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The Now List: Summer in Philadelphia

Art and the outdoors go so well together in Philadelphia, especially during the summer. Concerts and exhibitions are only part of the fun; there’s also a long, celebratory buildup to the Fourth of July — and what better place to enjoy Independence Day than in America’s birthplace? Here are a few options for a fun-filled summer in Philly.


1. Moonlight Kayak

Get a different vantage point of the city with a guided moonlight kayak tour of the Schuylkill River journeying from Walnut Street Dock to Fairmount Water Works. A riverboat tour is also available in the evenings, departing from the same dock.

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Exterior hotel view at night.

2. Welcome America

Start celebrating America’s independence a few days early with this eight-day festival across the city, leading up to the 4th of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks. Different locations showcase fireworks, live music and more. June 27-July 4.

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3. “Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights” at the National Constitution Center

The exhibit at the new George H. W. Bush Gallery features one of 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights. Alongside is a first-edition stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a rare copy of the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution. Through December 2017.

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Eakins Oval statue with The Philadlephia Art Museum in background at night..

4. “Inside Out” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

One of the country’s most famous collections — or at least their high-quality, large-scale replicas — is stepping outside the museum’s hallowed halls. Reproductions of masterpieces from Warhol, Monet, O’Keeffe and van Gogh will be seen in the Old City, Brewerytown, Tacony and other neighborhoods — 12 communities in all. Through November 1.

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5. Fringe Festival

The 20th annual Fringe Festival comes to neighborhoods across the city with more than 1,000 dance, spoken-word, visual arts, theater and music performances. Each artist finds his own venue — anything from a street corner to a gallery. The festival also brings food and music to the Delaware River waterfront. September 9-24.

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A staircase leads to a room with multiple framed portraits on the wall

6. “Happiness, Liberty, Life? American Art and Politics” at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Discover humor, portraiture and protest in American art and politics dating back to the 18th century. Among the highlights: the “Wall of Washington,” with representations of George and Martha Washington, and Elaine de Kooning’s iconic portrait of John F. Kennedy, Jr., on loan from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. June 30-September 18.

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