June 14, 2017

West Philadelphia Neighborhood Guide

Global Cuisine, Lush Parks, Performance Venues, Museums & More

1 of 5
Trolleys travel the streets of West Philadelphia, home to one of the nation’s few remaining streetcar networks. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
1 of 5
Distrito, chef-restaurateur Jose Garces’ bi-level stunner features funky décor, creative drinks and modern Mexican fare. Photo by C. Gabello for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
1 of 5
Free to the public, the Institute of Contemporary Art showcases the work of emerging and under-recognized artists. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
1 of 5
The Woodlands, an 18th-century estate turned rural-landscape cemetery, is the largest open space in University City. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
1 of 5
A koi pond adds to the serene surroundings of The Penn Museum. Photo courtesy Penn Museum
1 of 5

Separated from Center City by the Schuylkill River, West Philadelphia resembles a microcosm of the city itself, with a number of smaller, distinct neighborhoods such as Powelton Village, Spruce Hill, Cedar Park and University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the University of the Sciences. Many of its attractions and events—community gardens, ethnically diverse restaurants, offbeat performances and the like—were created to benefit the people living in the neighborhood, but the invitation to enjoy these assets is not exclusive. Ask any local for the signature characteristics of the entire area, and they’re sure to mention diversity, optimism and openness, as well as the bohemian vibe, a trait that took hold in the 1960s and is still evident today.

People can easily access West Philly from Center City via cabs, car-sharing services, the Market-Frankford Line (also called “the El” for its elevated section) and one of the nation’s few remaining streetcar networks. The trolleys run from City Hall down Market Street and through University City, with lines servicing the neighborhood’s three main corridors of Lancaster, Baltimore and Woodland avenues.

Global Cuisine:

