America has a well-documented culture of drinking to get drunk. Many social events in Philadelphia — most social events in Philadelphia? — are tailored to the imbiber. Museums have “adult nights” featuring cocktails with artsy twists; improv shows encourage bringing wine boxes and six-packs; dog parks transform into beer gardens. Even water ice isn’t safe from the tipsy treatment.
When you’re someone who genuinely enjoys drinking and don’t have a difficult relationship with alcohol, that’s great. However, if you’re not into boozing, you may feel ignored. All those nightlife listicles, entertainment guides and event promotions are suddenly much less useful.
But some local businesses have inclusive nightlife down — and several know how to cater to both the nondrinkers and drinkers at the same time.
Here are some of our top picks for Philly’s non-drinking crowd.
(Have suggestions? Send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org)
🎭 Become a regular of a different kind
Guess what you’ve been saving all of this time that you haven’t been floundering on watered-down vodka concoctions? Money.
Splurge on a season pass at Opera Philadelphia, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre or The Wilma Theater, which have established a reputation for making audiences clap from curtain rise to drop with their impressive selections of performers, speakers, musicals, events and plays.
Want to watch something edgier and support local talent? Try becoming a groupie for some of these companies:
- Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater
- Orbiter 3
- Theatre Exile
- New Freedom Theatre
- La Fábrica
- ReVamp Collective
- Raw Street Productions
- InterAct Theatre Company
- Lantern Theater Company
- Curio Theatre Company
- 11th Hour Theatre Company
- Iron Age Theatre
- Almanac Dance Circus Theatre
- 1812 Productions
- Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective
- Arden Theatre Company
- Azuka Theatre
- The Bearded Ladies Cabaret
🎟 Sit back and enjoy the show
Rev up your movie night with a film that pushes the limits of genre and technical cinematic craft at PhilaMOCA, an avant-garde foreign film at Lightbox Film Center, a throwback with some trivia at Prince Theater, a movie under the stars at Clark Park and a time-warp along with Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Once you’re through attending each and every one of these motion picture experiences, don’t forget to follow event listings at your closest museum or college campus (they frequently offer movie screenings open to the public followed by a discussion).
👾 Game on
Bee-boo-beep. There are several spots in Philly ideal for game fanatics, whether they’re into booze or not.
Barcade, the forthcoming Thirsty Dice, Dave & Buster’s and Key-Stone Mini-Golf are a few great options. Then there also axe throwing, escape rooms, murder mysteries, bouldering, quizzo nights, ping-pong, indoor golf simulators and trampoline parks — all epic ways to bust boredom.
🍳 Bon appétit
Want to impress your friends with fierce flambéing or badass baking? Learn from the pros before you invite them over for a fancy adult dinner party by scheduling a couple of courses at La Cucina at the Market, COOK, Greengrow Community Kitchen, The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College or the Culinary Literacy Center.
🎳 Revert to the classics
For those of you who aren’t afraid of falling, rollerblading or ice skating — depending on the season — at the BlueCross RiverRink is an awesome way to spend the night gliding along the Delaware to upbeat tunes. And if you get tired, ice cream or hot chocolate on the boardwalk can pep you right back to life.