Philadelphia is one of the country’s social and cultural epicenters, filled with beautiful historic sites, incredible science, and world-renowned art pieces that will take your breath away. While these classic museums can undoubtedly take days upon days to make your way through, there are also numerous unique and even unusual museums and displays worth checking out in this beloved city.
Here’s a list of the most exciting and offbeat places you could stop by during your next visit.
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Considered to be the father of the American horror genre, Edgar Allan Poe and his brilliant and horrifying stories have captivated readers for centuries. The author himself described the time he spent in Philadelphia as some of the happiest in his life, so why not take the opportunity to visit the house he lived in while he was there? The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site has made sure that guests can transport themselves back to the early 1800s, allowing them to feel connected to the world in which this renowned and beloved author lived.
Not only are you able to walk through the parlor area, the kitchen, and Poe’s bedroom, but you can also visit the cellar, which many people believe could have been the inspiration for the tomb mentioned in his acclaimed work “The Black Cat.” Whether you’re a literary guru or a history buff, visiting this stunning historic site will be more than worth your while.
Professor Ouch’s Bizarre Bazaar and Odditorium
If you’re looking for the opportunity to see a collection of some of the oddest and most intriguing artifacts that would appear in any of the world’s best roadside attractions, Professor Ouch’s Bizarre Bazaar and Odditorium is the place for you. This one-of-a-kind collection will have the whole family rolling with laughter and even gawking in awe at displays, including two-headed ducks, a mermaid mummy, and even what they claim could possibly be Bigfoot’s very own finger.
You may want to keep in mind that while the shop’s hours are technically open Thursday through Saturday and Monday from 12-8 and Sunday from 12-7, they do maintain the option to close the shop whenever they’ve “had enough,” so you might want to call ahead of time.
Please Touch Museum
Designed with families and children in mind, the Please Touch Museum in Memorial Hall encourages what most museums prohibit. Founded in 1976, this museum has allowed visitors to enjoy its playful and imaginative approach to education for over 50 years.
Guests are allowed to touch and interact with every single exhibit, allowing children to explore and expand their imaginations and understanding of the world around them. The museum holds true to the belief that children learn and discover through play, and their unique exhibits are designed to inspire creativity, compassion, and confidence in every visitor who walks through their doors.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Considered one of the most haunting and chilling historical sites on the East Coast, the Eastern State Penitentiary was once one of the most famous prisons in the entire country. Nowadays, visitors can take a tour through this crumbling institution, exploring its decrepit cell blocks and fragmented guard towers.
Originally built in 1829, this penitentiary was the temporary home of infamous inmates such as Willie Sutton, Freda Frost, and even Al Capone. The prison was eventually closed in 1971 and converted into a museum for the public in 1994. Today, guests can wander through its halls listening to an audio tour by Steve Buscemi, a guide-led daytime tour, or even a night tour the museum describes as “eerie yet educational” if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
Pizza Brain Pizza Museum
Do you consider yourself a real pizza connoisseur? Are you someone who not only enjoys the perfect slice but who wants to delve deep into the world of pizza as we know it? Then you should most certainly stop by the Pizza Museum.
At the first official museum dedicated entirely to the delicacy of pizza, guests can enjoy artwork, advertising, toys, books, and even music inspired by one of the world’s favorite foods. You’ll be amazed by just how much this culinary delight has impacted pop culture when you feast your eyes on the mountains of pizza memorabilia and accessories. And make sure you grab yourself a slice on the way out!
The Mütter Museum
Renowned as one of the country’s best medical museums, the Mütter Museum has been enlightening and disturbing visitors since it first opened in 1858. Dedicated to preserving medical history and its advances, this museum allows guests to get a first-hand look at over 20,000 incredible artifacts and exhibits, including Einstein’s actual brain, a wall of 139 human skulls, and a close look at various pandemics and diseases through the ages.
Aspiring doctors and aficionados of all things medicinal history will undoubtedly find this museum fascinating, and rightly so. However, it is vital to keep in mind that all the specimens found throughout are real, so a certain degree of respect and admiration must be upheld throughout your visit.
Battleship New Jersey
If you’re at all interested in naval warfare, you absolutely must stop by the Battleship USS New Jersey. Not only is it a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, but it’s also the biggest and most decorated battleship in U.S. naval history. This incredible interactive exhibit allows visitors not only to tour the ship but even sit in the admiral’s chair, lie down in sailors’ bunks, and even climb into the gun turrets.
This one-of-a-kind historic site will give you a first-hand look at United States military history in a way that makes it much more real and exciting for every visitor. However, if you’re looking for even more than what the standard tour provides, you could always opt to stay overnight for one of the museum’s sleep-over opportunities.
Independence Seaport Museum
While Philadelphia is often remembered for its significant constitutional and revolutionary contributions, the city was also one of the most critical seaports on the eastern coast. The Independence Seaport Museum is committed to the preservation of that past and to connecting every visitor with the maritime history this city is built on.
Dedicated to all things water, this museum has multiple exhibits demonstrating the history, science, and art of Philadelphia’s waterways. You could take a deeper look into America’s past conflicts with pirates, learn about the incredible wildlife living in the Delaware River, and even get an up-close look at the tradition of tattoos and the American sailor. Understanding the role this city played throughout history is incredibly important, and its connection with the sea plays a critical part as well.
Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion
One of Philadelphia’s newest science museums, this exceptional institution is dedicated to all things buggy. With two floors of wondrous exhibitions and a 7,000 square foot tropical butterfly pavilion, the insect enthusiast in your life will be amazed by the unique and interactive experience the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion offers.
This museum is dedicated to educating the public about the vital role insects play in the balance of nature and everyday life on the planet through fun and interactive exhibits.
Fireman’s Hall Museum
Firefighters have played a significant role throughout Philadelphia’s history, and the Fireman’s Hall Museum makes sure visitors can learn exactly how from the moment they walk through their doors. Dedicated to preserving the incredible and shocking history of firefighting in the city, this museum makes sure to educate the public about fire safety and prevention. The numerous exhibits and artifacts include:
- Hand-drawn, horse-drawn, and motorized apparatuses
- Masks and memorabilia
- Coats and boots from different eras
While admission to this one-of-a-kind museum is free, donations are always appreciated and help maintain the stunning exhibits on display as well as potential future exhibits.
Philadelphia is one of the most vibrant and inspiring cities in all of the United States, and its array of museums and world-renowned historical sites are just part of what makes this city so great. Between exceptional restaurants, world-class entertainment, and exceptional parks and recreational areas, there’s an infinite number of places to explore. If you’re considering making the move to this one-of-a-kind area, contact a Philadelphia real estate agent to find the perfect piece of Philadelphia property today.