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20 Things to Do in Philadelphia’s Historic District After Dark

Explore the Historic District’s restaurants, bars, theaters and more after the sun goes down

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Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest Photo courtesy DRWC
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Many of the museums and attractions in Philadelphia’s Historic District close at night, but the area’s appeal doesn’t wane when the sun goes down. Nightlife across the district caters to visitors with interests ranging from craft beer bars to age-old ghost stories to avant-garde theater.

While eateries like The Franklin Fountain and Moshulu vividly recall history, hangouts like Mac’s Tavern offer an authentic taste of today’s local scene.

And while venues like Franklin Square and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest offer fun for the whole family, other spots encourage an adults-only night out on the town.

No matter what you’re in the mood to do tonight, do it in one (or many) of the awesome spots in our Historic District guide below.

01

Lounge in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park.

A waterfront, hammock-filled haven with hanging lights to brighten up a relaxing night

People in hammocks at Spruce Street Harbor Park People in hammocks at Spruce Street Harbor Park
— Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Look for the colorful lights along the Delaware River and you’ll find Spruce Street Harbor Park, which offers a mix of outdoor areas to relax and play. After a day of sightseeing, rest your weary legs in one of the many colorful hammocks and Adirondack chairs spread throughout the space, and, if you choose, unwind with a brew from the beer garden.

Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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02

Snack atop a floating barge at Spruce Street Harbor Park.

Dine as if you were vacationing in the islands

Spruce Street Harbor Park at dusk Spruce Street Harbor Park at dusk
— Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Celebrated chefs and restaurateurs like Jose Garces and James Beard Outstanding Chef winner Michael Solomonov all operate casual outlets at Spruce Street Harbor Park. Grab a bite and enjoy it in the Oasis, a section of the park that includes floating gardens, landscaped barges and a Caribbean-style net lounge.

Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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03

Go rollin' near the river at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.

Philadelphia’s first outdoor roller rink and a seasonal favorite at Penn’s Landing

Summerfest at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest at Blue Cross RiverRink
— Photo courtesy of M. Stanley for DWRC

At BlueCross RiverRink Summerfest, guests can strap on a pair of skates and go for a spin just steps from the banks of the Delaware River. After the skates come off, head inside to the air-conditioned “crab shack” from Philly’s celebrated eatery Chickie’s and Pete’s.

Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard

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04

Chow down on a late-night cheesesteak at Sonny's Famous Steaks.

Old City's spot to score a sandwich well into the wee hours of the morning

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When post-bar hunger sets in, engage in one of Philadelphia’s favorite pastimes: late-night cheesesteaks. Sonny’s Famous Steaks serves hot, fresh sandwiches along with a hearty side of great people-watching until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Where: Sonny's Famous Steaks, 228 Market Street

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05

Eat, drink and people-watch in the district.

Tons of tastes to explore

Old City street scene at night Old City street scene at night
Old City — Photo by A. RIcketts for Visit Philadelphia

The scents that waft from the many restaurants throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District are enough to make a hungry sightseer’s mouth water. Area eateries range from grab-and-go bites to five-star dining experiences. Click “read more” for our guide to the top restaurants in the Historic District.

Where: Various locations including Amada, 217-219 Chestnut Street

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06

Watch free movies by moonlight.

Newer films and longtime favorites shown under the stars

People watching a movie at Summer Movie Series at Penn's Landing People watching a movie at Summer Movie Series at Penn's Landing
— Photo courtesy DRWC

Throughout the summer months, attractions in Philadelphia’s Historic District screen outdoor films when the sun goes down. Check the schedules for Race Street Pier, Penn’s Landing, FringeArts and the Betsy Ross House for exact dates, times and updated weather advisories.

Where: The Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, 101 Columbus Boulevard

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07

Admire the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night.

The perfect spot to catch the sunset

Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night
— Photo by J. Lawrence for Visit Philadelphia

Nothing says romance like a moonlit riverside stroll. Head to Race Street Pier for incredible sunset and nighttime views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.

