Philadelphia Experience

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A Drive Around Fairmount Park

Your visit can start where the park began, at Faire Mount. Begin this outing with a walk before you set off by car. Park behind the art museum and walk down the stairs. To your right is the Azalea Garden. Straight ahead, overlooking the Schuylkill, is the Fairmount Waterworks, an elegant group of Greek Revival buildings. North of the Waterworks you can see the Victorian structures of Boathouse Row; watch for rowers on the river here, too. Walking north along Kelly Drive, you soon reach the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden.

Now's the time to walk back to your car for a driving tour of East Fairmount Park. Follow Kelly Drive to the end of Boathouse Row; turn right up the hill to a Federal-style country house, Lemon Hill. Head back to Kelly Drive, turn right, pass through the rock archway, and turn right again at the equestrian statue of Ulysses S. Grant. The first left takes you to Mt. Pleasant, a Georgian mansion. Continue along the road that runs to the right of the house (as you face it) past Rockland, a handsome Federal house that's currently closed. At the dead end turn left onto Reservoir Drive. You'll pass the redbrick Georgian-style Ormiston, also closed. Take the next left, Randolph Drive, to another Georgian house, Laurel Hill, on Edgely Drive, which becomes Dauphin Street. Just about 10 feet before reaching 33rd Street, turn left on Strawberry Mansion Drive, and you're at Woodford, which has an interesting collection of household goods. A quarter-mile northwest of Woodford stands the house that gave its name to the nearby section of Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion. It has furniture from three periods of its history.

Visit Laurel Hill Cemetery before you cross the river to West Fairmount Park. Drive back down the driveway of Strawberry Mansion, turn left at the stop sign, and follow the narrow road as it winds right to the light. Turn left onto Ridge Avenue and follow it to the entrance gate, which sits between eight Greek columns.

To skip the cemetery and continue your tour, proceed down the Strawberry Mansion driveway to the stop sign, turn left, and follow the road as it loops down and around to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Cross the river and follow the road; when it splits, stay left. You'll come to Chamounix Drive, a long straightaway. Turn left and then left again on Belmont Mansion Drive for a fine view from Belmont Plateau. Follow Belmont Mansion Drive down the hill. Where it forks, stay to the left, cross Montgomery Drive, and bear left to reach the Horticulture Center with its greenhouse and garden. Loop all the way around the Horticulture Center to visit the serene Japanese House and its waterfall and gardens.

Drive back around the Horticulture Center and continue through the gates to Montgomery Drive. Turn left and then left again at the first light (Belmont Avenue). Turn left again on North Concourse Drive. On your left is Memorial Hall, which now houses the Please Touch Museum. The two towers ahead are part of the Smith Civil War Memorial. Turn left just past them to see Cedar Grove. Just south of Cedar Grove is a Federal mansion, Sweetbriar. Continue past the house, make the first left, and turn left again at the stop sign onto Lansdowne Drive. Follow signs to the zoo.

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