40 Lesser Known Things To Do In Philadelphia

These are the sorts of things that make Philadelphia as great a place to live as it is to visit.

Most Philadelphians haven’t been to the Liberty Bell since a middle school field trip.

Sports stadiums? Museum of Art? You’ll find those on your own.

These are some of the funnest, weirdest, most interesting things to do in Philly.

Including a few most locals don’t even know about.

1) Find a Speakeasy

Ranstead Room c/o user Jessica J

You can find bars of all kinds in Philly, from smoke-filled dives to high class wine bars, but for an extra splash of cool in your cocktail, check out a speakeasy like the Franklin Bar, Hop Sing Laundromat, or Ranstead Room. They can be a little tricky to hunt down—little to no signage and often no web site either—but once you’re there, you’ll find an array of creative drinks and an exclusive sort of vibe.

2) Hit Some Dingers

Test your skills at Everybody Hits batting cages during the day, and if you’re in the know, you can check out shows at night, as the spot doubles as concert venue showcasing touring bands and local members of Philly’s thriving DIY scene. Make some friends there and you’ll find the doors to warehouse and basement shows around the city open to you, too.

3) See Where the Magic Happens

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

What started as the quirky project of local muralist Isaiah Zagar in the ’60s is now a full-fledged museum of his dazzlingly unique mosaic work. The Magic Gardens offers tours, classes and other programs in its whimsical wings.

4) Watch a Big Movie

Inside the Franklin Institute science museum is a the Tuttleman Omniverse Theatre, a massive domed IMAX theater where you can watch blockbuster movies and educational films in a uniquely immersive way.

5) Look Inside

Mutter Museum c/o user Big Hulk S

The Mütter Museum is not for the faint of heart. It’s rooms are packed with medical specimens, antique equipment and wax models, including a sliver of Albert Einstein’s brain, a tumor removed from Grover Cleveland, and the tallest human skeleton (7’6″) exhibited in North America.

6) Reach New Heights

Climbing gyms like Philadelphia Rock Gym and Go Vertical are a fun way to burn a few calories.

7) Pick Some Apples

Linvilla Orchards c/o user Ying Z

Just outside the city is Linvilla Orchards, a 300-acre family farm. You can shop in their farmer’s market or pick your own fruit in their orchard. The farm hosts festivals and events throughout the year, but the pickings are best in the fall.

8) Tour a Brewery

Philly has a thriving beer scene, and breweries like Yard’s offer tours and tastings fresh from the cask.

9) Feed a giraffe

Philadelphia Zoo c/o user Joe F

Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest in the country and remains one of the most progressive. Its Zoo360 trails are a new frontier in zoo exhibits, and they even let you go behind the scenes with some of the more than 1,300 animals on site.

10) Get Weird

The Philadelphia Mausoleum for Contemporary Art, or PhilaMOCA, regularly hosts art, performances and films from the cultural underground.

11) Relax by the River

Spruce Street Harbor Park c/o user Sabrina W

The Spruce Street River Park is an outdoor attraction open during only the parts of the year where it’s pleasant to be outside, but it makes the most out of its limited time. Hammocks, fountains, games, food and drink vendors, and more provide top end beach vibes along the Delaware River.

12) Carve Some Ice

When it’s too cold to hang out in a park, you can ice skate at the Blue Cross RiverRink and then warm up in the lodge when you’re done.

13) Surround Yourself with Food

Reading Terminal Market c/o user Vivian L

Reading Terminal Market is a can’t-miss stop for any foodie. Make a plan before you go, because the aromas from more than 100 different merchants offering everything from Amish food to exotic spices can be overwhelming, especially if you’re hungry. And you should definitely come hungry.

14) Watch Something Artsy

The International House’s Ibrahim Theater is a reliable screener of interesting films old and new from around the world, while the Ritz theaters are your best bet for finding current limited run films.

15) Take a Stroll

Kelly Drive c/o user Felicia D

Kelly Drive is a scenic four-mile stretch along the Schuylkill River that’s great for walks, runs and bike rides. From the path, you can see attractions like Boathouse Row and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

16) Sing Your Heart Out

You can find karaoke nights at bars around the city on any given night, but Yakitori Boy offers private rooms and an extensive catalog any time you want to belt out some tunes among friends (not to mention dynamite Japanese food).

17) Tickle the Ivory

Wanamaker Organ c/o user Sirinda S

Tucked away inside a Center City Macy’s sits the world’s largest fully functioning pipe organ. The Wanamaker Organ has more than 28,000 pipes and is played twice a day. Originally built for the 1904 World’s Fair, it’s one of Philly’s most elegant relics.

18) Run the River

The Schuylkill River Trail stretches 140 miles, but among the most scenic stretches is the boardwalk that runs from Locust to South Street. And you don’t even have to be able to pronounce “Schuylkill” to walk it.

