Where the People Go: Philadelphia
Locals share their fave spots to fully experience the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love.
Philly’s vibe is full of art and soul. Whenever I’m in town, I enjoy the awe-inspiring street murals peppered throughout the city. There are great places to stay like the classic Bellevue Hotel, the only one in the city on the National Register of Historic Places. The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, a boutique hotel in an art deco landmark building, has spacious rooms and a complimentary wine hour every night (hello).
The City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love is also a foodie paradise with cuisine offerings from comfort dishes at Honey’s Sit N Eat to upscale vegetable and plant-based fare at Vedge. There’s so much to do and see, we asked some hometown sisters to share their favorite places to eat, drink and be merry.
“Pretty Girls Cook is a super cute, Black woman-owned spot. They serve delicious comfort food and it’s a BYOB! If you’re looking for a [brunch] place to catch up with your girls, this is for you. Oh, and the music is dope.” –Jenea Robinson, 33, owner of natural hair and lifestyle boutique Marsh + Mane.
“When I want to get my sinful carbs craving on with blueberry pancakes and crispy turkey bacon from the Amish, I go to the Dutch Eating Place in Reading Terminal Market in the heart of Center City. This popular place often has folks standing in line, but it’s so worth the wait.” –Dyana Williams, 64, radio personality and TV broadcaster
“I’m doing my best to stay off red meat but when it’s time to get my monthly fix, I love Jamaica Way because their oxtails are so tender. I must admit though, a veggie plate with rice and peas with oxtail gravy, sweet plantains and cabbage also makes my heart content.” –Cedra Walton, 51, entrepreneurial mom
“I live for the chicken cheesesteaks at Mama’s Pizzeria in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania [bordering West Philly] and the crab and avocado at Parc overlooking Rittenhouse Square.” –Nicole Duncan Smith, 45, minister and writer
Out for the night
“For happy hour, my hands down top spot is South. It’s the premiere establishment in Philadelphia, far from the overpriced, stuffy crowds at other venues. The drinks include a deep whiskey list with flair and seasonal specialties.” –Crystal Edwards, 45, middle school principal
“World Cafe Live is small and intimate with good sound and usually interesting acts. It’s also directly on a bus line and a block from 30th Street Station. And when I say directly on a bus line, I mean a bus stops in front from downtown.” –Tonya Pendleton, 53, web content editor
“R2L is a great spot to relax and unwind. I'm a tequila girl and the margaritas are always on point.” –Melinda Emerson, 46, president of a marketing consulting firm
“Relish is a staple for live music and good Southern cuisine in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. They have a calendar of events and you can easily make a reservation for dinner and a show.” –Cherise Stewart, 47, travel agent
Where to shop
“Amazulu Collections in Reading Terminal is my go-to place for one-of-a-kind jewelry. Charita Powell is the owner and has eclectic pieces from around the world, from Africa to Bali to Indonesia.” –Crystal Edwards
“For the best women’s designer clothes and accessories in Center City, I go to Joan Shepp, usually during their big sales. Tuesday Gordon is the welcoming, attentive and knowledgeable manager, who embodies sisterly affection when you browse or shop.” –Dyana Williams
“A Part of Me: Here you can find unique pieces and a bunch of styles.” – Aisha Al–Muid, 44, educator
“Lou Lou boutique is my go-to store for a quick gift or fabulous statement necklace for myself. Even if you’re shopping for someone who isn’t into jewelry, Lou Lou has unique soaps, lotions, candles, scarves, bags, hats, journals and more.” –Melinda Emerson
Things to do
“Philly is a great sports town and all four of our major league teams — Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers — play in arenas right next to each other, accessible via subway. –Tonya Pendleton
“The Barnes Foundation is my favorite museum in Philadelphia. The building and the artwork have such a cool vibe. If you want to learn about impressionism, this is the ideal place. I really enjoy the First Friday events they often host.” –Melinda Emerson
“Urban Art Gallery supports local artists, and showcases amazing talent and community outreach programming.” –Aisha Al–Muid
“Uncle Bobbie’s, the coffee shop and bookstore owned by Marc Lamont Hill, is the quintessential place for intelligent dialogue. Nothing better than reading Stamped from the Beginning while drinking decedent pumpkin spice.” –Crystal Edwards
“Molly’s has a great selection of vintage books and records. They have everything from the time warp.” –Crystal Edwards
“When I need to get good and relaxed, I head to the luxurious Underground Spa & Wellness. The manager, Lanez Perry, and her staff go the distance to attend to guests from check–in to departure. The saltwater heated pool and tranquil meditation lounge are divine. They offer nail services, skincare and body treatments. I love their scented candles and self–care products. I soak nightly in their therapeutic sweet birch magnesium bath flakes.” –Dyana Williams
“Studio 34 is a one-of-a-kind yoga studio with incredible teachers and a variety of classes. I enjoy the align and flow class, which offers alignment principles in a playful way while teaching us to heal and transform our bodies. They also offer a West African dance class with live drumming, which is a ton of fun and great cardio.” –Melinda Emerson
“I love to walk Forbidden Drive, my own little peaceful part of the Fairmount Park trails. It has shade and historic markers like the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge, the only remaining historic covered bridge in a major city.” –Cherise Stewart
“Clark Park is located in my favorite neighborhood — West Philadelphia! The people are really chill and depending on when you go, you can enjoy free movies, a farmer’s market and vintage fairs.” –Jenea Robinson
“I love jogging and biking alongside the Schuylkill River. I spend many mornings there meditating, praying and doing yoga. It’s my place where I can meet God. You can find nature trails and rental bikes, and it’s a great spot to play music, read a book or have a picnic. I always reference it as the therapeutic route.” –Cedra Walton