Philadelphia Museum of Art
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The best things to do in Philadelphia right this minute

Find 30 ways to experience the best of Philadelphia—from live music and sports to all-ages arts and entertainment

Alisha Miranda
Contributors: Josh Middleton & Tim McManus
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Recognized as the most walkable city in America, The City of Brotherly Love is where you can walk the same cobblestone streets as the founding founders in the morning and spend your night fine dining at a James Beard Award-winning chef’s counter without stepping too far. We’ve got die-hard sports fans and large-scale venues to match our teams’ energy, 30+ stunning gardens and arboretums that gave us the title of “America's Garden Capital,” and a tight-knit community of culinary talent making national headlines. Supremely affordable, delightfully unpretentious, and a little gritty, Philly is a world-class city masquerading as a small town. Come for the history, stay for the food, and fall in love with the characters that make Philly unique. Here are 30 of the best things to do to kick off your visit.

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This guide was updated by Philadelphia-based writer Alisha Miranda. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Best things to do in Philadelphia

1. Historic Philadelphia

As the country's first World Heritage City and the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia’s Revolution-era history is unmatched. It all started in Old City, home to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were hotly debated and signed, and the Liberty Bell, which rang in 1776 to alert citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration (Pro tip: No need to wait in line at these attractions, both can be seen from outside). Dive deeper into the fight for independence at the Museum of the American Revolution, which houses George Washington’s actual army tent, and learn all you need to know about the Constitution at the National Constitution Center and check out Benjamin Franklin’s grave at Christ Church Burial Ground. No walk in Old City is complete without a visit to Elfreth’s Alley Museum on America's oldest continuously occupied street. It looks just like it did back in the 1700s, with cobblestone streets and tiny thatch-roofed houses, some of which you can explore.

  • Attractions
  • Greater Philadelphia

Philly is home to some of the country's oldest and largest urban markets open daily year-round, and they’re a true wonderland for the food-obsessed. Center City’s Reading Terminal Market (pronounced “Redding,” like Otis’s last name) has no shortage of local, delicious things to eat here—from roast pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks to ice cream and Amish farm-fresh cheese, plus food stalls serving up street food classics from Guatemala, the Philippines, the Middle East, Asia, and other regions. The Amish markets—open every day except for Sundays—are a particularly worthwhile draw with fresh-baked whoopie pies and pastries, cheese straight from the farm, and various canned pickled goodies. Beiler’s Donuts is a no-brainer stop, and Bassetts Ice Cream is the oldest ice cream company in America—and still magnificent after all these years.

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Bella Vista
  • price 2 of 4

In South Philly, the Italian Market on 9th Street has been bustling for well over a century thanks to multi-generational family businesses like butchers, produce vendors, cheese mongers, specialty shop owners, and, more recently, Mexican and Asian eateries. Check out neighborhood farmers markets elsewhere across the city for the best seasonal products.

  • Attractions
  • Public spaces
  • Elfreth's Alley

Philly is bordered by two riverfronts—Delaware River Waterfront on the east and Schuylkill Banks on the west—and both are amid an exciting renaissance with all-ages attractions. Cherry Street Pier along the Delaware has transformed from a long-abandoned Municipal Pier 9 to an artsy, mixed-use space with artisans markets, open galleries, food trucks, and DJ events. Next door, Race Street Pier is a slick urban green space that beckons park lovers with an expansive lawn, ample seating areas, dozens of shade trees, and spectacular views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Greater Philadelphia
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Spruce Street Harbor Park is a summer oasis with light-strung trees, colorful hammocks, floating gardens, and must-eat-and-drink outposts by homegrown vendors. A five-minute walk away, Blue Cross RiverRink offers state-fair vibes with rides, games, and an open-air skating rink that welcomes ice skating in the winter and rollerblading in the summer.

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the city’s most picturesque boulevard, modeled after Paris’ Champs-Élysées and stretching grandly from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). Along the way, notice stately fountains, lovely patches of green space, and a collection of the city’s best museums. The Franklin Institute satisfies science nerds with tons of hands-on gadgetry—and a giant, walk-through heart—and the Academy of Natural Sciences puts you face to face with massive replicas of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creepy crawlies.  Just a few blocks south on 22nd Street is the Mütter Museum, home to a vast collection of antique medical oddities, deformed organs floating in jars of formaldehyde, anatomical specimens, and wax models. It’s all a true feast for the eyes, but you might want to skip lunch.

