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Philadelphia After Dark: Your Guide to a Night Out in the City of Brotherly Love

Love a night out in Philadelphia? We've curated some amazing experiences to make the most of your time in the City of brotherly love.

18 April 2022

History comes to life in Philadelphia. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the founding of the country’s first hospital, botanical garden, lending library and more, the region is home to many attractions that tell America’s story. Although rich in history, the City of Brotherly Love isn’t just a destination for history buffs. From world-renowned art museums and cutting-edge galleries, to outdoor art including murals and sculptures, art lovers will find plenty to keep them busy. Nature lovers will also find countless paved and unpaved trails winding through the city’s expansive Fairmount Park, and beautiful gardens ready to be explored in Philadelphia’s Countryside. Then comes Philadelphia’s acclaimed culinary scene which is packed with award-winning chefs and restaurants, making the city a foodie’s paradise. Visitors won’t be short on options to take advantage of tax-free shopping in the city either. Both easy to get to and easy to get around, Philadelphia is ranked as one of the most walkable cities in the U.S., making it a breeze for visitors to take a stroll through Philadelphia’s unique neighborhoods. There’s so much to do and see, both during the day and at night. A night out in Philadelphia will leave you energized and ready for your next adventure. The city’s vibrant nightlife draws visitors in with its seemingly endless list of bars, restaurants, and clubs, along with its unique experiences including pop-up beer gardens, virtual reality bars and adults-only ball pits. There’s something for everyone in Philadelphia.

We’ve curated some amazing experiences to make the most of your time enjoying the nightlife in Philadelphia. 

Hop Skip Party

Looking to give the world an astounding dance performance? Philadelphia clubs are the hotspot to spend a memorable night to pump in the adrenaline. In fact, if dancing is your thing – downtown of the City Center is the place to be; always bustling with people partying from dusk to dawn.

Start with the Voyeur nightclub, one of the city’s largest  clubs, offering themed party nights, drag shows, and performances by DJs. It has multiple rooms playing different music genres- enjoyed best for someone looking for a place that takes their music seriously. Hit the dancefloor and party into the wee hours of the morning.

If salsa is more your style, Brasil’s Nightclub, the Latino-loving club is one of the best places to find your rhythm. Learn to groove to the moves by joining a salsa lesson on a Wednesday or Friday evening and join the rest of the party later to show off your cool new moves.

In addition, we would recommend NOTO (Not Of The Ordinary) for an unusual and unique clubbing space. It has a vast, chic area bursting with fresh, exciting energy. TIP: dress your best to blend in with the crowd. The club features renowned DJs from Thursdays to Sundays. Keep in mind that cover charges differ depending on the performer. You can take a virtual tour right here.

Don’t miss your chance to dance under the stars at Cavanaugh’s River Deck Philadelphia’s summer nightlife headquarters. Right on the Delaware River, this popular bar and nightclub hosts local DJs and themed party nights all summer long. Home to one of the best beer gardens in Philadelphia, The River Deck is the longest running waterfront bar, restaurant and nightclub in Philadelphia with its outdoor space providing spectacular views and unbeatable backdrops.

Don’t worry, summer isn’t the only time to party. Nightlife in Philadelphia is energizing all year round. Howl at the Moon Philadelphia is another popular spot, offering buckets of booze and live music to keep you dancing to upbeat music all night long. Be sure to also check out Down Ultra Lounge – right next to Howl at the Moon – a  great place to let loose and enjoy yourself.

For more late-night fun, head to Concourse Dance Bar, popular for its ball pit called The Pool. Take a break from the dancefloor and take a splash in The Pool, then head to the Ice Bar – an ice room filled with 20 unique pieces of ice art including Philadelphia favorites like The Liberty Bell, Rocky created by nationally-recognized ice sculptor Peter Slavin.

Unwind and groove in style

Looking for a mix of dancing, munching, and exploring? Philadelphia is bursting with flexible options for a fun night. 

The Ranstead Room is Philadelphia’s best-kept nightlife secret. It’s a must-visit spot in order to experience the city in its essential element. It might take some time to figure out how to get in, but trust us, it will  quickly become your favorite spot once you’ve cracked that code. You’ll get some of the finest bartenders serving unique cocktails paired with fantastic food in a cozy setting.

Chris’ Jazz Cafe is another hit if you’re looking to spend the night eating delicious food and listening to soulful music.  Get ready to enjoy a Southern-influenced menu by Chef Mark Deninno, the owner.  Everything on the menu is made from scratch. The Jambalaya is a fan favorite. Chris’ hosts about 500 live shows a year. Artists like Billie Holiday, Ethel Waters and more have performed here during their growing years. 

