Welcome to Philly’s premier nightlife guide.
On this page, you’ll discover the vibrant and varied nightlife scene in Philadelphia. You’ll find the perfect venue for you and your preferred night out. Whether you want to go all-out clubbing or if you’d like a more laid back dinner and drinks with a view, we’ve got your covered.
A small introduction to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia or perhaps more commonly known as Philly, is the largest city of the United States and Pennsylvania. Population wise it ranks 6th in the United States. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it the economic and cultural hub of Delaware Valley, which is located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The city was founded in 1682 by William Penn. Philadelphia has played a vital role in the foundation of the United States. Because it was a meeting place for the founding fathers of the United States. Additionally, the high concentration of Universities and colleges has evolved Philadelphia to become an educational or academic and economic hub.
Philadelphia’s inspiring history attracts many tourists from around the globe, with the Independence National Historical Park including Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historic sites receiving over 5 million visitors annually. The city also witnessed 42 million domestic tourists in 2016 who spent $6.8 billion, generating an approximately $11 billion in total economic impact in the city and surrounding four counties of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia comes under the northern periphery of the humid subtropical climate area, whereas the city has a temperate maritime climate to the north by the continental climate. Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is a bit cold.
Speaking a bit about the culture, Philadelphia is home to numerous national-historical landmarks that relate to the foundation of the United States. Independence National Historical Park is the hub of these historical landmarks being one of the country’s Heritage Sites. Independence Hall, the place where the Declaration of Independence of states was signed, and the Liberty Bell are the city’s one of the most famous attractions. Philadelphia alone has 67 National Historic Landmarks, the third most of any city in the country.
In the coming sections of this article, we will go into the detail of nightlife of Philadelphia including the activities which can be done to avail the optimum entertainment from the Philadelphia city.
The Nightlife in Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s downtown, which Philadelphians call Center City, makes the area an exciting place for a night out. You can begin an evening with drinks at one of the city’s many rooftop bars, outdoor beer gardens or cocktail destinations, and then move on to dinner at any number of destination-worthy restaurants spread all over the city, including several regarded as among the best in the nation.
You may prefer a lovely dive bar or a location for great casual eats. There are many of those as well. And whether fancy or dressed-down, live music and dancing at venues both in and out of doors keeps the party up late into the night.
Philadelphia’s endless variety of exciting and exotic restaurants and swanky bars make it extremely easy to stay busy once the sun goes down. We all are aware of this. Sometimes, though, you get a desire for nightlife activities that are a bit more cultural, unique, interactive, and exciting, like firing up a 5,000-degree blowtorch or entering a hatchet-throwing competition. Fortunately, being present in Philadelphia is already the main ingredient for a fun night out that goes beyond posting up at a bar. In the above context we’ve come up with the activities/place that you can start your evening with, to feel the true culture of Philadelphia:
The Independence Hall
If there was ever a city where you would want to time travel back to 1776, Philadelphia would be the perfect option. Because of the fact, that we already established, that it was a hub of revolutionary activities carried on the fathers of independence. You can watch the birth of the nation being unfolded during an exclusive Independence After Hours walking tour. The event begins with the 18th-century dinner at City Tavern, followed by a background trip to Independence Hall, where you’ll see Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin explaining the Declaration of Independence in the flesh. It’s a good source of entertainment and awareness as well. Not only it will prove to be a great outing but it will also help you to grasp the culture of the Philly.
Try your luck at SugerHouse Casino
If you are feeling lucky you can take a chance at the only casino in Philadelphia, situated right on the Delaware River. Its open 24 hours a day, so you can have the whole night to cover ground, pull the slots, spin the wheels, dine at one of four on-site restaurants serving delicious and exotic food, and enjoy free waterfront entertainment and special live concerts to please your ears. It’s bound to be a winning evening, because of the rick experience that it delivers, even if you’re $500 in the hole by the end of the night, with no clue how it happened.
Sarcastically, because darting won’t help you survive a zombie apocalypse, step up your ax-throwing game at Urban Axes, a Center City hotspot. Hangout with a group and try your hatchet hand in a 2 1/2 tournament, which includes one-on-one instruction from coaches and equipment. Bring your own booze, food, and an ax if you want. Also, note that it’s a cashless facility. All in all, it can prove to be a great source of entertainment to enjoy with friends or family.