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7. Rocky's Philadelphia

If you can’t go to Philly without doing the Rocky experience, we’ve got a game plan just for you: Instead of waiting in line for a selfie with the Rocky Statue, take a picture from outside near the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s eastern entrance, then pop into the Parkway Visitor Center to shop for exclusive Rocky apparel and memorabilia from the Sly Stallone Shop. Jogging up all 72 Rocky Steps is only for the faint of heart but worth it for the unbeatable views looking down the Parkway to City Hall and Center City skyline. Head to the Italian Market in South Philly, where you’ll recognize some authentic produce vendors from the movies. Finally, dinner is all about Victor Café, where several scenes from the Rocky spinoff, Creed, were filmed. A meal here is a fun experience, with the waitstaff, all trained opera singers, serenading you with arias sporadically throughout the night.

  • Greater Philadelphia

Breathtaking views draw crowds to this open-air rooftop of a former high school in South Philly from May through October. Its position on the tippy-top of the enormous building affords guests sweeping, panoramic views of Philadelphia from the south—from the Delaware River and all its iconic bridges to the Center City skyline in the middle down to the airport and even West Philly. Take a selfie, then grab a beer, wine, or seltzer from the bar and check out the rotating monthly food pop-ups from local chefs. Just across the hall is Irwin’s restaurant, which is worth popping into for a pescatarian-forward Sicilian meal with refreshing wines and cocktails. The rest of the mixed-use building is home to fine artists, glass blowers, ceramicists, bakers, jewelers, guitar makers, designers, and photographers, which you can visit during Open Studios.

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9. Cheesesteaks, roast pork and hoagie sandwiches

If you want to eat like the locals, then you need to know that the truly beloved sandwich of Philadelphia is a cold-cut layered hoagie, followed by juicy roast pork with sharp provolone and garlic-y broccoli rabe, and cheesesteaks are last on our favorite sandwich list unless it’s been a heavy night of drinking. John’s Roast Pork is a railroad-side shack (don’t let its location scare you) that’s been a South Philly institution since 1930 and DiNic’s (inside Reading Terminal Market) roast pork sandwich was crowned the Best Sandwich in America in 2013. Hoagies are an everyday family affair that has been perfected at Liberty Kitchen (in Fishtown and University City), Farina Di Vita, and just about every corner deli in South Philly. Skip the tourist traps at Pat’s and Geno’s and head to Jim’s either on South Street or in West Philly (both are the real deal O.G.’s) for a whiz wit or venture to Roxborough for Dalessandro's Steaks.

10. Mural tours

Did you know that Philly is the “Mural Capital of the World”? Yep, this city is home to 4,000+ outdoor public art found anywhere in the world. Walking this city is the best way to immerse yourself in the growing arts scene, and best of all: it’s low-cost! Hop on the Market–Frankford subway line from 46th to 63rd Streets for an elevated view of Stephen ESPO Powers’ "A Love Letter for You," a series of 50 murals painted on buildings throughout West Philly. You can also book a tour with Mural Arts, the nation’s largest public art program for over 40 years, to see some of their iconic commissioned works up close, or get to know local artists and activists preserving the street art scene with a Streets Dept Excursions tour.

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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Fairmount District

Once one of the world’s most ruthless prisons, Eastern State Penitentiary is now a fascinating museum, charting nearly 150 years of criminal history. The imposing fortress closed its doors in 1971, but not before it housed renowned inmates like Al Capone and Slick Willie Sutton, who famously tunneled out in 1945. Guests can walk through the creepy halls and peek into the empty cells while listening to a Steve Buscemi-narrated audio guide. If you’re here in the fall—and brave enough—the facility turns into a monstrous haunted attraction called Halloween Nights, which offers multiple haunted experiences and a pop-up bar near Capone’s former holding cell.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Bainbridge St Booksellers Row

You can't miss this imaginative museum on South Street with its facade plastered with bits of colored glass and shards, broken ceramics, and even bicycle wheels The experience continues inside as you wind your way through mosaicked hallways and step into glistening courtyards. These elaborate public displays of art have been inviting visitors for more than 40 years and is the product of the insanely creative mind of local artist Isaiah Zagar, who has contributed hundreds of handmade mosaics throughout South Philadelphia. See how many you can spot while strolling around the area.

