A kiosk that dispenses short stories can be found at SEPTA Regional Rail hubs

Between returns to the office and holiday festivities, Center City is a more popular destination than it’s been in years. Foot traffic, occupancy and retail are closing in on pre-pandemic levels, and are expected to continue growing next year.

Whether you’re heading to a downtown destination or just passing through, we found a few ways to make that trip more fun.

You could peruse free literature that looks like a CVS receipt. You could use bike share, but make it badass. You could play tourist, or take the long route home. Check out four options to spark up your travels below.

Read a short story on Regional Rail

Take a look around on a SEPTA Regional Rail train and you’re likely to see dozens of heads tilted down staring at a smartphone screen scrolling through social media or tapping away at Candy Crush.

But those seeking a break from the blue light might want to look up during their rush to the platform and find one of the short story dispensers placed in Jefferson and Suburban stations, courtesy of French publishing house Short Édition. These unassuming machines, which exist all over the globe, provide free reading material.

These dispensers allow you to choose from three different lengths — each option takes roughly one, three or five minutes to read. Once you’ve made a selection, the machine quickly prints a story onto a narrow length of paper.

Take out an Indego e-bike

If you spend any amount of time in Philadelphia, you’ve probably seen people riding around on bicycles belonging to the city’s bike share program, Indego. (It got the name from its corporate sponsor, Independence Blue Cross.)

The system debuted in 2015, and a few years later got an upgrade, with the addition of electric bicycles to the Indego fleet. It costs an extra 20 cents a minute to rent one of these, but it’ll take fewer minutes to reach your destination.

Indego has been expanding to more locations throughout the city, and plans to continue adding stations over the next five years. Check out this map to find one.

Be a tourist on the Phlash bus

Philadelphia’s Phlash bus was designed to get riders around the city’s many tourist attractions, but who says visitors get to have all the fun? Commuters who have a SEPTA Key can ride the Phlash for free.

Even if you don’t have a Key, you can still enjoy free Friday rides through the end of this year, which is also the end of the Phlash season.

Credit: J. Fusco for Visit Philly

Plan your route around public art

Philadelphia is home to over 4,000 murals, with artists each year adding new ones to neighborhoods throughout the city.

That creates plenty of opportunities for planning your travels around seeing grand works of art that live outside museum walls, whether you’re walking, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, or riding a trolley.

You might even take the long way and go on this stoney-baloney tour of Philly’s trippiest artworks (save that for the after-work commute).