COVID-19 Travel Resources and Reopening Guidelines

What’s New in Philadelphia

December 22, 2020

Visitor health and safety remains top of mind as attractions, hotels, restaurants, and meeting venues reimagine their experiences

Kimpton's Hotel Palomar is just one of the local businesses that have committed to upholding enhanced health and safety standards via the PHL Hospitality Health Pledge. Photo by E. Cucinelli for PHLCVB.

Philadelphia’s attractions, hotels, venues, historic sites, and acclaimed restaurants continue to navigate COVID-19 by implementing updated health and safety guidelines and committing to keeping visitors safe by taking the PHL Hospitality Health Pledge.

Many attractions continue to offer virtual experiences and have updated guidelines in place – such as limited capacity, mask requirements, and advanced ticketing – for when they are able to safely reopen. Philadelphia’s restaurant community continues to innovate with expanded outdoor seating as well as take-out or delivery options, and hotels have implemented enhanced cleaning protocols and tech-forward amenities (see: Hilton’s app-based check-in) to keep guests safe and comfortable. On the meetings and events front, venues have begun introducing more hybrid event capabilities, while the PHL Health Advisors – and PHLCVB Chief Health Advisor, Dr. David Nash – continue to offer medical guidance and insights to the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and its customers in order to safely welcome meetings back to Philadelphia.

To learn more about the PHL Health Pledge and Philadelphia’s response to COVID-19, click here.

Top publications regard Philadelphia as a must-visit destination in 2021, when travel resumes

Following National Geographic’s 2020 accolade listing Philadelphia as one of the publication’s top 25 destinations for 2020 (and the only U.S. city to make the list), Condé Nast Traveler has added the city to its 2021 Gold List, joining only eight other destinations around the world. Condé Nast editor Betsy Blumenthal remarks that “There’s really something special about Philadelphia,” while citing the sprawling Fairmount Park and the city’s “Italian Market and its small world of vendors, about the mosaics glinting in the sun, the digestible chaos of Chinatown,” as a few of the characteristics that elevate Philadelphia to a destination worthy of the world’s attention. To read the full feature, click here.

Travel + Leisure’s December 2020 print issue featured a nine-page spread that highlighted Philadelphia’s many diverse neighborhoods and the cultural experiences that they offer, with perspectives from some of the city’s chefs, restaurateurs, and small business owners. Philadelphia’s food scene also received high honors in 2020, with South Philadelphia Thai restaurant Kalaya being named as Esquire’s Best New Restaurant of 2020. Local chef, poet, and historian Omar Tate and his pop-up, Honeysuckle, received the publication’s Chef of the Year and Pop-Up of the Year honors, respectively.

New hotels are slated to open in Philadelphia throughout 2021, with other properties undergoing renovations

The Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia opened just steps from picturesque Rittenhouse Square in October 2020. Photo courtesy of the Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia.

In 2020, Philadelphia welcomed several new hotels including the Hyatt Centric and Canopy by Hilton, while several existing properties received high honors – the Four Seasons (and its spa program) received Forbes’ prestigious Five-Star ranking and The Rittenhouse was named the top hotel in the mid-Atlantic by Condé Nast Traveler. Other hotels underwent renovations to deliver guests an updated experience, including the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown, Windsor Suites Philadelphia, and Courtyard Philadelphia South at Navy Yard, with renovations currently underway at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown.

Rendering of the Chestnut Street entrance of the upcoming The W Philadelphia hotel in Center City Philadelphia. Rendering courtesy of The W Philadelphia.

In 2021, travelers can look forward to an expanding hotel roster with the opening of the co-branded W/Element Hotel in Center City (March), the Live! Casino and Hotel in South Philadelphia (March), and the Mainstay/Ascend Hotel near the Pennsylvania Convention Center (date to-be-announced). For more updates on Philadelphia’s hotel community, click here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show takes its stunning floral displays outdoors to spacious FDR Park

Photo credit Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

The nation’s largest and longest running indoor flower show will take its immersive, themed gardens and horticultural activities outdoors for the first time in its nearly 200-year history from June 5-13, 2021. The annual show – traditionally hosted inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center – typically attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe, and the new setting in South Philadelphia’s 348-acre FDR Park will allow attendees to spread out and enjoy the experience in the open air. The 2021 show’s theme is ‘HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece’, which will “explore the beauty of life through nature’s kaleidoscopic lens.”

Tickets will be available online beginning in January (specific date and time reservations are required).

New restaurants are set to open throughout 2021, including a brewery and taproom along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The East Philly Café Pop Up at Bridget Foy's is now open for outdoor dining and take-out. Photo courtesy of Bridget Foy's.

Philadelphia’s celebrated restaurant scene is poised to welcome several new dining and drinking experiences to its portfolio in 2021, including the return of local favorite Bridget Foy’s to South Street following a fire that forced the temporary closure of the restaurant in 2017 (a pop-up, East Philly Café, is now open outside of the space while indoor dining is still restricted). Doylestown-based Victory Brewing Company will open its first location within Philadelphia city limits with the debut of a new brewery and taproom along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway later in 2021. Other openings to look forward to include Grace and Proper – a corner bar and kitchen in the Italian Market from the team the popular Hawthorne’s Beer Café – as well as an underground bar, lounge and eatery beneath Tradesman’s in Center City and four restaurants from Glu Hospitality (the team behind Germantown Garden, SET NoLibs, Añejo and other concepts) set to open throughout the year in Northern Liberties. A new Mexican restaurant in Fishtown from restaurateur Stephen Starr and new homes for Rex 1516 and Warmdaddy’s are also on tap for 2021.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Core Project pushes forward as the museum prepares to host a major Jasper Johns retrospective this fall

Lenfest Hall looking East. Architectural rendering by Gehry Partners, LLP and KX-L.

The massive renovation project at one of Philadelphia’s most iconic attractions and event venues nears its completion. Designed by world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry, once complete the project will provide 90,000 square feet of new public space (including 23,000 square feet of new gallery space) to the museum. Several portions of the project are already complete, including the restored North Entrance, gift shop and vaulted walkway, which opened in September 2019. For more updates on the Core Project, including photos and renderings, click here.

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is slated to join with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York for an artistic partnership celebrating the work of Jasper Johns. The museums will simultaneously stage exhibits that feature 600 pieces spanning 70 years of Johns’ career, including his most celebrated paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, along with lesser-known and recent works. Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror is currently scheduled to be on view September 29, 2021 through February 13, 2022.

A new recreational trail along the Delaware River waterfront nears completion

Photo by NV5 and the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.

Currently under construction and projected to be completed by the fall of 2021, the central section of the Delaware River Trail will offer a protected lane for biking, walking, jogging, and running along the eastern side of Columbus Boulevard. Stretching from Spring Garden Street to the north all the way to Washington Avenue to the south, this section of the trail will connect and add to the accessibility of top waterfront destinations including Race Street Pier, Cherry Street Pier, Spruce Street Harbor Park, and Penn’s Landing. The trail is just one part of a larger project being undertaken by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which will eventually include a new park spanning interstate 95 at Penn’s Landing as well as the transformation of “Graffiti Pier” in Port Richmond into a recreational park.

To stay up to date on the latest developments in Philadelphia, be sure to follow the PHLCVB on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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