The Penn Bubble — AKA the idea that Penn students don’t leave the general vicinity of their school — is a real thing. And it’s safe to say that Penn isn’t the only Philadelphia college that can have this problem of students sticking around near their classes and their dorms tucked away in University City or near Temple’s campus.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But let’s get you out of that bubble.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the areas you might want to check out (which, keep in mind, we unfortunately can’t highlight *every* neighborhood because that would take forever and we all don’t have that kind of time.) These are 12 neighborhoods you should check out that aren’t University City, and what you can do while you’re there:
Described in five words or less: Italian Market, old meets new
Boundaries: It’s bounded by 6th Street to the east, 11th Street to the west, South Street to the north, and Washington Avenue to the south.
How best to get there: If you’re coming from University City, grab the 40 bus at 34th and Spruce streets and get off at 10th and South streets. Walk just a few blocks south and you’ll be in Bella Vista. If you’re coming from Temple, you can pick up the 23 bus at 12th and Berks and take it south to 12th and Christian streets.
What you must see: Italian Market. It runs on 9th Street in Bella Vista and is seen as one of the oldest open-air markets in the country. Find vegetables, meats, fish, baked goods and pretty much any food your heart desires.
Good place for a bite: Villa Di Roma – Old school, red sauce Italian food and some bangin’ meatballs. This place is perfect for your trip to Bella Vista. It’s located at 936 S. 9th St.
Good place for a drink: Growlers – Good beer, nice bar food, solid atmosphere. Stop by for a brew and some truffle fries. It’s located at 736 S. 8th St.
Described in five words or less: Vibrant, eclectic, rapidly-developing
Boundaries: Cedar Park runs west from 46th to 52nd and north from Kingsessing Avenue and the Regional Rail line to Larchwood Avenue.
How best to get there: If you’re in University City, you’re very much in walking distance — just take a walk down Baltimore Avenue and you’ll run into one of Cedar Park’s busiest corridors. If you’re coming from Temple, take the Broad Street Line southbound to the City Hall station and transfer to go westbound on the Market-Frankford Line. Exit at 46th Street and walk south until you get to Cedar Park. Or, you could transfer to the 34 trolley down Baltimore Avenue and exit anywhere between 40th and 48th.
What you must see: The diverse restaurant scene. Stroll down Baltimore Avenue to see a diverse and eclectic mix of restaurants and places where you can snag an unfamiliar dish for dinner.
Good place for a bite: Mood Cafe – Get ridiculously good Middle Eastern food here. It’s located at 4618 Baltimore Ave.
Good place for a drink: Dock Street Brewing Co. – Large beer list and good pub fare. Find it at 701 S. 50th St.
Described in five words or less: Classic, growth, eclectic, restaurants
Boundaries: Broad to Sixth and Washington to Snyder (which combines both Passyunk Square and East Passyunk Crossing.)
How best to get there: One of the easiest ways to get there from University City is to take the Market-Frankford Line westbound to 15th Street and transfer to the Broad Street Line southbound. From there, you can get off at the Tasker-Morris stop for your best bet. If you’re coming from Temple, take the Broad Street Line southbound to the same stop.
What you must see: Find any event on Passyunk Avenue. There are a crazy amount of things going on; here’s a list of them. The Avenue is also dotted with more restaurants and bars than we can count.
Good place for a bite: Cosmi’s Deli – Located near 8th and Dickinson, this place is a college-aged sandwich lovers dream. They’ve got cheesesteaks that are probably better than Pat’s and Geno’s, but try the Sicilian hoagie.
Good place for a drink: The Garage – Oodles and oodles of beers you can choose from. Skeeball. You can’t go wrong. It’s located near 9th and East Passyunk Avenue.
Described in five words or less: Art, young families, close proximity
Boundaries: While the boundaries are often a point of debate, we’ve found that the most common boundaries associated with the Fairmount area are Broad Street to the east, Girard Avenue to the north and Spring Garden Street to the south.
How best to get there: If you’re in University City, you can grab the 42 bus at 33rd and Spruce streets and then transfer to the 7 bus at 22nd and Chestnut. That will take you right up to Fairmount Avenue in the heart of the neighborhood. If you’re coming from Temple, you can make the half an hour walk or take the Broad Street Line southbound and hop off at the Fairmount stop.
What you must see: Eastern State Penitentiary. Take a tour of this one-time prison, or do the creepy thing: Go around Halloween for Terror Behind the Walls, a massive haunted house that takes place in this real prison.
Good place for a bite: Zorba’s Taverna – If you love Greek food, hell, if you even like Greek food, you’re going to love it here. It’s BYOB, and pretty kind to the wallet. It’s located near 22nd and Fairmount.
Good place for a drink: Bridgid’s – Craft beers on tap and a nice menu of Italian food to go along with it. It’s located at 726 N. 24th St.
