Paris has the Champs Elysees, Washington the National Mall.
But only Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway links major museums and an urban spa.
The new gem on the Parkway — the Barnes Foundation.– is steps from the Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, home of the city’s best urban spa. After a day of museum-going, the hotel’s art-filled public rooms are a tonic for body and soul.
Slip into the spa for a relaxing massage or workout and enjoy a bonus: the city’s largest hotel swimming pool, complete with saunas, showers, and groomng area. Spa director Verna Wormley recommended the Philadelphia Freedom massage to ease tired muscles. The 80-minute treatment with herb-infused warm towels costs $195. Signature treatments feature Naturopathica products.
Combine a museum pass with overnight stay at the Four Seasons. The With Art package from $399 for two persons is available through March 31. www.fourseasons.com; 215/405-2815.
When the Barnes Foundation building opened last spring, a treasure trove of paintings and decdorative arts went on display. Dr. Albert Barnes, a chemist who made a fortune with the patent medicine Argyrol, left his art collection to the foundation with the stipulation that it must be kept intact. His wall arrangements have been re-created in the new building, giving visitors an even better look at hundreds of Renoir, Matisse, and other avant-garde European and American paintings.
Ensemble, the introductory exhibition (through March 18), shows how Dr. Barnes arranged paintings with furniture and household objects to demonstrate design connections. African masks, American Indian pottery, and colonial textiles are juxtaposed with masterpieces byVan Gogh, Renoir, and a Matisse mural of dancers painted in Dr. Barnes’ mansion.
Complete your visit to the Barnes with a taste of culinary art in the museum’s garden cafe. The seaonal locavore menu and wine selections are creating a buzz. No reservations, so get there early.
Admission is with timed ticket, Wednesday – Monday ($18), free first Sunday of each month. The museum is closed Tuesdays. www.barnesfoundation.org; 215/278-7200.
The Barnes joins a stunning array of museums on the Parkway: the lofty Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rodin sculpture museum, Franklin Institue science museum, and Natural History museum. There are late night happenings when all galleries stay open, linked by trolley. And the Philadelphia Festival of the Arts, March 28 to April 27, adds concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center, chamber music, regional theater, ballet, and jazz.(www.pifa.org)
For information and schedule of events, go online at www.visitphilly.com