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Top 10 Things to Do Near thePennsylvania Convention Center

Awesome attractions and activities all within walking distance of the main entrance

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Ritz-Carlton Hotel
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The Pennsylvania Convention Center is in the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown, making it super easy to get to and from all the major visitor areas in Center City. But if you’re short on time or don’t feel like venturing far, there are tons of cool things to do right outside the Convention Center’s doors.

Within a 10-minute walk of the main entrance at 12th and Arch streets, you’ll find foodie heavens like Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown, numerous attractions like Philly’s famous City Hall and more.

And save some energy for the evening hours as much to do awaits, including a stealthy speakeasy that’ll whip you up a cocktail to remember and plenty of venues to catch live music.

Get ready to go out and explore with our picks for the top 10 things to do near the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

01

Grab lunch at Reading Terminal Market.

A paradise of delicious options awaits in this historic market

— G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Reading Terminal Market has a rich history in Philadelphia, celebrating over 120 years of bringing fresh and local food to the area. Occupying an entire city block, it’s brimming with food options of all sorts, with styles and cuisines for every meal of the day. Pick up produce to take home at spots like Iovine Brothers or Fair Food Farmstand, or dive into a wealth of already-prepared eats from famous vendors like DiNic’s (the roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe), Beiler’s (the awesome Amish-styled doughnuts), Bassetts (the creamiest of ice cream) and many more. From cheesesteaks to hoagies, classic Philly eats abound as well, so come prepared for a full culinary tour. We have yet to meet a visitor who’s gone home hungry.

Where: Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street

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02

Catch a breathtaking view of Center City with a City Hall Tower Tour.

A spectacular cityscape sight from the top of City Hall

View from The City Hall Tower Observation Deck View from The City Hall Tower Observation Deck
— Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

The City Hall Tower Observation Deck — located 500 feet above the ground at the base of the giant bronze statue of Billy Penn — offers amazing, 360-degree views of Philadelphia. You can look east and see the Convention Center, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and New Jersey. You can peer north and south to view the entire 12-mile stretch of Broad Street, one of the longest straight streets in the country. You can look northwest out over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Fairmount Park. And you can look west into the heart of the Philadelphia skyline. If you take a tour during sunset, be prepared for an uncontrollable urge to take one too many photos.

Where: Philadelphia City Hall Visitors Center, 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard

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03

Take in the art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art museum in the U.S.

A masterful collection of American art housed in a Historic Landmark Building

— B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

A jewel nestled in the heart of Center City, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) boasts a vast collection of American art and treasures by local and national luminaries such as Charles Willson Peale (founder of the academy), Thomas Eakins (who taught here) and Violet Oakley. Browse exhibitions filled with many of the greats and get a peek at work from up-and-comers enrolled in the academy. And PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building, designed by Philadelphia-born architect Frank Furness and George Hewitt, is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Gothic architecture in the country.

Where: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street

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04

Celebrate African-American history and culture at the African American Museum of Philadelphia.

Browse a diverse collection of art and history

— M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

With a collection of fine and folk art, photographs, memorabilia and costumes, the African American Museum offers visitors a chance to explore a rich cultural experience from the kingdoms of Africa through to the present. The museum’s exhibits tell the story of African-American life, focusing on topics such as family life, the visual arts, entertainment, politics and sports.

Where: African American Museum of Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street

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05

Take a stroll through Chinatown, check out the Friendship Gate and grab a delicious meal.

Philly's vibrant Asian enclave

— G. Widman for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Beyond the colorful, 40-foot Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch streets lives Philly’s Chinatown, an always-bustling neighborhood filled with activity and authenticity, food and events. Within its boundaries, you’ll find steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles, unique flavors of bubble tea, delicious dumplings and more from restaurants that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, along with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese and Vietnamese establishments. Be sure to grab a meal while you’re wandering through!

Where: Chinatown Friendship Gate, 10th & Arch streets

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06

Revel in a performance on one of the world’s largest pipe organs at Macy’s.

A grand midday experience

A post shared by Michael Kimmey (@mbk317) on

Along with several floors of designer clothing, Macy’s is home to the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, one of the largest working organs in the world. Catch its powerful emanating sounds daily at noon, excluding Sundays, or swing by for an evening listening session Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday at 5:30 p.m. or at 7 p.m. on Wednesday or Friday. After unwinding to some tunes, consider taking a stroll through the store, housed in the historic, 100-year-old Wanamaker building.

Where: Macy's Center City, 1300 Market Street

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07

Shop and stroll the independent shops along 13th Street in Midtown Village.

A bounty of boutiques for every age and style

— C. Gabello for Visit Philadelphia

Not only is Midtown Village’s 13th Street brimming with restaurant options but it’s also lined with boutiques of all sorts that make the area perfect for a shop-till-you-drop – or shop-till-you-need-to-return-to-the-Convention-Center – opportunity. Browse apparel and accessory shops that’ll help you spruce up your wardrobe and your house, and peek into an array of independent stores with custom stationary, handmade crafts and other unique wares.

Where: Midtown Village, S. 13th Street

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08

Catch a concert at the Trocadero, Union Transfer or Underground Arts.

A choice of nearby venues

A post shared by Jason Ferraro (@uncklejason) on

Philadelphia’s music scene is booming, with concert venues in nearly every neighborhood, and there happen to be three within walking distance of the Convention Center that all offer their own unique experiences. For large-scale indie acts, head to Union Transfer, which boasts excellent light and sound quality and three full bars. A few blocks away stands Underground Arts, where both local and national acts play in a moodily-lit basement space. To experience a show within what used to be a burlesque theater, head into Chinatown where you’ll find the Trocadero Theatre, a favorite spot for live music, special events and weekly movie screenings.

Where: Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street

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09

Dress up for a cocktail at Aqimero, Hop Sing Laundromat or Bank and Bourbon.

Classy drinks at some of Philly's finest bars

— Neil Santos for Aqimero

The area surrounding the Convention Center is swimming in places to score a post-event brew or drink. If you want to get fancy, check out the intimate speakeasy at Hop Sing Laundromat, where an extensive craft cocktail menu awaits (as does a gatekeeper who won’t let you into the low-lit, well-decorated establishment if you’re wearing sneakers). For a quality, no-frills sip of bourbon, head to Bank and Bourbon, where more than 75 ryes and international whiskeys stand out on the menu. Then there’s Aqimero, where you can relax with a seasonal cocktail inside the Pantheon-inspired grand lobby of the Ritz Carlton. All make fine choices for a chic evening out.

Where: Bank & Bourbon, 1200 Market Street

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10

Snap a selfie with the LOVE sculpture

Preserve a memory of a Philadelphia icon

— M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

A post shared by Visit Philly (@visitphilly) on

Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture sits at the center of Philadelphia’s cosy John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as LOVE Park. It makes an ideal backdrop for a romantic photo or memorable selfie, as does the matching AMOR sculpture, a few steps away in Sister Cities Park.

Where: Love Park, 1 S. 15th Street

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Grab lunch at Reading Terminal Market.
Catch a breathtaking view of Center City with a City Hall Tower Tour.
Take in the art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art museum in the U.S.
Celebrate African-American history and culture at the African American Museum of Philadelphia.
Take a stroll through Chinatown, check out the Friendship Gate and grab a delicious meal.
Revel in a performance on one of the world’s largest pipe organs at Macy’s.
Shop and stroll the independent shops along 13th Street in Midtown Village.
Catch a concert at the Trocadero, Union Transfer or Underground Arts.
Dress up for a cocktail at Aqimero, Hop Sing Laundromat or Bank and Bourbon.
Snap a selfie with the LOVE sculpture
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