In 2016, more than 40 million people visited Philadelphia, and most made a beeline for popular attractions and iconic landmarks like Reading Terminal Market, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. If you want to skip the long lines and large crowds, take a hard pass on tourist treasures in favor of experiencing the City of Brotherly Love like a true Philadelphian. Locals love their city, and many have explored all its quirky nooks and crannies to find the best hidden gems. Try planning your itinerary around some of Philly’s offbeat attractions.
Explore Philly’s Public Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has some amazing exhibits, but if you want to experience the artsy side for yourself, there’s nothing like a tour of the city’s amazing outdoor public art. In fact, Philly is home to one of the largest public art collections in the United States.
The easiest way to explore it is by downloading the “Museums Without Walls” app from The Association for Public Art or by taking a tour with the Mural Arts Program, both of which guide you through some of the hottest spots to see sculptures and murals. Key attractions include the Tiffany glass mural on Walnut Street, the giant clothespin near City Hall, and the mosaic masterpiece called Magic Gardens on South Street.
Discover Hip Neighborhoods
While the tourists head to South Street to get their dose of cool, the locals hang out in emerging hotspots like Northern Liberties and Fishtown. Both are industrial neighborhoods turned into artistic, foodie, and hipster havens. Grab a cup of coffee at local roasters like ReAnimator or La Colombe, or go play some Jenga at Frankford Hall.
In addition to cafes and eateries, Fishtown is home to Pizza Brain, the world’s “first pizza museum,” Penn Treaty Park, and The Fillmore music venue.
Experience Offbeat Cultural Attractions
When you go beyond the Liberty Bell, you discover a whole other side to Philadelphia. This lively city is home to a variety of attractions with a slightly dark twist, which makes them incredibly intriguing. Examples include:
- The Mummers Museum: The Mummers are part of a tradition that’s older than the city itself, and this museum dedicates itself to the history of the mummers, their rowdy performances, and their strange costumes.
- Mutter Museum: If medical oddities are your thing, this is the place to go. The Mutter Museum houses an eerie assortment that includes the skeleton of North America’s tallest man, a human skull collection, President Grover Cleveland’s jaw tumor, and more than 40 microscopic slides of Albert Einstein’s brain.
- Edgar Allen Poe’s House: Poe lived in Philly for six years, and he often described that time as his most productive. You can listen to his stories on CD while touring the home — now a National Historic Site — where he wrote “The Tell-Tale Heart” while living there from 1843 to 1844.
Get a Fresh Perspective
Seeing Philadelphia from One Liberty Observation Deck is popular with tourists, but if you want to get a fresh perspective on this beautiful city and its skyline, consider taking to the water and paddling Penn’s Landing and the Delaware River. From May through September, rent a kayak, rowboat, or swan boat from the Penn’s Landing marina to burn off a little energy and experience the thrill of the water. Once you’re done, stop at Spruce Street Harbor Park to enjoy relaxing hammocks, floating gardens, and good food.
Have you experienced the quirky side of Philly firsthand? Tag us in those eclectic photos from your latest Philadelphia trip on Instagram.