Minds of the next generation: Welcome to Philadelphia.
Fall college classes are starting, which means our university-filled region is welcoming thousands of new students.
Some of you hail from the city or the surrounding suburbs, but there’s also plenty of folks who are new to Philadelphia area. Speaking from personal experience, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. We’re here to help.
Think of this as a guide to your first round of exploration. There are a few tourist attractions (the better ones) and certainly doesn’t include everything you should see in the city, but it should get you well on your way to being a knowledgeable resident.
Here’s a beginner’s bucket list of things to do and see in Philly.
Bike along the Schuylkill River Trail
Don’t have a two wheeler? You can rent one for the day with Indego.
Lay in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park
Do it before the park closes for the season on Sept. 29.
Take in the quaint beauty of Jewelers’ Row (especially in the wintertime)
You won’t know which twinkles more, the diamonds or the lights.
Tour the traditional Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Bonus points if you do it when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Hang out on the water at Cherry Street Pier
This newly restored public space boasts a bunch of different events: fireworks, free movies, markets.
Cool off at your community pool… next summer
They close for the season pretty early, but Philly has a ton of free neighborhood pools that are basically paradise in the summer heat.
Take in the masterpiece that is Philly AIDS Thrift
A seriously killer thrift shop — eccentric items, cheap prices and all for a good cause. Don’t miss the stuffed animal tree outside.
Get good eats at Reading Terminal Market
The best coffee, cannoli, cheesesteaks, roast pork, pretzels, cheese, sausage, and everything else you can think of, all under one roof in a bustling marketplace.
Decorate your dorm at Open House
But be prepared to empty your wallet.
Pick up some gems at Halloween
This rowhome-turned-jewelry-store is a Philly must see.
Dress like a trendy grandpa at Retrospect
Vintage and second-hand clothing with all the magical weirdness of South Street to boot.
Fill up your bag for cheap on Baltimore Avenue
The University City District runs regular dollar strolls in the Cedar Park neighborhood.
Visit other neighborhoods
Experience sensory overstimulation at the 9th Street Italian Market
Curbside vendors in one of the nation’s oldest open-air markets offer cheap produce, freshmade pasta, just-pressed tortillas, hundreds of cheeses, the city’s best barbacoa, paper-thin prosciutto and plenty of dessert. The good smells alone are worth a stroll through.
Explore the textiles of Fabric Row
The historic Fourth Street corridor offers an outstanding collection of cloth. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s a pleasure to look it all over — and there’s cafes and bookshops along the way.
Ride the 23 bus up the mostly cobblestoned Germantown Avenue and you’ll find remarkably intact Underground Railroad stop and Revolutionary War sites.
Enjoy the eats in Chinatown
Lots of yummy noodles, inexpensive baked goods, great banh mi, plus boba tea and rolled ice cream. You can’t miss the giant, decorative gate at 10th and Arch.
Be a hipster in Fishtown
A neighborhood where the new and old unite. On Frankford Avenue you’ll find a warm mix of River Wards lifers and brand new city residents.
Get in some arts and culture
Stare into the fragmented beauty of the Magic Gardens
The Isaiah Zagar masterpiece is basically the first stop for any and all Philly tourists.
Ride the Market-Frankford Line west to see mural love letters
You can find a lot of cool stuff while riding SEPTA.
Listen to some live tunes at Union Transfer
A solidly intimate concert venue where big names still play. The building once functioned as a place to store baggage for the railway company. That’s Philly for ya.
Get some drama in your life at the Kimmel Center
Hamilton? Legally Blonde? The Wiggles? All this and more.
See some famous artworks at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Founded in 1876 to celebrate America’s 100th birthday, the PMA is an essential stop in Philly. It’s not free for college kids anymore, but it’s definitely worth a visit — don’t miss the collection of swords and armor on the second floor.
Get spooked at Eastern State
You get to walk through the corridors of the closed prison, once known for the cruel practice of constant solitary confinement — and housing Al Capone.
Embrace some oft-overlooked history at the Colored Girls Museum
One of very few venues where you’ll get a comprehensive look at the African diaspora, through the lens of young girls.
Read up at America’s first library
As its name suggests, Philly’s collection of Free Library branches are totally free to the public. And your library card can get you a ton of cool stuff.
Sing karaoke in Chinatown
No shortage of venues in the neighborhood to relieve your academic stress with song.
Ride to the top of City Hall
Or as we experts call it: William Penn’s hat.
Break stuff at the Rage Room
Trust us, it’s fun. And only a little scary.
Throw pottery at The Clay Studio
Looking for a hobby? Try this out, but be warned: it’s harder than it looks.
Defeat your new friends at Thirsty Dice
Tons of board games at your disposal, plus a menu of beer and food. Nothing says you love your roommate like crushing her in The Game of Life.