Awards and Accolades
Top publications regard Philadelphia as a must-visit destination
Condé Nast Traveler selected Philadelphia for its 2021 Gold List, joining only seven other destinations around the world. Condé Nast editor Betsy Blumenthal remarks that, “there’s really something special about Philadelphia,” 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. Philadelphia also landed on TIME’s World’s Greatest Places list for 2021, which spotlights the new experiences on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a diverse culinary scene that is “vibrant as ever.” Travel + Leisure also named Philadelphia as one of 11 cities for Must-see Pieces of Public Art Around the World, citing iconic sculptures such as LOVE and Rocky, as well as the work done by Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Association for Public Art.
Additional Philadelphia praise comes from travel guide Frommer’s, which includes Independence Hall as one of their top places to visit, 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 2022 without leaving the country. Travel + Leisure highlighted Philadelphia’s many diverse neighborhoods and cultural experiences they offer. As voted on by USA Today 10Best readers, the Schuylkill River Trail was named one of the top riverwalks in the nation and the historic Reading Terminal Market was named the best public market in the United States.
Philadelphia’s food scene also continues to receive high honors, with Eeva being named one of Eater’s 11 Best New Restaurants in America. Two other restaurants in Philadelphia – Little Nonna’s and Vetri Cucina – made it on Thrillist’s list of 34 Best Italian Restaurants in America. Gran Caffe L’Aquila was awarded as one of the Top Italian Restaurants in the World by Gambero Rosso – Italy’s premier guide for authentic Italian experiences. Chef Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa won the 2022 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA). Local chef, poet, and historian Omar Tate – known for his pop-up, Honeysuckle – was recognized on Time Magazine’s Time100 Next List for 2021. Condé Nast Traveler has included Laser Wolf — an Israeli grill from the team behind the acclaimed Zahav — on their 2021 Hot List, naming the Fishtown eatery as one of the best new restaurants in the world.
New hotels are open in Philadelphia, with other properties undergoing renovations
Philadelphia welcomed several new hotels over the past couple of years, including Hyatt Centric, Canopy by Hilton, and Guild House Hotel – which was named one of The Best New Hotels in the World by Travel + Leisure for 2022. Several existing properties also received high honors. The Four Seasons (and its spa program) received Forbes’ prestigious Five-Star ranking, as well as a AAA Five Diamond Hotel Designation. Meanwhile, 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, Courtyard Philadelphia South at Navy Yard, and Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
Travelers can also enjoy new hotel options that debuted in 2021, including the Live! Casino & Hotel in the South Philadelphia Stadium District. In Center City, the new Element Philadelphia and luxurious W Philadelphia are now open, sharing a building and 45,000-square-feet of meeting and event space along Chestnut Street, just steps from popular downtown attractions. For more updates on Philadelphia’s hotel community, click here.
New restaurants make their debut
Philadelphia’s celebrated restaurant scene is poised to welcome several new dining and drinking experiences to its portfolio in 2022, 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. Other appetizing developments include a new Baja Mexican restaurant in Fishtown from restaurateur Stephen Starr, a massive Italian fine dining restaurant and pizzeria in Northern Liberties, and a new home for Rex 1516 inside the historic Royal Theater on South Street. For a list of new restaurants now open in Philadelphia, click here.
STARR Restaurants opens new restaurant KPOD
After taking over the space of the former POD restaurant, KPOD – a new Korean American restaurant concept by STARR Restaurants – is now open in University City. In true STARR Restaurants fashion, the experience at KPOD expands far beyond food and drink. KPOD embodies the surging “K-Wave” global phenomenon with dynamic Korean American food and drink, custom artwork, and Korean inspired design. In celebration of the culture-defining spirit of South Korea, KPOD’s menu features both classic and creative interpretations of Korean dishes. At its full capacity, KPOD can accommodate up to 200 guests.
Liberty Point, Philadelphia’s largest restaurant in modern history, opens on the waterfront
Liberty Point made its debut as the largest restaurant in Philadelphia on the Delaware River waterfront on May 3, 2022. The 28,000 square foot restaurant (25,000 square feet of space outside and 3,000 square feet of space inside) is adjacent to and wrapped around the waterfront side of the Independence Seaport Museum. The giant indoor-outdoor space is able to host up to 1,400 people at a time. The design includes three main levels for food, drinks, and live entertainment, along with smaller sub-levels, a stage for live music, five bars and breathtaking views of the water. Liberty Point is the latest endeavor of FCM Hospitality, who also owns Craft Hall on Columbus Boulevard.
