While the City of Brotherly Love is certainly home to mainstream chains and big box outposts, its independent spirit can be found thriving in every neighborhood. (Let’s call it the same spirit that was sparked during the American Revolution and endures today.) Take a break from life’s hectic pace and explore some of Philly’s most free-spirited shops, cafes, yoga studios and gardens.
Fittingly, this haven is named for the Sanskrit word meaning “shelter from the sun.” The chill space has an impressive coffee program with fair trade and organic beans by locals like Philly Fair Trade Roasters and ReAnimator. Teas and specialty drinks round out the offerings. Try the Heaven Sent Elixir—a soul-soothing blend of honey, ginger, black peppercorn and lemon, which chef/owner Varnana “V” Beuria says was inspired by the concoction her father made whenever she was feeling under the weather.
This pop-up turned brick-and-mortar shop on Philly’s Fabric Row is a vintage hunter’s haven. The well-curated, artfully displayed collection of clothing—bold-print dresses and broken-in jeans and tees—leather cowboy boots, belts and other enduringly cool accessories is easy to browse. Mixed in with the vintage treasures, find sterling silver jewelry, handcrafted by local designers.
What began as artist Isaiah Zagar’s mission to beautify his neighborhood is now one of Philly’s most beloved art installations. Every inch of the space shimmers with brightly hued mosaics incorporating both tiles and found objects like mirrors, glass bottles and even bicycle wheels. In warmer months, the after-hours Garden Sips (see website for schedule) offers drinks, music and retro crafts.
Moon + Arrow
The apothecary section of this Queen Village boutique is filled with responsibly made beauty products like plant-based body oils, mists and scrubs blended with organic, fair-trade ingredients that pamper skin and look beautiful in a bathroom to boot. Events and classes like the Natural Skincare Workshop, where participants learn how to make clay face masks, are also popular. Visit website for latest schedule.
Palo Santo Wellness Boutique
This wellness sanctuary offers a comprehensive selection of holistic workshops, retreats, services and products—massage therapy, herbal or aromatherapy consultations, crystal healing—that are sure to leave you feeling refreshed and totally at peace.
Though Talula’s Daily is part of the Starr Restaurants (Philadelphia-based restaurateur Stephen Starr’s celebrated collection of spots that include Buddakan and Parc), the bright, farm-to-table market and cafe exudes a decidedly free-spirited vibe, thanks, in part, to co-owner Aimee Olexy. Find a seat at one of the communal tables and choose from house-made scones, vegetarian soups and salads, local cheeses, and a thoughtful lineup of wine and beer, including local draft brews. At night, the market transforms into a “secret” supper club where set, fixed-price menus are served at candlelit communal tables, channeling a fun and intimate dinner party.
Housed in an old, abandoned garage that’s been transformed into a lush green oasis, the nine-year-old shop thrives with indoor and outdoor organic plants, trees and flowers. Whether you’re interested in a single potted succulent to brighten up your workspace or want to create your own verdant urban jungle with window boxes, a green roof or vertical green wall, the helpful staff can guide you.