From arts and attractions to food and fan culture, Philadelphia bursts with activities to keep any visitor entertained. Don't know where to start? We’ve narrowed it down to 26 awesome items to ensure your experience is top-notch.
Avenue of the Arts
On Broad Street between Washington and Glenwood avenues, Avenue of the Arts is the heart and soul of the city’s arts scene. For roughly four miles, the street is lined with theaters, museums and performance centers that showcase everything from experimental ballet and Broadway-style musicals to avant-garde sculptures and paintings.
In the mid-twentieth century, philanthropist Dr. Albert Barnes amassed one of the world’s most eclectic art collections, with pieces ranging from priceless Picassos to antique artifacts. Today, the Barnes Foundation’s 93,000-square-foot building in Philadelphia houses many of these works, all arranged according to Barnes’ unusual aesthetic specifications.
Beer and whisky drinkers can enjoy an entirely different sort of Philadelphia institution, the Citywide Special. This ubiquitous combo is available at dive bars all over town and traditionally includes a shot of Jim Beam and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, all for just $3.
Die-Hard Sports Fans
From the Phillies to the Eagles, the Flyers to the Sixers, we Philadelphians love our sports teams. Get into the spirit by donning your Philly colors, and then catch a game at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, headquarters to all of these teams.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Once home to infamous criminals like Al Capone and Morris “The Rabbi” Bolber, today Eastern State Penitentiary is open to the public for tours, events and exhibits. Admission to this fortress includes an audio tour (narrated by Steve Buscemi) and access to all of the engaging art and historical shows on display that day.
Learning is fun at the Franklin Institute, one of the world’s premier science museums. Programming here appeals to visitors of all ages, with hands-on permanent exhibits like Your Brain and SportsZone for youngsters and Science After Hours nights for grownups.
When you see street signs adorned with rainbow stripes, you’ll know you’ve arrived in the nine-block section of the city known as the Gayborhood. (Yes, that’s how it’s denoted on the city’s official maps.) This thriving, LGBT-friendly area is home to boutique shops, exquisite cuisine and an energetic nightlife scene.
On Second Street between South and Lombard streets, Headhouse Square is an open-air plaza that hosts events, markets and gatherings. This year, the immensely popular Franklin Flea marketplace relocated to Headhouse, where visitors can browse through locally made goods and bites every second and fourth Saturday of the month through the end of October.
Bring your appetite and prepare to be dazzled by some of best food and people watching you’re likely to find in the city. The Italian Market, which spans S. 9th Street between Fitzwater and Wharton streets, is home to classic, red-gravy Italian eateries, outdoor food stalls, and more recent multicultural additions like stellar Latin and Asian restaurants.
Windows emblazoned with the phrase “I Hate Steven Singer” signal the entrance to Jeweler’s Row. In addition to Singer’s outpost—with its unusual yet successful marketing messaging—the strip on Sansom Street between 7th and 8th streets is a treasure trove of more than 300 jewelry stores, wholesalers and gemologists.
Runners and cyclists flock to Kelly Drive, one of Philadelphia’s most picturesque stretches. Adjacent to Fairmount Park, this windy path runs parallel to the Schuylkill River, offering sweeping views of the river, the city and the “front” of Boathouse Row.
One of America’s best-known landmarks, the Liberty Bell is on display to the public for free all year long. If you don’t feel like waiting in line and are willing to forego seeing the bell’s famous crack, you can glimpse the 2,000-plus-pound icon through an easily accessible viewing window on Chestnut Street.
Mural Arts Program
Philadelphia’s many exterior building walls serve as blank canvases for breathtaking, larger-than-life murals. Through the Mural Arts Program, visitors can tour these works via train, trolley, foot or Segway.
Last year, City Council official recognized the strip of N. 3rd Street between Market and Girard streets as N3RD Street—as in "Nerd Street"—a term that locals have affectionately used for years. This sub-section of Old City is a hotbed of creative energy, boasting several art galleries, independent shops and workspaces.
Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches
In the same neighborhood, keep your eye out for ten scattered Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches, where costumed historians tell the story of the founding of our nation.
On the shores of the Delaware River, Penn’s Landing has become a year-round destination for fun and excitement. Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest attracts ice skaters and parka-clad guests when the weather is cold, while the summer months draw visitors to Spruce Street Harbor Park and a bevy of multicultural festivals on weekends.
As one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Queen Village is a picturesque sea of cobblestone streets, narrow row houses, drinking pubs, restaurants and shops. The charming area spans the blocks from South Street to Christian Street and from S. 7th Street to Front Street.
Reading Terminal Market
The indoor Reading Terminal Market is a true foodie paradise, with farm-fresh produce, old-school-style butcher stands, gourmet specialty shops and on-site dining options. Visitors especially love seeing the Amish vendors, who travel in from the countryside to hawk their goods.
Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
Along the east side of the river that separates West Philly from Center City, the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is an outdoor oasis of greenery, parks and docks. This relatively new addition to the city hosts everything from kayaking tours to al fresco movie nights.
Top Chef Winners
Philadelphia is home to two of the country’s most inspired chefs, both of whom smoked the competition on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. Season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga helms two outposts (and counting): the fine-dining Sbraga and southern-inspired Fat Ham. After winning Season 11, Nick Elmi opened Laurel, a small, upscale restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue that consistently receives rave reviews.
Some of the world’s finest minds come to study in the section of West Philadelphia known as University City. Here, prestigious institutions like the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University serve as anchors for the neighborhood’s many exciting eateries, shops, arts and culture destinations, hotels and more.
During the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge was the site of the Continental Army’s winter encampment. Today, this spot just outside the city limits commemorates the soldiers that lost their lives here in the name of freedom.
Want to order a cheesesteak like a true Philadelphian? Ask for a “wiz wit”, shorthand for a steak sandwich with cheese wiz and onions. Alternatively, you can go for a “wiz witout,” which comes onion-free.
Located inside the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, Xfinity Live! is a multi-functional dining and entertainment destination for concerts, events and more. The offerings here include multiple sports bars, an upscale grill and a VIP lounge, all of which are open before, during and after sporting events.
Yards Brewing Company
The award-winning Yards Brewing Company creates its suds right here in Philly, and the brewery is open to the public for tastings seven days a week. On weekends, visitors can partake in free tours of the Delaware Avenue facility.
Get a bird’s eye view of zebras, giraffes, polar bears and more from Zooballoon, the Philadelphia Zoo’s airborne attraction that sails 400 feet high. The balloon soars only when weather permits, so before you head out, be sure to check the zoo’s website to make sure its flying that day.