Bella Vista/Queen Village

Two of Philly’s most-explored neighborhoods—Bella Vista and Queen Village—feature historical sites, cultural festivals, coffee shops and art galleries sprinkled among residential homes. The main attraction, South Street, is a bohemian wonderland.

Photo © R. Kennedy for GPTMC

Insider Tips

Early birds should be wary of seeking breakfast on South Street. Many restaurants don’t open until lunch—sometimes even dinner.

If you’re looking for something to eat after midnight, head over to the cash-only Lorenzo & Sons for the biggest slice you’ve ever seen.


On a Budget

Mostly Books $
529 Bainbridge Street
yelp.com
215.238.9838
Shelves stacked with books, a full stock of VHS tapes and DVDs and boxes of vintage photographs make guests of all ages feel nostalgic. Mostly Books also gives store credit for used goods.

 

Repo Records $
538 South Street
reporecords.com
215.627.3775
Sure, you can download the latest album with a click of a mouse, but there’s nothing like browsing through rows of new and used CDs. Repo Records’ inventory is constantly changing, so stop in often. Don’t miss the basement filled with LPs, all for under $5 each.

 

Philadelphia AIDS Thrift $
514 Bainbridge Street
phillyaidsthrift.com
215.992.3186
Browse through donated items for hidden treasures—something is always on sale. All proceeds go to local organizations fighting against AIDS.

 

Steaks on South $
308 South Street
steaksonsouth.com
215.992.7880
Walking along South Street can work up an appetite. Satisfy your craving at this local staple, where even vegetarians can devour a cheesesteak.

 


Copabanana $
344 South Street
copabanana.com
215.923.6180
Try the popular Spanish fries at this classic South Street spot.

 

Study Spots

Bean Exchange Coffee House $
650 Bainbridge Street
beanexchange.com
215.592.1960
This coffee house is a great place to grab a cappuccino and hit the books. Plenty of outdoor seating and delicious snacks—muffins, biscotti—will keep your mind sharp.

 

Starr Garden Park (free)
600 Lombard Street
Grab a park benches or spread out on the grass for a dose of fresh air. The area contains two playgrounds, but they are separated from the rest of the park by shrubs, allowing for quiet serenity while you work. Pack a picnic or bring baseball gear for a fun study break.

 


Cianfrani Park (free)
8th and Fitzwater Streets
Crank out your homework in peace on one of this neighborhood park’s many benches. Don’t miss its annual Fall Festival.

 


Fitzwater Café $$
728 South 7th Street
yelp.com
215.629.0428
This café has delicious yet inexpensive food, but seating fills up fast, so claim your study spot early.

 

Outside Itch


Seger Park (free)
Lombard Street between 11th and 10th Streets
Although it acts largely as a community playground, Seger has plenty to offer the college crowd: namely, its fantastic tennis court. For an annual membership fee of just $30, you can enjoy the court for up to three hours each week. When you’re not playing tennis, bring the dog to the Seger Park Dog Run.

 


Jon’s Bar & Grille $$
300 South Street
jonsbarandgrille.com
215.592.1390
South Street is the ideal place to people watch. Enjoy a scrumptious meal at Jon’s while taking in the scene from one of the many outdoor seats. Can’t find it? Just look for the mural of Larry Fine of Three Stooges fame—he was born at this location in 1902!

 


South Street
Pedestrian Bridge (free)
South Street and Columbus Boulevard
Cross from South Street to Columbus Boulevard from this busy pedestrian bridge, where giant stick-figure sculptures lead the way.

 

Arts & Culture


The Expressive Hand $$
622 South 9th Street
expressivehand.com
267.519.2626
Fancy yourself an artist? This paint-your-own-pottery store provides everything you need to create a precious keepsake—paints, stamps, stencils, glazing and firing. All you need to bring is your creativity. Walk-ins are welcome to this friendly studio, where prices range from $5 to $60 per piece.

 


Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens $
1020 South Street
phillymagicgardens.org
215.733.0390
For a mere $5, you can wander an indoor gallery and an enormous outdoor mosaic maze, all created by artist Isaiah Zagar. This memorable landmark is truly a must-see.

 


Atomic City Comics $$
638 South Street
bestphillycomics.com
215.625.9613
With a wide selection of trades and the biggest manga collection in Philly, this shop is perfect for any comic addict. The friendly staff and bustling environment only add to its appeal. Subscribe to its podcast, The Werd, for exclusive discounts.

 


First Person Arts $$
624 South 6th Street
firstpersonarts.org
267.402.2055
This place is all about the personal story. Recurring and special events throughout the year include storytelling competitions and memoir- and documentary-based showcases.

 


Theater of the Living Arts $$
334 South Street
livenation.com
215.922.1011
Simply known as the TLA, this venue originally served as a movie theater and now hosts both undiscovered and famous bands of all genres.

Seriously


Bistrot la Minette $$
623 South 6th Street
bistrotlaminette.com
215.925.8000
Don’t buy a plane ticket to enjoy Parisian cuisine—just visit the 600 block of South 6th Street for a traditional French dining experience. Continue your French fete at Crêperie Beau Monde (directly across the street at 624 South 6th Street), where you can indulge in sweet crepes.

 


Big Green Earth Store $$
934 South Street
267.909.8661
Bring out your environmental activist! From recycled purses to a recycled stereo system, this shop has everything you need to save the planet in style. Big Green Earth also provides bins for the proper disposal of difficult-to-recycle items.

 


Liberty Bellows
Accordion Store $$
814 South 9th Street
libertybellows.com
267.815.4407
If you’ve ever dreamed of being an accordion-playing superstar, this is the store for you. The friendly staff offers lessons for beginners.

 


Garland of Letters $$
527 South Street
yelp.com
215.923.5946
Those interested in the more spiritual side of life can browse self-help books, jewelry, New Age music and incense selections. Just look for the life-size lion sculpture out front.

 

Don’t Miss

 


House of Tea $$
720 South 4th Street
houseoftea.com
215.923.8327

 


Bluebond Guitars $$$
511 South 4th Street
215.829.1690

 

Eyes Gallery $$
402 South Street
eyesgallery.com
215.925.0193

 


Nocturnal Skate Shop $$
620 South 4th Street
nocturnalskateshop.com
215.922.3177

 


Habiba Studio of Middle Eastern Dance $$
611 South Leithgow Street
habibastudio.com
215.925.5436