Although technically South Broad Street, the center of Philadelphia’s performing arts district—stretching from City Hall to Lombard Street—has earned the moniker Avenue of the Arts. And for good reason. The energy is contagious as theatergoers, orchestra fans, opera lovers, dance aficionados and the artists and performers themselves spill onto the street to mix with the locals who live, work and dine on the storied thoroughfare.
The Avenue of the Arts is home to the striking Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the legendary Academy of Music, The Wilma Theater, Merriam Theater, University of the Arts, Arts Bank and other cultural landmarks. Music fans can look down and trace Philadelphia’s musical legacy along the sidewalk’s Walk of Fame. And everyone stands in awe of City Hall, the architectural exclamation point on a street lined with elaborate buildings.
While The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pennsylvania Ballet, Opera Philadelphia and other internationally acclaimed artists perform inside the buildings along the Avenue of the Arts, activities that take place outside have also endeared the avenue to the masses, site of both the yearly Mummers Parade, the nation’s oldest folk parade, and, when the city is especially lucky, pro sports championship parades.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Aqimero – Inside the grand lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, chef Richard Sandoval works his signature modern, Latin-American fusion on seafood, steaks, ribs and poultry prepared on a wood-fired grill. The restaurant also has a sushi and ceviche bar, a raw bar and an extensive cocktail menu starring a selection of mezcals. 10 Avenue of the Arts, (215) 523-8200, aqimero.com
- Blue Duck on Broad – Pub grub gets creative at this Northeast Philadelphia import. Hefty burgers are topped with a breakfast-y combo of pork roll and fried eggs; shrimp get the Buffalo treatment with hot sauce and blue cheese, and a playful weekend brunch menu features Funfetti pancakes. 220 S. Broad Street, (267) 455-0378
- Capital Grille – Diners enjoy dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood, signature cocktails and wines chosen from the award-winning list of 350 bottles. 1338-46 Chestnut Street, (215) 545-9588, thecapitalgrille.com
- Estia – This authentically Greek restaurant specializes in whole, fresh seafood flown in from the islands. The rustic yet elegant ambiance provides a Mediterranean backdrop for diners to enjoy their meal paired with their choice of wines. 1405-07 Locust Street, (215) 735-7700, estiarestaurant.com
- HipCityVeg – This specialist in fast vegan fare starts with breakfasts and continues with green smoothies and popular lunches, mostly salads and sandwiches, including an entirely cheese- and meatless version of a Philly cheesesteak. 121 S. Broad Street, (267) 296-9001, hipcityveg.com
- McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant – Menus change daily at this steak and seafood spot, committed to serving the freshest fish, oysters and mussels, along with Northwestern wines, single malts and martinis. 1 S. Broad Street, (215) 568-6888, mccormickandschmicks.com
- Tavern on Broad – This belowground pub serves classic American fare—burgers, wings, house-smoked pulled pork, big salads. An impressive schedule of weekly events and over 40 HD televisions attract out-of-towners and locals alike. 200 S. Broad Street, (215) 546-2290, tavernonbroad.com
- XIX (Nineteen) – The pearl-bedecked, view-rich restaurant on the 19th floor of the Hyatt at The Bellevue Philadelphia wows guests with sweeping skyline views and a central raw bar of clams, shrimp, crabs and oysters. Also on tap: an afternoon tea and weekday happy hour specials. 200 S. Broad Street, 19th Floor, (215) 790-1919, nineteenrestaurant.com
- Academy of Music – The grand, 150-plus-year-old home to Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet concerts and Broadway Philadelphia performances, this gilded, crystal-chandeliered, velvet-curtained theater is always worth the price of admission. Broad & Locust Streets, (215) 893-1999, academyofmusic.org
- Arts Bank – The University of the Arts’ 230-seat main stage and fully renovated Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater occupy the first floor of this historic building. 601 S. Broad Street, (215) 717-6000, uarts.edu
- Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – Architect Rafael Viñoly designed the Avenue of the Art’s modern centerpiece, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra and more regional and international masters of world, pop, jazz, classical, theater and dance. The Kimmel is also the center of an arts campus that includes the nearby Merriam Theater and Academy of Music, and offers free building and theater tours throughout the week. 300 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
- Merriam Theater – Part of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts campus, the 1,870-seat, 1918 Merriam hosts stand-up comedians, celebrity chefs and dance and theater acts. Intimate and enthusiastic crowds add to the performance. 250 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
