Destined for downtown

The Art Museum area is more exciting than an art history class and more fun than bumming around campus. Philadelphia Magazine defines the boundaries as Girard Avenue to the north, Vine Street to the South,

The Art Museum area is more exciting than an art history class and more fun than bumming around campus. Philadelphia Magazine defines the boundaries as Girard Avenue to the north, Vine Street to the South, the Schuylkill River to the west and Broad Street to the east. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is considered to be the southern border by some residents, however. It overlaps, and is sometimes used interchangeably, with the Fairmount, Spring Garden and Logan Square neighborhoods.

The area earned its namesake from the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, located at the Parkway and 26th Street. It is home to a permanent collection of unique art, paintings and furniture. This fall, locals and tourists frequented the museum on Friday nights to hear performances by local jazz musicians. Museum admission is $7 for students. It is “pay what you wish” on Sundays, but a minimum donation of $1 is expected.

“Museum Mile” also includes the Franklin Institute, the Rodin Museum and The Academy of Natural Sciences. The Franklin Institute, on 20th Street across from Logan Square, is a science museum popular among school groups and vacationers. Besides fun exhibits such as Shaquille O’Neal’s autographed size 22 sneaker, the museum features a planetarium and an Imax theater.

The Rodin Museum houses 124 sculptures by artist Auguste Rodin. It is located on the Parkway and 22nd Street, and admission is $3.

The Academy of Natural Sciences is part museum, part zoo. A dinosaur skeleton in the main lobby greets visitors before they explore dioramas of animal habitats and touch live, rare animals. It is three blocks from the Rodin Museum, with an $8 student admission.

One of the most appealing parts of the area – as a place to live and visit – is Fairmount Park. The park extends through many neighborhoods and is the largest urban park in the country. Scenic paths along Kelly Drive are a favorite of bicyclers, joggers, rollerbladers and walkers.

The Schuylkill is a second home to local crew teams, who are seen on the river throughout the day. It is great for an escape from the noise and business of the city. The Victorian houses of Boathouse Row are decorated with Christmas lights all year long, creating one of the city’s most picturesque nighttime attractions.

The neighborhood is also home to a growing number of restaurants. At the London Grill, you can watch an Eagles game or a movie while you eat. This small yet cozy restaurant and bar, located at 23rd Street and Fairmount Avenue, features local bands on Thursday and Friday nights. Cheap takeout items include sandwiches, wraps and bagels. Lunch and appetizers are between $6 and $12, while entrées are in the $20 range.

Down the street is Rembrandt’s, another popular restaurant among locals. Originally a tavern, the interior has an eclectic style complete with ornate lighting fixtures and stained-glass windows. The cuisine is a combination of Ihop’s breakfast and Applebee’s entrees, and the prices are just as affordable. The hours match those of Old City hotspots; customers stay until the bar closes at 2 a.m. Rembrandt’s is at the corner of 23rd and Aspen streets, a few steps from Eastern State Penitentiary.

Off the Parkway, the area is a residential mix of young and old. College students settle into the neighborhood for its close proximity to several college campuses and local entertainment. Resident Kelly LaBrot loves the area because everything is in walking distance.

“I walk everywhere: work, shopping. Whenever I go out, I almost always walk home.” She also likes the location, noting that the area is safe to walk around the neighborhood at night. Rent is generally affordable, with studios as low as $600. Yet, LaBrot said that the popularity of the neighborhood in recent years has caused prices to increase, as people discovered that they could have access to Center City without breaking their budgets.

Temple students who live in the Art Museum area take the free Best Western shuttle to and from main campus. The 24-hour shuttle is available to all students with a Temple ID. By car, the area is accessible through its three major streets – the Parkway, Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue. Parking is free in most of the neighborhood, except on and immediately near the Parkway.

The Art Museum area offers the best of city and suburban life, very busy at times and very quiet at others.

Stephanie Young can be reached at

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