Located at 1003, Arch Street, Trocadero Theatre is a historic theatre offers musical comedies, vaudeville, opera, and burlesque. It was renovated for use as an art house cinema and fine arts theatre in the 1970s, and by the 1990s had become an iconic venue for rock and punk concerts. There are much musical and comedy shows held every now and then to provide a cheap and good source of entertainment to tourists and locals. You can get along with a group of friends or family to enjoy everlasting entertainment.
Enjoy America’s Largest Brownfield
Feeling exhausted by the busy city? Looking to escape the city hustle and bustle for a great and cheerful evening? Take a drive to the Lehigh Valley’s Bethlehem, approximately less than an hour outside of the city and you’ll find unlimited nightlife entertainment and culture at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. The industrial-meets-modern grounds are home to tons of enormous events from comedy films, shows, Oktoberfest, concerts, art classes, and more. You can also wish to stay the night, for an extra wholesome experience consider lodging up somewhere equally historic, like the Sayre Mansion or Historic Hotel Bethlehem.
Staycation at the Lowes Philadelphia Hotel
Located at the Centre City, the Staycation is an excellent place to indulge yourself (and maybe a date) by booking a room in the nation’s first skyscraper. The luxury hotel is located in the middle of Center City, but you won’t have to get away from the premises for a cultural experience. Their Past, Present, Philly social media scavenger hunt enables you to discover five of the hotel’s historic hot spots and get a free Secret Knock cocktail from Bank & Bourbon. Before turning in for the night, be sure to go to the 33rd floor to wow at the entire cityscape. All in all your experience with this place could be tremendously exciting because of the exotic food and drinks and the beautiful sightseeing of the entire city from the 33rd floor is a cherry on the cake.
It makes sense that a neighborhood centered on its student population would have its supply of watering holes, but it’s not just a normal arrangement. City Tap House has a lengthy regularly-changing beer list to enjoy from its outstanding outdoor deck. Just on the other side of the corner is Harvest, serving up organic and natural seasonal cocktails (grab one before heading out on the dance floor on the weekends). And when you need your dose of margaritas, tacos, and all else that is required to fulfill your extreme craving, look no further than Jose Garces’ Distrito. And this is apart from which we haven’t even gotten started on the string of cozy polished pubs and restaurants lining Sansom St, like Doc Magrogan’s, White Dog Cafe, New Deck Tavern, and others.
Best Bars in Philadelphia
Getting deeper into the nightlife fun and specifically entering into the domain of adult entertainment we have some of the swankiest Bars of Philadelphia, which can really impress you with some of their fresh brews. Philadelphians don’t really differentiate when it comes to booze. They love sparkling craft beer, fancy cocktailing, margaritas, and freshly brewed wines. You are already aware of the Philly classics and the Jonny Brenda’s—but a recent rise in unexpected and undiscovered watering holes is providing a whole new reason to make you come out on a Friday night. The city has many options that run the gamut, from age-old dives and secret speakeasies to classy rooftops and Philadelphian bars open late till 4 am. No matter what neighborhood you will find yourself in, there sure will be a bartender waiting to deliver you a drink. We’ve come up with some of the swankiest and finest bars in the city so you don’t find yourself in the hassle of looking for such bars:
The Thirsty Soul
You can call it divine inspiration. The motivation behind this church-themed bar came when lead mixologist Billy Hines was on a flight from New Orleans to Philadelphia and observed how the overhead light excellently reflected the design of a drinking glass onto the tray table. He thought about whether it is possible on a bigger scale with the ceiling of the bar. And, viola that’s how exactly the religious theme of the bar came into being. The team took the historically religious decor element and ran with it, building a barroom complete with pew-style seating, a confession corner. Naturally, the list of cocktails builds on the theme and is divided into two broad categories: Old Testament and New Testament. The old one offers classics, like a Sazerac, while the new one focuses on house specialties, like The Saint—made with house-infused maple bourbon, Aperol, Domaine de Canton, and pear. If you’re interested in a little bit of entertainment, the live music program covers broad categories from blues and jazz to swing, funk, and country in the Red Room, a cozy space with a fireplace and distinct bordello vibe.
