As the home of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and signed by the country’s forefathers, Philadelphia is a top destination for history buffs.

But this city has so much more. It's home to the largest urban park in the nation, a 3000-year-old Egyptian sphinx and an exciting brewery scene. One of the greatest ways to get to know the City of Brotherly Love is through its vibrant and distinctive neighborhoods. Here are the six neighborhoods in Philadelphia you should visit.

Brewerytown

Best neighborhood for parks and picnics

Best known for its century-old brewing history, this neighborhood northwest of Center City is perfectly positioned to shop for all the makings of an alfresco lunch after a visit to the Museum of Art or the Philadelphia Zoo. Head to Rybrew to peruse their selection of more than 300 beers, and order a couple of their stacked sandwiches as well.

To try another local delicacy, seek out Spot Burger for one of the best cheesesteaks in town. Take your spoils to nearby Fairmount Park, where you can find yourself the perfect picnic spot among the 9200-acre park, such as Glendinning Rock Garden or Boathouse Row, especially if one of the rowing clubs’ regattas is scheduled.

Brewerytown is a residential neighborhood, so if you choose to base yourself here, you’ll be opting for apartment rentals over hotels. You’ll be well situated to take advantage of Fairmount Park and the Museum of Art, but public transportation is limited in Brewerytown.

Restaurant with outdoor dining in Fishtown area of North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fishtown is the place to try an inventive brew © Jon Lovette / Getty Images

Fishtown

Best neighborhood for a night out

North of Old City, Fishtown is one of Philadelphia’s most vibrant neighborhoods for food and music lovers, but it’s also home to a robust craft beer scene. At Philadelphia Brewing, one of the oldest breweries in town, visitors can tour the facility to learn about its history and process before sampling Pennsylvania Pale Ale and Walt Wit, an unfiltered Belgian-style white ale.

Find a seat in the spacious courtyard at Evil Genius and order one of the inventive brews, such as a chocolate peanut butter porter or guava IPA. St Oners is the city outpost of suburban brewery Tired Hands, serving up a fresh selection of its latest beers.

Hotels in this neighborhood are sleek and modern for the ultimate taste of city living, and the MFL Septa Line offers easy access to the rest of the city.

East Passyunk

Best neighborhood for restaurants

The South Philly neighborhood of East Passyunk is anchored by one slanted street that passes across the rest of the grid. For breakfast, stop by modern Jewish bakery Essen for coffee and chocolate babka or Vanilya, just a few blocks south, for one of the city’s best bagels. (Don’t skip the Turkish sausage.) Stop into East London-style pie shop Stargazy for classic shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls, and, on Fridays, fish and chips.

Grab a cocktail at Manatawny Still Works, made with the distillery’s small-batch whiskey. For dinner, book a table in the garden at regional Italian restaurant Le Virtu or at Laurel for chef Nicholas Elmi’s elevated menu featuring seasonally changing, local ingredients. Save room for dessert at D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, where Chris D’Emilio is churning out water ice — a Philadelphia summer staple — using fresh ingredients and his grandmother’s recipe.

Situate yourself in an apartment rental in this neighborhood if you want easy access to the sports stadiums and the opportunity to live like a local for a few days.

Staff members work in Shane Confectionery in Philadelphia, with an old-style blue and white interior
 Pick up some gifts in Old City stores like Shane Confectionery © G. Widman / Visit Philadelphia

Old City

Best neighborhood for shopping

Philadelphia’s Old City is the historical heart of the city. The country's democracy was born here, and you can explore it with a firsthand look at Betsy Ross’s flag or the crack in the Liberty Bell. But it’s also a shopping haven. Hit up Omoi Zakka for a well-curated selection of beautiful Japanese stationery and home accessories. Find locally made Philly-themed gifts at Philadelphia Independents.

For a sweet souvenir, stop into Shane Confectionery, where chocolate has been made for 150 years.

Old City is the touristic center of Philadelphia, so the neighborhood's hotels are well appointed and large, with easy access to the rest of the city by train or on foot.

A person walks past the Sphinx of Ramses II in a darkened room in the Penn Museum in Philadelphia
Find the 3000-year-old Sphinx of Ramses II at the Penn Museum © Norman Wharton / Alamy

University City

Best neighborhood for culture

This corner of West Philadelphia gets its name from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the other higher-learning institutions found in the neighborhood. But it’s not all college bars and pizza joints. At the Penn Museum, find the 25,000-pound, 3000-year-old Sphinx of Ramses II, plus galleries that showcase archaeological items that originated in Africa, Central America and beyond.

Stroll through Penn’s campus to see sculptures by world-renowned artists, including Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana and Simone Leigh. Leigh's sculpture Brick House sits at the entrance to College Green on the corner of 34th and Walnut Sts. On a hot day, stop into Lil Pop Shop for small-batch popsicles.

To stay nearby, book a room at the historic Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast for Victorian-era charm and lemon buttermilk pancakes. Stay in this neighborhood if your activities are centered on University City or if you’ve visited Philly before and want a new perspective on the city.

A huge audience watches a performance at The Met in Philadelphia
The Met, originally designed as an opera house, is now a concert hall and events venue © Live Nation

North Broad

Best neighborhood for music and public art

The North Broad neighborhood has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance since the 2018 reopening of the beautifully restored former opera house, the Met Philly. Big-name performers have included Demi Lovato, John Legend and Alicia Keys.

Before the show, book a table at one of the new or long-established restaurants on this stretch of Broad St. Cicala showcases southern Italian cuisine, such as handmade pasta with octopus, and linguine with mussels. To sample more of the city’s best Italian food, served on a peaceful garden patio, stop into Osteria. The neighborhood is also awash in public art, with the colorful 55ft North Poles lining Broad St from Hamilton St to Glenwood Ave and several notable larger-than-life artworks from Mural Arts.

Stay in the North Broad neighborhood if you want easy access to music venues and don’t mind a little of Philly’s signature grittiness.

This article was first published Mar 20, 2019 and updated Sep 24, 2023.

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