19) Travel the World

Shofuso Japanese House c/o user Brian H

Visit the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden for a taste of Japanese culture. The garden is beautiful throughout the public season (spring through fall), but be sure to check it out when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

20) Go Ahead, Eat a Cheesesteak

It’s a cliche for a reason. Touristy spots like Pat’s and Geno’s get a lot of hype (and maybe not deserved), but you can find world class sandwiches at a number of other cheesesteak-centric establishments as well as holes in the wall all around the city.

21) Get Some Color

Mural Arts c/o user Enid C

Philadelphia fancies itself as the mural capital of the world, and you can get a feel for it walking through just about any neighborhood. For a more curated experience, take a tour with Mural Arts, the largest public art program in America.

22) Sip Some Broth

The real strength of Philadelphia’s food scene comes from the city’s ethnic diversity. In Little Saigon and other pockets around town, you can warm your body and soul with a nourishing bowl of pho. There’s no better way to fight off a cold or a hangover.

23) Be an Ax Hole

Urban Axes

Tucked away in Kensington is Urban Axes. The axe-throwing spot is great for leagues and group sessions, but individual drop-ins are welcome too.

24) Listen to a Story

Once a month, First Person Arts hosts Story Slam. Storytellers have five minutes to talk about whatever they want, so you might laugh, you might cry, but you’ll probably hear something you’ve never heard before.

25) Get Spooked

Eastern State Penitentiary c/o user Jeannette L

Eastern State Penitentiary, an old prison that once housed Al Capone, already has a creepy air about it, but when fall rolls around, the national landmark and incarceration museum converts into a terrifying haunted house that can scare the pants off even a hardened criminal.

26) Float Away

Hustle and bustle of the urban life got you down? Stop by Flotation Philly or Halcyon Floats for a relaxing sensory deprivation session. You float in an epsom salt bath heated to your body temperature while sealed off from light and sound. The feeling of nothingness it induces offers plenty of benefits.

27) Don’t Forget It, Jake, It’s Chinatown

Friendship Gate c/o user Bono A

Philly’s Chinatown has a lot to offer, and while a lot of it is for eating and drinking, Friendship Gate is a sight to behold. The artisan-made entrance to the neighborhood is a symbol of good will between Philadelphia and its sister city, Tianjin.

28) Celebrate Your Community

The Odunde Festival is one of the largest African-American street festivals in the country. Hundreds of vendors from around the world and nearly half a million visitors gather to celebrate African culture.

29) Play Outside

Fairmount Park c/o Wikipedia

Fairmount Park is the largest in the city, offering tons of green space to explore, but in accordance with William Penn’s founding vision, the city is perforated with parks and parklets all over the city, many of which host concerts, farmer’s markets and other events.

30) Get Some Culture

The Academy of Music is a legendary concert hall that hosts orchestras, ballets and operas. Other theaters include the Kimmel Center and the Merriam Theater.

31) Find Some Afternoon Delight

World Cafe Live

If you’ve got the day off or can squeeze it into your lunch break, head down to World Cafe on any given Friday. The WXPN venue hosts its weekly Free at Noon concert, which is exactly what it sounds like: a free show, at noon, from a touring musician or band.

32) Learn a Little

Aside from all the books, the Free Library of Philadelphia frequently hosts authors, thinkers and other lecturers.

33) Stop and Smell the Roses

Philadelphia Flower Show c/o user Sarah T

The Philadelphia Flower Show is an annual, weeklong event that brings a quarter of a million people to the Convention Center. It’s been running for nearly a hundred years, and only seems to be growing in popularity.

34) See a Play

The Wilma Theater has staged plays new and old since its 1973 opening. Today’s iteration is an intimate 296-seat theater known for bold and provocative works.

35) Eat Out

Night Market c/o user Stephanie S

Throughout the summer, neighborhoods around the city host Night Markets. At these evening events, streets are closed to vehicles so people can gather to patronize local restaurants and shops and the food trucks that have gathered there. It’s basically a big block party with lots of food.

36) Jam with the Roots

Philadelphia has a few big music festivals every summer, including Made in America and Welcome to America bookending the season. The Roots Picnic has a bit more local pride, though.

37) Get Dirty

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby c/o Jeff H

The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby is the highlight of the neighborhood’s annual arts festival. Come to see quirky homemade vehicles parade down the street, and stay to watch them finish the race in a pit of mud.

38) Bug Out

If you’re looking for something creepy and/or crawly, check out the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden. See some of the rarest arthropods in the world and learn why insects dominate the planet.

39) Picnic on the Water

Race Street Pier c/o user Kim L

Race Street Pier is a gem on the Delaware River waterfront, offering a great view of the river and the Ben Franklin Bridge, which is illuminated at night.

40) Celebrate the Fungus Among Us

Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world, and its annual Mushroom Festival is a can’t miss event for fungus enthusiasts. More than 100,000 people show up for culinary events, contests, and growing exhibits.

If this list doesn’t make you want to move to Philadelphia I’m not sure what will.

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