Located on the side of Frankford and East Girard avenues, Johnny Brenda’s is an anchor in the now-flourishing Fishtown neighborhood. The old bricked front element of the bar gives the place a weathered, lived-in look that extends to the interior as well, which probably hasn’t been painted in decades, but it’s this unapologetic bravery that makes Johnny Brenda’s extremely Philadelphian. The multi-level joint, which does turn as a gastro-pub and bi-level live music venue, is an extremely democratic one: You’re are more likely to see families seated outside for Sunday brunch as an indie music lovers rocking out from the balcony. Don’t underestimate the cocktail menu, either: On the beer front, there’s a constantly rotating, 12-tap, two-hand pump draft list; cocktails that feature spirits from local breweries like Philadelphia Distilling and Art in the Age; and a state-of-the-art wine dispenser that serves eight draft wines at a time.
Located at Ranstead Street, this Intimate, dark, moody, speakeasy-style bar offers the romantic date-night vibe. The deliciously exotic cocktail list includes spirit-forward old-fashioned classics and funky occasional mixtures like Pinky & the Drank, a winter-worthy blend of cognac, Madeira, lemon, and blackberry, green chartreuse, gin, lime, cucumber, and mint. There’s also a carefully edited list of wine and beer, just one sparkling, one white, and one red blend on offer, plus three draft and four bottled beers. Overall, you can experience a swanky vibe in this bar. You won’t be disappointed with the bartenders, who believe that their work is a form of art. If you need a recommendation, they know deeply about the menu, alternatively, give just a few keywords and they’ll gladly come up with a bartenders’ choice. It’s especially awesome to visit during winter when you want a cozy nook and delicious cocktail to warm you up.
Charlie Was a Sinner
Charlie’s wooden and retro-vibe theme immediately grabs your attention, How could it not, what with the dark walls, dim lighting, posh chandeliers? In the dining area at the back, a projector flashes old news clippings and scenes from vintage films. Whether or not you dig into the menu, the moody vibe and modest square footage are romantic and welcoming. Additionally, the management works overtime to offer a complete menu, full of carnivore-deceiving dishes like meatless meatballs, and drinks that, while a little theatrical, deliver on flavor and creativity. Nothing is there without a purpose. Every cocktail name holds a literary element or historical reference in its name that plays off the retro theme; ingredients are carefully hand-picked from different local farming vendors to ensure quality and freshness. Commitment to vegan cuisine even goes to the cocktails. If you can, try to sit at the bar, Mathias Bable, one of Charlie’s most experienced bartenders, has serious cocktailing recommendations and the ability to start up a conversation that’ll provide you with an experience to remember.
Hop Sing Laundromat
You really have to struggle a lot if you want to go to Hop Sing. Provided that, that there’s no phone number, website, or even signboard pointing to the bar, you’ll have to look out for the unmarked, brushed steel door on Chinatown’s Race Street. Make sure to bring your ID and stay ready to flash it to the bouncer because, he has to make sure that your name isn’t on the “banned list,” the bar’s index of nearly 3,000 “no longer welcome” patrons, who either neglected the rules like no phones, no hats or tipped poorly. Once inside, though, you’ll be seated in a swanky, spacious, high-ceilinged room, dripping in candlelight, with plaster artfully peeling off the walls, where the whole experience will start to unfurl and will provide you a moody vibe. Not only does Hop Sing brag one of the largest selections of cocktails in the country, but their carefully crafted spirits are not ordinary mixtures in any sense; each incorporates supremely high-quality well cocktails. You won’t be able to experience that great value anywhere else. The air of exclusivity and a true commitment to the rules may put off some efforts, but this is one of the only speakeasy-style swanky bars in Philadelphia that still feels like an absolute secret, so do embrace it.
