Coffee, bowling, and getting vaxxed: What Google trends show about Philly in 2021

We regret to inform you that another year has passed.

phillyskyline-nov2021-schuylkill-sm
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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Philadelphia in 2021 was all about getting vaccinated, drinking coffee, and buying houses, according to Google trends — with some beautification, bowling, and ice cream thrown in.

The past 12 months were anything but easy, with the pandemic refusing to go away and gun violence continuing its frightening rise. Despite that, the current outlook for many is an improvement from last December, when vaccines were scarce, democracy was being challenged, and only essential businesses were allowed to welcome customers inside.

How’d we get here? As anyone who’s hastily scrubbed their browser history knows, what you search for can reveal a lot about you. One way to peek at the psyche of a whole population: Google’s just-released “Year in Search.”

In addition to a global recap, the search giant analyzed data to discover the top 10 trending topics in specific cities. These terms show searches that had a high spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2021, as compared to 2020.

While Philly has some similarities with peers, there are also a few unique standouts.

Check out the list below, and read on for some comparisons to trends in Chicago, DC, NYC, Boston, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.

Philly’s top trending ‘near me’ searches for 2021

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Coffee near me
  4. Movies near me
  5. Houses for sale near me
  6. Nail salons near me
  7. Hair salons near me
  8. Laundromat near me
  9. Ice cream near me
  10. Bowling near me

Unsurprisingly, “COVID vaccine near me” was the top search in every city we looked at. It also ranks No. 1 across the whole of Pennsylvania (about 66% of Pa. adults are fully vaxxed, vs. 76% in Philly).

But not all cities were searching for COVID testing as eagerly as Philadelphia, where it can still be frustratingly difficult to find one. Is it easier to get tested in DC and Boston? Maybe; that’s where “Testing near me” ranked fourth instead of second.

No. 3 on Philly’s list, “coffee near me,” is an outlier. In DC, coffee ranks eighth, in Boston it’s ninth, and it doesn’t even crack the top 10 in Chicago, L.A., NYC, or Pittsburgh.

What gives? It might mean Philadelphians are that much more desperate to get their caffeine jolt. Also worth considering: we might not have enough places to find it. Philly has been found to have the third-fewest coffee shops per capita when stacked up against other major U.S. cities — although we also have the fewest Starbucks, so it’s kind of win-win.

Philadelphia’s fifth place entry, “Houses for sale near me” connects with all the headlines about the city’s hot real estate market. No other city has real estate on its top 10 list (unless you count “Haunted houses” hanging out at No. 6 in Pittsburgh).

The rush to buy a home in the Philly region led to a record high median sales price of over $325,000 this summer. The surge could also contribute to the displacement of some longtime residents. The high rank of the “near me” search could be a combination of people worried about gentrification, current owners doing price comparisons while deciding whether to sell, or people looking to further invest in their own neighborhoods.

Beauty salon searches show up on all the cities’ 2021 trending lists, though manicures appear more popular in fashion-conscious New York and DC, where “Nail salons near me” ranked second overall.

When it comes to entertainment, searches for “Movies near me” trended everywhere — why not, with theaters reopening after months forced to stay closed — but Philly is the only city in this group with bowling on the list, and the only other except Chicago that put effort into searching for ice cream.

What do people in other cities do for fun? DC denizens sought out dispensaries, New Yorkers looked for hookah lounges, and Boston was hankering for fast food. And we can’t forget Pittsburghers’ haunted house fetish.

One other unique term on Philly’s list: “Laundromats near me.” Since it’s the only major U.S. city without a street sweeping program, it’s not a stretch to assume other places are less dirty.

Maybe that’ll be different in the future? Here’s to a cleaner, greener 2022.

Top trending ‘near me’ searches for 2021 in various locations

Pennsylvania

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Movies near me
  4. Bars near me
  5. Hair Salon near me
  6. Bowling near me
  7. Nail salons near me
  8. Brunch near me
  9. Amusement parks near me
  10. Escape room near me

Philadelphia

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Coffee near me
  4. Movies near me
  5. Houses for sale near me
  6. Nail salons near me
  7. Hair salons near me
  8. Laundromat near me
  9. Ice cream near me
  10. Bowling near me

Chicago

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Bars near me
  4. Movies near me
  5. Tattoo shops near me
  6. Library near me
  7. Places to eat near me
  8. Hair salons near me
  9. Ice cream near me
  10. Dine in restaurants near me

Washington DC

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Nail salon near me
  3. Gas station near me
  4. Covid testing near me
  5. Urgent care near me
  6. Dispensary near me
  7. Bars near me
  8. Coffee near me
  9. Places to eat near me
  10. Hotels near me

New York City

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Nail Salon near me
  4. Movies near me
  5. Bars near me
  6. Tattoo shops near me
  7. Hookah lounge near me
  8. Driving school near me
  9. Brunch near me
  10. Best restaurants near me

Boston

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Restaurants near me
  3. Breakfast near me
  4. Covid testing near me
  5. Bars near me
  6. Urgent care near me
  7. Nail salon near me
  8. Fast food near me
  9. Coffee near me
  10. Liquor store near me

Los Angeles

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Movies near me
  4. Things to do near me
  5. Fire near me
  6. Korean bbq near me
  7. Power outage near me
  8. Nail salon near me
  9. Tattoo shops near me
  10. Bars near me

Pittsburgh

  1. Covid vaccine near me
  2. Covid testing near me
  3. Coffee near me
  4. Urgent care near me
  5. Gas stations near me
  6. Haunted Houses near me
  7. Bars near me
  8. Breakfast near me
  9. Grocery store near me
  10. Jobs near me

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