Where to Stay in Philadelphia for Your Next Visit or Staycation

The ultimate guide to what to eat, drink, and do in all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

Whether you are a longtime resident or an adventurous out-of-towner, congratulations. You’ve got excellent taste and have found yourself in Philadelphia, a large (yet compact) city that’s densely packed with culture, history, and dozens of neighborhoods.

Each of Philly’s unique neighborhoods has its own distinct personality for any flavor of visitor. Whether it's the breweries of Manayunk, the fine art of Fairmount, the history of Old City, or the fire food scene all around town, Philadelphia’s local communities are chock full of personality and grit—just the way we like it. No matter the duration of your trip—or if you’ve been here a hundred times—here are the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia to stay in for your next visit or staycation.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Bella Vista and Queen Village

These two South Philly ‘hoods may look residential at first glance, but both are full of destinations even locals can’t pass up. If a one-of-a-kind art installation, a historic food market, and a quirky stretch of bars and boutiques tickle your fancy, make your way to South Philly.

Where to stay: One of the few hotels in this area, the eccentric Philadelphia Hotel Bella Vista offers private suites with Parisian, Victorian, and Art Deco details. For a more hands-off experience, the invisible service Sonder The Queen offers modern digs without the fuss of a front desk. And because of all the homes in this area, Airbnb is rife with chic listings, like this apartment with a roofdeck and exposed brick details, an apartment in the thick of the Italian Market, or a huge modern home with five bedrooms.

Things to do: The historic Italian Market has been around for more than 100 years and its merchants include quality butchers, cheesemongers, family-run grocers, and independent eateries (more on those later). Check out a show at the TLA (past performers have included Jay-Z, Dashboard Confessional, and Hanson). While you’re at it, wander along the famed South Street for some oddities like vape shops, adult store Condom Kingdom, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, and Retrospect Vintage.

Best restaurants: Since cheesesteaks are a must here, grab one (or many) from Ishkabibble’s, or enjoy a sit-down meal of old school Italian at Saloon, sushi at Royal Izakaya, ramen at Neighborhood Ramen, or traditional Italian at Villa di Roma. Wake up early and grab some award-winning tacos from South Philly Barbacoa before they sell out.

Best bars and nightlife: No trip to South Street would be complete without a beer at Tattooed Mom’s, a longtime staple on the nightlife scene. Divey and grimy, its walls are covered in neon green paint, graffiti, and stickers and the beer selection is unpretentious. For another bar with a laid back vibe, For Pete’s Sake is welcoming and unfussy, as is Milkboy South Street. For something a little sexier, French wine bar Le Caveau is dark and romantic.

 Bing Bing Dim Sum
Bing Bing Dim Sum

East Passyunk

This area covers the stretch of East Passyunk Avenue most heavily populated with world-class restaurants. However, don’t be afraid to wander off the avenue and into neighborhood holes-in-the-wall where you’ll meet some of the city’s most vibrant and longtime residents—and really feel like a local.

Where to stay: Airbnb will be your friend here. Live like a local and stay in a cutesy studio with original barbershop doors, a three-bedroom spacious townhome with plenty of outdoor space, or a classic row home with plenty of charm in the most ideal location.

Things to do: In between all the stellar restaurants are unbeatable boutiques on East Passyunk. Pick up cutesy souvenirs like candles, home goods, and bar cart items at Occasionette or a handmade treasure at Nice Things Handmade. Support indie bookstore A Novel Idea or go home with a little greenery at the unique garden center Urban Jungle. Also, make it a point to check out Bok, the school-turned-makerspace (you can grab coffee, dinner, or check out the studios of tenants)—and take a tour of the building on Wednesdays at 5 pm.

Best restaurants: This is where you’ll find the city’s most touristy intersection of cheesesteak joints: Pat’s and Geno’s. We won’t make you pick a fave, but someone will. Try the award-winning goat burrito and a specialty margarita (like passion fruit or pineapple) at the always-solid Mexican joint Cantina Los Caballitos. Enjoy seasonal new American at River Twice; dim sum with a twist at Bing Bing Dim Sum; authentic Vietnamese street eats at Gabriella’s Vietnam; and Spanish tapas and wine at Barcelona Wine Bar. For brunch, the signature Dutch Baby at The Dutch is a must-try. Still hungry? Grab dessert at Termini Brothers Bakery for old-school vibes and killer cannoli.