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13. Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park

What began as an informal gathering of Lao and Cambodian refugees has become a destination market for the Southeast Asian community to share their native cuisine, produce, jewelry, and crafts. After decades of operating in quasi-underground fashion—a remnant from the early days, when the police often raided the party—the vendors formed an association in 2021. The market established a permanent home in a corner of the 348-acre park on South Broad St. The result is a culinary beacon for Philadelphians of all stripes to enjoy racks of skewered chicken wings, beef sticks, and papaya salad. The market is open on weekends during spring, summer, and fall.

Philadelphia’s authentic German Christmas Market takes over the City Hall courtyard and LOVE Park each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Grab a bite or drink from the dozens of local food, wine, and beer stalls then wander among more than 120 “Made in Philadelphia Market” vendors offering handmade holiday gifts, ornaments, and arts and crafts. With the city’s Christmas Tree on the north side of City Hall, the Rothman Ice Rink in Dilworth Park, and the light displays, the Christmas Village is the epicenter of Philly’s holiday experience.

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15. Penn Museum

Housing more than a million artifacts from across the globe, the Penn Museum, formally known as the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is a veritable treasure trove of unfathomably old relics. For one thing, it connects our pasts and present with galleries that showcase cultures around the world—both ancient civilizations and living communities today. There’s also a wealth of must-see artifacts, including pottery depicting ancient Greek athletic competitions, spectacular jewelry from a Mesopotamian queen and the pièce de resistance: a massive 15-ton granite sphinx. Plus, the Eastern Mediterranean Gallery highlights a crossroads of cultures that introduced the world’s first alphabet. Admission is free for teachers and U.S. military veterans with proper identification.

16. Fishtown and Kensington neighborhoods

Every neighborhood has its moments in the spotlight, and right now Fishtown & Kensington are the hottest areas in the City of Brotherly Love. But working-class Latino and Irish communities have long made their mark in the surrounding area. The easy access off the Market-Frankford elevated line makes it an ideal spot for tourists who want to see a different, more neighborhoody side of Philadelphia. Head to Norris Square Park, where you’ll be transported to Puerto Rico via colorful murals, mom-and-pop eateries, Taller Puertorriqueño events, and Las Parcelas community gardens. Then head south to tour New Liberty Distillery, grab a glass of wine at Mural City Cellars, Philly’s first urban winery, people watch at Palmer Park, grab a pick-me-up at La Colombe’s flagship cafe, or grab a bite and drink at nationally-recognized bars and restaurants like James Beard Award winner Kalaya, Esquire magazine’s Best Bars in America finalist Post Haste, and critically-acclaimed Cantina La Martina. Finish your evening with an indie rock show at music venue Johnny Brenda’s.

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The wealthiest zip code in Philadelphia beckons travelers and locals alike with an array of stellar restaurants, happy hour spots, and shopping galore. On any given day, Rittenhouse Row feels like a stroll through a buzzy Parisian square where affluent residents and tourists sit and mingle for hours outside of Parc’s bistro-style sidewalk tables year-round, picnic with their dogs in the park, or brisk by with big brand-name shopping bags in tow, and flock from one hot spot to another in search of the latest hit cocktail trend. Walnut Street from Broad to 21st Streets is Philly’s closest thing to New York City’s 5th Avenue shopping destination, plus there is no shortage of bars and restaurants to pop into for a dang good meal or a stiff drink.

18. East Passyunk Avenue

This one-mile diagonal strip of Passyunk Avenue [pash-shunk or pass-ee-yunk] that runs from Broad and Snyder to South Street is one of Philly’s most walkable streets and a cultural hub in and of itself. The stroll takes you past dozens of restaurants, from Washington Avenue’s Vietnamese, Chinese, and Indonesian food plazas to old-school red sauce Italian joints to white tablecloth dining establishments. In between, there are record stores, plant shops, corner dives, antique shops, and The Singing Fountain, where neighborhood locals congregate.

