March 12, 2018

Arcades, Drag Shows & Other Unusual Nighttime Fun In Philadelphia

Alternatives To Philly’s Bar-Hopping, Music-Centered Nightlife Scene Stand Out

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Crowds gravitate to North Bowl, where a retro-cool cocktail lounge, a comfort food menu and 17 regulation-size lanes keep them entertained. Photo by G. Widman for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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At the open-air Blue Cross RiverRink on Penn’s Landing, skaters take in a spectacular view of the city while gliding alongside the Delaware River. Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Every first Friday of the month, people head to Old City to view the edgy, imaginative and beautiful works at neighborhood art galleries. Photo by A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Philadelphia’s hip bars, jazz lounges, indie rock haunts and electric dance clubs are always worth exploring, but visitors whose after-dark tastes trend toward the less usual can also enjoy ping pong, video games, drag shows and museum parties. To make the nighttime fun continue into the next day, visitors can sleep over and take advantage of the popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package—packed with perks, including free hotel parking, at

Games For Grown-Ups:

  • Barcade – Grown-up gamers can defeat Donkey Kong and master Marble Madness—all while choosing from a list of a couple dozen top-notch microbrews that aren’t too hard on the allowance. 1114 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-4400,
  • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and Summerfest – Two popular parks turn the Delaware River Waterfront into a seasonal wonderland. In winter, guests toast marshmallows over fire pits, get cozy in The Lodge and take a spin on an outdoor ice rink. In the summer, there’s mini-golf and outdoor games, an air-conditioned arcade and the city’s only outdoor roller rink. 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, (215) 925-7465,
  • Buffalo Billiards – Two floors of Old City’s handsome pool hall are outfitted with classic pub games like darts and foosball, along with tabletop shuffleboard and perennial barroom favorites, Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter. The big attraction, however, are the eight Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables. 118 Chestnut Street, (215) 574-7665,
  • Everybody Hits – The batting cages at this Fishtown hangout are a home run, even during the off-season. What’s more, hitters here are welcome to bring their own beer for birthday parties and other private events. 529 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 769-7500,
  • Garage Passyunk and Garage Fishtown – Skee ball, billiards and a serious canned beer selection make for fun times at both locations (one in South Philly, the other in Fishtown) of these game-day destinations, regardless of what’s playing on the flat screens. Each spot offers rotating specials from different Philadelphia chefs, food trucks and other clever cooks making some of the best bar food in the city. Passyunk, 1231 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 278-2429; Fishtown, 100 E. Girard Avenue; (215) 515-3167,
  • Keystone Mini Golf & Arcade – A hole-in-one is even better with a cold beer in hand, which is why this bring-your-own-bottle venue is popular for all-age parties. Guests bring quarters for the retro arcade games. 161 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, (267) 627-4653,
  • SPiN – Center City’s subterranean, 12,000-square-foot, pay-by-the-half (or whole)-hour outpost of this national chain of ping pong bars makes the sport cool with graffiti walls, live DJs, theme cocktails, a bathtub of hollow plastic balls (diving prohibited) and serious competition at 17 Olympic-grade tables. 211 S. 15th Street,
  • Urban Axes – This ax-throwing club is perfect for big groups and, believe it or not, would be a great date night too. Here, people pretty much play darts—but with axes—and competitors can bring their own food, beer and wine. Reservations strongly recommended at this 21+ establishment. 2019 E. Boston Street, (267) 585-AXES,

Art Museums & Gallery Nights:

  • Barnes Foundation – On the first Friday of each month, one of the world’s most prominent art museums pairs its stunning collection with live music and dancing—lots of dancing. Tickets are $28; $10 for college students (walk-up only). 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200,
  • First Fridays – Philadelphia’s Historic District shows off its artsy side on the first Friday of every month, when Old City’s galleries open their doors to the public beginning at 5 p.m. and offer free snacks and sips, live music and new installations.
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – One Wednesday each month, the nation’s oldest art school and museum puts on PAFA After Dark. Admission includes access to the full collection, a cash bar, gallery talks and an opportunity to create art, all for $15. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600,
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art – A Friday happy hour requires a little more style and sophistication, and Fridays Nights at the Art Museum comes through week after week. Priceless art, live music and a full bar with tapas transform the Great Stair Hall and set back each guest just $16. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,