The Cauldron Philadelphia is now open
Now open in the City of Wizardly Love, The Cauldron Philadelphia is welcoming witches and wizards to immerse themselves in a world of magic inspired by the imagined worlds from their childhood. This fantasy-inspired bar and restaurant is open at 1305 Locust Street in Washington Square West. Guests are invited to participate in an interactive Potion Making Experience complete with robes and working magic wands to show off their skills as they concoct their very own cocktails. All food and drinks served at the magical pub have elements that appear to be straight out of a mystical fairytale.
New ice cream shop Vanderwende’s opens in Old City
Philadelphia’s Old City is welcoming a new ice cream shop to the neighborhood! Vanderwende’s Ice Cream – a family-owned, farm fresh, locally sourced, and widely loved ice cream brand based in Delaware – has officially opened the doors to its first Pennsylvania location at 243 Market Street in Philadelphia. Since 1954, the Vanderwende family has owned and operated Vanderwende Farms alongside Route 404 in Bridgeville, Delaware. The family and their cows have been committed to quality and consistency for three generations, and now serve 32 flavors of homemade ice cream.
French-inspired Café Click now open at Comcast Center
The latest restaurant concept from STARR Restaurants is now open at Comcast Center. Café Click is a pop-up, French-inspired, outdoor café where employees, residents, and visitors can relax, socialize, and enjoy a meal during the week. Guests can expect a simple, but savory menu, including salads, soups, and artisanal cheeses. Glasses of wine, cocktails, and shareable snacks will be offered in the evenings, as well as pastries to end the meal on a sweet note. The newest addition to the Comcast Center Campus will be open Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on the Comcast Center Plaza through September 2022.
Carbon Copy, Philadelphia’s first combined brewery and winery, set to open fall 2022
Set to take over the previous Dock Street Brewery location at 701 S 50th Street in West Philadelphia along Baltimore Avenue, Carbon Copy will bring the first combined brewery and winery to the City of Brotherly Love. Owners Brendon Boudwin and Kyle Wolak – both experienced beer and wine makers – are striving to create a true “neighborhood bar” feel for local residents. Their goal is to bring “an unpretentious, accessible and unique dining experience” while offering Philadelphia-made beer, wine, and snacks made on-site. The duo says the name “Carbon Copy” serves as a tongue-in-cheek reminder to always follow their own path and not become a carbon copy of the popular brewing trend. They say the name is also symbolic of their commitment to minimize their carbon footprint through mindful waste management, utilizing renewable resources in production, and investing carbon offsets as the company grows.
Reading Terminal Market: The Filbert Street Revitalization Project set to be completed fall 2022
On June 7, 2022, the iconic Reading Terminal Market broke ground for its long-awaited Filbert Street Revitalization Project. The $1 million dollar project is set to completely transform the 1100 block of Filbert Street. Changes include widening the sidewalk, improving access to public transit, adding outdoor seating, and more. The goal is to create about 15,000 square feet of public space outside of Reading Terminal Market by fall 2022.
Museums & Attractions
Philadelphia Museum of Art opens 90,000 square feet of new space and launches first of its kind research portal
After two decades of planning, design and construction, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has unveiled 90,000 square feet of new and reimagined public and exhibition space as part of the Frank Gehry-led Core Project. Included in the project are a reimagined West Entrance and Lenfest Hall, as well as a new multilevel Forum space which rests in the center of the museum, beneath the iconic Grand Stair Hall. A Vaulted Walkway has also been restored and runs the length of the building, north to south. 20,000 square feet of new gallery space is also now on view, including new early American art and modern and contemporary galleries — marking the largest installation of new exhibition space since the building opened in 1928.
Philadelphia Museum of Art is also home to the largest collection of work by artist Marcel Duchamp in the world. PMA partnered with Centre Pompidou and Association Marcel Duchamp to launch the Duchamp Research Portal. The portal provides free online access to a vast collection of more than 18,000 documents and artworks totaling nearly 50,000 images spotlighting the work and life of Duchamp in France and the United States. The digital portal is the first of its kind.