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19. The Rail Park

The Rail Park—a long-unused railway line converted into an elevated urban park in the Callowhill/Spring Arts district—still has a ways to go before completion, but it’s already rad enough to warrant a visit. Join their historic walking tour that paints a picture of the past, contextualizes the present, and envisions the future of public space with a three-mile greenway (phase one is free and open to visit at 1100 Callowhill Street) outfitted with native plants, trees, shrubbery, plenty of benches, public art, and massive swings to sit and take in the urban view. It’s particularly inviting at dusk when you can peep the sun setting over Philly and get a head-on view of Shepard Fairey’s cool The Stamp of Incarceration: James Anderson mural when it’s lit at night.

20. Breweries

Tons of breweries scattered about Philadelphia have helped this city stake its claim as a front-runner on the American craft beer scene, including Yards Brewing Company (on Spring Garden Street), Victory Brewing Company (on the Parkway), and Philadelphia Brewing Company (in Fishtown). As such, beer lovers will find no shortage of spots to sample locally crafted suds—from tasty and inventive IPAs to lagers and so much more. Join other die-hard beer fans at the annual Philly Beer Week (typically end of May) and Philly Beer Fest (in the fall).

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21. Old City

When in Old City, sweets lovers can—and should—visit two of the historic area’s oldest dessert spots: Shane Confectionery and Franklin Fountain. Established in 1863, restored Victorian candy emporium Shane Confectionery fills its shelves with loads of chocolate truffles, taffies, fudge, candy bars, and more goodies—most of which are made following centuries-old recipes. A few doors down, the old-fashioned ice cream parlor Franklin Fountain keeps the sugar high going strong with delicious cones and indulgent sundaes boasting names inspired by Philadelphia history. Every first Friday of the month, art galleries and home décor showrooms open their doors to the general public. Second and Third Street bustle with visitors exploring new exhibits, design pieces, interactive digital and visual arts, and drawings while enjoying snacks and drinks.

22. The Navy Yard

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More than 15,000 people go to work at the Navy Yard each day. But the 1,200-acre campus, which supports 150 companies, is also an underrated and undiscovered place to play. The former U.S. Naval Base at the southern tip of Broad Street is a haven for runners, bikers, and architecture enthusiasts. It features five parks that host wellness clubs for runners and yogis, including the Riverfront Greenway, a one-mile running and walking path that curves along the Delaware River. The massive greenspace of the Marine Parade Grounds is ideal for a picnic, surrounded by historic barracks that date back more than 100 years and welcomes lunchtime food trucks during the summer. Closer to the water, explore the yard’s original dry dock, which has been lovingly restored to a park, and stand under the hulking bow of the decommissioned USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier.

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23. South Philadelphia Sports Complex

When it comes to getting hype for their teams, Philadelphia sports fans are like none other in the world (yeah, we said it). They’ve perfected the art of game-day shit-talking and have made headlines for crazy-pants antics. Watch them in all their glory by catching a game at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which hosts four of the city’s five pro teams: the 76ers and Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, while Super Bowl LII champs the Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field. Food and drink options are plentiful at nearby Xfinity Live! and Live! Philly Casino.

24. LOVE Park

Just northwest of City Hall, LOVE Park is home to one of the most iconic Philadelphia images: Robert Indiana’s vibrant LOVE sculpture. Snap a selfie in front of the artwork and enjoy the park, which serves as an entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It also includes green space, comfortable seating, and an understated fountain.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Greater Philadelphia

Lace-up your sneakers or rent a bike for a blissed-out journey along the Schuylkill River Trail, a 30-mile urban park that extends from Center City to Phoenixville. The trail meanders along the Schuylkill River, passing various public artworks and several historic stone bridges towering over the water. During warmer months, you can catch outdoor movies, kayaking tours, and even free yoga along the path. There’s also a skatepark, where you can watch local boarders perform tricks throughout the year—or bring your own wheels to try some of your own.

