Philadelphia Off The Beaten Path Tips by PR-7

Philadelphia Off The Beaten Path: 139 reviews and 172 photos

One More Reason to Come to Heinz NWR

For the first time in almost 200 years, eagles are nesting within the city limits of Philadelphia.

www.philly.com/inquirer/health_science/daily/20100407_Birds_in_the_news__Bald_eagles_hatch_at_Tinicum.html

And, since they are on an island in a national wildlife refuge, they are easily visible to the general public. While eagles' nests with eaglets are normally kept secret (lest moronic humans disturb them), Heinz not only shows where the nest is, but encourages people to view the site. An easy to follow walk of about two kilometers will bring you to a place with signs explaining what you are seeing, at which a pair binoculars will give you a great human's eye view of their home. The visitor center (open 8-4:30) will, at no charge, loan out binoculars to any visitor.

Seeing bald eagles in the wild used to involve going to distant places and/or a major trek in the wilderness. Now it's nothing more than a five minute drive from I-95 near a airport in a major metropolis, followed by a two kilometer walk or bike ride to the viewing site.

There's no guarantee this couple will return to the nest next year. However, eagles DO mate for life and, if they find their first "home" to be acceptable, they return each year to raise more eaglets. Seeing them raise their child in the wild may become an annual event!

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Signs at viewing area - Philadelphia

Signs at viewing area

One More Reason to Come to Heinz NWR

For the first time in almost 200 years, eagles are nesting within the city limits of Philadelphia.

www.philly.com/inquirer/health_science/daily/20100407_Birds_in_the_news__Bald_eagles_hatch_at_Tinicum.html

And, since they are on an island in a national wildlife refuge, they are easily visible to the general public. While eagles' nests with eaglets are normally kept secret (lest moronic humans disturb them), Heinz not only shows where the nest is, but encourages people to view the site. An easy to follow walk of about two kilometers will bring you to a place with signs explaining what you are seeing, at which a pair binoculars will give you a great human's eye view of their home. The visitor center (open 8-4:30) will, at no charge, loan out binoculars to any visitor.

Seeing bald eagles in the wild used to involve going to distant places and/or a major trek in the wilderness. Now it's nothing more than a five minute drive from I-95 near a airport in a major metropolis, followed by a two kilometer walk or bike ride to the viewing site.

There's no guarantee this couple will return to the nest next year. However, eagles DO mate for life and, if they find their first "home" to be acceptable, they return each year to raise more eaglets. Seeing this couple raise children in the wild may become an annual event!

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Blue Heron Landing - Philadelphia

Blue Heron Landing

Relax with Nature for a Few Hours

Philly's main attractions are its urban ones, and there's no doubt but that you can spend several days of frentic sight-seeing and fun from morning till midnight -- and beyond. But Philly also has, within its borders, something most metropolises don't have -- a genuine wildlife refuge.

The Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is (literally) within earshot of the city airport, and can be reached from Center City in about twenty minutes by car or longer by bus. It preserves one of the few fresh-water tidal pools in the country, and is an amazingly quiet place for hiking, biking, and kayaking amongst numerous birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The refuge is open dawn to dusk, its visitor center open 8am to 5pm (check exact hours), and admission is always free. Walk from the parking area for just five minutes, and you won't believe you're within the city limits of the fifth-largest (or sixth?) city in the U.S.A. Waterfowl and turtles are inevitably spotted, and deer will show up if you walk long enough and quietly enough. Fishing is permitted WITH a Pennsylvania license.

This is NOT a recreational area in the sense that you can play football or run around like a banshee. Even picnicking is problematic, as there are almost no tables. But if like seeing a meter-wide blue heron landing in a pond, or a dozen turtles getting a sunny warm-up; then this is your place.

There ARE a couple dozen places to visit in the Philly area that are more unique or more appropriate for a visitor than this place -- wildlife refuges are all over the country. But if you're looking for a place to relax amongst nature for a couple hours, and don't want to spend three hours driving for an hour of relaxation, then this is your place.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/heinz/welcome.htm

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 24, 2010
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Three Reasons to Come Here Valley Forge Review

1) This place is of historic interest, strangely enough, because of what DIDN'T happen here. Namely, in the winter of 1777-1778, the Continental Army did NOT fall apart, as it very easily could have.
Alexander Hamilton, in charge of getting supplies to the army, found out what happens when you have no strong, central government to manage threats to American security or values. Thousands of soldiers went weeks without adequate food, clothing, shelter, warmth, or medical attention. None of them received anything of material value for their suffering -- the phrase "Worthless as a continental dollar" came from the worth of their "pay" -- and none had any guarantee that this misery would lead to anything worth dying for. Indeed, since General Washington's army had been beaten (often badly) in every major battle it had with the British, it was perfectly reasonable to think there was no hope of this army winning this war. Worse, it was an army in name only. There was no centralized training, discipline, or command structure -- more like several separate armies, with little sense of connection between them.
Yet SOMEHOW this (literally) rag-tag group held together. By spring, it was more disciplined than ever before; by the summer of 1778, it could take on British troops as equals.

This fact of survival through misery makes Valley Forge an important symbol of American resolve. You won't find much here of direct historical interest, but you may well be awe-struck by how Washington's Army avoided catastrophe.

2) Because the area is considered almost sacred soil, no development has occurred on these fields for over a century -- it has been park land since 1893. As such, you can actually get a little bit of nature here. Fields and forests are all around, and deer roam freely. If you want a quiet break from the noise of Philly, come here for an afternoon.

3) Because development has been deliberately stymied in this area, recreation opportunities abound. You can hike, bike, or skate for a couple hours; or take the Schuylkill River Trail all the way to Market Street in downtown.

It's an odd juxtapositon here: solemn history, quiet contemplation, roller-bladers zipping down the trails. It's not easy for the park to balance all these demands for its use, as it's never clear the real "purpose" of the park. But, if you're looking for any of the above, you'll find them here.

Website: http://www.nps.gov/vafo

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 1, 2010
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Absolute Must-see for Fans of Wyeth Brandywine River Museum Review

This is the place where three generations of the Wyeth family created their art work, and the collection for their work here is unsurpassed anywhere else. You can see their art work, you can visit their very studio, or you can just get a sense of the area that inspired them.

There are collection from other artists, and changing galleries on interesting topics. But, if you're not into any of the Wyeth paintings, this place isn't worth the effort.

But if you ARE, then you can't miss this place.

Website: http://www.brandywinemuseum.org

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Mar 1, 2010
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