- Suzanne Roberts Theatre – The home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company is a hotspot for theater and dance. 480 S. Broad Street, (215) 985-0420, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org
- The Wilma Theater – Productions, including world premieres, at this stalwart venue are reliably thought provoking and daring. Under its Wilma WynTix initiative, all tickets for the main stage runs are available at the subsidized rate of $25 for the first week of performances in each run or $10 for students and theater artists with valid ID for select performances. 265 S. Broad Street, (215) 546-7824, wilmatheater.org
- Gershman Gallery – This portion of the Gershman Y hosts rotating exhibitions from a cast of visiting artists throughout the year. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 446-3027, gershmany.org
- The University of the Arts – The only private university in the nation dedicated solely to educating students in the visual and performing arts, design and writing, UArts features several professional gallery spaces that showcase the work of visiting artists, as well as students, faculty, staff and alumni. uarts.edu
- Arronson Gallery, Hamilton Gallery and Solmssen Court hold rotating exhibits throughout the year. 320 S. Broad Street, (215) 717-6001
- Gallery 1401 features work from the Photography department, as well as noted international photographers. Terra Hall, 211 S. Broad Street, 14th Floor, (215) 717-6300
- Gallery 817 is the Fine Arts program’s exhibit space and also exhibits works by faculty, alumni and visiting artists. Anderson Hall, 333 S. Broad Street, 8th Floor, (215) 717-6495
- Gallery One is the only Philadelphia gallery run exclusively by students—and only one of a few galleries of its kind in the country. Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad Street
- Richard C. von Hess Illustration Gallery is the Illustration department’s primary exhibit space. Anderson Hall, 333 S. Broad Street, 7th Floor, (215) 717-6240
- The Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, the university’s main gallery, hosts works from various artists throughout the year. Anderson Hall, 333 S. Broad Street, (215) 717-6480
- The Sol Mednick Gallery, named in honor of the famed photographer and UArts alumnus, is the university’s primary photography gallery and the only endowed gallery in Philadelphia dedicated solely to photography. Terra Hall, 211 S. Broad Street, 15th Floor, (215) 717-6300
Shops & Spas:
- Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon – Guests at this comfort zone escape stress with body, hair and skin treatments. Special services include four-handed massages, reflexology and an array of facials. 10 Avenue of the Arts, (215) 523-8035, richeldambra.com
- Salon Royale Court – Clients get the royal treatment through this modern, second-story salon’s comprehensive menu of services, including precision cuts, artistic color, elegant up-dos, pristine mani-pedis and eyebrow waxing. 215 S. Broad Street, 2nd Floor, (215) 893-3800, salonroyalecourt.com
- Shops at The Bellevue – The ground floors of The Bellevue house Nicole Miller, The Walking Company, Tiffany & Co., Tuescher Chocolates of Switzerland and Williams-Sonoma, as well as a food court. Broad & Walnut Streets, (215) 875-8350, bellevuephiladelphia.com
- Gershman Y – This center for Jewish arts and culture hosts a wide range of programs and activities from film festivals to discussion groups to the rollicking Latkepalooza. The Gershman Y is also the site of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and sports museum honoring local Jewish teams and athletes, many who played in the building. 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 545-4400, gershmany.org
- Philadelphia City Hall – Covering 14.5 acres, festooned with sculptures representing the seasons, continents and allegorical figures by Alexander Milne Calder and capped off with a 37-foot, 27-ton statue of William Penn, the nation’s largest municipal building is an architectural treasure inside and out. For an elevated view of Center City, visitors can take a 15-minute Tower Tour of the Observation Deck or join in the two-hour guided building tours, which also include the Observation Deck. The guided tour is available on weekdays only, and the Tower Tour is available on weekdays and select Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather and capacity permitting. Broad & Market Streets, Room 121, (215) 686-2840, phlvisitorcenter.com/cityhall
- The Union League of Philadelphia – Founded in 1862 to support the policies of then-President Abraham Lincoln, this esteemed, elite club has hosted U.S. presidents, heads of state, industrialists, entertainers and dignitaries from around the globe. The League continues to be driven by its motto, “Amor Patriae Ducit” or, “Love of Country Leads.” Its building occupies an entire city block and contains The Heritage Center, a manifestation of the work of the three onsite charities—Youth Work, Scholarship and Abraham Lincoln Foundations—designed to allow greater public access to charitable resources. Union League, 140 S. Broad Street, (215) 563-6500, unionleague.org; Heritage Center, (215) 587-6455, ulheritagecenter.org
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