University City * West Philly
0 minutes from the University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is a college town and University City is proof. Home to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, this neighborhood is always bustling with students. All work and no play—no way! UC has some fantastic dining options, renowned cultural opportunities and of course, shopping.
University City was initially the first suburb of Philadelphia, according to the University City District.
In the Pennsylvania Gazette’s “West Philadelphia Story,” it is mentioned that UC was founded in the 50s in attempts to persuade Penn faculty and their families to move into the neighborhood.
Broke and on a Budget:
With rotating art exhibits and weekly events (some of which are free), visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art (118 S. 36th St.) is a way you can get out and not feel guilty about spending money you don’t have. Check out the website calendar for a list of the current exhibits, as well as the schedules for Whatever Wednesdays; it changes every week. C, $
Housed in an old brownstone off of Penn’s campus, House of Our Own (3920 Spruce St.) is crammed with all different genres and authors. With all the money spent on textbooks, the last thing you probably want to do is go and spend more on books for fun. The bookstore offers books, new and used, at really great prices. The only bad thing is that you may not have enough time to browse through everything on your first visit. C, $
The Second Mile Center (214 S. 45th St.) is split four ways—the main store (shoes and clothes), the furniture store, the book store (books and electronics) and the bric-a-brac store. It offers pretty good deals, but just keep in mind that as with any thrift store, things can be hit-or-miss. C, $
Take a break from the library and study at the James G. Kaskey Memorial Garden (38th St. & Locust Walk) on UPenn’s campus. The garden, a.k.a. “the biopond,” is open to the public and offers secluded space with benches (some have tables), so you can really focus. C, free
If being outside isn’t your thing, perhaps you can grab a table and coffee at Green Line Café (4239 Baltimore Avenue). There are two other locations in the area (4426 Locust St. and 3649 Lancaster Ave.) that offer free Wi-Fi, in case you need to surf the Web for a bit. Each of the three locations is open every day of the week, which can be great near crunch time. Make sure to have cash on hand for the assortment of drinks and food, which are necessary for any study session. C, $
Clark Park (43rd St. & Baltimore Ave.) is a great place to escape when you need to get outdoors. While you can go and relax with a book, there are usually events going on, like the Clark Park Famer’s Market, flea markets and music performances. Grab your sunglasses and get ready to people watch! C, free
Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, you can appreciate the lush gardens and beauty of the Morris Arboretum (100 E. Northwestern Ave.). See plants from different continents and the sculptures that sit in the gardens; be inspired or at least de-stress you’re your hectic schedule. Make sure to take your school ID for a discount admission, which includes free parking. C, $$
Arts & Culture:
One of the best places to catch a theater production or an improv troop is Drexel University’s Mandell Theatre (33rd & Chestnut sts). Whether you’re cheering on your friends or looking for an artsy-night out, pick up tickets for events like student concerts and dance performances. C, $$
Writers, pay attention–the Kelly Writers House (3805 Locust Walk) is the place you want to know about. The writing center embraces the art and culture of writing by hosting readings, film screenings, lectures, workshops, webcasts and musical performances each week. Check out the calendar to see what’s happening—you never know who will be dropping by. Some events may require you to R.S.V.P. C, $
Some know International House (3701 Chestnut St.) for student housing, others know it for the various arts and culture programs it hosts. I-House shows avant-garde films, has two art galleries with local artists’ work and other programming for students. Make sure to check out the events calendar to see who or what is playing that evening. C, $
Instead of doing the same thing week after week, why not find your inner 10-year-old at University Pinball (4008 Spruce St.). The arcade has a mix of old and new school games (Ms. PacMan and skeeball), plus four pool tables in the back and a photo machine. The one thing you want to remember besides your money is to bring your I.D.; the arcade has curfew restrictions starting around 9 p.m. C, $
Sports fans, this is a must-see. Dating back to 1927, UPenn’s Palestra (220 S. 32nd St.) is the place to be to watch a game—whether it be basketball, volleyball or even wrestling. You can even learn more about the Palestra’s history in the documentary, “The Palestra: The Cathedral of Basketball,” which was written and directed by a Penn graduate. C, $$
Abner’s Cheesesteaks of University City
3813 Chestnut St.
3736 Spruce St.
4423 Chestnut St.
The Last Word Bookshop
220 S. 40th St.
Lovers & Madmen
28 S. 40th St.
4013 Walnut St.
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
4207 Walnut St.
4014 Walnut St.