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Travel & Outdoors

Top Philly ‘Up, Up And Away’ Escapes

October 10, 2010 2:15 PM

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Philadelphia Skyline

(credit: gptmc/b. krist)

Philadelphia Skyline 

The chance to float high above the scenic rolling hills of Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside is a thrill long remembered. Experience the quiet serenity of following the path of the sun as it rises or sets. Take off and have fun!

Here are a few of the top attractions, including some selected by VisitPhilly.com — our HearPHILLY and CBSPhiladelphia partner:

City Hall Tower

(credit: J. Smith for GPTMC)

 

Philadelphia City Hall Tower

Broad and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia’s City Hall Tower was the tallest structure in the city until 1986. That’s when the city and art commission broke an 85-year-old “Gentleman’s Agreement” and allowed the construction of One Liberty Place to top out at 945 feet.

The tower is still a dominating feature of Philadelphia’s skyline, however. At the top is a 27-ton bronze statue of William Penn — the largest statue on any building in the world.

It was originally designed to make City Hall the highest building in the world at 547-feet, 3-and-a-half inches high, though it was actually surpassed in height by the Washington Monument (at 550 feet) and the Eiffel Tower (984 feet), both of which were completed first.

The tour includes a ride up to the observation deck, which is located directly below the statue, and although the statue itself is inaccessible to the public, it’s still a wonderful view.

Tower Tours are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. The 10 a.m. to noon time period is often reserved for school groups.

Ticket prices are:
$5 – Adults
$3 – Seniors and City employes
$4 – Youth, students and military

City Hall Tower Tour

Child playing at the Helicopter Museum

(credit: M. Kennedy for GPTMC)

 

American Helicopter Museum

1220 American Boulevard
West Goshen Township, PA 19380
610-436-9600

The 20,000-square-foot hangar full of 70 years’ worth of vintage helicopters is a rotorwing historian’s dream. Vintage and modern aircraft demonstrate the copter’s roles in war and rescue missions, agriculture and police surveillance. You’ll see the only V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey in the world that’s on public display, and have the chance to climb into some of the helicopters to fiddle with the dials, switches and pedals.

The museum has many exhibits on how copters actually work and how they differ from fixed-wing aircraft. There are also films about the helicopter’s commercial and military purposes, as well as demonstrations of what may be in the future for the rotorcraft industry.

The American manufacturers who pioneered the development of the helicopter -– including Piasecki, Boeing-Vertol and Pitcairn -– were headquartered in Philadelphia and its suburbs, making the region the cradle of the nation’s helicopter industry.

Copters still fly out of the adjacent Brandywine Airport, so the hangar filled with vintage helicopters and hands-on displays showing how they work is a natural here.

HelicopterMuseum.org

Balloon

(credit: U.S. Hot Air Balloon website)

 

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Route 202 at Street Road
La Haska, PA 18931
800-592-1525

Hot air ballooning has a long Philadelphia history. The first U.S. flight left from inside the city, with dignitaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross in attendance.

Drift along with the wind to see what the birds see, like tree tops rustling beneath as you take in a golden sunset. Feel the thrill of climbing a half-mile into the sky, suspended beneath a colorful hot air balloon. Take in the breathtaking views that stretch from the Philadelphia skyline all the way to New York City, with the Delaware Water Gap in between.

Just remember to relax and enjoy the hour-long ride. When ballooning, the trip is the destination — you never know where you’re going until you get there.

U.S.HotAirBalloon.com

TerraMar

(credit: TarraMar website)

 

TerraMar Adventures

Various Locations
Philadelphia, PA
484-716-8331

Staring out your office window, wishing you were in the fresh mountain air on a whitewater river or high above ground in a sky-diving plane? Now you can be just by picking up the phone.

TerraMar Adventures, a local company built on adventure and adventure sports, is now offering a boundless list of weekly outdoor adventures for both the young and the young at heart. Or, if you’re looking to discover new territory, choose from up to 10 international adventure trips. But no matter whether you stay local or travel to parts unknown, you’ll find a community of fellow adventurers.

TerraMarAdventures.com

Indoor Rock Climbing

(credit: Go Vertical website)

 

Go Vertical

950 N. Penn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215-928-1800

It’s the region’s premier rock climbing gym. Find all the challenges of the vertical world at this centrally located gym in Philadelphia, where there are more than 230 routes on 13,500-plus square feet of climbable terrain.

Whether you’re new to climbing or just looking to improve your skills, there’s a class here that suits your needs.

If you’re an experienced climber looking for a workout, the gym — which serves as the region’s virtual nerve center for the sport — also offers roped climbing or boulder-only day passes.

Beginners should expect to schedule ahead. For serious climb time for first-timers, make a reservation for a climbing party. You’ll get the support you need and just three climbers is enough, so short notice is okay.

GoVertical.com

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