Philadelphia seems to constantly be caught between being a miniature New York City and having its own unique feel unlike any other city in the country. Comparing it to New York isn’t completely inaccurate but to say it’s simply a smaller version of it is a severe understatement. Philly has a heartbeat that is all its own; and anyone that’s had the pleasure of visiting this charming city can attest to that. So if the city of “brotherly love” has been calling your name, here are some great neighborhoods to call home.
South Street is Philadelphia's version of Greenwich Village. Starting from Penn’s Landing to 10th street, South Street has an abundance of entertainment for all ages. From live music venues, great restaurants and quirky boutiques - this is the perfect neighborhood for a young transplant to experience the city. Known for the famous Theater of the Living Arts, a venue that features alternative and mainstream musical acts ranging from spoken word to old-school hip hop, there is no shortage of culturally eclectic activities to be immersed in. Adding to this neighborhood’s charm is the Magic Garden - gorgeous mosaics, made from old kitchen tiles, glassware, and even an old bike wheel. From a spontaneous stop to a memorable night in the city, South Street has something for everyone.
There’s a reason why this part of the city is called “old”. Considered Philadelphia’s first neighborhood, this is where the historic accounts of the Quaker settlements took place. Also home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, this neighborhood is full of history to be experienced first-hand. Considered more upscale than South Street, Old City is known for the best collection of art galleries in the East Coast. With numerous restaurants lining Chestnut and Market streets, from notable chefs such as Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Jose Garces, you can spend the entire day meandering the cobble-stoned streets with a full belly. If you favor classic to trendy, Old City is your match.
If you’re seeking the perfect balance between old-time charm and new-school trends, Queens Village is for you. The charming architecture, waterfront location and welcoming vibe is one-part city, one-part small town. This unique area used to be a working-class suburb but became part of the city in the mid- 1800s. The best part of Queens Village is that it’s easier to navigate by foot or bicycle than by a car, making it especially easy to explore the restaurants, shops and breweries in the area.
Manayunk originates from the Native American term for "where we go to drink." Consequently, Main Street in Manayunk has the most affordable and lively bars and restaurants frequented by the 20-somethings of the city. Philadelphia's Main Street also boasts more than 65 galleries and affordable boutiques. With great live music bursting into the streets, it’s not abnormal to find hundreds of people strolling down the walkways and enjoying this urban hub of Philadelphia. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, Manayunk may not be ideal but whenever your soul craves some excitement, this should be your first stop.
While Northern Liberties has a similar scene to Manayunk, it’s also considered to be more “livable” because of the great public transportation and enviro-friendly aspects. Dubbed as “NoLibs” by the locals, this area used to be a heavy, industry district that turned into a hub for art and culture buffs. While up and coming isn’t the best word for a neighborhood that’s been popular with the locals for years, it’s one of the newer neighborhoods to be highlighted in your typical, tourist guidebook. With great walkways, entertainment and art scene, this neighborhood would make a great home for the transplant that wants a taste of everything under one roof.
If these neighborhoods aren’t enough to convince you that Philadelphia is a tiny giant all on its own, then the residents may have a few words for you (we are only just kidding, of course). In actuality, Philadelphia is one of those rare gems that truly encompasses all aspects of what a city should be – small town appeal, big city amenities and architecture that transitions you from the past to the present within a 10-minute walk.