  • Abyssinia Restaurant & Bar – Abyssinia cooks up savory and authentic Ethiopian cuisine in a neighborhood packed with African dining destinations. The native Tusker Lager beer complements tasty vegetarian and meat-based entrees served on traditional injera bread. Great for hosting large groups for dining out. 229 S. 45th Street, (215) 387-2424
  • Aksum Cafe – This North African, European, Middle Eastern bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot is known along the Baltimore Avenue corridor for its vegetable tajines, Lebanese lemon chicken and shrimp, Greek lamb chops and tapas. Bonuses: A great kids’ menu and weekend brunches of sweet corn griddle cakes, shakshuka, Monte Cristo sandwiches and tofu scrambles. 4630 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 275-8195, aksumcafe.com
  • Chili Szechuan – This mid-range Chinese restaurant offers a two-part menu of Szechuan cuisine and Americanized Chinese cuisine. Popular items include chili- or flash-fried chicken and extra-spicy Dan Dan Noodles. 4205 Chestnut Street, (215) 662-0888, chiliszechuanphilly.com
  • Curry Bird – This small newcomer to the University of Sciences neighborhood has quickly become known for its Cantonese and Thai fare—tom yum soup, chicken curry, veggie dumplings and bubble tea. 4604 Woodland Avenue, (267) 292-4294
  • Dahlak – Ethnic food enthusiasts enjoy family-style Ethiopian and Eritrean food in the cozy atmosphere inside or on the patio here. For a fun twist and an authentic touch, diners eat with their hands instead of using forks and knives. With more than 40 beers to choose from and lively music (including karaoke and DJs), patrons get their fill of more than just food. 4708 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-6464, dahlakrestaurant.com
  • Dim Sum House – From restaurateurs Jane Guo and Jackson Fu, this expansive, three-room restaurant specializes in Cantonese dumplings, sweet sticky rice and Peking duck. With a full bar and late hours (until 1 a.m. nightly), the trendy space is party-friendly. 3939 Chestnut Street, (215) 921-5377, dimsum.house
  • Distrito – Chef-restaurateur Jose Garces’ bi-level stunner features funky décor, creative drinks and modern Mexican fare. The carnitas tacos, complete with pulled pork and pineapple salsa, are a true taste-bud fiesta. For the best seat in the house, call ahead to reserve the table in the VW Bug. 3945 Chestnut Street (entrance on 40th Street), (215) 222-1657, distritorestaurant.com
  • Ekta – Fishtown’s popular Indian restaurant has this second, cross-town BYOB, bringing biryani and more classic dishes, eat-in or takeout. 106 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-7122, ektaindiancuisinephilly.com
  • Gojjo Restaurant – Those seeking traditional cuisine can savor ˜Ethiopian food and a cocktail, while the truly adventurous sample Ethiopian (Philly-style) cheesesteaks. A pool table and two outdoor patios provide ample spots for customers to enjoy themselves over authentic grub. 4540 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-1444
  • Greek Lady – With heaping gyros, salads and desserts, Greek Lady fills hungry bellies without emptying wallets. Outdoor tables fill up fast when it’s warm outside. 222 S. 40th Street, (215) 382-2600, greeklady.com
  • Han Dynasty – Rated one of the top 50 Chinese restaurants in America by CNN, Han Dynasty built its reputation on its tasting menu and bold combinations—and stocks a long list of craft beers. 3711 Market Street, (215) 222 3711, handynasty.net
  • Indian Sizzler – This inexpensive Indian buffet offers generous portions and dependable staples like chicken tikka masala, mulligatawny soup and tandoori. 3651 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 386-7272, indiansizzlerus.com
  • Kabobeesh – This Pakistani charcoal grill and cafeteria—Philly’s oldest halal restaurant—is a carnivore’s dream, dishing out inexpensive and spicy beef skewers and quail while observing Muslim dietary laws. Diners may choose meats before they’re grilled, thanks to the onsite butcher. 4201 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-8081, kabobeesh.com
  • Kilimandjaro – West African cuisine fills the menu at this intimate spot, where unusual spices flavor lamb and beef, and fried plantains are a favorite. It’s the first restaurant in the city to specialize in Senegalese foods. 4317 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-1970
  • Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant – Imaginative Thai dishes alongside creative drinks and a reasonably priced lunch make this simply decorated restaurant a West Philly hotspot. Customers can end their meals with a delicious scoop of coconut ice cream. 3626-30 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-8042