Best bars and nightlife: The closest to a “traditional” club around here is the Dolphin Tavern, a stellar spot for monthly ABBA parties, plenty of house and techno, and frequent sets from the city’s top DJs. For a bar you can still smoke in, hit up Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar (and get a free shot on your birthday). For Skee-Ball over a few beers, hit up Garage, a bar with a huge selection of canned beers. For a panoramic view of the city in warmer months, head back to Bok and drink at its rooftop bar Irwin’s or the more casual Bok Bar. Looking for just a bar bar? The Pub On Passyunk East—better known as The Pope—Fountain Porter, Triangle Tavern, and Watkins Drinkery offer pub grub and cheap drinks.

Boathouse Row
Boathouse Row | Rhymeandreason / Shutterstock

Fairmount and Logan Square

Get the best of both worlds here. Spend time within walking distance of the city’s best museums and cultural institutions, while also enjoying the relative silence of a cozy neighborhood.

Where to stay: A popular hotel hotspot, there are plenty of options to live large in luxury high-rises like the Four Seasons—complete with restaurants from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and James Beard Award-winner Greg Vernick—and The Logan Hotel with its spa and rooftop bar. For more down-to-earth digs, there’s the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown chain hotel with all the usual amenities.

Things to do: Put your sightseeing shoes on. Artistic types can revel in the expansive collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art—containing works by Henri Mattise, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and many more—the impressionist works at The Barnes Foundation, and one of the largest collections of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works at the Rodin Museum. Kids will lose their minds at the 42-foot tall T. Rex skeletal mount at the Academy Of Natural Sciences and the giant heart brain at The Franklin Institute. Absolutely do not skip out on Eastern State Penitentiary, the world’s first of its kind, which was operational until 1971. For scenic views of the Schuylkill River, rent a bike or walk along Boathouse Row.

Best restaurants: Enjoy Italian made with seasonal ingredients at A Mano or high-end brick oven pizza at Pizzeria Vetri. A short walk away is Southern, jazz restaurant South and the nearby classic Italian eatery Osteria. Like the South Philly location, the Art Museum-adjacent Sabrina’s Cafe draws a crowd for brunch, so get there early.

Best bars and nightlife: Before the cozy Danish lifestyle really took off, Philly embraced it with Bar Hygge, a comfy pub serving house-brewed beers. A stone’s throw from Eastern State is Urban Saloon, whose 12 drafts and 60 cans and bottles are constantly rotating. For more neighborhood vibes, stop by Bishop’s Collar for an awesome happy hour or Irish pub realness at The Black Taxi.

Wm. Mulherin's Sons
Wm. Mulherin's Sons

Fishtown and Northern Liberties

While the two neighborhoods have varying personalities, these two sister sections of the city share an abundance of things to do in terms of art, food, and nightlife.

Where to stay: A few of the trendiest boutique hotels call Fishtown home. Choose from one of six expertly designed apartments at Lokal Fishtown, complete with in-room entertainment systems and kitchens. Just a few blocks away are the boutique hotel rooms above the restaurant at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, four mid-century-modern rooms conveniently above the trendy wood-fired fare restaurant. As for NoLibs, this modern loft has a huge standalone tub, covered patio, and fully stocked kitchen.

Things to do: North 2nd Street is packed with entertainment, from the massive bowling alley North Bowl and shops like Trunc and Once Worn Consignment, and a relaxation haven in Nirvana Wellness Med Spa. Venture onto Spring Garden to sip beers and take a tour at the massive Yards Brewing facility. Over in Fishtown, grab a coffee and take in the views at the gorgeous La Colombe flagship and then hit up Vestige, Made and Maker, and Downerss for some unique shopping. Vinyl collectors should definitely make a pit stop at the Philadelphia Record Exchange, one of the city’s top music meccas for over three decades. If time allows, see a show at our local outpost of The Fillmore (Hall & Oates christened the joint) or Johnny Brenda’s.

Best restaurants: Fishtown’s food scene has kept pace with the rest of its booming development, bringing a slew of top-tier restaurants to the neighborhood including the much-beloved Pizzeria Beddia; the Israeli grill from Michael Solomonov Laser Wolf; the brand new location of authentic Thai restaurant Kalaya; the premiere street taco spot Loco Pez; the aforementioned wood-fired pizza and Italian restaurant Wm. Mulherin’s Sons; and mouth-watering barbecue at Fette Sau. Hang out all day at Middle Child Clubhouse (start with a breakfast sandwich, then grab a phoagie for lunch before munching on a Okonomiyaki-style latke for dinner). Over in NoLibs, you’ll want to endure the wait at Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat and Cafe La Maude for brunch, Pietramala for plant based BYOB vibes, and casual bar fare at North Third.