  • Harp & Crown – Hidden in the basement of a vintage-inspired American pub is a swank two-lane alley that’s straight out of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Available by reservation, the alley can be booked for 10 or more bowlers—and is conveniently located next to a cozy cocktail bar. 1525 Sansom Street, (215) 330-2800,
  • Lucky Strike – This upper-level venue occupies prime Center City real estate and features all sorts of adult-friendly amenities: craft cocktails, elevated pub grub and a $15 all-you-can-bowl deal on weeknights from 9 p.m. until last call. 1336 Chestnut Street, (215) 545-2471,
  • North Bowl and South Bowl – With locations in Northern Liberties and South Philly, these mod bowling alleys boast stylish decor, strong cocktails, loaded tater tots and plenty of lanes, along with retro arcade games and billiards tables. North Bowl, 909 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-2695,; South Bowl, 19 E. Oregon Avenue, (215) 389-2695,
  • Pep Bowl – This under-the-radar South Philly alley embraces Philly’s love for the bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) phenomenon. Six 1950s era lanes are open to guests bringing everything from adult beverages to snacks and pizza. Best of all, this nonprofit alley donates proceeds to Programs Employing People, a vocational and educational program for people with disabilities. 1200 S. Broad Street, (215) 952-4297,

Comedy Clubs:

  • Good Good Comedy Theatre – This place goes hard every night of the week with multiple shows each evening. Look out for comedy rap battles, a sobriety test game show, awesome out-of-town acts and more on the edge of Chinatown. 215 N. 11th Street, (215) 399-1279,
  • Helium – When big-name comedians come to Philly for a long weekend, this Rittenhouse venue is where they typically perform (Thursdays-Saturdays). On Tuesdays, aspiring funny people can sign up for three-minute open-mic slots; Wednesdays are for local shows. 2031 Sansom Street, (215) 496-9001,
  • The N Crowd – Open every Friday night for an evening of BYO short-form improv, this veteran club tends to sell out early. Regulars know to reserve in advance, grab a six-pack and bring plenty of suggestions for crowd-sourced scenarios. 2030 Sansom Street, (215) 253-4276,
  • PHIT (Philly Improv Theater) – A seven-night-a-week, multiple-show-per-night, two-stage comedy operation is Philly’s answer to New York’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade, offering sketch, improv and offbeat alternative acts. 2030 Sansom Street, (267) 233-1556,
  • Punch Line Philly – Just steps from the Fillmore Philadelphia music venue, this comedy club hosts a diverse monthly lineup, showcasing national talent, local up-and-comers, burlesque with a sense of humor and storytelling slams. 33 E. Laurel Street, (215) 606-6555,

Dance Class:

  • Brasil’s – Salsa pros who know their mambo from their cha-cha offer lessons in this Old City hotspot on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Admission runs from $5 to $10, and $3 tequila shots ensure inhibitions are left at the door. Private and group lessons are also options. 112 Chestnut Street, (215) 432-0031,
  • Society Hill Dance Academy – For $20, a lively, 45-minute, beginner-friendly dance class requires no partner, experience or reservation to learn salsa, cha-cha, foxtrot or rumba at this serious-yet-friendly school. Open classes are offered Monday, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., with open-house dance party Fridays, 8:30-10:30 p.m. 409 S. 2nd Street, (215) 574-3574,

Drag Shows:

