The Most Fun Things to Do at Night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia is a seasonal venue worth checking out, especially at night | © Jon Lovette / Alamy Stock Photo
There is no excuse to stay in your hotel room after another frenzied day of sightseeing, as the City of Brotherly Love is delighted to share the best of what it has to offer.
When the sun sets in Philadelphia, the amusement doesn’t have to end. There are countless options to pursue in the evening, as this lively city doesn’t slow down. While it has been a beer drinker’s town in the past, it’s expanded into cocktail bars, craft breweries and speakeasies. Along with the nightclubs and lounges, there are top-notch restaurants and entertainment. Whether you are looking for a casual bite in Spruce Street Harbor Park, a sit-down dining experience or a night dancing away your worries, Philly has it all.
Like most major cities, it is generally safe at night, particularly if you keep to the busier streets. The Downtown area is easily walkable, with numerous options within proximity. The last call, by law, at the bars is 2am. This guide is just the tip of the iceberg but will help you navigate the many offerings available.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
There’s no better way to enjoy a balmy Philly evening than unwinding in Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River. Hundreds of colorful LED lights are strung between the trees, creating a magical wonderland. Lie back in this bona fide oasis in one of the many Adirondack chairs or rainbow-striped hammocks. For the more competitive, participate in games on the boardwalk, testing your skills at bocce, shuffleboard and giant Jenga. Converted shipping containers also line the boardwalk, where you can grab Philly-inspired eats. Other options include a beer garden and floating barges. The free park is located at Penn’s Landing; it’s open seasonally from spring to autumn.
McGillin’s Old Ale House
Bar, Pub, American, Irish, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails
McGillin’s has been around since 1860, making it the city’s oldest continuously operating pub and staying strong through the Civil War and Prohibition. The decor showcases its history with old signs, liquor licenses and photographs. Also, it’s been in the same family for 60 years. Philadelphians love their sports, and you will find a diverse crowd here sitting shoulder to shoulder during whichever big game is playing. Meanwhile, Friday nights bring the 20-somethings in for karaoke and happy hour. Located in an alley near City Hall, McGillin’s is the perfect spot for those looking for an authentic local bar, complete with 30 beers on tap, including a selection of local microbrews.
The Ranstead Room
Bar, American, $$$
This cocktail bar is a true speakeasy. Concealed behind an unadorned door in a quiet alley lies Ranstead Room. The decor is eclectic: think red-leather booths, a gilded chandelier, vintage wallpaper and a red-and-black tiger-striped carpet. The talented bartenders mix up classic cocktails, along with those with quirky twists. Stumped on what to pick? You can always go with the “bartender’s choice” for the element of surprise. To find this hidden spot, turn left onto Ranstead Street from 20th Street and then look for a dark door on red-brick frontage with side-by-side, backward-and-forwards Rs, number 2013.
Head underground to visit this Berlin subway-inspired dance club and bar with graffiti-splattered walls and metro-type signs. This industrial space has tables, seating, a stage and a dancefloor. When you’re tired of shaking your booty to the live music or DJs, test your skills on classic arcade games such as Ms Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat.
Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Located on Washington Square, this restaurant features a sumptuous plant-filled patio strung with fairy lights. The interior has a cozy feel, with quotes written on the walls. Fresh farm-to-table seasonal ingredients are crafted into modern Mid-Atlantic dishes, and make sure to try the cheese bar. Reserve a table on the brick patio, as it’s an excellent place to relax in the summer.
Bob and Barbara’s Lounge
On Thursday nights, this dive bar is the place to be, staging renowned drag queen performances hosted by show founder, Miss Lisa Lisa. Founded in 1969, Bob and Barbara’s is Philly’s longest-running drag show. For an authentic experience, order the Special, a shot of Jim Beam followed by a chaser of Pabst Blue Ribbon, for only $4. Fridays and Saturdays are for live Liquor Drinkin’ Music on the Hammond B-3 organ. Sundays at 9pm, show off your vocals at Sing Your Life karaoke.
These recommendations were updated on July 1, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.