At the end of a long day of work or sightseeing, shopping or visiting friends, heading out to enjoy Philadelphia at night can oftentimes be the best part of your day. Whether your idea of a great time is settling into a seat at the Kimmel Center to take in some culture, catching a band at World Cafe Live for a few hours, or wandering through shops and boutiques as part of First Friday, there’s sure to be plenty for you to do here.
Fortunately, 10Best helps you narrow down the many venues here so you can explore Philadelphia’s nightlife on your own and choose the places with the most appeal for your crowd. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you won’t want to miss. Find the activity that will round out your city experience the best. If you’ve got enough time, perhaps you’ll want to try several places or save some for your next visit here. It’s nice to have options.
This Philadelphia music venue has already become a staple in the indie-rock scene, hosting touring bands and local musical groups alike. Located in a beautifully renovated historic building in the Callowhill neighborhood, the place boasts three full bars, snacks and ice cream in the summer. This club is as hospitable, though, as it is rockin’. Folks welcome the opportunity to come here to check out new groups and to share their musical appreciation over a drink or two. Fans love that the space never feels crowded, has high ceilings so that ventilation and acoustics are good, and staff are accommodating and friendly.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Concert-goers will love the small venue coziness and great sound that come together here to make this place a great after-hours hotspot.
Sharon’s expert tip: This venue is mostly standing room, so if you want a seat, go to the bar area or to the upstairs balcony.
Read more about Union Transfer →
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco/Visit Philly
Blue Cross River Rink is home to WinterFest as well as SummerFest and offers visitors of all ages a great way to enjoy some outdoor time while in the city. Come during the daytime, or visit after the sun goes down for a wonderful way to bring the day to a close. Food, beverages, fun and space to play makes this venue a great choice no matter what time of the year you visit. During warmer months, pop on a pair of roller skates (available for rent here) and try your hand at skating. Laughter and silliness are sure to ensue as you and your companions try to master this fun sport. If you’re here during the colder months, the rink is available for ice skating and the lodge here is a great break. Enjoy twinkling lights, seasonal decor and celebrations, and good conversation with a pretty view of the water.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This venue allows you to enjoy a spin around the roller rink or ice rink, complimented by good music, food, drink and comfy seating.
Sharon’s expert tip: Don’t just sit and watch when you’re here, hop up and take part in the fun for a truly memorable time.
Read more about Blue Cross RiverRink →
Photo courtesy of Jason Smith for GPTMC JasonSmith.com Visit Philly
An oldie but a goodie. While dozens of newer craft-beer bars have opened since this one, you can’t argue with a destination that’s still considered the beer mecca of Philadelphia. Called “One of the Top Ten Places to Drink a Beer Before You Die” by All About Beer magazine, Monk’s pours several hundred of the world’s best beers and almost single-handedly originated the Belgian beer craze in America. If you can tear yourself away from the beer, there’s also food: European dishes cooked in beer, eight different preparations of mussels and seven burger topping combinations, each named after something related to Belgium.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Monk’s offers visitors quality craft beers and food in a cozy setting, and has been voted one of the best places to grab a beer.
Sharon’s expert tip: Monk’s bartenders are among the most knowledgeable in the business, and they expect patrons to have many, many questions about the leather-bound beer menu. As long as you don’t make a pest of yourself, you should feel comfortable asking questions and requesting samples.
Read more about Monk’s Cafe →
Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti for Visit Philly
Located in the geographical heart of the city, Rittenhouse Square serves as a hub for much of Philadelphia’s more upscale shopping, dining and people-watching. Rittenhouse Square itself glows gorgeously all year round with its multi-colored globe lights suspended from tree branches but it’s what surrounds the park that’s probably more interesting for a seeker of nightlife entertainment. The ritzy neighborhood (called “Rittenhouse Square” or simply, “Rittenhouse”) is home to a wealth of national retail boutiques and dozens of top restaurants, bars and even late-night ice cream and cheese shops. Walk around, stop into a shop or two, have a meal, a snack or a beverage, meet a friend, walk your pooch, or chat it up with others in the area. Rittenhouse Square is a hub for upscale enjoyment.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Chic, trendy and upscale, this area offers plenty of alternatives for those looking for a little something fun to do after dark.
Sharon’s expert tip: Prepare to park in a lot or spend lots of time driving around looking for a spot â” parking is tight. Once you’re here, though, the setting is lovely and the activities are many.
Read more about Rittenhouse Square →
Photo courtesy of E. Frizzelle for Visit Philly
This unassuming venue is a community-focused listening room that caters to serious music fans in and around Philadelphia. World Cafe books an impressive variety of talent from week to week, including national acts like Shawn Mullins, Suzanne Vega, KRS-One and Rickie Lee Jones as well as local Philly faves like MJ Project and The Roddies. Catch a group you’ve heard about over and over again, or check out one you’ve never seen for an entertaining and foot-tapping evening that’s perfect for groups of all sizes. The upstairs cafe-bar is open throughout the week and features regular live acts of its own. Food is served both upstairs and down.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This venue delivers entertainment from an incredible variety of talented performers and is the perfect place to discover your next favorite artist.
