Offbeat fun for a day in Philadelphia
August 17, 2018 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I asked this question last year about cool and quirky things to do with older teens in NYC for a week. Now we're going to hang out in Philly - but just for a day. I've only been to Philadelphia a handful of times so I'm kind of stumped for ideas. Hence this question!

My nieces are 14 and 17 and super fun kids who are thankfully easy to please. It was their idea to come to Philly since they've never been there before (and it's not hard to get there from NYC). They're psyched to go to the Mütter Museum (I've been there and loved it), and I figured we'd go to the Reading Terminal Market for some good grub. But that's about as far as I've gotten!

They're into thrift stores and record stores and anything LGBTQ. Younger Niece is really into John Waters and Rocky Horror and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (so if there's anything from the show to visit that would be top on the list). We're all into walking through fun neighborhoods (especially if they have lots of dogs). Novelty food joints are also a plus (they loved getting cookie dough at DŌ last year).

The tricky part is that we'll be there just for a day - most likely the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. And part of that day will be commuting the two hours back and forth from NYC. (I'm guessing we'll be there from maybe 10 AM to 6 PM.) So we won't want to go TOO far from the Greyhound station. I imagine we'll walk everywhere but we can take a Lyft if there's something really fun a little further out.

I am really excited to take this trip with them and am looking forward to any suggestions you all may have. Thanks!
posted by Neely O'Hara to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Your best option would be to head south to South Street. The Greyhound station is 10th and Filbert. Reading Terminal is 12th and Market. Follow the even streets south going with traffic until you hit South Street. You'll pass the Gayborhood and on South Street, you've got pretty much everything from anarchist bookshops, cheesesteak palaces (Jim's is the quintessential stop), a few consignment and thrift shops. Yes, there's a record shop too. And oh, the Magic Garden! There's even a dog park a block away from the Whole Foods on South Street. Eventually you'll hit the river. It'll pale in comparison to NYC, but it's a fun day.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:56 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Heads up that the Made In America festival will be going on at the Ben Franklin Parkway (near the Philadelphia Museum of Art) so traveling around that site will be a nightmare.

Go to Philly AIDS Thrift for a solid thrift store. It's a block or two away from South St and Repo Records. South St itself has a bunch of offbeat stores that are fun to check out.

Normally I'd suggest Eastern State Penitentiary as the surrounding Fairmount neighborhood is very nice but the MIA festival will probably make this part of the city even more crowded than it usually is.

There's no Paddy's Pub in Philly (sorry).
posted by Diskeater at 10:00 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Magic Garden!
posted by Mavri at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For dogs and LGBTQ you'll want to hit up the gayborhood (now rebranded as "midtown village"). Giovanni's Room is a bit outside the village technically but is fun spot (I have not been there since it has reopened).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:24 AM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can confirm that Giovanni's Room is still wonderful and very queer and is a great place to just poke around and browse. (It's now owned by Philly AIDS Thrift, though it's still primarily books.)

Seconding Magic Garden as well! South Street has been steadily losing its weird arty-ness since, um, the 70's, but there's still a lot of cool stuff hanging on. I don't know that it counts as novelty, but South St Diner holds a special place in my heart. Famous 4th St Deli is a city fixture, though be aware that their portion size is best described as 'astonishing'.
posted by kalimac at 10:38 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
^"Cheers" -style TV show cash-in
^part owned by Mac
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:43 AM on August 17, 2018

Best answer: +1 to the Magic Gardens, which is my first thought for anything Philly + offbeat or quirky.
posted by serelliya at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2018

Best answer: Just making sure that the Mütter Museum was mentioned. Carry on.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:40 PM on August 17, 2018

Best answer: I live a couple of blocks from Eastern State Penitentiary, an unique and wonderful place to visit. Yes, the Made in America weekend concert makes travel very difficult, but the location of ESP and the Greyhound station are both easily accessible, and won't necessarily involve entanglement with MIA detours and snarls.

If you take the subway (runs underneath Broad Street - Orange line) the stop to get off on is Fairmount Avenue. This is only accessible on the Local train line, not the Express. Fairmount Ave crosses at Broad ( which could have been called 14th St). Walk to 21st and Fairmount and you are at the entrance to the prison, which takes up an entire block.

If you don't get there on this visit, try to come back in October, when ESP hosts the most incredible haunted house in the country "Terror Behind the Walls". It goes on every night in October and is just amazing. Since the prison is so huge, it's only in one part, and the regular tour is available during the day.

If you or your nieces are interested in social justice, ESP has make a recent decision to focus on incarceration issues and has many programs for visitors highlighting different aspects.
posted by citygirl at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2018

Best answer: If you end up on South Street there are interesting stores going down 4th.
posted by sepviva at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2018

Response by poster: These are all such great suggestions. I'm even trying to see if I can wrangle my credit card points for a hotel so we can stay the night and fit more sightseeing in. Thanks so much!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:10 AM on August 18, 2018

Response by poster: An update: My nieces and I had a BLAST in Philadelphia! The suggestions were so helpful. They loved Philly AIDS Thrift and South Street in general, and HeyAllie, thanks so much for mentioning the dog park! That was one of our favorite parts of the trip and I never would have found it if you hadn't suggested it. (And we did get a hotel room and stayed up until 1:00 AM talking about everything - made the trip even more fun.)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

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