  • Manakeesh – This sweet and savory spot offers Middle Eastern baked goods (baklava, ma’moul) in addition to spit-roasted chicken shawarma, Egyptian falafel and a build-your-own-platter option that includes most of the food groups and all of the flavors. 4420 Walnut Street, (215) 921-2135, manakeeshcafebakery.net
  • Mood Café – Regulars swear by the chaat—of which there are 34 versions—and the friendly service at twin Pakistani operations, where the takeout is popular and the shaved ice is to die for. 4618 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 222-1037; 126 S. 45th Street, (267) 969-6414
  • New Delhi – For a relaxing yet international lunch or dinner, guests at this casual restaurant can pair an Indian beer or a cocktail (fan favorite: mango mojito) with tandoori meats, veggies and breads from the popular buffet. Established in 1988, it’s the oldest Indian restaurant in the city. 4004 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-1941, newdelhiweb.com
  • Ochatto Hot Pot – Hot pots are meant for sharing, and that’s exactly what goes down at this group-friendly Chinese eatery known for daring ingredients—beef tripe and pig stomach in chili oil, for example. Diners customize their selection, controlling the amount of cumin, dry pepper and even cooking style of their entrée of choice. A la carte add-ons are plentiful. 3717 Chestnut Street, (215) 921-6288, ochatto.com/hotpot
  • Pattaya Grill – In the colorful bar and the sunroom adorned with trees, French-Thai specialties shine. The discounted, three-course early-bird dinner draws the budget-conscious before regular supper hours. 4006 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-8533, pattayarestaurant.com
  • Pod – This novel concept restaurant seats diners in futuristic pods to sample diverse sushi options that travel through the restaurant on a conveyer belt. Specialty rolls include unusual styles such as the overstuffed rainbow roll filled with tuna, salmon, yellow tail and shrimp. 3636 Sansom Street, (215) 387-1803, podrestaurant.com
  • Ramen Bar – Traditional Japanese ramen shoyu and miso ramen, plus Thai twists on the noodle dish, including tom yum and green curry, make up the menus at these sleek and popular eateries. 4040 Locust Street, (215) 243-9999; 3438-48 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 921-5804
  • Saad’s Halal Restaurant – This popular Syrian mainstay is known for its falafel, shawarma, maroush and kebab sandwiches and platters, best accompanied with a side of fries or tabbouleh. 4500 Walnut Street, (215) 222-7223, saadhalal.com
  • Sang Kee Noodle House – This noodle house features a modern Chinese menu, with Hong Kong noodle soup, Peking duck and weekend dim sum. Private karaoke rooms are popular for large and small gatherings. 3549 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-8808, sangkeenoodlehouse.com
  • Shanghai Station – Offering an expansive menu of small and large rice and noodle dishes, this Chinese dumpling house is best know for its crispy fried rice cakes. 4002 Spruce Street, (215) 921-2112
  • Tampopo – The second Philadelphia location of this haunt brings West Philadelphia diners a range of Japanese and Korean cuisine, including sushi, bento boxes, soups and noodle and rice dishes, all at reasonable prices. To promote eco-friendliness, the BYOBowl option takes fifty cents off of the bill for diners that bring their own, well, bowls. 269 S. 44th Street, (215) 386-3866, tampoporestaurant.com
  • Vientiane Café – Prices are reasonable and portions are generous at this family-run BYOB that features Thai and Lao cuisine. Owners claim vegetarians “go nuts” for the naam salad, consisting of crispy rice with coconut flakes, herbs and lemongrass, all wrapped in lettuce. 4728 Baltimore Avenue (215) 726-1095, vientiane-cafe.com
  • Vietnam Café – West Philly’s version of Chinatown’s popular Vietnam Restaurant is an inviting cafe with sleek décor, Vietnamese fare, warm atmosphere and friendly service. Those waiting for a table can migrate to the glossy wooden bar to watch mixologists craft potent tropical cocktails. 814 S. 47th Street, (215) 729-0260, eatatvietnam.com
  • Xi’an Sizzling Woks – Not an average Cantonese restaurant, this West Philly outpost of a Chinatown and Old City hotspot offers a menu of Shaanxi offerings. Items include Chinese hamburgers (pita bread soaked in lamb and beef soup), smoked tea duck and lamb skewers. 4000 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-9777
  • Youma – Among a strong African dining scene, this Senegalese spot stands out. Diners revel in tastes of Dakar with dibi (grilled lamb chops), yassa (spicy grilled chicken with habanero and green pepper), fatata (beef patties), aloco (fried plantains), thieboudienne (fried rice with vegetables and fish) and ginger juice blended with mango, strawberry, grenadine or peach. 4519 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-2025, youmarestaurant.com