Best Bar Restaurants in Philadelphia
When you are out and about fulfilling your cocktail needs in Philadelphia, chances are pretty high that at some point you’re going to crave for the food as well. With Philadelphia’s culinary options continuing to grow and innovate, it’s no wonder that a restaurant bar programs are a good choice. From posh concept and classy to solid neighborhood institutions, Philadelphia’s has some of the finest restaurants that serve deliciously exotic food along with freshly brewed boozes to become a perfect combination. And for a city that likes to drink a lot, it’s no surprise that they’re quickly becoming drinking spots in their own way. The best thing one could do is to select a bar that also serves delicious food. That way you’ll never even have to leave your bar stool whenever there is a hold of hunger on you. Therefore, to fulfill your extreme craving for delightful food and awesome booze, we’ve got you covered with a list of Philadelphia’s best bar restaurants, good enough to try on the go:
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
This Philly institution is about more than 150 years old, located on a narrow alleyway between Sansom and Chestnut streets, it is a beautiful place for approachable eats, cheap drinks, and good vibes. The historic brick front of the bar and neon-lighting for McGillin’s Olde Ale House are the sings that you’ve come to the exact place. It is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia. It’s a family-led institution and in it’s such a long history, the bar has been owned by only two families. Decades of city history cover the walls, from old photographs to random memorabilia, including a vast collection of signs from former Philadelphia icons that the bar has revived. It has got a mostly beer-centric bar menu, with a huge variety. For the most authentic tastes, you could try one of the three house beers, all made by P.A.-based Stoudts Brewing: the McGillin’s Real Lager, the McGillin’s Ale, and McGillin’s 1860 IPA, created in honor of the bar’s 150th anniversary, in 2010. Overall it’s a great option to add value to your Philadelphia’s tour.
Friday Saturday Sunday
If you would picture your favorite neighborhood restaurant and we are pretty much sure that this little bar restaurant will be ten times nicer than your favorite one. The tiny bar and restaurant, just off of Rittenhouse Square, is the kind of hidden oasis every city dweller could ever dream of: One long, narrow room with an oversized marble bar, just-right lighting, and a constantly changing cocktail list that provides you a vast variety on every visit. Owners Chad and Hanna Williams brag culinary pedigrees, too, both are veterans of Jose Garces hotspots El Vez and Alma de Cuba—ensuring that the food being served is as impressive as its bar program. Served from the main menu, like dry-aged roasted duck breast and sweet potato agnolotti with braised oxtail will leave you vigorously embracing the food.
American Sardine Bar
Extremely famous for its $2 sardine sandwich, American Sardine Bar is a local favorite bar restaurant in the rapidly changing neighborhood of Point Breeze. Its 16 taps and more than 50 beers in cans change regularly, so there’s always something new when you hit the bar. The bar also serves deliciously exotic food to fulfill your craving for the food, because of the internationally influenced food menu, which is short but makes sure to include something to please everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.
Located at 530 South Street, Queen Village, Vivid, strange, cluttered, occasionally sticky, the place looks like a craft store that has been exploded inside, but it’s full of great people, supreme beer, fun food, and unusual cocktails that all defy logical description. With its creative and crafty green walls full of art and old furniture, candy, and punk-leaning crowd, Tattooed Mom has fit right into its neighborhood since it opened nearly two decades ago. Beer offerings in bottles and on tap are lavish and the food menu is equipped with inexpensive fried snacks, sandwiches, and even a very good vegan selection. Cocktail-wise, try a pickletini or TMom’s signature cocktail, which will really stimulate your taste buds in a positive manner.
The Good King Tavern
Located at 614 S. Seventh St., it is a father-daughter partnership: Bernard Grigri, a French-born businessman, and Chloe Grigri, who’s been in and out of the biz. They’ve recruited Paul Lyons, a former chef de cuisine at Barbuzzo and Jamonera and more recently chef de cuisine at Morgan’s Pier, to give a French touch to the bar restaurant and its menu.
With help from Owen Kamihira, they were considered successful in lightening up the classic barroom interior, whose antique mirrors and old-fashioned lighting impart a certain comfortable affection with the place. There’s seating in booths and tables, as well as at a high-top wooden, communal table. Overall this restaurant will provide you quality food and snacks which will be accompanied by a great cocktail menu.
