Summertime in West Philadelphia

If you’re not “West Philadelphia born and raised,” it’s time to check out this thriving neighborhood. It has come a long way since the days of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and is getting livelier everyday. With so many inexpensive activities, you would be missing out if you didn’t spend a day there this summer.

Located west of the Schuylkill River and next to Center City, West Philly is easily accessible by public transit. Either hop on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line towards 69th Street (be sure to get off at 30th, 34th, or 40th Street!), take bus 42 or 21, or take trolley line 11, 13, 34, or 36.

The best urban neighborhoods  have green space and because of Clark Park‘s nine lush acres, West Philly has plenty of it. Feel free to relax with a friend or a good book in the shade, take a walk on one of the park’s many paths, and stop by for all of the special events happening this summer. Each Saturday of the year from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays during the summer from 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Philadelphia Food Trust sponsors a farmers’ market in the park. One Saturday each month between April and October, the park transforms into Uhuru Flea Market, with a variety of vendors selling anything from unique jewelry to home goods and more.

Clark Park isn’t the only green space home to this summer’s outdoor events. The University City District will host the 40th Street Summer Series in the field behind the Walnut Street Library. Happening on the last Saturday of every month, these performances can range from ballet to orchestra and anything in between. Bring a blanket to lounge on and enjoy these free evenings out.

If you want to get a taste of the local restaurants and shops,the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, happening on September 24, is the place to spend the evening. Located on Baltimore Avenue between 43rd and 51st Street, many local eateries and small boutiques bring a bit of their shop to the street and sell $1 treats. Besides fantastic deals, expect live music and entertainment.

All of this walking is going to make you hungry. Between all the restaurants in the neighborhood, one of them is sure to have the cuisine you’re in the mood for. Craving Mexican food? Honest Tom’s Taco Shop offers inexpensive yet delicious tacos and burritos for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Looking for delicious local food in a restaurant with dog-themed decor? (We know you are). Founded in 1983, the White Dog Cafe uses environmentally sustainable ingredients to make some of the best food in the neighborhood. Do you want to dine in an atmosphere that is a bit out of the ordinary? Grab a drink or dine at William Street Common (21+); the space emulates an indoor beer garden with communal tables and rustic furniture. Guests are welcome to use the restaurant’s boardgames for their own game night or join in on the Quizzomania fun, a quiz game equipped with prize giveaways, hosted Wednesdays at 9 p.m. They are known for their prix-fixe Sunday brunch, which comes with three drinks and bottomless donuts. Something to remember: at William Street Common,  you don’t have to tip your server because the management pays the servers an hourly wage.

If you think nice restaurants are out of your budget, the 11th Annual University City Dining Days will prove you wrong. Running between July 16 and July 26, roughly 30 restaurants will be offering a three course prix-fixe menu for either $15, $25, or $35. Feel free to eat out a few times during Dining Days and taste the diverse and inventive food Philly has to offer.

West Philly isn’t only home to unique restaurants: they also have their fair share of quirky shops. The Last Word Bookshop is packed from floor to ceiling with used books. If you visit often enough, you will get to pet and feed the fat black-and-white cat named Lester who can be found roaming around the shop or perched on one of the many bookshelves. The A Space is a community center which hosts anything from clothing swaps to potlucks to meditation nights. Take a peek at the event calendar to see what The A Space has planned for the summer! Most events are free or cost a few dollars but donations are always appreciated.

West Philly has a packed summer planned for all of you!