Fast Casual Dining:

  • Abner’s of University City – Abner’s has been a part of the Philly college experience for more than 30 years. The cheesesteak specialty shop also serves gyros, pizza and more to hungry students until the wee hours of the morning. 3813 Chestnut Street, (215) 662-0100
  • Atyia Ola’s Spirit First Foods – This cozy cafe entices people with nutritional goodness, including fresh juices, sandwiches and raw vegan and vegetarian options. For those who like sit and sip, there’s free wireless Internet access. 4505 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 939-3298
  • Beiler’s Donuts – The first satellite operation of this classic Reading Terminal Market stall gives University City a taste of fritters and other fried delicacies. 3900 Chestnut Street, (215) 921-5874, beilersdoughnuts.com
  • Brown Sugar Bakery and Cafe – This Trinidadian Caribbean takeout spot offers business people on-the-go authentic roti, curried goat and oxtail stew along the busy 52nd Street corridor. 219 S. 52nd Street, (215) 472-7380
  • Dottie’s Donuts – This isn’t your average doughnut shop. It’s not even your average vegan doughnut shop. Dottie’s coconut milk-based baked goods come in flavors like apple fritter, Boston cream and birthday cake. 4529 Springfield Avenue, (215) 662-0379
  • Federal Donuts – The West Philly branch of James Beard Award-winner Michael Solomonov’s mini chain serves Korean-fried chicken, doughnuts in out-there flavors such as za’atar, ranch and chili garlic and cold-brew coffee. 3428 Sansom Street, (267) 275-8489, federaldonuts.com
  • Hibiscus Café – This tropical-feeling spot serves up raw foods, fresh juices and vegan dishes. Veggies, meat substitutes and tofu are served in wrap, quesadilla and empanada form. 4907 Catharine Street, (215) 307-3749
  • HipCityVeg – This popular, 100% plant-based fast-food café, with locations in Rittenhouse Square and on Broad Street, attracts fans for faux chicken or real mushroom sandwiches and salads, plus vegan baked goods, green juice and banana whips. 214 S. 40th Street, (267) 244-4342, hipcityveg.com
  • Honest Tom’s Taco Shop – What started as a popular food truck evolved into a bricks-and-mortar restaurant that serves Mexican fare in a casual eat-in cafe. Breakfast tacos overflowing with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and traditional, all-day burritos and tacos draw crowds from all over the city. 261 S. 44th Street, (215) 620-1851
  • Kitchen Già – Outfitted as a retro-modern, all natural Italian cafe, Kitchen Già satisfies its customers with its leafy salads, crisp sandwiches and steaming hot espresso. All ingredients are free-range, hormone-free and never fried. 3716 Spruce Street, (215) 222-7713, kitchengia.com
  • Ochatto – Across the street from the hot pot spot of the same name, this quick-service noodle house is more than just noodles. It also offers a variety of bubble teas and fast, affordable lunches. 3608 Chestnut Street, (215) 385-5555, ochatto.com
  • Satellite Cafe – Satellite Cafe provides an eclectic respite for bike messengers, local punk rockers and other West Philadelphians. Vegan kale smoothies, spicy black bean wraps and strong double espressos round out the experience. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 729-1211
  • Schmear It – Nestled in startup-rich uCity Square, this bagel shop picks a different nonprofit to benefit each week. Bagel and spread options range from classic to wild—wasabi, brown sugar and mint. 3601 Market Street, schmearit.com
  • Spencer ETA Burger – The burgers here come in beef, turkey and vegetarian form, and each can get as decked out in toppings—fried herbed tomato, grilled sausage, etc.—as an eater can imagine. Inside Sabrina’s. Ross Commons Building, 227 N. 34th Street, (215) 222-1022, spenceretaburger.com
  • Spread Bagelry – Based on the premise that a bakery should and could have a bar, Spread offers wood-fired, Montreal-style bagels, local beers on tap—and dedicated taps for La Colombe draft lattes and cold brew. 3602 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-0283, spreadbagelry.com
  • Wishbone – Buttermilk-battered, pretzel-crusted fried chicken and homemade dipping sauces make hungry mouths water at this gourmet take-out joint. Hand pies in flavors like pumpkin, bananas foster and apple end every meal on a sweet note. 4034 Walnut Street, (215) 921-3204, wishbonephilly.com

Other Popular Restaurants:

  • Booker’s Restaurant & Bar – Local restaurateur Saba Telda’s newest neighborhood endeavor has quickly become known for its vast whiskey bar and comfort food menu featuring mac and cheese, stuffed meatloaf and brick chicken. 5021 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 883-0960, bookersrestaurantandbar.com
  • Cedar Park Café – This no-frills neighborhood operation in the heart of Cedar Park serves the community—and the occasional visiting dignitary, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. House specialties include chicken and waffles, fried scrapple and the number one special: meat, eggs and home fries. 4914 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 727-1144
  • CO-OP – The Study hotel’s refined new breakfast-through-dinner brasserie bases its menus on the availability of locally fished and grown ingredients. 20 S. 33rd Street, (215) 398-1874, coopphila.com
  • Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant – Founded in 1985, this award-winning brewpub serves gourmet wood-fired pizzas, char-grilled sandwiches, salads and a half-dozen unfiltered draft selections, brewed just steps from the bar in a classic German copper brewhouse. Beer lovers know to come here for select rotating taps and takeout specialty six-packs. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 726-2337, dockstreetbeer.com
  • EAT Café – Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities and the Vetri Community Partnership teamed up on this full-service, sit-down, health-conscious, pay-what-you-wish dinner spot—whose name stands for “Everyone at the Table.” Wednesday through Saturday suppers benefit less fortunate Philadelphians. 3820 Lancaster Avenue, (267) 292-2768, eatcafe.org
  • Renata’s Kitchen – This easy, do-it-all Mediterranean BYOB has built a following for its lemon poppy seed pancakes and shakshouka merguez breakfasts, falafel and hummus lunches and quiet dinners. 4533 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 275-8254, renatas-kitchen.com
  • Sabrina’s Café @ Powelton – The wildly popular Sabrina’s Café planted a flag at Drexel University, bringing its daily brunch and dinner specials to a new audience. Ross Commons Building, 227 N. 34th Street, (215) 222-1022, sabrinascafe.com
  • The Farmacy – Formerly known as Rx, The Farmacy offers a casual dining experience in a venue run by graduates of the nearby Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. The menu features a wide selection of basics like homemade soups and organic salads, as well as more filling dishes such as burgers and truffle mac and cheese with brioche breadcrumbs. 4443 Spruce Street, (267) 432-1082, thefarmacyrx.com
  • Marigold Kitchen – Marigold enjoys 70-plus-year-old roots as a neighborhood stalwart. At this BYOB restaurant, guests indulge in an ever-evolving menu of upscale and interesting comfort foods like liquid nitro popcorn, gazpacho dippin’ dots and duck egg carbonara. 501 S. 45th Street, (215) 222-3699, marigoldkitchenbyob.com
  • White Dog Cafe – More than 30 ago, the White Dog Cafe started a trend in Philadelphia: an unusual blend of award-winning cuisine and social activism, including its focus on local, sustainable, organic ingredients. The whimsical dining rooms tucked inside three renovated brownstones make for an inspiring dining experience. 3420 Sansom Street, (215) 386-9224, whitedog.com
  • Zavino – Though the original is in Center City, Zavino’s larger location resides in West Philadelphia—much to the delight of neighbors who love the fantastic craft pizza pies and delicious pastas and salads. 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 823-6897, zavinohospitalitygroup.com

