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Philadelphia Neighborhoods

City Hall marks the geographic heart of the city, with neighborhoods sprawling out in all directions. Center City is Philly’s premier neighborhood, housing the downtown and business sections of the city, with smaller pocket neighborhoods woven throughout. To the east of center lies Old City and farther north, Northern Liberties. South Philadelphia lies, as expected, south of City Hall, and stretches all the way to the city’s sports complexes and industrial shipyards. With the exception of University City to the west and the Art Museum district to the north, there’s not much reason for visitors to venture in either direction. 


Dating back to the 1870s, Philadelphia’s Chinatown is relatively small, spanning only six city blocks between Vine and Arch streets and Ninth and 12th streets.  But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character. Only steps away from Center City, Chinatown teems with life—with 50 restaurants, dozens of grocery stores, specialty shops and gift stores, and over 3,000 residents. Many tourists come to see the Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch streets and the murals scattered throughout this Philadelphia neighborhood, while locals come for the best Chinese food in the city.


Named for the leafy square it surrounds, Rittenhouse is undoubtedly Philadelphia’s poshest address. Encompassing the pricey shops on Walnut Street, and high-end restaurants peppered throughout its streets, this is the place to go to see and be seen (whether you’re lunching at Parc or swinging a shopping bag from Tiffany's). Aside from its commercial appeal, this neighborhood north of Center City also has beautiful, historic residential brownstones and small museums, like the Rosenbach Museum and Library.

Midtown Village

The neighborhood where Benjamin Franklin flew his kite is now Philadelphia’s gayborhood. Just east of Center City, Midtown Village encompasses only a few streets—comprised of boutique shops, notable restaurants and gay bars—with its heart located in the stretch of 13th Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets. Neighborhood mainstays include Woody’s, a multi-level dance club that’s just as fun for a girls' night out as it is for members of the gay community, and Tavern on Camac, a piano bar that plays tunes ranging from Billy Joel to songs from the "Little Mermaid" soundtrack and claims to be one of the oldest GLBT bars in the country.

South Street

This pocket neighborhood, which marks the southern boundary of Center City, hums constantly with a bohemian vibe.  It gets its namesake from the spirited stretch of South Street, spanning from Front to 10th streets, where murals and mosaics climb up buildings housing quirky—and sometimes kinky—shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The nightlife scene here is vivid, with nearly 50 bars in the area, making it the perfect place for a bar-hopping bender. Luckily, the neighborhood is also home to Jim’s Steaks, which serves up cheesesteaks long after last call.

South Philly

Home to Philly sports, the Italian market and the cheesesteak, South Philly is also ground zero for the city’s tenacious, dark horse persona. Largely residential, this nearly 4-mile area was predominantly home to Italian and Irish immigrants, and is still a cultural mix. Grab a seat at a Phillies game and root for the home team, or make like Rocky and head to the Italian Market, where you can shop from outdoor produce vendors, butcher shops and cheese mongers.

Northern Liberties

Formerly home to industrial businesses like factories and breweries, this neighborhood northeast of Center City is now known as a burgeoning bar scene and hipster haven. While the surrounding area remains more than slightly sketchy, the heart of Northern Liberties is safe. The Piazza at Schmidts hosts weekend farmers markets where funky handmade crafts are just as present as fruits and vegetables, and an array of some of the city's best restaurants line the streets. 

Art Museum

This aptly named neighborhood northwest of the city center contains the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art. For a truly local feel head farther north, past tree-lined residential streets to Fairmount Avenue, where artsy boutique shops and independent restaurants are nestled in the looming, castle-shaped shadow of Eastern State Penitentiary—a forbidding former prison that now hosts historical tours and functions as a haunted house come fall.

Old City

Quaint Old City, with its horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets, feels like a city within a city. Situated along the Delaware River, it’s where William Penn and the Quakers first settled, so it’s no wonder that it houses more history than any other part of the city. If you’re looking to learn, check out the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley or Benjamin Franklin’s grave. The neighborhood also has a thriving nightlife scene that skews more sophisticated than South Street, with bars and art galleries open late.

Center City

One of the most centrally located Philadelphia neighborhoods, and the vital downtown, Center City encompasses both work and play. With around 92,000 residents, the numbers skyrocket up to nearly 250,000 during the work week, when people come from New Jersey and the suburbs to fill offices in the blue glass buildings that punctuate the skyline. But when the clock hits 5, workers file out of the buildings and head to the nearby parks, bars, shops and restaurants to relax, alongside the rest of the city.