Located at 4708 Baltimore Avenue, University City, It is one of the bar restaurants that offer delicious international cuisine to its guests. Being a bar-restaurant that serves traditional East African cuisine in an authentic Habesha setting. It has great Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Dahlak has been a popular choice for food and booze for the residents around Baltimore Avenue since it opened in 1987. The food is deliciously exotic and in the basement was a live performance space, where drinks were always strong and affordable. The oldest child of Neghisti and Solomon, Ephream Amare currently runs the bar as well as manages acts for the venue’s weekly shows. In due course of time, Ephream has helped revive Dahlak as one of the most vivid and eclectic nightspots on Baltimore Ave. Along with that, it has a great list of cocktail in the accompanying bar. But on Tuesday nights, Dahlak is also a destination for West Philadelphian karaoke fans.
Located at 101 N. 11th St., the Ten years of Vietnamese themes at in Chinatown are giving way to a seriously emerging beer bar. The bar hasn’t been named after an owner or occupant but is simply a pun on Barley. They’ve deconstructed the balcony and renovated walls to yield a high-ceilinged room with wooden floors. The menu has pub-style food with some Asian additions. Covering a wide variety like BBQ ribs, mussels and a raw bar, all sorts of wings, rice and noodle dishes, clams, a grass-fed burger as well as one that’s 50-percent beef and 50-percent pork belly, banh mi, a bulgogi sandwich, flatbread pizza, spring rolls, and much more to give your taste buds a tasty challenge. Along with the deviously exotic food, they also offer a wide variety of drinks which could be enjoyed along with the food.
Best Nightclubs in Philadelphia
Dance clubs in Philadelphia have been evolved from the days of pounding music, flashing lights and dubious attire. While some clubs still revel in their thumping beats and laser light shows, others take pride in offering refuge from the noisy street with expertly mixed, fresh cocktails, plush seating, and a comfortable perch from which to serenely take in the action. Whether you enjoy sophisticated classic or the modern rock, you’ll find a place that will allow you to relax, let loose and enjoy a night of fun out with friends, coworkers, a special if you’re out with you other half. The city has got some great nightclubs that will deliver great drinks and a convenient, attractive, upscale location when it comes to high profile guests, top notch music. No matter where you end up sitting in this city, you’ll surely find great drinks, music, and the chance to show your lit moves, which is really what it’s all about. Hop into the following clubs to enjoy the above experience:
Cuba Libre Restaurant
Located in the Old City area, Cuba Libre is a fun and vibrant restaurant and club, where professional costumed dancers entertain the whole crowd in a floorshow that highlights a Cuban master singers, percussionist, and a Latin DJ spinning Tropical Dance, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Latin House music. After watching the spectacular show, the mojito- and sangria-drinking audience at this Old City Cuban club gets to join in on the dance floor. Bottle service includes features many of the cocktails, including a 21-year aged rum you might want to sample, greedily. All in all, the Caribbean decor, tropical atmosphere, and upbeat Latin music blends to provide you a perfect combination which make this a great place to hang out with friends, or join in on a salsa with your partner.
Located at Northern Liberties, This place is a Delaware Avenue club offers up to 4 rooms in which you can party and appreciate and the music. It’s a huge place with a capacity of over 2000, so it’s not you regular little lounge tucked away in the city. You’ll like the bottle service, including the ability to wander from room to room for a change of pace, and the presence of a large waterfront deck, which many of the modern nightclubs doesn’t offer. This is a pretty hard-core and serious destination for serious partiers, bachelorette parties and promoters throwing themed events like swimsuit competitions, this place is not be missed.
Located in Old City area, this place is live for more than 15 years. Brasil’s has been curating out Latin beats for dancers shaking it to rhumba, salsa, and tango. Occasionally, live bands take the place of DJs, and every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday professional instructors teach drop-in salsa classes. This establishment is a great place to hang out, and experience a night out for those whose idea of great music leans more towards the classic side. All levels of dancers admire each other here to get their dance on, so don’t be shy if you’re a beginner, and certainly come strut your stuff if you’ve got skills you’d love to show off.
Located at Rittenhouse Square, the Whisper Club is a place where the city’s best-dressed party goers ride an elevator to the second-floor club, where six bars, a light-show, and two elevated VIP platforms await to entertain them. Private VIP bottle-service areas overflow with sparkling wines cognacs, and cocktails conceived by skilled mixologists, to challenge your taste buds. Technically, this is a private club which allows it stay open until 3 a.m. in the morning. But memberships can be purchased at the door. Head here if you’re in the mood to dress up, dance, enjoy deliciously mixed drinks made by staff who really know what they’re doing. All in all, it’s a hot club, and anyone who appreciates being a part of that kind of happening vibe knows to put this place at the top of their list.