Where: Race Street Pier, Columbus Boulevard and Race Street

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08

Play like a kid at Franklin Square.

Carousel rides, mini-golf, burgers and more

Franklin Square carousel Franklin Square carousel
— Photo by J. Holder for Visit Philadelphia

Who says grown-ups can’t act like kids once in awhile? At Franklin Square, visitors of any age can putter around the Philly-themed miniature golf course, ride the historic Parx Liberty Carousel and dine on burgers and milkshakes at SquareBurger, the park’s eatery.

Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street

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09

Toast to the Founding Fathers at Independence Beer Garden.

Cold beer and tasty food on Independence Mall

Independence Beer Garden Independence Beer Garden
Independence Beer Garden — Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

With more than 40 beers on tap, a deliciously approachable menu and a stock of board and lawn games, Independence Beer Garden has been a neighborhood favorite every summer since its first season in 2014. The venue is directly opposite Independence Mall and steps from the Liberty Bell Center.

Where: Independence Beer Garden, 100 S. Independence Mall W.

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10

Learn to 'huzzah' on a Tippler's Tour.

Experience a taste of Colonial tavern life

Tippler's Tour group drinking Tippler's Tour group drinking
— Photo by J. Fusco for Historic Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s thriving beer scene is as old as the city itself, and the Tippler’s Tour Colonial Pub Crawl is the perfect way for guests to drink their way through history. Led by a knowledgeable guide outfitted in period costume, the weekly event visits three modern-day watering holes and one colonial tavern.

Where: Independence Visitor Center, 1 N. Independence Mall W.

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11

“Sneak” into Independence Hall with Independence After Hours.

Explore a famous landmark as few others can

The Independence After Hours tour through Historic Philadelphia The Independence After Hours tour through Historic Philadelphia
— Photo courtesy Historic Philadelphia Inc.

Go behind Independence Hall’s velvet rope on an Independence After Hours tour. Participants enjoy a colonial-style dinner at City Tavern before eavesdropping on our Founding Fathers at Independence Hall.

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

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12

Sip cocktails from a rooftop.

Several al fresco opportunities await

Rooftop of the Stratus Lounge Rooftop of the Stratus Lounge
Stratus Lounge — Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Get a bird’s-eye view of Philadelphia’s Historic District while sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar in the neighborhood. Stratus Rooftop Lounge attracts chic crowds who come for refreshing cocktails and live DJ sets.

Where: Stratus Rooftop Lounge, 433 Chestnut Street

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13

Indulge with an old-fashioned sundae at The Franklin Fountain.

Delicious treats with clever, history-inspired twists

The old-fashioned decor and costumed servers are just part of the appeal at The Franklin Fountain, which is open until at least midnight seven days a week. Creative sundaes like the Franklin Mint (mint chip and vanilla bean ice creams, chocolate syrup, marshmallow glaze, creme de menthe and whipped cream) and the Lightning Rod (brownies with coffee ice cream, espresso, chocolate-covered espresso beans, white chocolate and a pretzel rod) honor the store’s famous namesake.

Where: The Franklin Fountain, 116 Market Street

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14

Groove to live DJs and chill on the Delaware River at Morgan's Pier.

Summer dining and nightlife in the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge

Located just a few blocks from Independence National Historical Park, Morgan’s Pier feels miles away from the city. DJs spin tunes until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, allowing you to hang out and dance outdoors on the waterfront till the early hours of the morning.

Where: Morgan's Pier, 221 N. Columbus Boulevard

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15

Take in a show at one of several intimate theaters.

Performances of every kind

Arden Theater exterior Arden Theater exterior
Arden Theater — Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Thanks to organizations like the Arden Theatre Company, FringeArts and Christ Church Neighborhood House, arts and culture flourish in Philadelphia’s Historic District. These intimate theaters each contain less than 400 seats and showcase some of the region’s most talented actors, singers, dancers and creative professionals.

Where: Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street

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16

Savor beachy bites at The Seafood Shack at La Peg.

