Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 North Outer Line Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
This Valley Forge historical site, located just 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, boasts 3,600 rolling acres and a ton of history. This park was the headquarters of General George Washington’s Continental Army in the winter of 1777-78, so there’s plenty of historical markers and structures to see, including Washington’s Headquarters and the commemorative National Memorial Arch. Many jogging and biking trails are located throughout the park. In addition, a free cell phone tour can be used as a guide.
The United States Mint
1 N. Independence Mall E.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Philadelphia is home to one of six United States Mint facilities, and it even holds the distinction of housing the nation’s very first mint. The Philadelphia location produces circulating coins of all denominations and commemorative coins as authorized by Congress, as well as the dies for stamping coins and medals. Admission to the U.S. Mint is free, and a view from 40 feet above the factory floor allows visitors to watch the modern coin-making process. In addition, the Mint’s self-guided tour features audio and video stations and also includes a look at the nation’s first coining press used in 1792.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
8601 Lindbergh Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19153
This 1,200 acre Philadelphia wildlife refuge is located a mile from the Philadelphia Airport, but what a difference that mile makes. This is an oasis you’ve got to see to believe. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge is an unlikely pit stop for migratory species, and it is home to several locally endangered turtles and frog species. More than 300 types of birds have been spotted at this wildlife refuge.
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
532 N. 7th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
The macabre mind of Edgar Allan Poe once took inspiration from a Philadelphia haunt. The literary legend lived in this Philadelphia home for six years, and today his humble abode is a historical landmark. Free tours of Poe’s unfurnished former home are available and can be either self-guided or led by a park ranger. An adjacent home features a reading room with Poe’s tales and poems available to listen to on CD. Be sure to check out the raven statue in the yard. Poe’s home is open Friday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., and on-street parking is available near the site.
699 Walnut St. (Lobby of The Curtis Center)
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Located in the lobby of the Curtis Building on Washington Square, this magical mosaic is a hidden gem. Created by the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the mural is made with more than 100,000 pieces of iridescent glass and is based on a painting by Philadelphia artist Maxfield Parrish. The 15-by-49-foot mosaic was installed in 1916 inside the lobby of the building, which was once the headquarters of publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis. Many people do not realize this incredible mural is located in the building just across from Independence National Historical Park.
Victoria Miller is a freelance entertainment writer who also covers recreation and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.