The City of Brotherly Love is known for a lot of things, and its neighborhoods being one of them. From cobble-stoned historical districts where our nation’s beginnings took place to one of the best hipster neighborhoods in the country, Philadelphia’s diverse hoods might surprise you. Before you make your move to Philly, here’s a look at our 6 picks for the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
- University City
- Old City
- Washington Square West
- Rittenhouse Square
- Bella Vista
- Northern Liberties
Read on for more details of each!Drexel University, iStock.com/peterspiro
Get ready to be surrounded by an energetic, college vibe in University City. Home to Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania, it’s no surprise that this neighborhood is flooded with art galleries, performance venues, and cultural centers. In fact, University City has one of the best arts and culture scene in the city.
Restaurants and bars add to the eclectic atmosphere, giving you dining options that include everything from a Montreal-style bagel to a Greek gyro. Plus, there are plenty of green spaces throughout the district. Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving Botanical Garden in North America, is a 45-acre National Landmark located at the southern edge of the hood, while Drexel Park is where you’ll find students relaxing on a sunny day. If you’re a student, this Philadelphia neighborhood’s for you.iStock.com/littleny
You can’t walk far in this neighborhood without being immersed in our nation’s history. Technically part of the Center City neighborhood, it’s bordered on its west by Independence Mall—where our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence—and is home to the Betsy Ross’ house, where our first American Flag was made.
Old City also features a booming restaurant scene and hosts the annual Old City Eats summer event where local spots offer half-priced appetizers and drinks Thursday nights from 5-8pm. Imagine grabbing drinks and dinner next to Independence Mall! The neighborhood also has Friday art walks, fashion boutique shops, and modern art galleries. Take a stroll down Old City’s cobblestone streets and you’ll see why it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia for locals and visitors alike.
This is perhaps the most diverse neighborhood on all levels. Washington Square West is the type of place you can go to for just about anything your heart desires, and then some. It’s home to a large LGBTQ population (and was even coined the “Gayborhood” of Philadelphia in the early 1990s), features one of Philly’s 5 original public parks, and includes residents of all incomes, races, genders, and origins.
Just a skip, hop, and a jump away from Independence Mall you’ll find Washington Square Park, which offers shady bench-filled sidewalks, a memorial to Philadelphia, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. Street signs decorated with rainbow flags lead visitors and locals through the cobblestone streets and alleys on their way to comedy clubs, local bars, artist clubs, and nightlife spots. Date-night restaurants dot the streets of this quaint neighborhood, too. There isn’t much you can’t find in this conveniently-located hood, which is why it’s so sought-after.via Rittenhouse Square Park
Walkable, public transit-friendly, and perfect for cyclists, Rittenhouse Square is a historic and extremely livable neighborhood. Sidewalk cafes and restaurants, like Parc, encapsulate the energy of the city, and its collection of bars makes it a fun spot to go out, day or night. Events like the annual Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival bring the community together to experience local food, fashion, and the arts.
Rittenhouse Square itself is another one of the 5 original public spaces designated by William Penn, and it features plenty of greenery, walking paths, and a reflective pool. It hosts farmers’ markets and events throughout the year, as well, so you can always find something fun happening around here, just one of the many reasons it topped our list of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The area is known for its large concentration of hotels, which makes it perfect for visitors, but it also means that a perk of living here includes enjoying all the conveniences and amenities that travelers want.
You can thank the Italians for this one; Bella Vista was the first Philly neighborhood to be settled by Italian immigrants. To this day, the neighborhood sticks to its roots and houses plenty of Italian restaurants, shops, and the 9th Street Italian Market– the oldest operating open-air, outdoor market in the U.S.
Around Philly, it’s known as “Little Italy”, and that’s exactly the atmosphere you can expect here. It’s home to a museum celebrating famous opera singer Mario Lanza, a Philly local, classic Italian restaurants like Angelinas (pro tip: it’s also BYOB), and handmade pasta shops like Superior Pasta Company.
Take a step into the Northern Liberties neighborhood and enter hipster heaven. In the last decade, this neighborhood north of the city center has undergone quite a transformation. In fact, Forbes recently named it one of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods. What was once a manufacturing and warehouse district has evolved into an enclave for artists, young professionals, and everyone in between. The mixed-use Schmidt’s Commons provides shopping and dining options, as well as art galleries and an open-air outdoor theater and stage area that hosts free movie screenings and festivals. And if you’re looking for some cheap eats, you’ll definitely find them here.
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