Romantic Philadelphia Gardens Getaway

WHY GO: It’s amazing how many gardens you’ll discover in Romantic Philadelphia; some landscaped, others with nary a fern, plant, or even dirt.

Yes, the word “Garden” can be interpreted in many ways, from shops to restaurants (and, for some, the one that starts with Olive) to eccentric creations. 

This Romantic Philadelphia Gardens Getaway highlights some well known and lesser known aspects of this late-blooming city – with enough to keep you busy for at least a weekend.

This Romantic Philly Gardens post joins this roster of 18 Top Romantic Getaways in Pennsylvania. You might just get some more romantic getaway ideas.

Want to delve more into American History: Check out This Post About Philadelphia as An American History Professor, starting with Independence Hall in Center City.

Things to Do on a Romantic Philadelphia Gardens Getaway

Magic Garden Philly PA Ceramic Art Wall

VISIT: Magic Garden

Wandering this “Visionary Art Space,” the Magic Garden, is like being trapped inside a kaleidoscope. Colors, mirrors, figures within figures initially emerged from a troubled mind.  Long story short, mosaic artist, Isaiah Zagar had a paralyzing mental breakdown.  His shrink advised him to concentrate on just one shard of glass at a time.

This led to Zagar’s manic ornamentation of several abandoned South Street lots. In 2004, when the lot’s owner wanted to sell and destroy all the artwork, Zagar raised $300,000 from his community and other art lovers to purchase the property outright.

Though a preponderance of broken pottery, pieces of shattered glass, ceramic figures, whole pop bottles, tiles and geegaws overwhelms the senses, docents encourage visitors to slow down and look closer to see “Zagar’s diary opened up. Tickets must be purchased online.

Dream Garden Philadelphia PA

VISIT: “Dream Garden” Mural and Palm Court Atrium at Curtis Publishing Building

Washington Square in Philadelphia was once an American publishing hub. Both the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal (among other magazines) were produced here. To showcase its prominence, Curtis Publishing commissioned the creation of one of the most eye-catching mosaic murals in the city. It’s still there.

Pop into the lobby to see “The Dream Garden,” a glittery full wall fantasia, created by Tiffany Studios in 1914, based on a Maxfield Parrish painting.  Around the corner, palm trees flank an indoor atrium courtyard where water plays and cascades over rounded steps of black and grey marble. Free, open during work hours.

Hamilton Garden at the Kimmel Center Philly

SEE: Hamilton Garden at the Kimmel Center

The Kimmel Center has been referred to as The Lincoln Center of Philadelphia, though at Lincoln Center there is nothing comparable to the Hamilton Garden – an enclosed deck with dizzying views of the arched glass roof above and lobby below. Way below.

If you suffer from vertigo, forget about stepping out on a balcony that suspends you within this massive contemporary Quonset hut of a building. You can take a free tour of the Kimmel Center at 1pm daily, or just head up the elevator to the Hamilton Garden to check it out.  Free. Open to the public except when closed for private events.

Barnes Foundation Art Museum entrance Philly

VISIT: Barnes Foundation

The Barnes was surrounded by controversy when it moved from a Philly suburb to the city in 2012. Dr. Albert C. Barnes who, prior to antibiotics, developed a compound that prevented eye infections and blindness in newborns, used his newfound wealth to buy pieces directly from Cézanne, Renoir, Rousseau, and other notable impressionists beginning in 1912.

By 1922, he had amassed enough art to commission a gallery and residence in Merion, PA. And there the Barnes Foundation remained until it moved to its new Philadelphia home in 2012. In his will, Barnes insisted that his collection stay intact in Merion. However, Board Members, wishing to locate the museum where more people could see it, interpreted Barnes’ wishes to mean that the collection be preserved exactly as it was displayed in the Marion mansion.

So, here’s the odd thing. The exterior of the new building is uber modern, blocky and bold. But the interior galleries are old fashioned, with parquet floors, and walls cast in sepia.

The paintings are uniquely arranged in two dozen galleries. El Greco skulls hang next to Renoir picnic scenes. And wrought iron hinges and tools intermingle with Cezannes, Van Goghs and Modiglianis. A visit to the Barnes is truly a unique experience.

GO: Fairmount Park

At more than twice the size of Central Park in NYC, the 2,000-acre Fairmont Park is considered the largest Urban Park in the country. Known primarily for its miles of forested trails, natural features, the Philadelphia Zoo, and public art, its Western border becomes a pink fantasia in Spring when numerous Cherry Blossom trees burst into bloom.

Hanging flowers at East Conservatory - Longwood Gardens - PA

VISIT: Longwood Botanical Gardens, Kennet Square

Find acres of gardens, hiking trails, and water gardens engineered by Pier Du Pont at the world class Longwood Gardens: covered in This Getaway Mavens Post about the Brandywine Valley.

Garden Restaurants in Philadelphia, PA

SHOP/EAT: Terrain/Glen Mills Garden Café, Glen Mills

What happens when the company that owns Urban Outfitters and Anthropology goes into the gardening business? You get Potting-Shed Chic. This “curated collection” of décor for home and garden on eleven acres is a destination unto itself. Even if you have no desire to purchase that $20 glass jar of Black Sea Salt or a heathery Meadow Wreath, Garden sheds, barns and greenhouses spill one into another. Displays are clever, fun and play with your senses.

Terrain Garden Café

Dine in a former greenhouse on site, the Terrain Garden Café. Farm to table dining can’t get much closer to the food than this place.  You’re in Mushroom Country, so any dish incorporating local mushrooms are obvious choices.

EAT: Talula’s Garden

Enter through an outdoor patio bejeweled with pin lights into a Farmhouse-chic set of low-lit rooms.  Talula’s Garden is all mason-jar votives, pickle barrel shelves, and distressed wood floors. What most people don’t know, though, is that almost all of this stuff was salvaged from the set of M Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

There are lots of things left over after demolishing the set,” says Talula’s owner, and self-admitted “Culinary Director,” Amiee Olexy. “The movie was made nearby in Chester County. So we took a few things.” Tables fashioned from floor joists and vintage window wall sconces form a Comfort Food montage. But of course what brings customers back is the incredible food.

Knobs of cheese arrive on slabs of fieldstone. And main dishes like Farro ‘Risotto’, Roasted Acorn and Honeycup Squash, Wilted Escarole, Walnuts, Kale Pesto, and Black Olive-Caramel Vinaigrette seem from the garden fresh.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

STAY: Loews Hotel

In 1932, when fussy architectural ornamentation prevailed, what is now the Loews Hotel Philadelphia rose as the first “International Style” Modern Skyscraper in the United States. William Lescaze and George Howe designed the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society’s 36-story 491 ft. tower in a T-Shape to allow for maximum light.

Loews opened the building as a hotel in 2000, renovating office space into light and airy rooms. The PSFS sign remains on the top of the building. And the bank’s original vault door remains in the stunning lobby.  Rooms reflect the modernist era; whites and grays with punches of color, trim furniture and great city views.

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  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

2 thoughts on “Romantic Philadelphia Gardens Getaway”

  1. Great tip on Longwood Gardens. It truly unique – I’ve never been to a botanical garden that comes close. It’s possible to easily spend a full day or several days there. Also, if you are with someone with mobility issues, he or she can use a motorized scooter from Longwood as there is a lot of walking.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Chana! Longwood Gardens is truly a remarkable place. Thanks for reading and commenting! – Mal

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