Up next is The Raven Lounge, a casual bar, dance club, comedy club, and concert venue all in one. Enjoy the night while playing board games, watching live comedy or burlesque acts. 

For a luxurious experience, head to JG SkyHigh, located inside of the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center. This prestigious place specializes in cocktail-hour experiences offering live music and unmatchable city views from its chic and comfortable lounge. 

Kick back and relax in Philadelphia

For a calming, relaxing and more laid-back experience, consider a stop at Race Street Pier along the Delaware River Waterfront, just under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. An intimate spot for a picnic with scenic views of the Delaware River, Race Street Pier is also an exceptional location to watch a magnificent sunrise.

For more nighttime activities, check out the Blue Cross RiverRink located just north of Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River Waterfront. In the winter, you’ll find a winter wonderland filled with warm cabins, fire pits, and a beautiful ice rink right next to the river for Winterfest. In the summer, the space is transformed into a carnival-like playland with boardwalk-style games, rides, and roller skating for Summerfest.

Looking for something even more casual? We suggest an outdoor movie screening at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation or Schuylkill Banks movie night that hosts splendid Thursday-night series and has their screen placed near a recreation bath on the east side of the Schuylkill River. One can also explore the elevated Rail Park nearby and admire the spectacular waterfront views of the city’s skyline at night.

For the perfect family-friendly screening, there’s Clark Park, where you can view films like Creed and Spiderman– with food trucks serving delectable local snacks. You can get real-time screening updates on PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia official travel website.

Spend the night like a local

Craft beer bars, local theaters, neighborhood bars- make a major part of every Philadelphian’s heart.  Hangouts like Mac’s Tavern take you deep into the authentic side of Philadelphia with a major menu portion dedicated to local delicacies. 

For a one-of-a-kind urban oasis, look no further than Spruce Street Harbor Park. With more than 50 colorful hammocks hanging throughout the space and hundreds of twinkling lights glistening off the river, Spruce Street Harbor Park entices you to kick your feet up and relax on Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River Waterfront. You’ll find vendors spread throughout the park, offering beer, cocktails, and snacks. Indulge in some Crabfries from Chickie’s and Pete’s or treat yourself to something sweet like French Toast Bites, water ice, or ice cream.

Experience Philadelphia like a local by visiting one of the city’s craft beer bars. Make Dock Street Brewery your first stop to try unique beers like the Evil Genius, Crime & Punishment amidst its flamboyant decor. Another great place to try is Independence Beer Garden,a popular neighborhood hangout- where you can enjoy a cold beer and tasty food. It has 15 beers on tap and an exquisite menu.

One of the oldest taverns in the country-  McGillin’s Old Ale House is another unbeatable place that captures the city’s soul. It’s the oldest and continuously operating tavern since the 1800s- the year Lincoln was elected President. 

And don’t miss visiting the dive bars in Philadelphia to soak up the local experience thoroughly. The list is long and covers Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, Tattooed Mom, Dirty Frank’s, and Bonnie’s Capistrano Bar– amongst many more. They are more like neighborhood bars where locals gather to drink and socialize- and serve one with an immersive, authentic aura. 

Immerse yourself in Philadelphia’s arts and culture

Considered to be one of the top Showstopping Theater Cities around the U.S. according to Budget Travel Magazine with the oldest theater in America built in 1809, Philadelphia continues to entertain audiences centuries later with magical musicals, spectacular shows and outstanding orchestras and operas.

From performing arts to world-class art museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Philadelphia.

On Fridays, one can visit the Philadelphia Art Museum, which has extended hours for visitors to enjoy  performances in the Great Hall along with drinks and bites. Each Friday welcomes new local artists. Visiting a museum at night without the chatter of the day is an experience many art aficionados cherish. 

Another world-renowned art museum in Philadelphia is the Barnes Foundation. Home to one of the most impressive collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modernist Paintings, the Barnes Foundation is a unique, must-see art museum. There’s a story behind every object in The Barnes Collection, a permanent exhibit at the museum.

Talking about art, Cherry Street Pier is another spot to explore Philadelphia’s culture. It is housed within an old warehouse where you’ll find artists, merchants, and live performances. The artists perform different acts, and live music, where you get to view the city through a mirror.

Savor and sample Philadelphia’s favorite foods

Juicy cheesesteaks, hoagies, scrapple, Tastykakes, tomato pies- Philadelphia is serious when it comes to food. If you’re thinking of going  culinary in Philadelphia, you’re in for a great time with countless places dishing out comfort food. 

