also skilled in other media. The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a rare opportunity to view in one place Impressionist sculptures, paintings and works on paper. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
10. N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives, June 22-September 15, 2019 – The Brandywine River Museum of Art brings new attention to an artist ill-defined in recent decades as merely the father of painter Andrew Wyeth. N.C. Wyeth’s rich illustrations for classic children’s books Treasure Island and The Boy’s King Arthur inspired young imaginations during the 20th century, but, as seen through 70 never-before-exhibited-together works from private and museum collections, the elder Wyeth also employed his skills as an illustrator to paint landscapes, portraits, seascapes and murals. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywine.org/museum
11. Franklin Square Fountain Show, summer 2019 – The 180-year-old fountain and centerpiece of one of Center City’s original public squares, as envisioned in the 17th century by Philadelphia founder William Penn, gets a dramatic $2 million update. Day and night, the free choreographed shows feature dancing water, lights and music from Philadelphia artists. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
12. Hamilton, August 27-November 17, 2019 – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s modern Broadway blockbuster debuts in the city of its namesake’s greatest achievements (from Revolutionary War artillery officer to presidential advisor to founder of the first national bank) and his romantic downfall (the Reynolds affair). Prospective audience members are encouraged to reserve tickets early for the Forrest Theatre show. 1114 Walnut Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
13. Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia, October 17, 2019-August 5, 2024 – The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia opens its most ambitious exhibition to date, a multi-disciplinary recounting of a global pandemic that took thousands of local lives in two years, only 100 years ago. History, art and science offer a unique view into the terrifying time. Included in the exhibition is a work by the artist group Blast Theory and digital interactives that allow visitors to explore data from more than 20,000 death certificates from Philadelphia neighborhoods. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 560-8564, muttermuseum.org
Major Hotel Openings:
14. Fitler Club, February 2019 – Membership has lots of privileges at this private lifestyle club designed by L.A.’s M-Rad Inc., where members can work, dine, exercise, play and stay. Lots of flexible meeting space, restaurants and bars, a spa, lap pool, bowling alley and a 14-room boutique hotel will live in this 75,000-square-foot space on the banks of the Schuylkill River, the former Marketplace Design Center. 2400 Market Street, m-rad.com
15. The Playhouse Inn, May 2019 – Adding to the new, 127-seat The Deck gastropub at the Bucks County Playhouse will be a new version of the old Playhouse Inn, complete with a to-be-announced name, 15 rooms, and a restaurant and special events space from chef Jose Garces. Connecting it all: a riverfront boardwalk from the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge. 70 S. Main Street, New Hope; restaurant, (267) 270-2989, playhousedeck.com; theater, (215) 862-2121, bcptheater.org
16. Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, June 2019 – The 60-story Comcast Technology Center, the tallest building in Philadelphia, welcomes a luxury occupant. Guests take a high-speed elevator to the 219-room Four Seasons’ top-floor sky lobby. Among the hotels’ amenities: a spa, fitness facility and infinity pool on the 57th floor; restaurants by award-winning chefs Jean-George Vongerichten and Greg Vernick; and more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including two fifth-floor two ballrooms. 1 N. 19th Street, (800) 819-5053, fourseasons.com
17. Pod Philly, September 2019 – The micro-hotel pioneer arrives in town via this efficient, modern, 11-story, 252-room building just two blocks north of Rittenhouse Square. There will be a restaurant and coffee bar by Greg Root and Nick Kennedy of Defined Hospitality and a rooftop with a greenhouse-style bar and a retractable roof. 31 S. 19th Street, thepodhotel.com
18. W Philadelphia and Element Philadelphia, late 2019 – A 52-story, dual-hotel complex delivers a combined 755 rooms: 295 refined rooms and suites in vivid colors and with stunning city views, a rooftop pool deck, Fit gym and Away Spa at W Philadelphia, and 460 stylish rooms and suites that take their cues from nature both in design and sustainable function, at the Element. 15th& Chestnut Streets, hotel-development.marriott.com
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.