Enjoy the Wonder of Philadelphia’s Magic Garden With Your Dog!
One of the oddest pet-friendly places we discovered in Philadelphia was the colourful, eccentric, and mind boggling Philadelphia Magic Garden. We stumbled upon this mosaicked folk art and sculpture garden when we did a Google search for the top 20 things to see or do in Philly. The Magic Garden kept showing up in our search, so we decided to add it to our “must see” list. With or without our Boomeresque hostess, we had to go!
We checked the official website and give the Magic Garden a “Paws Up!” for including clear information about pets in the rules and policies section. Still, we followed-up with a private e-mail, as we always do. The Magic Garden responded within 24 hours, assuring that the website was up to date. Bravo! *tail wag*
The rules regarding pets are simple:
- Child- and dog-friendly dogs and service animals are allowed.
- Keep your pet on a leash and clean up after them.
We could do that!
On our last day in Philly … after a long morning walk to the Museum of Art, Boathouse Row, and the Rodin Museum … a revisit to Logan Circle and the Love Plaza … and a pass under the beautiful city hall to ramble down the Avenue of the Arts to a new area just below the Washington Square District, which includes a street called Antique Row but only had one antique shop (ahem) … we finally made it to South Street and 11th where the Magic Garden waited, all shining and glittering in the summer afternoon sun.
We were mesmerized right from the start. The entire side wall of the building is a HUGE mosaic. The labyrinth winks at you through the gate – a discovery of awesomeness of ups and downs with never a straight line in sight!
I found myself nose to nose with a masterpiece. A …. mosaicked visionary art environment that included murals, galleries, a fully tiled indoor space, and a massive outdoor mosaic sculpture garden that spans – are you ready for this, Dear Reader? – half a block! I saw folk statues, bicycle wheels, glass bottles in every possible shade, handmade tiles, plates, cups and saucers, thousands of glittering mirrors tiles . … Even the bathroom was part of the exhibit!
Artistic vision is everywhere. Not a space is left untouched. You can look way up to see mosaics and, at the same spot, you can look way down to see layers waiting for you below. The Garden also has different “zones” from cool, airy, and open to the sunlight, to cozier and more private.
At one point, we sat down in one of those cozier places – a niche – and a young couple settled in with us. The young man then took out a flute and gave an impromptu little solo. It felt oddly home-like in that instant.
The Garden definitely has a psychedelic, hipster feel, and is a great place to take pictures. You can also arrange to hold events in the Garden. Imagine a party or … a wedding! Ha!
I had heard that Isaiah Zagar, the founding artist, still works on mosaics every day. And, as it should happen, our visit was crowned with the chance to see and meet Isaiah on one of his daily visits. Just as we were leaving the Garden, Isaiah entered the main lobby with a tour of about 20 young adults. His presence is difficult to define. He exudes a sort of calm that I have only met in Buddhist monks or folks following a Zen lifestyle for years. Entirely at ease with himself, smiling a benevolent smile, Isaiah patted Mom’s shoulder as he passed – a little cheeky but not inappropriate – and winked at Dad. The cheekiness was no surprise since some of his hand-made tiles are … umm…. very sexual in nature. When Isaiah noticed me way down on the ground, he stopped for a split second, then grinned so widely he split his face in half. I saw absolute and total delight illuminate his face. Then he was gone. And the room seemed a little darker for his absence. A perfect end to our visit.
In review: The most awesome, original, and mentally-inspiring place in Philly. There is something new for you to look at in every inch, and mazes of craftwork and handiness to explore. The Garden is a beautiful, sprawling piece of artwork. This is one of those places where the more you look, the more you discover. I absolutely loved this little pocket of creativity and imagination.
As for tips?
- If you have kids with you, they provide a scavenger hunt map of things to find to make the visit more fun. The bipeds tried to help a little girl who was missing just one item on her list. Alas, we could not help her find the rabbit.
- Get a postcard. It will be the least expected item your friends and family will expect to receive from your trip to Philly!
- Although there is a large indoor section, make sure you have good weather: the section that is most awe-inspiring is mostly outdoors.
- Do not rush your visit, squeezing it in between other activities. Take your time.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- And take the time to visit the rest of the neighbourhood! There are a total of 31 murals between 1st and 4th, from Lombard Street to Fitzwater.
I cannot wait to return! Absolutely a Platinum Montecristo Seal of Approval!
PS: I know I have bombarded you with photos. Take your time looking at them. I hope they will inspire you to visit this amazing garden that has grown since 1994 into the large-scale public artwork space that it is today. And take your canine companion!