Old City (Historic, Waterfront District, Society Hill)

The Old and the New

With its cast-iron storefronts, art galleries and Belgian block streets, this neighborhood has the look and feel of an artist enclave. On First Fridays, it’s packed with tech entrepreneurs (along N3RD Street) and other creative types checking out art gallery open houses. At other times, there’s a more laid-back vibe.

Must See:

1. Carousel? Check. Miniature golf? Check. Awesome shakes and burgers? Check. Franklin Square, one of William Penn’s original five public squares, offers wonderful people-watching, eating and playing.

2. While Old City T-Shirts and Souvenirs may not look like a destination shop, it has a terrific collection of hipster approved tees — many priced for as low as $5. And if you’re looking for something a little more unique, they can custom print a design on the premises.

3. Elfreth’s Alley, between Front and 2nd streets just north of Arch Street, bills itself as America’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street. Two homes are now open to the public, but the real fun is in strolling past the others and getting a sense of how modern and Colonial Philadelphia coexist.

4. No visit to Old City would be complete without stopping by The Continental. Local impresario Stephen Starr kicked off his restaurant career by imaginatively spinning an old diner into a martini bar — and in doing so, pushed the neighborhood right over the edge into hipper-than-thou territory.

5. Located on the Independence Mall, The National Museum of American Jewish History’s archive of over 30,000 objects from the Colonial period to the present day helps bring the concepts of democracy and freedom to life.

Family Friendly:

Indulge in comfort food and kitsch at Jones Restaurant, Stephen Starr’s homage to Brady Bunch-era nostalgia. The 1970s-inspired decor features shag carpeting, bubble lamps and a roaring fireplace. But the retro cuisine is the real attraction. The pickiest kids will be unable to resist the baked macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and burgers. Adults will be transported back to their own childhood with Bubbe’s brisket.


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