Described in five words or less: Hipsters, bars, artsy, riverfront
Boundaries: They’re usually seen as between Frankford Avenue, the Delaware River and York Street.
How best to get there: From University City, take the Market-Frankford Line eastbound and get off at the Girard stop which will put you near the intersection of Frankford and Girard. The Berks and York/ Dauphin stops will also drop you off near the neighborhood. If you’re coming from Temple, take the Broad Street Line southbound to City Hall and transfer to the Market-Frankford Line going eastbound.
What you must see: The River City Festival. On October 10, art and food vendors will lay their wares before more than 10,000 attendees at Penn Treaty Park — where ol’ Billy Penn signed a peace treaty with a local Native American tribe leader.
Good place for a bite: Loco Pez – This Mexican restaurant in the middle of Fishtown has cheap tacos and burritos and to-die-for margaritas. Follow them on Twitter and keep your eyes peeled, because they’ll post information about when they’re holding random dollar taco nights.
Good place for a drink: El Bar – Catch this bar that’s on Front Street under the El before it gets cold because they’ve got an awesome back yard. Kenzinger is always on draft, and the drinks are cheap. Worth noting: It’s cash only.
Described in five words or less: Development, vibrant, neighborhood bars, walkable
Boundaries: Graduate Hospital is between Broad Street and the Schuylkill River and South Street and Washington Avenue.
How best to get there: If you’re coming from University City, you can catch the 40 bus at 34th and Spruce streets and take that right to 22nd and South streets into the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. If you’re coming from Temple, your best bet is probably to take the Broad Street Line southbound and get off at South-Lombard and walk west toward the neighborhood.
What you must see: South Street west. South Street as you know it draws tons of tourists to come see the bars and the sex shops and the occasional gem. South Street west is different, and has been developed by restaurant owners and entrepreneurs to be a different type of feel. Coming up soon in Graduate Hospital — or G-Ho as it’s sometimes called — is Bloktoberfest, a festival of food, craft beer and live music. This year it starts on Oct. 3 at noon.
Good place for a bite: Cafe Ynez – Come here if you want some fantastic Mexican food. Prices are reasonable and the burritos are out of this world. It’s located near 21st and Washington Avenue.
Good place for a drink: The Sidecar – Go for brunch, lunch or late at night and this place won’t disappoint. The Bloody Mary’s on a weekend morning are great, and they boast a good beer selection for the nighttime crowd. It’s located near 22nd and Christian.
Described in five words or less: “Where we go to drink”
Boundaries: The Manayunk Council of Neighbors defines it as the Schuylkill River to the West, Ridge Avenue to the South, Manayunk Avenue to the East and Fountain Street to Smick Street then LaMonte Street to the North.
How best to get there: The easiest way to get to Manayunk is probably to take the Manayunk/Norristown Line, which is via Regional Rail, which you can pick up in University City and near Temple University. Here’s the scheduling and ticket information.
What you must see: The Philly Cycling Classic. Every year in June, some of the world’s best cyclists come to Philadelphia for a 12-mile course through the city that includes Manayunk, East Falls, Fairmount Park and Kelly Drive. Also, Main Street in Manayunk is bustling on First Fridays.
Good place for a bite: The Goat’s Beard – Great sandwiches and comfort food like steak mac n’ cheese. It’s located at 4201 Main Street.
Good place for a drink: Pitchers Pub – This place is a total dive bar, and perfect for the college crowd. Find it at 4326 Main St.
Described in five words or less: Modern, pubs, boutiques, public art
Boundaries: The Northern Liberties Neighbors Association defines the neighborhood as N. 6th St. starting at Callowhill St. and ending at Girard Avenue to the west, Girard Avenue to the north to Front Street where the border turns south down Front Street to Laurel Street, and then east the length of Laurel Street to the Delaware River. The eastern border runs down the Delaware from Laurel Street to Callowhill Street, and the southern border is Callowhill Street to N. 6th St.
How best to get there: Take the Market-Frankford Line eastbound from University City or Center City and get off at either Spring Garden or Girard Station, depending on which part of Northern Liberties you’re going to.
What you must see: The art. This neighborhood is where artisans first settled outside the city, and now public art adorns many of the exterior walls — and it’s still there even as much of the architecture changes from brick rowhomes to modern houses.
Good place for a bite: Honey’s – Stop by this famous Philly spot for a southern-style meal or for some homestyle brunch. It’s located near 4th and Fairmount.
Good place for a drink: The 700 – This dance club near 2nd and Fairmount has a bottom level where you can stand and have a drink and an upstairs where dancing takes place. It has the feel of a home upstairs, and the DJ sits in what was maybe possibly once the bathroom.
