Offering the cosmopolitan amenities of the world’s greatest cities in a compact and walkable downtown, Center City is the heart of Philly’s bustling arts-and-culture, dining, entertainment, and financial districts.
With its beginnings in the mid-1800s, this thriving urban village features scores of restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores, and specialty markets, as well as churches and a Buddhist temple. The Friendship Gate, ornamented with fire-breathing dragons, was built as a joint project between Philadelphia and sister city Tianjin, China.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, home to Swann Memorial Fountain, the Franklin Institute, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, is also the most direct route to the neighborhood that is home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, historic Eastern State Penitentiary, and the entrance to Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped park in the country.
The Italian Market
Craving cannoli? Everything for a spectacular meal, from antipasto to dessert, can be acquired in the Italian Market, one of the oldest and largest working outdoor markets in the country. It has an old-world feel to it, even as its offerings expand to include the specialties of more recent Mexican and Asian immigrants.
This onetime industrial neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance as one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods for nightlife. Concerts, festivals, vendor markets, film screenings, dance performances, and live broadcasts of sporting events are hosted year round at the large, open-air plaza known as the Schmidt’s Commons.
Explore the most historic square mile in the country! History buffs and political junkies can wander the cobblestone streets to visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Christ Church, and the National Constitution Center. Art lovers will appreciate the neighborhood’s numerous galleries, studios, and performance companies—gallery openings are traditionally held on the first Friday of each month.
A scenic spot for festivals in summer and outdoor ice-skating in winter, Penn’s Landing is a testament to Philadelphia’s marine trading history and culture. Tour the World War II submarine or the Spanish-American War battleship anchored along the Delaware River.
Reading Terminal Market
The historic Reading Terminal Market is a farmers market and more—get off the train at Jefferson Station and head upstairs to the market stands, prepared food stalls, and vendors that sell flowers, books, jewelry, and crafts from around the world. A stop here is guaranteed to engage all your senses.
See and be seen in one of Center City’s most picturesque and popular neighborhoods. Relax and enjoy the city by spending an afternoon people-watching and reading a book in the Square—one of the five original parks planned by city founder William Penn in the late 17th century.
Home to Philly’s historic Fabric Row and a wide selection of independent boutiques, South Street is the birthplace of Philly fashion. Featuring more than 100 restaurants, from diners and delis to romantic settings and sidewalk cafes, it is also a great spot for dining out.
This neighborhood, located in West Philadelphia, hosts the campuses of six colleges and universities. Catch Shakespeare in Clark Park, meet up with one of the area’s activist communities, grab dinner at one of the numerous diverse ethnic restaurants, and meet fellow students.