  • Bob & Barbara’s Lounge – Lawyers, students, hipsters and more pack this legendary dive bar on Thursday nights for a weekly showcase of drag talent. The $8 admission includes a drink ticket. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,
  • Ruba – Northern Liberties’ century-old, two-floor, welcoming-to-all social club plays up its speakeasy feel with oh-no-you-didn’t burlesque and cabaret performances, a vintage ballroom, pool and plenty of room for private bashes. 416 Green Street,
  • Tabu Sportsbar and Lounge – The lounge of this welcoming LGBT nightclub features live entertainment seven days a week and is known for attracting world-famous drag and burlesque performers. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • The Trestle Inn – A corner dive resurrected to channel the 1970s, this Callowhill spot is known for its go-go dancers, “The Trestle Specials,” who perform Thursdays-Saturdays. 11th & Callowhill Streets, (267) 239-0290,


  • Distrito – Chef Jose Garces’ University City taqueria keeps a private karaoke lounge in front of the host stand—all the better spot for a patron to belt out margarita-fueled and possibly ill-advised tunes. By reservation only. 3945 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-1657,
  • Donna’s Bar – A neighborhood Port Richmond joint known for its homemade pierogi transforms on Friday nights when, it seems, the whole city decides it’s time to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’.” 2732 E. Allegheny Avenue, (215) 426-7618, @DonnasBar
  • Locust Bar – This Washington Square West dive might not be much to look at, but come Sunday, it’s where some of the city’s most talented cover singers meet to croon. 235 S 10th Street, (215) 925-2191
  • McGillin’s Olde Ale House – The nation’s oldest continually operating bar heats up on Wednesday and Sunday nights when the DJ fires up the karaoke machine. 1310 Drury Street, (215) 735-5562,
  • Tango – This sleek Chinatown spot books private singing parties upstairs while patrons croon tunes at the ground-floor bar, where, on occasion, there’s competition involved. Snacks include crab Rangoon and Vietnamese spring rolls. 1021 Arch Street, (215) 925-8100,
  • Yakitori Boy – Audience seekers and singers who prefer performing the hits in the company of close friends have options. Yakitori offers private rooms by the hour, karaoke in the Japas Lounge—and an izakaya menu starring charred skewers and shared sushi. 211 N. 11th Street, (215) 923-8088,

Quiz Nights:

  • Fergie’s Pub – This side-street star traces its roots to the British Isles, where pub quiz nights are synonymous with well-poured pints. Tuesdays and Thursdays offer trivia buffs a chance to flex their Quizzo muscles in exchange for free food and drinks. 1214 Sansom Street, (215) 928-8118,
  • Johnny Goodtimes’ Quizzo – When city-renowned Quizzo host Johnny Goodtimes takes over the mic, fans are eager to test their skills. Goodtimes hosts the game, made popular in Philadelphia, at Sidecar every Tuesday at 8 p.m.; Locust Rendezvous, Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.; Founding Fathers, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.; Birra, Thursday at 8 p.m. and The Bards at 9:15 p.m. Goodtimes often emcees multiple Quizzos a night—best to check his website before making plans.
  • Local 44 – West Philly’s go-to for Sunday night Quizzo keeps with the crafty spirit of the bar by awarding prizes such as beer swag and gift cards to use in the adjacent bottle shop. 4333 Spruce Street, (215) 222-2337,
  • National Mechanics – Evan “EZ” Kushin hosts this Old City hang’s popular Best of Philly Pub Quiz. Every Wednesday night, a packed house gathers to have their trivia knowledge tested by Kushin. 22 S. 3rd Street, (215) 701-4883,

Science Nights:

  • The Franklin Institute – Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derick Pitts hosts Night Skies in the Observatory once a month. Visitors gather to view celestial sites, including stars, planets and even nebulae, from the best vantage point in town—the rooftop Joel N. Bloom Observatory. Admission includes entrance to the Space Command exhibit, a lecture and a presentation in the Fels Planetarium. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200,
  • National Mechanics – Another theme night for this Old City spot, Science on Tap alternately teams the bar with The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the American Philosophical Society, the Science History Institute (formerly Chemical Heritage Foundation) or the Wagner Free Institute of Science each second Monday of the month for lectures and libations. Past topics have ranged from 19th-century bodysnatching to tales from the dinosaur digging trenches. 22 S. 3rd Street, (215) 701-4883,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.