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A Day In and Around Center City, Philadelphia


October 1, 2020

City Center is the heart of Philadelphia, full of museums, outdoor experiences, and top-notch eateries. This one day driving and walking tour in and around the neighborhood will take you to some of the city’s best museums, for delicious bites, a stroll along the river, and boutique-hopping. To see where visitors and locals alike are going, use #OurTurnToTourist.

To help combat the spread of Covid-19, some venues below may be closed or by appointment or reservation only. Note that masks are required in all venues except when you’re eating.

Things are changing rapidly. We do our best to update openings, closures, and hours. All information published below was correct at the time of writing.

east passyunk av

Singing Fountain, East Passyunk Avenue. Photo by K. Kelly, courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

If it’s a weekend, go to High Street Philly from 9am for a breakfast sandwich on their chewy house-made bread, or go savoury with a sourdough pie topped with lancaster county corn, arugula, goat cheese, and lemon. Eat outdoors, or get takeaway and walk four blocks to leafy Washington Square.

high street philly

High Street Philly. Photo courtesy of High Street Philly

bower cafe

Bower Café. Photo courtesy of Bower Café

If you’ve breakfasted but need (more) coffee, order a fine cup at Bower Cafe. Afterwards, visit a museum or two; there are a few within 10 minutes’ walk.

  • History buffs will geek out at the thoroughly modern Museum of the American Revolution, a place that’s particularly engaging during a time of political and racial injustice reckoning across the US.

MICHELIN Travel Guides -- Museum of American Revolution, Philadelphia

Museum of the American Revolution. Film courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

MICHELIN Travel Guides -- African American Museum, Philadelphia

The African American Museum in Philadelphia. Film courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

  • The collection at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) encompasses 16,000 pieces, from 18th-century masters to Kehinde Wiley, who painted a portrait of President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The museum does a fantastic job of showcasing the work of female artists, those in the LQBTQ+ community, artists of color, and artists outside of major American art hubs.
pennsylvania academy of fine arts

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Photo by B. Krist, courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

  • Modern European paintings, beautiful Navajo jewelry and Zuni water jars, and carved masks from Côte d'Ivoire and copper sculptures from Benin are just a few of the striking pieces in the Barnes Foundation’s extensive collection.
barnes foundation

The Barnes Foundation. Photo by Sean Murray, courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

After or in between museum hopping, go for lunch at The Bourse, a vibrant food hall in a handsome 1891 Beaux Arts building and former stock, maritime, and grain exchange. Tuck into sliders from Baby Buns (think Taiwanese fried chicken on a brioche bun) or heaving tacos at Rebel Taco.

the bourse

The Bourse. Photo by Neal Santos, courtesy of The Bourse

pizzeria stella

Pizzeria Stella. Photo courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

If vendors in The Bourse are closed, head south to Pizzeria Stella in Society Hill for toothsome wood-fired oven pizzas.

From here, it’s decision time: do you want to continue strolling in nature, or peruse Philly’s independent boutiques? Depending on the time, you might be able to do both.

MICHELIN Travel Guides -- Schuylkill Boardwalk, Philadelphia

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. Film courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

If it’s greenery you’re after, hit the Schuylkill River Trail and walk the two miles from Azalea Garden to the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. Stop at one of four scenic overlooks for a postcard-perfect view of the Philadelphia skyline.

If you’re more inclined toward shopping, here are a few places to go:

  • Atomic City Comics: Graphic novels, manga, new and back-issue comics, and toys and games fill the shelves at this Society Hill favorite. Atomic is surrounded by other bookstores, and bibliophiles will be in heaven. Visit Wooden Shoe BooksMostly BooksGarland of LettersBlack and NobleBrickbat Books, and Headhouse BooksDrive 10 or walk 20 minutes from Center City.
  • The Sable Collective: Women’s jewelry, clothing, accessories, home goods, beauty and wellness products, and books are on offer here, from a straw fan made in Bolgatanga, Ghana to cowrie shell cuffs in brass. In Center City
  • Damari Savile: Made-to-measure suits that’ll have you looking ultra dapper. Right on Washington Sq. Walk 10 minutes from Center City.
  • Blue Sole Shoes: Find footwear to go with your smart new suit at this Rittenhouse Square shop. Drive 10 minutes or walk 23.
mostly books

Mostly Books. Photo courtesy of Mostly Books

brickbat books

Brickbat Books. Photo courtesy of Brickbat Books

magic garden

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Photo by R. Kennedy, courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

While you’re down at the bookstores, visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (book in advance), a non-profit immersive mixed media space made of mosaics. Isaiah Zagar’s living gallery is covered in bottles, bike wheels, folk art, and handmade tiles, spanning two indoor galleries and a sculpture garden.

Dine tonight in Midtown Village, a vibrant neighborhood centered around S. 13th and Sansom Sts., within Center City.

midtown village

Midtown Village. Photo by J. Fusco, courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

james oliver gallery

James Oliver Gallery. Photo by Ryan Hicks, courtesy of James Oliver Gallery

Depending on the time, you may be able to fit in a few neighborhood galleries, like James Oliver GalleryGross McLeaf Gallery, and Space 1026.

There are tons of dinner options here, including a four-course prix fixe at lauded modern Italian restaurant Vetri Cucina, and Chatayee Thai, which has vegan versions of many of its excellent pan-Thai dishes.

chatayee thai

Chatayee Thai. Photo courtesy of Chatayee Thai

Where to Stay:


Roost Rittenhouse: Roost is a collection of three stylish, modernist-inspired extended-stay boutique hotels in Philly. Stay for a night, a week, or a month. It’s meant to feel homey and indeed, the spaces do, with real plants, patterned rugs, and contemporary artwork. Each of the 27 apartments is furnished with modern pieces from Design Within Reach and kitted out with Apple TVs and REVO stereos. There’s a bike share program, a library...you might just want to move in.

roost rittenhouse
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