Philadelphia is one of the largest and most historic cities in the U.S. It's where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, Hall & Oates and Will Smith got their start and Eagles fans bleed green.
It served as an important capital during the Revolutionary War, played a significant role during the civil rights movement and today leads the nation in many business, health, manufacturing and social justice sectors. To find your way around this diverse and welcoming city, you need a Philadelphia neighborhood guide.
Philadelphia's renowned history and deep importance in the nation's founding is just part of what makes the bustling city so amazing and a beacon for travelers and relocators from around the world.
The city's diverse and distinct neighborhoods are overflowing with cultural attractions, delicious food, inviting green spaces, sparkling nightlife and friendly people in row homes, condos and apartments alike.
If you're wondering where to live, here's a Philadelphia neighborhood guide running down just a few of the many remarkable neighborhoods you might be considering as your next address.
University City is home to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and University of the Sciences. With the influx of students from the three universities and the increase in openings of new corporate offices throughout the neighborhood, the area is a draw for young professionals and recent college grads.
And as skyscrapers like Cira Centre, Cira Centre South and the FMC Building go up and the new 14-acre Schuylkill Yards and $6.5 billion open space 30th Street Station Plaza master-planned development projects proceed, University City continues to grow as a second downtown and a premier destination in the city.
The food scene is bustling in University City with everything from cheap eateries favored by college students to trendy food halls and restaurants like Franklin's Table, Terakawa, White Dog Cafe and Pod.
And for retail, entertainment and nightlife, the neighborhood boasts an interesting mix of shops, galleries, farmers markets and university museums, plus college sports at legendary venues like The Palestra and Franklin Field and live music at World Café Live.
The area is highly residential with options from affordable off-campus student housing to new construction luxury high-rise apartments and condos. An average apartment unit rents for about $2,500 a month.
As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Philadelphia — surrounding the park that was one of William Penn's five original public squares — and one of its most upscale, Rittenhouse Square is an undeniable hub of activity in Center City. On nice days, you'll find the area swarming with dog walkers, artists, the after-work crowd and young couples lunching on benches and strolling the streets.
Radiating out from the park is a plethora of trendy cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs, like Vernick Food & Drink, Parc, HipCityVeg, Good Dog Bar, Tria Taproom and La Colombe, along with the trendy retail shops along Walnut Street swarming with fashionistas. And during the summer, you'll find the square constantly treating residents and visitors to festivals, fairs and farmers markets.
For residents, Rittenhouse is a swath of mostly upscale high-rise condos and chic apartments towering over the historic park. Its cost of living is also among the highest in Philadelphia, with apartment rents reaching $2,500 on average each month.
Chestnut Hill came of age as a get-away spot for Center City elites during the Revolutionary War due to its bucolic beauty and cooler summer temperatures. Today, its charming main thoroughfare and cobblestone streets are filled with pubs, bakeries and eateries like Mica, CinCin and Cake, many with seating outdoors to take advantage of beautiful weather.
The Northwest Philly district, thought of as one of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia, is a hub for culture, arts and adorable boutiques, but is also a green space getaway adjacent to the expansive Wissahickon Valley Park, with its 50 miles of walking, hiking and biking trails perfect for outdoorsy souls.
Only about 12 miles from Center City, Chestnut Hill is a relatively easy 30-minute commute by car or 45-minute train ride. Often referred to as Philly's garden district for its historic mansions and Victorian townhomes lining tree-canopied streets, rents here are cheaper than downtown, with an apartment unit leasing for an average of about $1,400 a month.
Tucked between Center City and Queen Village, not far from the Delaware riverfront, Bella Vista is best known as the home to the north end of Philly's iconic Italian Market. The renowned curb market made famous when Sylvester Stallone jogged through in “Rocky" is home to blocks of awning-covered sidewalk stalls of grocers and butchers, fishmongers and fromagers, coffee purveyors and chocolatiers.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum is South Street, which forms the northern border of the neighborhood. The portion of the South Street Headhouse District that lies within its borders includes restaurants like Banh Mi and Bottles, Brauhaus Schmitz and Snap Kitchen, along with Magic Gardens, a unique walk-through public art installation, walkways of mosaics created from discarded trash, broken mirrors, reclaimed glass and urban waste that spans three full lots.
The neighborhood, which is Italian for “beautiful sight," offers gorgeous views of Philadelphia's skyline and a quieter feel than many other Philadelphia neighborhoods despite being so close to Center City due to its high concentration of residential buildings.
Laid out along the Delaware River east of Center City, Old City is the oldest district of the city of Philadelphia. It was here where William Penn and the Quakers escaping religious persecution first settled and flourished in 1682.
Among the planned blocks lie the nation's most historic buildings, including Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, Christ Church and the Liberty Bell. Today, those structures have been joined by attractions, such as the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitution Center, the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Independence Visitor Center.
While one of America's most popular destinations for tourists, visitors and locals alike love strolling up and down 3rd Street, Market and Chestnut, enjoying the neighborhood's hip gastropubs, dive bars, arthouse theaters, galleries, boutique retail, cafes and popular eateries like Franklin Fountain, Amada and City Tavern. It's also home to destinations like Penn's Landing, Blue Cross RiverRink and Cherry Street and Race Street Piers.
While the neighborhood's Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously-occupied residential street in North America, is one of the city's most pricey streets, the rest of Old City comes in at around $2,175 a month on average for an apartment unit.