Described in five words or less: History, great restaurants, nightlife
Boundaries: Old City is bounded by Front Street to the east and 6th Street to the west and Florist Street to the north and Walnut Street to the south, according to the Old City District. The Delaware Waterfront between Walnut and Florist is unofficially considered part of the neighborhood, too.
How best to get there: From University City, take the Market-Frankford Line eastbound to 5th Street or 2nd Street. From Temple, take the Broad Street Line southbound and transfer at City Hall to the Market-Frankford Line heading eastbound to 5th Street or 2nd Street.
What you must see: City Tavern. The original building is long gone, but the history of the establishment dates back to the Revolutionary times. Find it at 138 S. 2nd St.
Good place for a bite: High Street on Market – Located near 3rd and Market streets, this place basically does upscale comfort food. And it’s delicious.
Good place for a drink: National Mechanics – This pub near 3rd and Market Streets has a fantastic menu, good drinks and a cool atmosphere. The music usually starts bumping late on weekends.
Pennsport/ Queen Village
Described in five words or less: Quaint, residential, development boom
Boundaries: Pennsport is defined as Washington Avenue to the North, Snyder to the South, the Delaware River to the East and Fourth Street to the West. Queen Village is South Street to the north, the Delaware to the east, Washington Avenue to the south and Sixth Street to the west.
How best to get there: If you’re coming from University City, you can catch the 40 bus at 34th and Spruce streets and take it east on South Street until you get to 4th and South. From there, you can walk south into Queen Village. If you’re coming from Temple, catch the 47 bus at 8th and Berks and take it south to 8th and Catharine. From there, you can walk east to get into Queen Village.
What you must see: The Mummers Museum. If you’re into Philadelphia’s New Year’s Day parade, check out the museum in Pennsport for the history of these costumed Mummers. Also, you should probably just see South Street at some point because it’s, well, South Street.
Good place for a bite: Federal Donuts – The OG FedNuts location is in Pennsport. Get some donuts and try the fried chicken at its location at 1219 S. 2nd St.
Good place for a drink: New Wave Cafe – There are plenty of bars to hit on South Street, but this neighborhood spot actually has a great beer list and solid bar food. Find it near 3rd and Catharine Streets.
Described in five words or less: Ritzy, trendy, exclusive
Boundaries: The Rittenhouse Square neighborhood is loosely bounded between Market and South streets to the north and south, Broad Street to the east and 21st Street to the west. Some consider the Fitler Square area to be a part of Rittenhouse.
How best to get there: From University City, take the Market-Frankford Line eastbound to 15th Street. From Temple, take the Broad Street Line southbound to City Hall or Walnut-Locust.
What you must see: Little Pete’s. This famous little diner near 17th and Locust streets is just that — a diner. But it’s in Rittenhouse Square, and may be slated for closure because of a new luxury hotel. Also, Rittenhouse Square Park. Obviously.
Good place for a bite: Village Whiskey – Get. The. Burger. It’s located at 118 S. 20th St.
Good place for a drink: Drinker’s – This is basically your ultimate college bar. Cheap drinks and a rowdy atmosphere on the weekends. It’s located near 19th and Chestnut.
Washington Square West/ Gayborhood
Described in five words or less: Thriving, charming, LGBT-friendly
Boundaries: Washington Square West is roughly bounded by Broad Street to the west, 6th Street to the east, Walnut Street to the north and South Street to the south.
How best to get there: If you’re coming from University City, take the Market-Frankford line eastbound to 15th Street and either walk to Washington Square West from there (just a few blocks) or transfer onto the Broad Street line and go southbound for one or two stops to either the Walnut-Locust stop or the Lombard-South stop, depending on what your destination is. If you’re coming from Temple, take the Broad Street line southbound to either Walnut-Locust or Lombard-South.
What you must see: Washington Square. This beautiful park in the middle of Philadelphia holds a history that dates back to Revolutionary times. On the other end of the neighborhood is South Street, where you should check out the Philadelphia Magic Gardens to see indoor and outdoor spaces covered in mosaics.
Good place for a bite: Cheu Noodle Bar – You’ll find a ton of really nice, upscale restaurants in this part of downtown. But Cheu Noodle Bar won’t completely break the bank, and has reimagined ramen and Asian food like you’ve never had before. It’s near 10th and Locust.
Good place for a drink: Dirty Frank’s – You’re basically contractually required as a college student to visit this Philadelphia bar. Located at 13th and Pine, it’s a dive bar with cheap drinks, bar games and good company.
Woody’s – We’d be remiss if we didn’t put this multi-story gay bar on the list. It’s been named one of the best gay bars in the world. Bring your dancing shoes. It’s located near 13th and Chancellor.
PS: For information on what it’s like to live in a lot of the neighborhoods most inhabited by millennials, check out the Billy Penn Neighborhood Index which breaks down the safest, loudest and most livable neighborhoods.