The everlasting search for the best place to get a Philadelphia cheesesteak continues..  Decide for yourself which steak shop reigns supreme. Get yourself an iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak from some of the best shops out there: Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s Steaks, Tony Luke’s, or Jim’s Steaks. 

Cheesesteaks aren’t the only foods Philadelphia is known for, but it’s definitely one of the first foods that come to mind. Other Philadelphia favorites include soft pretzels, water ice, and scrapple. You can find all of these tasty treats at a place in the heart of Philadelphia and right across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Reading Terminal Market.

With more than 80 merchants and 26 restaurants under one roof, the options are endless at Philadelphia’s beloved Reading Terminal Market – one of the oldest and largest public markets in the country. Reading Terminal Market has won Best Public Market in America by USA Today 10Best two years in a row for 2021 and 2022. Foodies will feel right at home as they stroll through the market offering a range of global cuisines, as well as gifts and souvenirs. A Philadelphia favorite and once deemed the “Best Sandwich in America” by the Travel Channel, DiNic’s Roast Pork sandwich topped with provolone and broccoli rabe calls the market home. Roast pork sandwiches aren’t the only savory sandwiches that draw people to Reading Terminal Market. You can’t forget about Philadelphia’s famous cheesesteaks. Spataro’s Cheesesteaks has been offering its signature cheesesteaks, sandwiches and hoagies at the market for the past 75 years.

Learn about Philadelphia history

The first World Heritage City in the U.S., Philadelphia has 67 National Historical Landmarks in what’s called the nation’s “most historic square mile.” Tour Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were debated and adopted. See the Liberty Bell, the symbol of American independence that was once located in the steeple of Independence Hall. Stroll Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America – one of Philadelphia’s most Instagram-worthy spots. Philadelphia is home to iconic locations and artifacts that tell the story of America’s founding in a way no other place can match.

Kick off your Historic Tour with a stop at the Independence Visitor Center, where you can pick up your free tickets to Independence Hall. Plan stops at the President’s House, the Liberty Bell Center, Carpenters’ Hall, and so many more historical sites. Don’t forget to put the National Constitution Center and the Museum of the American Revolution on your list, as well.

While there are multiple ways to learn about Philadelphia history, having a ghost to share it with you is an unusual and a one-of-a-kind experience. Since PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia history dates back centuries, ghost stories are an amusing form to pass it on. The characters are mostly war revolutionaries. One can go on spooky history tours with the Ghost Tours of Philadelphia. For added effect, all participants are made to hold a candle which makes the experience all the more captivating. In addition, there is another tour held by Grim Philadelphia historical tours where you can opt for a bar crawl version of the tour- and literally drink to history.

We hope you’re all set to experience the best of Philadelphia after dark. We’ve listed below some of the famous clubs and food joints. You can also bookmark this article to get back to later, whenever you’re in or around Philadelphia. 

Be sure to check out our homepage to learn more about experiencing life in travel. It is time to get away.

Must-visit places at a glance

Nightlife

Chris’ Jazz cafe

Raven lounge

Bob and Barbara’s life 

Cuba Libre restaurant and rum bar

Late-night diners

Silk city- half-diner, half club

Melrose diner- scrapple with scrambled eggs- classic diner food

Pat’s King of steaks – cheesesteaks

Sonny’s famous steaks 

Must See Places by Neighborhood / Date-Night Ideas?

Fishtown

The Fillmore: music venue located in a former metal factory

Manayunk and Roxborough

Pretzel Park: small green space with a playground, dog park, and 6-foot statue of a pretzel 

Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy & Germantown

Woodmere Art Museum

Northern Liberties

Edgar Allan Poe Historic House

Old City & Society Hill

Shane Confectionery

Franklin Fountain

Franklin Ice Cream Bar

Rittenhouse Square

The Shops at Liberty Place

Chinatown

Philadelphia’s Museum Mile

Convention Center District and Market East

Washington Square West, Gayborhood & Midtown Village

Vetri Cucina (ranked as one of the Best Italian Restaurants in America by Thrillist)

McGillin’s Olde Ale House: Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating tavern open since 1860

University City and West Philadelphia 

Smith Memorial Arch in West Fairmount Park

Enjoy a live show at the Mann Center

South Philadelphia

Italian Market

Countryside

Longwood Gardens 

Shofuso

Chanticleer Garden

Morris Arboretum

Andalusia Historic House, Gardens and Arboretum

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