Coffee & Ice Cream Shops:

  • Avril 50 – With a selection of international coffee, chocolate, tobacco and tea and an array of postcards, this tiny shop is a must for lovers of foreign cultures. They can also browse a newsstand that holds newspapers, academic journals and high-end fashion magazines from countries and continents as diverse as Europe, China, Israel and Lebanon. 3406 Sansom Street, (215) 222-6108, avril50.com
  • The Gold Standard Café – Fresh, locally bought ingredients make up the soups, salads and sandwiches at this cozy cafe. Neighbors come here for the hearty breakfast dishes and homemade desserts. 4800 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 727-8247, thegoldstandardcafe.com
  • Green Line Cafe – The original site of a family business that has grown to five Philadelphia locations, all serving organic, fair-trade coffee and grab-and-go foods made daily on-site. Plus, the artwork on the walls changes frequently and is always for sale. 4239 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 222-3431; 4426 Locust Street, (215) 222-0799; 3649 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 382-2143; 28 S. 40th Street, (215) 475-6653, greenlinecafe.com
  • HubBub Coffee – This University of Pennsylvania campus spot is a coffee specialist—iced coffee isn’t just iced, it’s chilled “nitro” style—and serves fresh juices and healthy, locavore snacks. 3736 Spruce Street, (215) 387-0700, hubbubcoffee.com
  • Joe Coffee – This sleek, New York City-based cafe is unerringly hip and laid back and naturally sources its beans and such from fair-trade farms and international co-ops. 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 240-4577, joenewyork.com
  • Kaffa Crossing – Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Habtamu Kassa took over this African coffee shop in part to promote fair trade and awareness about Ethiopia’s blessings and challenges. As such, he prepares light East African fare to go along with his Ethiopian roasts. 4423 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-0504, kaffacrossing.com
  • Little Baby’s Ice Cream – The super-premium, Philadelphia-style ice cream comes in a range of unexpected flavors such as balsamic banana and Earl Grey Sriracha, made in Little Baby’s Fishtown flagship. 4903 Catharine Street, (215) 921-2100; 2311 Frankford Avenue, (267) 687-8567; littlebabysicecream.com
  • Reed’s Coffee and Tea House – This is the cafe every neighborhood should have. Along with fair-trade coffee, 20 different teas, homemade lemonade, sandwiches and baked goods, Reed’s demonstrates its commitment to the community by providing meeting space, Wi-Fi and voter registration services. Those who just want to kick back can enjoy the TV, alfresco seating and homemade Belgian waffles (on Saturdays). 3802 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 349-6298
  • United by Blue Coffeehouse and Clothier – With textured decor salvaged from old buildings, the West Philly branch of this Old City operation does double duty as an eco-conscious boutique and an espresso bar. 3421 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1617, unitedbyblue.com