The neighborhood running from Broad Street to the Schuylkill from South to Washington goes by many names, Graduate Hospital, Southwest Center City, South of South, Naval Square or Schuylkill-Southwest.
But no matter what you call it, “G-Ho" acts as a transitional district between Center City and South Philly, giving it a more residential neighborhood feel than other areas of the city. It's an area where many families have chosen to settle down, but it still has tons to offer the younger set, too.
With its combined downtown and working-class vibe, Graduate Hospital is known for a number of trendy yet down to earth bars and eateries like Founding Fathers Sports Bar, Sidecar Bar & Grille, Grace Tavern, Lazaros Pizza House and Phoebe's Bar-B-Q. The neighborhood, in fact, is known as one of the city's most beloved spots for bar hoppers.
With a residential footprint part Center City, part South Philly and part riverfront, Graduate Hospital offers a variety of residences and rentals. Convenient to but not as pricey as the central business district, an average apartment leases for roughly $2,480 a month.
Geometrically speaking, Logan Square is the neighborhood surrounding Logan Circle. Its backbone is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, running from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is home to Philly's internationally-recognized Museum District, a standout in a city that's famous for its cultural offerings.
In addition to the Art Museum, the neighborhood offers popular attractions like the Franklin Institute, Rodin Museum, Barnes Foundation and Academy of Natural Sciences, among others. But Logan Square is also a hub of commerce and business, the location of some of Philly's tallest skyscrapers, including the Mellon Center, Bell Atlantic Tower, IBX Tower, Comcast Center and Comcast Technology Center, the 10th-tallest building in the nation.
Logan is also full of popular pubs and trendy restaurants like Cherry Street Tavern, Urban Farmer, Pizzeria Vetri, Kite & Key, Bāo-logy and Misconduct Tavern.
Logan Square has a variety of residential spaces throughout the neighborhood but is primarily dominated by high-rise apartment and condo buildings. So, what does it cost to overlook LOVE Park, Eakins Oval or the Rocky Steps? Rents here are on the higher side, with an apartment leasing for more than $3,250 monthly on average.
When you picture Philadelphia's famous South Street, “the hippest street in town," according to the famous '60s song, it's the section that carves a swath through the north end of Queen Village you're probably imagining.
The most well-known sites along the street, home to Bohemian, punk and alternative subcultures depending on your decade, reside in Queen Village, including the Theatre of Living Arts, Tattooed Mom, Spread Bagelry, New Wave Cafe, Woolly Mammoth, Lorenzo's & Sons Pizza, Ishkabibbles and, of course, Jim's Steaks.
Deeper in the heart of Queen Village, you'll also find 4th Street's Fabric Row, a historic textile and garment district offering vintage clothing stores, thrift shops and boutiques.
Queen Village, just a bit southeast of downtown, has always been unfashionably fashionable, with walkable streets, a hip nighttime vibe, good eats and a public art installation or a quirky store down seemingly every alley.
The quirky neighborhood of Fishtown got its name from the proliferation of fishermen who populated the area over its early history. Today, it's become known as a trendy arts, culture, foodie and entertainment community along the Delaware River in North Philadelphia, a stylish neighborhood filled with hipsters and young professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, gig economists, tech start-up dreamers and restaurateurs.
With gentrification in Fishtown, fisheries and industrial lots have been replaced with artist lofts, galleries, brewpubs, co-working spaces and music clubs like the Fillmore, the Foundry, Johnny Brenda's and Kung Fu Necktie, as well as the Rivers Casino.
Fishtown has also become the center of trendy food culture in Philly, with popular restaurants and bars around Girard and Frankford Avenues like Frankford Hall, Fette Sau, Joe's Steaks, Barcade, El Bar, Garage and Evil Genius Beer Company.
One of the coolest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Fishtown also houses two famous pizza spots: Pizza Brain, featuring the world's first museum of pizza culture, and Pizzeria Beddia, named “Best Pizza in America" by Bon Appétit magazine.
When William Penn mapped out Philadelphia, he designated the area north of Vine Street as “liberty lands," lots granted to city landowners for free, and in the process, created the first suburb. Today, Northern Liberties has transformed from mills, factories and foundries into a Philly neighborhood that's become the OG redevelopment district and home of young professionals, students and artists alike.
NoLibs, as locals refer to it, is one of Philly's great neighborhoods for food and drink, offering spots like North Bowl, Honey's Sit 'N Eat, Silk City Diner, Bourbon & Branch and Green Eggs Café. The neighborhood has a long history of brewery tradition carried on by Yards Brewing Company today, one of the most popular beer hangouts in the city.
Northern Liberties' newest attraction is the Piazza Pod Park, a 35,000-square-foot dog-friendly outdoor oasis featuring a dozen food and drink vendors and retailers tucked inside recycled shipping containers, all surrounding an inviting play and seating area.
As other neighborhoods take the mantle of hipster capital of the city, NoLibs' cache continues to hang steady. An apartment lease will set you back about $2,100 a month on average.
This Philadelphia neighborhood guide is just a taste of the diverse and amazing neighborhoods the City of Brotherly Love has to offer. From Somerton in the north to Eastwick in the south, there are a bevy of neighborhoods, blocks and districts across the city with mouthwatering restaurants, friendly bars and pubs, live music venues, historic sites and livable residential rental units.