Best bars and nightlife: Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t go dancing in Fishtown and Northern Liberties. Parties are held every weekend at hotspots like Kung Fu Necktie, The 700, and The Liaison Room (located on the second floor of Front Street Cafe). Neighborhood watering holes Johnny Brenda’s (which is a famed music venue in its own right), Ortlieb’s, and Les and Doreen’s attract their distinct crowds—all of them primo for people watching. For a craft beer experience, don’t miss the expansive Other Half Brewing, Source Brewing, Urban Village Brewing Co., Brewery ARS, and Meyers Brewing Company. Or if hard seltzer is more your jam, the first brick and mortar for local hard seltzer brand Two Robbers is at the heart of Fishtown.

New Ridge Brewing Co.
New Ridge Brewing Co.


Slightly off the beaten path, Manayunk offers main street vibes without suburban staleness, thanks to the textile mills turned loft and retail spaces. With shops, restaurants, breweries, and bars, you get all the trappings of a downtown area without the hustle and bustle.

Where to stay: Without any major hotels in the area, look to Airbnb for lodging. Rent an extremely charming stone-front row house right off of Main Street or a loft in a former textile mill. If you’ve got a larger party, this spacious house fits eight guests and is equipped with a washer and dryer.

Things to do: Take a walk and cross the Schuylkill River via the Manayunk Bridge, which reopened to pedestrians in 2015 and offers prime views of the city skyline. Hands-on visitors should sign up for a one-day class at Philadelphia Woodworks to learn how to make your own cutting board. If your crew is gutsy, sign up for a pole dancing class at Awakenings Pole Fitness. Or if you’d rather spend some green, wander down Main Street for prime shopping at Vamp Boutique, Expect Lace, and The Spiral Bookcase.

Best restaurants: If you like meals made with local ingredients, stop by The Goat’s Beard for new American and whiskey. For more new American in industrial digs, head over to SOMO Manayunk. If award-winning burgers is what you’re after, Lucky’s Last Chance is home to a couple of Burger Brawl winners. For the hottest thing in the Philly pizza scene, Pizza Jawn is your spot.

Best bars and nightlife: Get your craft beer fix at Manayunk’s various breweries. Bring your large group to the super spacious Manayunk Brewing, make an afternoon of it with activities and food trucks at the pet-friendly Wissahickon Brewing, bring the pups to the soon-to-open Bark Social, and scope out the latest to enter the local beer scene at New Ridge Brewing (technically in Roxborough). If beer isn’t your thing, grab some vino at Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar. Head to The Grape Room pretty much any night of the week for a live performance, whether it’s acoustic on Mondays, an open jam, or live comedy.

Independence Hall
Independence Hall | Independence NHP, Edgar Allan Poe NHS & Thaddeus Kosciuszko NM

Old City

Old City is where the Founding Fathers did all their founding and fathering. Naturally, this neighborhood is where you’re going to run into the more historical elements of our city, from Independence Hall to cobblestone streets, but you’ll quickly learn there’s more to it than sightseeing.

Where to stay: For a lodging experience beyond the usual chains, spend the night at Penn’s View, a charming boutique hotel with historic details like exposed brick, balconies, and gas fireplaces. Similarly, the Thomas Bond House is a 12-room bed and breakfast with 18th-century decor and period furniture. Upscale travelers should look into Kimpton Hotel Monaco for rooms with personality plus an in-room spas. If you’re looking to show off on Instagram, don’t miss the OG Lokal Hotel with stylish rooms overlooking an idyllic 3rd Street.

Things to do: History buffs can see where our democracy was formed at Independence Hall and then make the short walk over to see the Liberty Bell. Other world-class museums in the area include the Museum of the American Revolution, African American Museum in Philadelphia, Constitution Center, The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, Independence Seaport Museum, and Betsy Ross House. If you’d rather skip the history and want to get active, lace up your shoes or rent an Indego bike and traverse the Ben Franklin Bridge via the pedestrian path at 5th and Race Streets. Coming to town on the first Friday of the month? Stop into any of the neighborhood’s many art galleries and check out new exhibitions and installations. Oh, and then there’s shopping. Boutiques like Vagabond, United By Blue, Art In The Age, Philadelphia Independents, and Omoi Zakka Shop offer only-in-Philly wares and knick knacks.

Best restaurants: Some of the city’s longest-standing and most-lauded eateries are located in Old City. One of the country’s top restaurants—and one of the most difficult to get a reservation—Zahav serves up Israeli dishes bound to take your breath away. Khyber Pass Pub serves unpretentious New Orleans-inspired food, with plenty of vegan options. For upscale eating, get yourself a reservation at Fork (new American), Amada (Spanish tapas), or Buddakan (modern Asian). Some of the best sushi in town can be found at Kisso. Or if you’re with a group that can’t come to an agreement, eat your way through The Bourse, a food hall with vendors selling everything from pizza to poke bowls.

