Getting around Philadelphia on foot at night
November 25, 2009 2:38 PM   Subscribe

How do I walk around Philadelphia on Saturday night? Is there anything in particular I should know?

I'm traveling from DC to Philly the night of the 28th of November, Saturday, to see the Mountain Goats in concert and visit with friends. I'm staying at the Windsor Suites near Suburban Station and arriving by Amtrak to 30th Street Station. Obviously, I need to get from one to the other and then back again without ending up tits-up in the Schuylkill. I'm not very familiar with Philadelphia. Here are my questions:

1) Is a good idea to walk from 30th Street Station to the hotel, which is next to Suburban Station? On Google Maps it looks like there's no sidewalk on some of the streets. If I can't walk, how much would a cab run me? Is SEPTA a viable option? This will be around 8:15-8:30.

2) Is it a good idea to walk from the hotel to the Theater of the Living Arts? Which route should I take? Google Maps suggests going through some public parks, but since it will be after dark, I'm a little skeptical about the idea. Of course, they could be like DuPont Circle Park in DC which doesn't have anywhere for people to hide after dark and is totally safe. This will be around 8:30-8:45. If not, what alternatives should I look into?

3) Is it a good idea to walk back to the hotel? Which route should I take? Same considerations apply as above, but this will probably be closer to 11:00-12:00. Once again, alternatives to walking are good if they're needed.
posted by Electrius to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) I'd jump on any SEPTA train going east (toward Market East)--it will be one stop to Suburban. Or you could take a cab. It would be very cheap.

2) I'd cab it, just because it is a schlep.

3) I'd cab it, just because it is a schlep.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2009

The SEPTA regional rail trains that run from 30th Street Station to Suburban Station are free for that part of the journey. They begin checking fares beyond Suburban Station (or, if going the other direction, Market East Station). So when you get in from Amtrak, go downstairs and find the next train going to Suburban Station. There should be a video monitor telling you just that information.
posted by inturnaround at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2009

If I take a cab to/from the theater, how much would that cost, including tip?
posted by Electrius at 3:20 PM on November 25, 2009

Cab is prolly your best option, as it's really not very far...maybe 20 blocks?

As a data point, one night in 2000 I walked from @ 5th & Market to @ 30th & Spring Garden, alone at @ 11pm b/c I had time to kill. Took me about an hour. I had some interesting conversations, including one with a nice gentleman who dropped a crack rock on the sidewalk and asked me to help him look for it. (We couldn't find it.)
posted by gnutron at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

IMO, it's not going to be a dangerous walk if you keep your wits about you. If you're easily skeeved out, don't do it. Just take SEPTA. Not sure about the cab fare...try this? I'm sure someone else will weigh in, though.
posted by xiaolongbao at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2009

Last time I checked, cabs in Philly were pricier than NY. Say $15 bucks to get from hotel to TLA? Pure guessery.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:42 PM on November 25, 2009

If the TLA still has the angled floor it did years ago (I heard there have been renovations in recent years), your feet will be killing you after the show and you'll need a cab regardless of the distance to the hotel.
posted by dayintoday at 3:44 PM on November 25, 2009

I'm with Admiral Haddock. Philadelphia is, typically, a very walkable city and it's not a dangerous walk through Center City. It's just a real hike from the Ben Franklin Parkway all the way down to South Street. Even when I was a teenager and went to school in the BF PKY area and lived in the South Street area, I never walked the whole distance. I took the bus at least part of the way. The 17 bus could cut down on the amount of walking, traveling up and down 19th and 20th streets and intersecting South Street and Market Street. But, that still leaves you about 16 blocks of South Street to walk down on your way to the TLA. If you get tired of walking, you can catch the 40 bus that runs down South Street. If you plan on taking the bus, leave early and leave yourself plenty of time to get to the show. The bus is kind of slow and traffic is a variable.

Get some cheese fries at Ishkabibble's across the street from the TLA after the show and cab it back to the hotel.
posted by Jon-o at 3:48 PM on November 25, 2009

If you want to walk to the TLA, maybe in one direction, this is the route I would take. The Windsor Suites is at 17th and the Parkway. Walk up 17th St. (heading south) towards Market. Proceed to Walnut, about 6 blocks, turn left and walk until Broad St. (3 blocks). Walnut is a very nice street, lots of restaurants and people. Turn right at Broad, so again you're heading south. This is a very busy street with lots of theaters, restaurants, a few hotels. Walk 2 or 3 blocks and turn left at either Spruce or Pine. Both are nice residential streets. Walk until about 10th St (4 blocks) and turn right. Again you're going south. Go 3-4 blocks and you'll hit South St, which is where the TLA is. Corner of 10th of South are two supermarkets, one is Whole Foods. Turn left, you're heading east and the TLA will be a few blocks down. You'll get a flavor of South St, which is quite busy on a Saturday night.

All total I'm guessing it's about two miles. This is much easier than I've made it sound, basically you're just zig zagging to pick the nicest streets. Constantly heading South then East then South again, etc. I've walked this route many times and if the weather's nice you will enjoy this walk.
posted by daikon at 4:30 PM on November 25, 2009

It's been 5 years since I lived in Philadelphia, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it's going to be a challenge getting a cab after a show at TLA, especially if it's either cold or raining. You may have to walk a few blocks just to get away from the hordes of other people trying to do the same thing. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a good place nearby to catch a cab, but I seem to remember that my friends and I used to do OK just walking a few blocks in the general direction in which we were heading and trying to hail a passing cab on the way.
posted by kaybdc at 5:02 PM on November 25, 2009

I don't know about that particular route, but I recently found out that Philly cabs are cheaper, nicer, and safer than DC cabs. And they take credit cards.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:19 PM on November 25, 2009

You could totally walk all that, at night, perfectly safely. I mean, that's a good bit of walking but I wouldn't have a problem with it, it's the best way to experience downtown Philly.
posted by The Straightener at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2009

First of all, neither route is too dangerous to walk. It's pretty hard to walk far enough in Center to get yourself in any real trouble neighborhood-wise. Don't worry about avoiding parks. Rittenhouse Square in particular is lovely to walk through, and is almost always full of people.

The hike from 30th to Suburban is not very interesting and kind of a long haul. Just get off your train at 30th Street, follow the signs for SEPTA, and take the Market-Frankford line to Surburban Station.

Me, I'd walk to the the TLA (that's what we call it) and take a cab back to the hotel. It's really not hard to get a cab around there, if the street is crowded, just start walking back to your hotel and catch one on the way.)
posted by desuetude at 8:53 PM on November 25, 2009

you can get any of the regional rail lines from 30th street station to suburban station. for free. no need to switch to the el.
posted by timory at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2009

timory, he's on Amtrak, so he's gotta switch to SEPTA regardless.
posted by desuetude at 6:51 AM on November 27, 2009

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