COVID-19 Travel Resources and Reopening Guidelines

What’s New in Philadelphia

April 8, 2021

Health & Safety

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. Cunicelli 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.

Accolades

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.

Additional Philadelphia praise comes from travel guide Frommer’s, which includes Independence Hall as one of their top places to visit in 2021, remarking on the tales shared by national park rangers that reveal mistakes, goals, and debates of the Framers and their ability to compromise for the sake of the founding of the nation. Fodor’s Travel likens Philadelphia’s history, culture, and food (and the city’s many pubs) to experiences found in London, perfect for U.S. travelers seeking a global experience in 2021 without leaving the country. 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. The Schuylkill River Trail, which winds its way through Philadelphia’s downtown and into Fairmount Park, was named one of the top riverwalks in the nation by USA Today.

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. Chef Tate was also recognized on Time Magazine’s Time100 Next List for 2021.

Hotels

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 recently opened Live! Casino and Hotel in South Philadelphia and the upcoming, co-branded W/Element Hotel in Center City (Q2 2021). For more updates on Philadelphia’s hotel community, click here.

Noteworthy Events

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).

Dining

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

Victory Brewing's taproom along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is slated to open later in 2021. Gabe Lui Architectural Renderings.

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.

Museums & Attractions

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.

The Neon Museum of Philadelphia prepares to welcome the public

Adding to Philadelphia’s vast collection of art museums and innovative public art, the Neon Museum of Philadelphia offers permanent exhibits of historical and cultural information as told through this eclectic artform. The museum held a virtual grand opening celebration in January of 2021 and is currently open for private, members-only tours. The Neon Museum continues to activate online via virtual events, tours, performances, and discussions and plans to open to the public at a limited capacity in the spring. Inside, visitors will be able to admire over 120 vintage neon signs and artwork from some of Philadelphia’s most iconic businesses, including McGillin’s Olde Ale House and Pat’s King of Steaks, while learning more about the city’s history. The museum is also home to a small library filled with neon-themed literature, games, a gift shop, and rotating exhibitions featuring work by local artists.

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center opens on May 1 near Independence Mall

Photo courtesy of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center.

A new museum dedicated to examining how faith helped foster some of the nation’s core values is preparing to open just steps from where the Declaration of Independence was signed in America’s most historic square mile. Slated for a May 1 opening, the American Bible Society’s Faith and Liberty Discovery Center will invite visitors from all backgrounds to explore its six immersive galleries on a personalized, self-guided tour where they will use a handheld lamp will interact with exhibits and collect inspirational content along the way. Tickets for the museum are available to purchase now online.

Longwood Gardens begins a massive conservatory expansion project

Longwood Reimagined Site View from West. Rendering courtesy of Longwood Gardens.

One of Philadelphia’s most treasured countryside destinations, Longwood Gardens has announced plans for a major, $250 million expansion project which will break ground in the Spring of 2021. The expansion will transform 17 acres of the current conservatory grounds and will introduce new public spaces, such as an outdoor Bonsai Courtyard and a new home for the popular Cascade Garden, as well as a new private event space, new restaurant, and new education center. The centerpiece of the project is a completely reimagined 32,000-square-foot West Conservatory space, which will be encased in a stunning glass crystalline structure that will appear to “float” over water and will house Mediterranean-inspired gardens. Longwood Gardens hopes to debut the completed project in the fall of 2024. To learn more about Longwood Reimagined, and to watch a video detailing all of the upcoming enhancements, click here.

Outdoors

Recreational updates continue along the Delaware River waterfront

A new section of the Delaware River Trail is just one part of an ongoing transformation along the Delaware River waterfront, which will eventually include a large green space spanning interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard.

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.

Venues & Sporting Facilities

A new home for US Squash in University City

Arlen Specter US Squash Center. Rendering courtesy of US Squash.

The Arlen Specter US Squash Center, set to open in the spring of 2021, will serve as the new headquarters for US Squash, founded in Philadelphia in 1904 and based in the city from 1978 until 2006. The nation’s premier squash facility will also house the US Squash Hall of Fame and occupy the 33rd Street Armory building on Drexel University’s campus. The 65,000-square-foot space will add 20 courts to existing Drexel courts and those available at the University of Pennsylvania, bringing the total number of courts within a 3-block radius in University City to 37. A Learning & Innovation Center will be part of the project, focusing on engaging and educating the local community via its award-winning SquashSmarts program.

To learn more about the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, click here. For more new sports facilities in development in Philadelphia, click here.

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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