Best bars and nightlife: Sure, Old City might have a reputation for sloppy weekend nights, but they sure are fun. Cut a rug at Cuba Libre, where DJs play Latin music on weekends, or walk just one block away for top 40 tunes and dancing at National Mechanics. No matter the time of year, get into the rooftop party scene at Stratus. Asian fusion martini bar Bleu Martini is an epicenter for nightlife, as is Infusion Lounge.

Her Place Supper Club
Her Place Supper Club

Rittenhouse Square

The neighborhood surrounding Rittenhouse Square Park boasts some of the highest rents in the city, which means you’re in for somewhat of a lavish time.

Where to stay: As one of the most popular tourist destinations, Rittenhouse gives you the pick of the litter when it comes to hotels. For ritzy, book at the spacious Rittenhouse Hotel, the sleek and modern AKA Rittenhouse Square, or The Franklin on Rittenhouse, where each room is dedicated to a person, place, or time long past. For a hip and modern vibe, feel at home at the Warwick Hotel.

Things to do: Rittenhouse is one of the best shopping destinations in the city. Walnut and Chestnut streets are loaded with both nationally known shops and local boutiques. Feast your eyes on medical marvels of yore (including sections of Albert Einstein’s brain) at the Mütter Museum. The city’s popular theatrical venuesAcademy of Music, Miller Theater, Perelman Theater, and Forrest Theatre—frequently welcome world-class touring productions of popular theater and experimental music. If you’re interested in home-grown talent, Philly Improv Theater hosts multiple shows per night on weekends. On a warm day, Rittenhouse Square Park will be a madhouse of picnics and bench-readers, but it’s well worth it to join in on the fun.

Best restaurants: You’ll be eating good in Rittenhouse. Anyone who’s anyone enjoys the high class French fare at Parc, the elevated Jewish comfort food at Abe Fisher, the contemporary American at Vernick, and the plant-based Puerto Rican fare at Bar Bombon. Newer establishments like hard-to-get-into but can’t-miss Her Place Supper Club, Kura Sushi (revolving sushi bar!), and Wilder bring new, varied experiences to an established neighborhood. Oh, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend fried chicken and donuts from Federal Donuts, aka the shop gone viral.

Best bars and nightlife: While the neighborhood has great cocktail bars—1 Tippling Place, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company, and very buzzworthy new Scandinavian-inspired joint, Andra Hem—it’s the less upscale watering holes that attract the best crowds. Oscar’s Tavern is dark and fun and the beer is cheap. The Irish Pub has enough room to bring larger groups. Monk’s beer list is extensive and includes plenty of Belgian beers (plus, don’t miss the mussels). Plus, there are plenty of venues for late night fun, like Spin, Pulse, and Concourse.

Institute of Contemporary Art
Institute of Contemporary Art

University City

Named for the nearby higher education facilities—including Drexel, the University of Pennsylvania, and Saint Joe’s—this West Philly neighborhood definitely caters to college students but has an appeal far beyond undergrad.

Where to stay: For longer term stays (with a view), consider AKA University City, which has modern suites that feature kitchens, a pool, and outdoor lounge area. One of the first things you notice upon stepping foot in West Philly are the Victorian homes—and you can stay in one at the charming The Gables Bed & Breakfast or Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast. And since we are in University City, might as well stay at a hotel dubbed The Study, with welcoming common areas and views of the nearby campuses.

Things to do: On the museum front, the Penn Museum houses artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy, Mesopotamia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, while the Institute of Contemporary Art is the spot for creations more of the moment. Catch a college basketball game at the Palestra on Penn’s campus or check out a show at World Cafe Live, the venue named after the radio program, where station WXPN hosts free concerts on Fridays. Bookworms can sort through the selection at House of Our Own Books, located in a Victorian house on Penn’s campus. There’s nothing better than laying out a blanket and lounging in Clark Park (bonus points if it’s during a farmer’s market and you can get fresh goodies).

Best restaurants: You can get brunch with a Middle Eastern twist all day at Renata’s Kitchen or a fancy cafe experience with pastries at Walnut Street Cafe. Try Kpod for Korean with a twist in a Millennial Pink aesthetic. If you’re in the mood for seasonable and sustainable fare with dog-inspired decor, don’t miss White Dog Cafe. No longer one of West Philly’s best kept secrets, Abyssinia serves up authentic Ethiopian platters to share. As for Mexican favorites, taqueria Loco Pez brings the Fishtown fave out west.

Best bars and nightlife: For a traditional Irish pub feel, grab a European brew from New Deck Tavern. Pull up a seat at the bar and grab a beer at Local 44, a friendly outpost with local brews. A wild time can always be found at Pace & Blossom, where you can party on a Wednesday.

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter @allieevolpe.