Al fresco bites and beers with a bridge-side view

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The Seafood Shack, a casual, roadside-style eatery in the beer garden at La Peg, returns each summer. The cuisine is inspired by chef Peter Woolsey’s vacations in Maine, but the spectacular views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge are distinctly Philadelphian. When you’re done, grab a beer at the Haas Biergarten.

Where: La Peg, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard

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17

Go gallery-hopping on First Friday.

Monthly open house for galleries in Philadelphia

Crowds at First Friday in Old City Crowds at First Friday in Old City
Old City — Photo by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia

On the first Friday night of each month, the Old City Arts Association hosts First Friday, an open-house-style event at dozens of the neighborhood’s shops and galleries. Members of the public sip wine, stroll from storefront to storefront and interact with artists and business owners.

Where: Various locations including Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street

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18

Savor bites aboard a boat on the Delaware River.

Two vessels where you can dine on the water

Moshulu Moshulu
Moshulu — Photo courtesy Moshulu

Two of the most unique restaurants in Philadelphia’s Historic District offer seating not just near the water but on the water. The Spirit of Philadelphia tour takes guests on a scenic Delaware River cruise, while diners who prefer to remain closer to land can opt for Moshulu, a permanently docked, historic Tall Ship.

Where: Moshulu, 401 S. Columbus Boulevard

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19

Salsa and spin the night away at Cuba Libre or Brasil's.

A little bit of Old Havana in Old City

People dancing at Cuba Libre People dancing at Cuba Libre
Cuba Libre — Photo by S. Goldenberg for Visit Philadelphia

Get ready to salsa and spin at Cuba Libre and Brasil’s, two of the hottest spots in the Historic District. Both venues evoke the spirit of Latin America with festive decor, drinks and dancing.

Where: Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, 10 S. 2nd Street

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20

Catch an avant-garde experience at FringeArts.

Progressive performing arts on the Delaware River Waterfront

A post shared by FringeArts (@fringearts) on

For unique theater and special events, head to FringeArts, which is headquartered in a stunning historic building on the Delaware River waterfront. Inside, a 232-seat performance space hosts everything from cabaret to works-in-progress to acts that defy categorization. Afterward, grab a cocktail from La Peg, their inviting front-of-house bar.

Where: FringeArts, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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21

Get spooked with Ghost Tours of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s most unusual nighttime attraction

Independence Hall at night Independence Hall at night
Independence Hall — Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

With great history comes great mystery, and Philadelphia is packed with both. Explore the city’s supernatural side on a candlelit stroll through the back streets of Old City with Ghost Tours of Philadelphia.

Where: Signer's Garden, 434-498 Chestnut Street

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22

Hang out like the cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Mac's Tavern invites you into a famous gastropub

Want to see where the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia hangs out when they’re in town? Head to Mac’s Tavern, an Old City gastropub co-owned by Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney, two of the show’s stars.

Where: Mac's Tavern, 226 Market Street

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Lounge in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Snack atop a floating barge at Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Go rollin' near the river at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.
Chow down on a late-night cheesesteak at Sonny's Famous Steaks.
Eat, drink and people-watch in the district.
Watch free movies by moonlight.
Admire the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night.
Play like a kid at Franklin Square.
Toast to the Founding Fathers at Independence Beer Garden.
Learn to 'huzzah' on a Tippler's Tour.
“Sneak” into Independence Hall with Independence After Hours.
Sip cocktails from a rooftop.
Indulge with an old-fashioned sundae at The Franklin Fountain.
Groove to live DJs and chill on the Delaware River at Morgan's Pier.
Take in a show at one of several intimate theaters.
Savor beachy bites at The Seafood Shack at La Peg.
Go gallery-hopping on First Friday.
Savor bites aboard a boat on the Delaware River.
Salsa and spin the night away at Cuba Libre or Brasil's.
Catch an avant-garde experience at FringeArts.
Get spooked with Ghost Tours of Philadelphia.
Hang out like the cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
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