Sharon’s expert tip: World Cafe Live is dedicated to providing accessible music to all, and in addition to offering a great place to see live music, they also partner with many local educational groups to bring music into the city in other ways.
Read more about World Cafe Live →
Photo courtesy of Morgan’s Pier/FCM Hospitality
Open during the warmer months, Morgan’s Pier is an attractive waterfront activity option that offers a restaurant setting as well as doubles as a music venue. It is located right on the river, with outdoor seating that delivers unobstructed views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. There are two separate full bars and backyard beer garden, as well as countless things to do to occupy your crowd. Perfect for the over-21 set, it’s open seven days a week, Mondays through Thursdays at 4pm, and on the weekends from noon on. Pop in here, grab a BBQ dinner complimented with summertime cocktail or drink options, catch some tunes and enjoy the company of good friends. It’s the recipe for a perfect afternoon or evening.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Morgan’s Pier is new, delivers on beautiful views, pretty outdoor seating, live music, good food and delicious drinks, so its a win any night.
Sharon’s expert tip: If you’re on a schedule or concerned about when you eat, try making reservations online for indoor dining. Otherwise, rely on walk-up service or relax with a cocktail while you wait on busy evenings.
Read more about Morgan’s Pier →
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco for Visit Philly
As home to the American Theater Arts for Youth, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Peter Nero & the Philly Pops, Pennsylvania Ballet, PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Philadelphia Orchestra, the magnificent Kimmel Center is the cultural heart of the city. Beyond the resident companies, Verizon Hall and the Perelman Theater both play host to performances from Broadway shows to African Jazz ensembles. This tremendous venue has plenty to offer music lovers, dance aficionados, theater fans, and those who appreciate quality vocals. Be sure to pause to take in the beauty of the place when you’re seated, as it is worth the attention. Enjoy the show!
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: When you’re in the mood for culture, nothing beats the variety of the offerings at the Kimmel Center.
Sharon’s expert tip: If you’re a student, fill out the online registration form to qualify for discount tickets to select events.
Read more about Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts →
Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti for Visit Philly
Spruce Street Harbor Park is a seasonal pop-up park on Philadelphia’s waterfront. Offering fun amenities such as hammocks, lawn games, chairs by the water, food and drink options, music and good times to locals, visitors, friends, family and even strangers, this park is a terrific option both during the day and at night. Spruce Street Harbor Park is free to enter, and features sponsored Happy Hours periodically throughout the summer, along with music and special events. It’s a great way to start or finish off a weekend in the city with people you care about or just by yourself.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The ability to be a kid again in a park filled with brightly colored distractions, entertainment options, food and drink is a sure fit.
Sharon’s expert tip: This park offers a variety of entertainment, so be sure to wander about to see the options available to you. Keep in mind it is also a seasonal park, open only May through October.
Read more about Spruce Street Harbor Park →
Photo courtesy of A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia
If you are in Philadelphia during the first Friday of the month, don’t miss a chance to explore the city’s incredible art scene. This fun, free open house takes enthusiasts and newbies alike through many of the galleries and boutiques in the city, especially the Old City Arts District. Found mostly between Front and Third, and Market and Vine Streets, the 40-plus galleries open their doors to share a wide range of artistic creations, including everything from contemporary works in various mediums to ceramic arts. In many, you’ll be offered a bite to eat, or a glass of wine to sip while you browse. First Friday is a fun and funky way to experience art in the city, or to pick up a sweet picture for over the fireplace.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: First Friday is funky and fun. It’s entertaining and worth doing alone or with friends, even if you’re not looking to purchase any art.
Sharon’s expert tip: Bring cash, as many of the folksy sidewalk craft vendors don’t take plastic, and be sure to double check openings during COVID since things can change quickly.
Read more about First Friday →
As the longest, widest, busiest street in the region, Avenue of the Arts would likely be some sort of destination even it weren’t home to more than 50 of the city’s premier arts and culture institutions. But as the home to dozens of performing arts venues (and sprouting new high-end retail boutiques and eating and drinking establishments practically by the month), this stretch of South Broad Street grows ever more bustling. A trip here can include a theater visit, restaurant stop, or a retail boutique shopping excursion, among other things. Most noted for the many Broadway-quality shows it attracts during the year, this area is a must-do for visitors looking to add a little fun and culture to their Philadelphia nightlife scene.
Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This is a great place to take in a show, shop, eat or drink. It’s also the perfect venue for an after-hours cultural treat.
Sharon’s expert tip: As the cast sings in “Les Miserables,” be sure to “look down, look down” or you’ll miss Philly’s own star-studded Walk of Fame tribute to its locally grown theatrical and musical celebrities.
Read more about Avenue of the Arts →