  • Dive bars
  • Avenue Of The Arts - South

If Philly is known for anything in the food-and-drink world other than cheesesteaks and pretzels, it’s the vision-blurring, throat-burning Citywide Special, a concoction that pairs a shot of Jim Beam with a Pabst Blue Ribbon chaser. You can find a Citywide at most bars in Philadelphia —ranging from $3 to even high-end versions of the stuff—but you’ll want to try it where it originated: legendary South Street dive bar Bob & Barbara’s Lounge. Thursday nights are the most fun as Miss Lisa Lisa hosts the city’s best—and one of its longest-running—drag shows.

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27. The Met Philadelphia

One of Philadelphia’s newest music venues isn’t really new at all. The long-shuttered opera house, The Met Philadelphia, opened in 1908 by Oscar Hammerstein’s grandfather, was renovated into a massive, 100,000-square-foot Live Nation entertainment complex that can hold 3,500 guests. The gilded hallways are home to no less than 12 bars.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Ben Franklin Parkway - Kelly Drive

World-class art-perusing awaits those who step inside the hallowed halls of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the world's largest art museums. You could spend an entire day cruising the vast collection of artworks, running the gamut from world-famous paintings and sculptures to medieval architecture, textiles, and furniture. Among the masters on display are Picasso, Cézanne, Modigliani, Brancusi, Eakins, Kahlo, and Duchamp. Must-see galleries include the devotional and religious paintings of the European Art section, which feels like entering an ancient monastery.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Greater Philadelphia

The Delaware River waterfront is abuzz all year, thanks to some attractions that bring food, drink, and carnival-like fun to the river banks. Spruce Street Harbor Park and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest hold things down in the warmer months with an outdoor roller rink, a floating beer garden, and hammocks hanging in twinkling light-strung trees so you can kick back and enjoy the festive scene. In the winter, it’s all about Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, with its open-air ice-skating rink, family-friendly games, and a massive chalet decked out with cozy fireplaces and eateries cranking out rib-sticking grub and booze throughout the season.

30. Barnes Foundation

Compared to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the smaller Barnes Foundation offers a more downscale art-browsing experience but with just as much of a wow factor. The museum—a modern architectural marvel in itself—is home to one of the most renowned collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world. The galleries are lined with rare and first-edition pieces by greats like Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and Rousseau. The destination also holds the largest collection of Renoirs in the world, at a whopping 181 pieces, in addition to 69 Cézannes, which is more than you’ll find in one place in all of France, the artist’s country of origin.

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31. BYOB meals

Despite Pennsylvania’s strict liquor laws, you can take advantage of bring-your-own-bottle restaurants that keep Philadelphia’s dining scene thriving. Plus, that means a lower check at the end! Most BYOBs are Italian home-cooked, family-run spots that have been around forever (some are even cash only) but other cultural cuisines are joining the club: Tabachoy (Filipino), Stina (Greek), Heavy Metal Sausage (Italian), Pietramala (plant-based), Illata (seasonal modern American), El Chingon (Mexican), and Mawn (Cambodian) are just a few examples. With several high-quality wine and bottle shops around the city, it’s easy enough to pick up your favorite bottle and head to dinner. 

32. West Philadelphia

Not only home to The Fresh Prince, locals proudly claim West Philly as the best Philly—and they’ve got a point. It has long been a historically African American community but it’s exciting to see it grow as a multicultural enclave with eateries, shops, cafes, and bars hailing from Ethiopia, India, the Middle East, China, and Southeast Asia. Plus, some of the largest open green spaces and parks are here, such as the historic Woodlands Cemetery on 40th Street and Woodland Avenue, Clark Park on Baltimore Avenue, and several 18th and 19th-century mansions in West Fairmount Park. You can also spend a quiet day exploring the neighborhood’s contemporary arts and literary scene at the Institute of Contemporary Art and Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee And Books.

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33. Chinatown

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Philly’s Chinatown is over 150 years old and one of the most dynamic immigrant communities in the city. It’s a haven for all-day people watching with folks haggling at the outdoor produce stands and markets, families huddled together at bustling restaurants, people going to worship at the Fo Shou (Buddhist) Temple, and kids playing in front of the Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch Streets. After dark, crowds flock here for late-night eating, drinking, and karaoke. Start with the classics: Tai Lake and Ken’s Seafood, Yakitori Boy, Yi Pin, Dim Sum Garden, and David’s Mai Lai Wah

More great things to do in Philadelphia

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