Located at Penn’s Landing, At this place, Zee Bar wont certainly let you feel bored. You can start off with shrimps and crab cocktail, enjoy sophisticated cocktails and take advantage of a VIP bottle service menu that lists nine sparkling wines. Accompanied by Professional acrobatic performers the bar, on overall, enhances the DJ lineup at this high-end spot, where membership applications are taken at the door. This fairly small sized clubs opens from Wednesday to Saturday and stays open until 3 a.m., so you’re sure to get your long awaited nightlife entertainment. Dancing, great drinks, excellent music and non-stop entertainment and the chance to mingle with friends or your other half, makes Zee Bar a really great option.
Events held in Philadelphia
Like every other city of United States, Philadelphia has also got a long list of ever-growing fest ivals and events held throughout the year to provide a great and cheap source of entertainment to the visitors and the locals. Philadelphia’s world-renowned festivals and events celebrate art, food, culture, music, and history throughout the premises of the city. We’ve come up with a list of some of the biggest and renowned festivals held in the City of Philadelphia so that you can truly experience the real cultural feel of the city:
Held on the very first day of the year, the lineup for the Mummers Parade includes 10,000 vividly costumed people of all age groups strutting down one of the city’s main streets. The troupes in the String Band division continuously entertain crowds with live music and prepared dance performances; the Fancy Brigades stage focuses indoor performances at the Pennsylvania Convention Center
Philadelphia Auto Show
Held in the starting of every February in every winter, the Pennsylvania Convention Center transforms into what can be termed as a car lover’s dream, including a display of more than 700 pre-productions, hot-production, classic and exotic vehicles from just about every maker. This type of auto shows provide cheap entertainment to vehicle enthusiasts and also promote awareness regarding the supercars.
Philly Craft Beer Festival
Held in the start of every March, Philly Craft Beer Festival is one of the top 10 beer festivals in America. Organized in tents, it is home to 75 domestic and international breweries. Along with this the festival also organizes food trucks and a VIP section that presents rare and expensive beers. Overall, this festival could be best in understanding the beer culture of Philadelphia and could also prove to be a great source of entertainment for locals and tourists.
African American History & Cultural Showcase
Held in the mid of April, This annual event is home to private exhibits that have never been shown in museums, panel discussions, documentary films, lectures, workshops historical reenactments, poetry readings, performances, and historical concerts, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. All in all this festival could be great to understand the African and American cultural history.
Latino Film Festival
Held at the end of May or starting of June, this filmy weekend showcases short films, feature films, youth films, animations and documentaries with subtitles by established and emerging Latin American filmmakers. Workshops and discussions round out the offerings to accompany the fest. Overall it’s an excellent choice for a film enthusiast.
To conclude a little bit, we went through a brief introduction of the Philadelphia along with a brief introduction of its prominent norms, and culture. We also went through different activities and places to enjoy the nightlife of Philly city like Axe-throwing competition and going to the SugerHouse Casino. Such activities provide a great source of entertainment for tourists and locals as well. Moreover, these activities also help a newcomer understand the true cultural norms of a city.
We also established how there is a diversity in terms of hotels, restaurants, and bars. We also understood the norms and behavior of the people regarding the nightlife of Philadelphia. With that being said we went through the exotic kind of options available in bars. The Bars such as Thirsty Soul, Ranstead Room, and Tattooed Mom made it to the top.
To cater your food craving we also went through a comprehensive list of bar-restaurants who provide delicious food along with a touch of booze. This delightful combination of food and booze really pushes the limits of Nightlife entertainment and adds a great value tour.
To really introduce you with the Philadelphian nightclubs, we also went through a comprehensive list of such clubs that further refines your experience of your tour to Philadelphia.
And finally, that leads us to the different types of festivals and event organized in the city. We believe that such events provide a great understanding of the overall cultural norms of a city and also prove to be a great source of entertainment for all.
Make sure to give try the above recommendation which will really add value to your tour.