Bars, Pubs & Clubs:

  • Bar(n) on Baltimore – This funky, proudly dive-y watering hole stocks its bar with an impressive yet inexpensive selection of beer and cocktails and some irresistible house-smoked wings. On the entertainment front, there’s a jukebox that’s heavy on the heavy metal and a pool table. 4901 Catharine Street
  • Bridgewater’s Pub – This welcome watering hole inside 30th Street Station offers travelers seasonally changing dishes and imported and local beers. 2955 Market Street, (215) 387-4787, thepubin30thstreetstation.com
  • City Tap House – Reclaimed wood, slate and tile create a handsome space for this beer lovers’ haven, boasting 60 taps, 140 seats inside and a large outdoor patio with 80 seats and five fire pits. Classic American fare includes brick-oven pizzas, free-range chicken, mussels and plenty of vegetarian-friendly options. 3925 Walnut Street, (215) 662-0105, citytaphouse.com
  • Fiume – There’s no sign and no website for this beloved dive bar, and that’s exactly how patrons and employees like it. Regulars know to climb the stairs above Abyssinia to this hidden spot to partake in the “citywide special” (a cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon and whiskey combo), or to pony up for a truly indulgent whiskey drink and listen to the live bands as they shake the miniscule space. 229 S. 45th Street, 2nd floor, (215) 387-2424
  • Local 44 – Craft beer flows from the 20 taps at this bar, where crowds enjoy savory bar food (heavy on the vegan options) along with their drafts. The owners opened a bottle shop next door, expanding the sudsy offerings with 500 bottles and two casks that pump out beers to drink while shopping. 4333 Spruce Street, (215) 222-BEER, local44beerbar.com
  • New Deck Tavern – Three 19th-century row houses combine to make up this tavern, whose liquor license dates back to Prohibition’s end. New Deck is known for its burgers, Quizzo, international draft beers and hefty single-malt collection. 3408 Sansom Street, (215) 386-4600, newdecktavern.com
  • Smokey Joe’s – Amid many college bars in University City, Smoke’s has been a “Pennstitution” since 1952. Candice Bergen’s gotten kicked out of here, and Eagles players used to sneak in after games at Franklin Field. These days, they serve microbrews and fancy pizza from Enjay’s. 210 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-0770

Museums, Galleries & Performance Venues:

  • A-Space – This “anarchist community space” is…well, so West Philly. A-Space hosts small music shows, film screenings, poetry readings, craft fairs, potluck dinners and political events and discussions. Plus, it hangs art on its walls. 4722 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 821-6877
  • Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts – As one of the nation’s premier urban performing arts centers on a university campus, Annenberg puts on all genres of cultural performance. Jazz, world music, contemporary dance, dramatic touring theater and local Philadelphia artists make the venue a place to explore “adventuresome perspectives on contemporary issues and timeless ideas.” 3680 Walnut Street, (215) 898-3900, annenbergcenter.org
  • Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania and Kroiz Gallery – This gallery exhibits the works of more than 400 architects and planners from the 17th century to the present. It also contains 225 projects of Philadelphian Louis I. Kahn, as well as his personal library. 220 S. 34th Street, lower level, (215) 898-8323, design.upenn.edu
  • Curio Theatre Company – The professional ensemble company dedicates itself to developing artistic talents and producing diverse and high-quality theatrical works at an affordable ticket price. 4740 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 525-1350, curiotheatre.org
  • The Drexel Collection – Comprised of three separate galleries (the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery, the Paul Peck Center Alumni Gallery and the Rincliffe Gallery), Drexel University’s collection started in 1891 with the founding of the school. Today, they house 19th-century paintings and sculpture contributed by friends and family of the university and an 18th-century David Rittenhouse astronomical musical clock, considered one of the most prestigious clocks in the country. 32nd & Chestnut Streets, (215) 895-0480, drexel.edu/drexelcollection
  • Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania – Open to the public free of charge, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been instrumental in showcasing the work of emerging and under-recognized artists for more than 50 years. It led the way with the first-ever museum shows of Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana and other influential artists. 118 S. 36th Street, (215) 898-7108, icaphila.org
  • International House Philadelphia – Dedicated to broadening the horizons of the community through film screenings, live performances, art exhibits, lectures and language classes, this independent non-profit also provides housing to students and scholars from all corners of the globe, introducing them to the American experience. 3701 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-5125, ihousephilly.org
  • Kelly Writers House – Penn students, faculty, staff and alumni founded this gathering space for writers inside an actual 13-room house on campus. Each semester, the Kelly House hosts approximately 150 public programs and projects, including poetry readings, film screenings, seminars, workshops, art exhibits and musical performances. 3805 Locust Walk, (215) 746-POEM, writing.upenn.edu/wh
  • Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel University – The novel and experimental art comes in all contemporary mediums: digital, video, sculptural, photography, graphics and fashion design. Located the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s URBN Annex, the gallery presents 3,500 square feet of exhibits free of charge. 3401 Filbert Street, (215) 895-2548, drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery
  • Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy – Housed at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy—North America’s first college of pharmacy—10,000 pharmaceutical and medical objects and artifacts cover more than five centuries of practice. Through changing exhibitions, the museum tells the story of pharmaceuticals dating back to Greco-Roman times. 600 S. 43rd Street, (215) 596-8721, usciences.edu/museum
  • New Africa Center – Dedicated to preserving the history of Islam in the West, this is the first museum of its kind in the country. Using primarily pictures, books and magazines from America’s slavery days to the present, the museum focuses on the African-American Muslim community. 4243 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-0520, newafricacenter.com
  • Paul Robeson House – What better place for a museum that honors the life, legacy, philosophy and historical significance of Philadelphian Paul Robeson than inside his former residence? A few blocks outside the Spruce Hill boundaries, the museum occasionally offers public events of particular interest to the African-American community. Tours are available by appointment. 4949-51 Walnut Street, (215) 747-4675, paulrobesonhouse.org
  • Penn Museum – This renowned museum is known for its collection of art and artifacts from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Greco-Roman World, Asia, Africa and the Americas (including a Native American exhibit). Gardens, fountains and a koi pond make the outside as impressive as the inside—almost. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
  • The Rotunda – Built as a house of worship in 1911, The Rotunda is a smoke-free, drink-free and admission-free (unless otherwise noted) space for world, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz and experimental music. When bands aren’t playing, the socially conscious venue attracts crowds for movie screenings, yoga classes, theater projects and art exhibits. 4014 Walnut Street, therotunda.org
  • Slought Foundation – This internationally recognized non-profit cultural center hosts exhibitions and programs with a socio-political focus. Programs explore the role of artists in society and art’s power to transform political realities. 4017 Walnut Street, (215) 701-4627, slought.org
  • Studio 34 – Art shows and performances take place often inside this 4,000-square-foot yoga and dance studio. The venue also sees some Philly festivals, such as Artclash! and DesignPhiladelphia. 4522 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 387-3434, studio34yoga.com
  • Tiberino Museum – “The West Philly Wyeths” open their five, artful homes overlooking a common courtyard to visitors. After patriarchs Joseph and Ellen Powell passed, their adult children continue their traditions, working on ceramics, stained glass, murals and figures. During alfresco Sunday art circles, painters bring their easels; drummers, their drums; poets, their poetry. 3819 Hamilton Street, (215) 386-3784
  • World Cafe Live – This music venue and restaurant works on two levels: Upstairs houses a full-service restaurant with live eclectic music on most nights during the week, while the downstairs music hall and restaurant caters to a larger crowd and well-known bands. It’s a perfect blend of food, drinks and jams. 3025 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1400, worldcafelive.com

Bookstores & More Stores:

