Actually Cool Things You Can (Still) Do in Philadelphia Right Now

Even locals love this stuff.

Remember when you thought you’d be traveling, going to a big wedding, or at least getting dizzy at Center City Sips this summer? Ah, the humble and naive days of February 2020. Now that we are more than five months deep into quarantine, it’s safe to say the summer -- and, really, all of this year -- has not gone as planned. Despite these unfortunate times, the city is still bursting with things you can do while keeping your social distance, whether you’re up for a virtual workshop or want to spice up your walking route with sweet treats and art. Check out all the cool stuff you can still do, see, and eat in Philly.

Up your home cocktail game with locally made mixers and spirits

With alcohol being among the top necessities for the current quarantine norm, many local businesses have been boosting their offerings accordingly. Boardroom Spirits has made it so easy to enjoy a fancy cocktail that all you need is ice and maybe a blender, now offering ready-to-drink cocktails that cover everything from blackberry mojitos to vodka martinis. You can also try one of the new mixers from ROOT Crafted, with flavors like lemongrass elderflower and hibiscus tea, plus every bottle comes with a list of super-easy cocktail recipes.

Stroll Penn’s Landing and get a bite

It may look a little different this summer (especially without the hammocks), but Spruce Street Harbor Park is open for the season, welcoming guests (who wear masks) and offering some fast-casual local bites to go, including Chickie’s and Pete’s, French Toast Bites, and a few Garces outposts. Also check out the new Philly River Stroll, featuring three new open-air eating options starting at Cherry Street Pier.

Support Philly’s Black-owned businesses

Whether you’re looking for the right organizations to donate to or the best Black-owned restaurants to order from for your next meal, there are so many ways to support the Black community of Philadelphia right now and always. Also be sure to check out this ever-growing map showcasing all the Black-owned restaurants in the city, and try Black and Mobile as a food delivery alternative to big corporate delivery brands.

Build your own boozy Philly taste test

Just as you shouldn’t let Philly’s restaurants fend for themselves, show some love to local distilleries and breweries with an at-home delivery or pickup. Maybe you can even pour your goods into little cups and pretend you just ordered a flight from your favorite brewpub. That’s not sad… it’s resourceful!

Get cozy for a drive-in movie

Outdoor movies are a beloved pastime in Philly, but not so much when a mass gathering of people/strangers is the basis of an unending plague. As such, more and more businesses are offering outdoor movies for warm-weather ambiance to be enjoyed from the safety of your car. Check out the Philadelphia Film Society’s lineup at the Navy Yard, or leave the city to visit some permanent drive-in fixtures like Delsea Drive-In Theatre.

Skip town for a road trip

One of the good things about Philly: you can drive an hour outside the city, in any direction, and usually end up somewhere cool -- or at least completely different. For a change of scenery, check out our guide to Philly drives and day trips, whether you’re looking for small-town charm, a quiet beach, or to take in the stars. 

Get fit with Philly trainers from home

One of the hardest parts of sticking to a diet is maintaining it while socializing. Well, given the current situation, that should no longer be a problem! If you have the desire, catch up on all the virtual workouts offered by area trainers and fitness experts, including virtual workshops from Be Well Philly and live Instagram classes from Sweat Fitness.

Get super into plants

Add some extra life to your place with a virtual or in-person visit to Urban Jungle, the green Passyunk oasis that can help you figure out herb gardening or just how to keep a succulent alive.

Read up with help from local bookstores

Philly is home to so many independent bookstores filled with hidden treasures, and chances are they could really use some extra reader love right now. If you’re about to start reading a new book as quarantine continues, check online at local shops including Uncle Bobbie’s, Harriet’s Bookshop, Brickbat Books, Head House Books, and Big Blue Marble -- all of which are open for online ordering and delivery.

Get in some views of summer at a rooftop bar

As we head toward the fall, get a little dose of the warm weather before it’s gone at one of the rooftop bars open during the pandemic (and enforcing strict CDC/social distancing guidelines). Have a drink and toast to the least summery summer ever.

Discover your inner writer with a Blue Stoop class

Ever thought about writing your masterpiece, or at least something kinda cool? Blue Stoop, a literary collective in Philly, just announced its lineup of fall classes, which will all be held exclusively Zoom and led by seasoned writers who seriously know their stuff. The three eight-week courses delve into fiction, poetry, or cultural essay writing, all of which offer financial aid to help with tuition.

Brush up on some eerily relevant history at the Mütter Museum

It’s scary and amazing that the Mütter Museum already had an exhibit running about the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic scheduled for what turned out to be the breakout of the coronavirus in Philadelphia. The museum is now opening with new guidelines, but you can still view some of the exhibits online -- check out our story on the exhibit to learn more.

Step back into some Philly museums

If you’re itching for some culture, elevate the classic quarantine activity of going for a walk by walking over to Eastern State Penitentiary or the Barnes Museum, both of which have reopened with new CDC and social distancing guidelines. Catch up on the haunting audio narration of Steve Buscemi as you wander through the former prison in Fairmount, or soak in some eccentric art at the Barnes -- you can find their health guidelines here.

Stream live music sessions at WXPN

While concerts are a scarcity now, the beloved radio station is helping keep the magic alive with ongoing collections of famed live concerns and World Cafe Live sets. Browse through the site for different curated collections and modern classics from deep in the vault.

Pick your favorites for the Philly Fringe Festival

With the pandemic moving the annual Fringe Festival online, there’s no limit to the virtual events you can check out, from experimental film and dance to interdisciplinary theatre and visual art. Check out the lineup here

Order takeout with much, much less guilt

Before March one might say it was lazy, or even a waste of funds, to order takeout and squander your dollars on delivery fees. But now? You are a wondrous benefactor, supporting local restaurants by doing the Lord’s work of ordering food four times a week! For all our favorite places to order takeout and delivery, check our latest roundup here.

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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MarielleMondon.