2014 was quite the year for Philadelphia. With the World Cup making the city soccer-crazy for a bit and the rise of Philly Jesus attracting our attention, this was one fun year. I could go on and on about happenings in 2014, but I'm just going to focus on new attractions in Philadelphia this year. From a man-made paradise at Penn's Landing to the birth of four fairly new African lions at the Philadelphia Zoo, these additions have hooked us in from the start. Note -- the list is in no particular order.
The fishy friends at the Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive, Camden) got two new buddies this year, and it's kind of a big deal because this is the only Aquarium in America that has hippos on exhibit. Visitors of the Aquarium can meet the hippos — Button and Genny — during general admission hours.
Dilworth Plaza (1 S. 15th St.)
The west side of City Hall received a massive makeover over this year and the changes were well worth the wait. When the warmer weather is here, relax on a chair and enjoy a cappuccino while soaking in the sounds and atmosphere of Center City. When the weather is chilly, a segment of the park transforms into a brand-new ice skating rink, catering our urges of wanting to cruise along the ice. Since the opening in September, the park has been not shy of events, from nighttime movie screenings, Oktoberfest celebrations, and free concerts, Dilworth Plaza will be a hot spot for the upcoming year.
Spruce Street Harbor Park (121 N. Columbus Blvd.)
A summer pop-up paradise graced Philadelphia this year and boy did it take the city by storm. With a park located right at Penn's Landing, guests could feel like they were on a tropical island with hammocks hung all over the trees, free games to keep the smiles going, beers to cheers your summer to, and even a boardwalk to wipe away the thoughts of your home sidewalk.
OK, I understand Winterfest was a part of Philadelphia last year, but have you seen it recently? The brother of Spruce Street Harbor Park just got a brand-new look next to the ice skating rink, where you can get cozy by the new lodge with a hot chocolate, shop for your newest fashion piece, talk about your latest idea at the fire pits, score some points in skee ball, and take some memorable photos with your loved ones in the holiday-themed wonderland.
Zoo 360 (3400 W. Girard Avenue)
America's first zoo lets the animals run wild like never before with the addition of Zoo 360, an animal exploration trail that lets the inhabitants of the zoo wander around the campus. This groundbreaking exhibit includes three trails, Treetop Trail for the monkeys and lemurs, The Great Ape Trail for the orangutans, and the Big Cat Crossing for lions, tigers, pumas, and other big cats.
As if Zoo 360 isn't cool enough this year. It has been 16 years since a lion was born in the zoo, and on June 25 and June 26, Mali, Kataba, Saba, and Msinga were born by mother lion Tajiri. The cubs are now on display with their mother and father at the First Niagara Big Cat Falls exhibit and are growing quickly. Want to see the playful cubs in action? Visit the zoo soon before the cubs are fully grown.
Independence Beer Garden (100 S. Independence Mall West)
Beer gardens have been on the rise in Philadelphia for the past few years, now it was Old City's turn to get into the action. What's great about this location is not only is it brand new, but it also is conveniently located right near a majority of Philadelphia's historic sites and businesses. Just by going to the location once, you'll be sure to meet visitors from all over the world, college students, workers, and new friends. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention games. Guests can play cornhole, shuffle board, jenga, or ping-pong while enjoying a cold one.
Great Bull Run (30 Stauffer Park Lane)
If you ask me, running away from bulls with hundreds of other willing people is straight up stupid, but hey — people love it. This Spanish tradition has been brought to America throughout numerous cities and this year Philadelphia was among those chosen. Located at Maple Grove Raceway, the run went down, the adrenaline rush was fulfilled, and if you were there you probably were hit with a tomato, or tons of tomatoes. This event was memorable but also a waste of food, in my opinion.