  • House of Our Own Bookstore – In a quiet, comfortable Victorian house on the edge of Penn’s campus, this well-organized bookshop focuses on cultural studies, history, literary criticism and social science, with new volumes on the first floor and used titles on the second. 3920 Spruce Street, (215) 222-1576
  • The Last Word Bookshop – Open seven days a week, The Last Word deals in used books ranging from popular novels to out-of-print history books—all protected by Lester, a former stray cat who entertains customers by climbing the bookshelves. A full children’s section keeps kids occupied while parents shop for their next “me time” read. 220 S. 40th Street, (215) 386-7750
  • Jinxed – This outpost of a popular vintage shelter store is known for larger pieces suitable for the neighborhood’s larger, Victorian homes. It also features a curated selection of vintage women’s and men’s clothing. (215) 921-3755, jinxedphiladelphia.com
  • The Marvelous – The record selection here encompasses all genres, as well as quality reissues. Guitars, vintage turntables, amps and other musical accessories round out the merchandise, while equipment and turntable repair are among the services. 4916 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 72-MUSIC
  • The Nesting House – This eco-conscious boutique for babies and small children (and their grown-ups) offers new and gently used clothing, toys, books and furniture—plus myriad resources for new parents in need. 4501 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 222-7500, thenestinghouse.net
  • The Natural Shoe Store – This tiny shop houses kicks of all varieties, including ones made of natural materials by companies such as Birkenstock and Earth and more mainstream lines, including Uggs and Nike. The best part: Everything in the store is discounted by at least 15%. 226 S. 40th Street, (215) 382-9899
  • Penn Book Center – Functioning as an unofficial alternative to the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore, this spot acts as a clearinghouse for new and used textbooks and scholarly and classic works. Local poets gather here for a poetry reading series and one of the city’s largest poetry selections. 130 S. 34th Street, (215) 222-7600, pennbookcenter.com
  • Penn Bookstore – Often a stop on author book tours, the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore carries more than 55,000 titles, plus Penn apparel, home décor, electronics and baked goods at the wireless cafe. 3601 Walnut Street, (215) 898-7595, upenn.edu/bookstore
  • Piper Boutique – The stock changes daily at this all-natural women’s clothing boutique. Piper Boutique celebrates rustic style and textile traditions, and the staff is devoted to personalized attention for all customers. 140 S. 34th Street, (267) 233-6516, piperboutique.com
  • Snapdragon Flowers & Gifts –This eco-conscious spot features a range of hard-to-find, botanically inspired products and services for homes and events. Design-minded owner Tolani Lightfoot’s talents don’t stop at succulents and herbs in urban terrariums and vertical gardens—but shoppers’ eyes might. 5015 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 209-6066, snapdragonphilly.com
  • VIX Emporium – This funky former 1940s millinery shop shows and sells the work of 150 local and national creators of jewelry, hand-printed stationery, hats, bags, scarves, bath products, home accessories, ceramics and more for men, women and children. Fun fact: VIX carries a custom line of nail polish, each color named after a neighborhood mainstay. 5009 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 471-7700, vixemporium.com


  • Clark Park – Established in 1895, Clark Park is a popular neighborhood gathering place—no matter the weather. Once used by the city as a dumping ground, the park spans nine acres that now feature trees, grass, lush greenery and a popular year-round farmers’ market on Saturdays. Between Baltimore & Woodland Avenues and 43rd & 45th Streets, friendsofclarkpark.org
  • Drexel Park – Both Powelton residents and Drexel students flock to this 2.5-acre oasis for its walking paths, benches and open green space, where picnics, Frisbee games, reading and sunbathing are the main activities. And the breathtaking view makes a typical day in the park visually stunning. 32nd Street & Powelton Avenue, universitycity.org/drexel-park
  • Greensgrow West – The colorful West Philly outpost of the Kensington-born farm and garden is exactly where the neighborhood goes shopping for plants and gardening gear. It even offers a community garden to employ such supplies. There’s a chicken coop too. 5123 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 427-2780, greensgrow.org
  • Penn Park – A 24-acre urban recreational area on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Penn Park includes bike trails, walkways, places for formal and informal athletics and plenty of green space, as well as an enclosed air structure for all-weather play. 31st Street between Walnut & South Streets, pennpark.upenn.edu
  • Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary – Spruce Hill Community Association uses volunteers to maintain this haven of goldfinches, nuthatches, catbirds and many more ornithological varieties tucked away in this private-feeling, but open-to-the-public sanctuary. 46th & Melville Streets, sprucehillca.org
  • The Woodlands – Lesser-known than the neighborhood’s Clark Park, this 18th-century estate turned rural-landscape cemetery is the largest open space in University City and provides a great location for birdwatching. More people are discovering the spot thanks to events such as the Go West! Craft Fest. 4000 Woodland Avenue, (215) 386-2181, woodlandsphila.org


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, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, 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.