Old City

Remember when you learned about the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress and the Liberty Bell in elementary school? That all happened right in Philadelphia’s Old City section! History prevails here, but Old City isn’t just for history buffs—it boasts a lively nightlife, filled with restaurants, shops and museums.

Photo © M. Kennedy for GPTMC

 

Insider Tips

Old City is accessible by public transit. It’s also within walking distance of Chinatown, Northern Liberties and South Street.

Check out the TRUST building (Third and Arch Sts.), a former bank which was also home to MTV’s “Real World: Philadelphia” cast.

If you’re looking for a tour to go on with parents or friends, stop in the Independence Visitor Center (Fifth and Market Sts.). A number of tours depart from here several times each day.

You may see signs on sides of buildings displaying “Olde City.” This just goes to show how historic this part of Philly truly is.

Reaching Old City by public transit is a cinch! Just take the Market-Frankford Line to the Fifth or Second St. stops.

Driving to the area? Old City has mostly paid parking, so be sure to bring cash and quarters.

If you love a crowd, check out Old City on the weekend, especially at night.


On a Budget


Franklin Fountain $$
116 Market St.
franklinfountain.com
215.627.1899
Modeled after classic ice cream parlors, even credit cards are too modern here, so bring cash.

 


Soy Café $
630 N. 2nd St.
Yelp.com
215.922.1003
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, this is the place to go. Make sure to try the homemade soy milk smoothies.

 

Study Spots


Independence National Historical Park (free)
143 S. 3rd St.
nps.gov/inde
215.965.2305
You know the Constitution was written here, but did you know it also makes for a tranquil study spot?

 


Old City Coffee $
221 Church St.
oldcitycoffee.com
215.629.9292
For its low price, we’d be surprised if this café’s java doesn’t get you movin’ and shakin’.

 


Café Ole $
147 N. Third St.
cafeole.com
215.627.2140
If you’re looking for a place to study with friends, there is seating both in and outdoors. This place can get busy, so be sure to grab a seat right away! There are a number of coffee flavors and tasty food options available, as well as free Wi-Fi, in case you need some distractions from your lab reports.

 

Outside Itch


Independence Carriage $$
Old City
membrane.com/
philanet/carriage

215.922.6840
Walking is nice, but if you really want to get an authentic 18th century Philadelphia experience, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

 


Penn’s Landing (free – $$$)
601 N. Columbus Blvd.
delawareriverevents.com
215.928.8801
Located along the Delaware River, Penn’s Landing offers a number of exciting events near Old City. Take in a concert at the Festival Pier (Spring Garden St. and Columbus Blvd.), go ice skating at the Blue Cross RiverRink (Market St. and Columbus Blvd.), or watch a movie under the stars at Great Plaza. Be sure to check out the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation for schedules throughout the year.

 

Elfreth’s Alley $
Second St., between Race and Arch
elfrethsalley.org
215.574.0560
This is THE oldest residential street in the nation, constructed in 1702. Although people still live here, some of the unused homes are open for tours. Visit the Elfreth’s Alley Museum (124 & 126 Elfreth’s Alley), at a mere $5 expense.

 

Arts & Culture


Mask and Wig $$
310 S. Quince St.
maskandwig.com
215.586.3729
The nation’s oldest collegiate all-male musical comedy troupe of UPenn is famous for their slap-stick humor mixed with socially aware farce.

 


Arden Theatre Company $$$
40 N. 2nd St.
ardentheatre.org
215.922.1122
For a first-rate Philly theater experience, give this venue a go. Founded in 1988, not only does the Arden produce various theater pieces (including family-friendly pieces for when your family visits), it also offers $5 student rush tickets available five minutes before a performance.

 


Brave New Worlds $$
45 N. Second St.
bravenewworldscomics.com
215.925.6525
This is a true utopia for comic-lovers. From mainstream selections to local indie comics and graphic novels—even a vast selection of quirky lamps and figurines—this shop has it all. Interested in creating your own comics? Check out the selection of comic paper and mylar bags in the back of the store to get started on your new-found hobby.

 

Seriously


The Clay Studio $$$
139 N. 2nd St.
theclaystudio.org
215.925.3453
Not only can you buy hand-made ceramics, you can also take a range of classes on ceramic arts. It’s a unique experience for art lovers and enthusiasts.

 


Chemical Heritage
Foundation (free)

315 Chestnut St.
chemheritage.org
215.925.2222
Sure your professor can lecture about chemistry, but why not take matters into your own hands! Learn about the history of chemistry and how it shapes modern life in one of the best collections of chemistry equipment and history around. Collections here include paintings and fine art, photography, scientific instruments and much more.

 


Humphrys Flag
Company $$$

238 Arch St.
bannersasap.com
215.922.0510
Where better to personally manufacture a flag than across the street from the Betsy Ross House? Established in 1864 to continue the legacy of the nation’s most famous flag-maker, this company has crafted quality flags and banners for major corporations. If you’re looking to add an original touch to your place, look no further than these experts.

 

Don’t Miss


Sazz Vintage Clothing $$$
38 N. Third St.
sazzvintage.com
215.923.7299

 


Tartes Fine Cakes
and Pastries $
212 Arch St.
urbanspoon.com
215.625.2510

 


National Constitution Center $$
525 Arch St.
constitutioncenter.org
215.409.6600

 


AKA Music $$
27 N. 2nd St.
Yelp.com
215.922.3855

 


Swag Boutique $$
935 N. 2nd St.
swagphilly.com
267.888.7246