The first major exhibition devoted to Matisse in the 1930s is set to open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
A visit to Philadelphia in 1930 inspired Henri Matisse to develop a new creative approach and outlook that he would showcase in his work in the later part of his career. Matisse in the 1930s is the first exhibit to ever be dedicated to that pivotal decade in Matisse’s art. The special exhibition was made possible by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the Musée Matisse Nice. Opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – the only venue in the United States to host this exhibit – Matisse in the 1930s will be on view from October 19, 2022 through January 29, 2023 before traveling to Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and then the Musée Matisse Nice. The exhibition will invite guests to immerse themselves in Matisse’s work. More than 100 of the artist’s works will be on display, including renowned and rarely seen paintings and sculptures, drawings, prints, and illustrated books.
A world premiere exhibition at The Franklin Institute
A world premiere exhibition is set to open at The Franklin Institute on February 18, 2023 to celebrate 100 years of the Walt Disney Company. The anniversary exhibit, Disney100: The Exhibition, will celebrate a century of innovation and imagination from the creative empire, while also honoring its founder Walt Disney’s legacy. Ten galleries will be set up throughout the 15,000-square-foot exhibit showcasing more than 250 rarely seen original artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and other memorabilia. The characters and stories that the Walt Disney Company has brought to life from 1923 to 2023 will also be incorporated into the exhibit, which will invite guests to step into their favorite stories using innovation and immersive technology. Get ready for special behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creation of some of Disney’s most popular characters, films, shows, and attractions.
New space exhibit coming to The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is preparing to create an entirely new future-focused space exhibit, an upgrade that would cost about $8 million dollars. Thanks to a generous gift of $3 million dollars by Boeing, the funds will enable the museum to transform its existing exhibit into an immersive two-story gallery dedicated to space exploration. The plan is to expand the museum’s current space exhibit to about 7,000 square feet, which is almost three times its current size. The groundbreaking space exhibit is set to open in late 2023 and will help usher in a new age of space science at the museum, just in time for the institution’s 200th anniversary in 2024. To learn more about the museum’s plans for its space exhibit, click here.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Franklin Institute are just two of Philadelphia’s vast collection of museums. There are so many more museums to explore throughout the city. For a list of museums that are now open in Philadelphia, click here and be sure to also check out our top can’t miss exhibits.
Otherworld immersive art experience coming soon to Northeast Philadelphia
Otherworld Philly is excited to welcome guests into a mixed reality playground packed with large-scale immersive art. Following the massive success at its original location in Columbus, Ohio, Otherworld’s new location in Philadelphia will feature 55 unique installations with enhanced production and interactivity spread throughout a 40,000 square foot space. Otherworld Philly is expected to open this winter.
Immersive Van Gogh art exhibit coming to Center City
Vincent van Gogh’s work is about to come to life in Philadelphia. Impact Museums and Lighthouse Immersive have teamed up to create a digital art show, an immersive experience for art lovers of all ages. As part of a vision to bring the experience to cities across the country, the creators have signed a long-term lease at the Washington – formerly the Penn Mutual towers – a historic building at 6th and Walnut Streets. Shows are expected to begin sometime in 2023.
Penn Museum set to unveil Eastern Mediterranean Gallery: Crossroads of Cultures in fall 2022
The Penn Museum is set to unveil its Eastern Mediterranean Gallery: Crossroads of Cultures on Saturday, November 19, 2022. The 2,000-square-foot gallery will house 400 artifacts from the Penn Museum’s excavations throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, ranging from the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2,000 to 1,200 BCE) to the 1800s. The new gallery will highlight the creativity of the region’s distinctive material culture, one that has been shaped by both conflict and collaboration. Guests will be encouraged to explore the gallery’s interactive and multi-sensory elements, along with a near life-sized section of a ship based on a vessel that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea during the 14th century BCE. Guests will get a chance to peek inside the ship’s cargo hold containing ivory, glass, pottery and more evidence of international commerce and cultural exchange. Visitors will encounter various themes, including Creativity and Change, Power and Conflict, as well as Coexistence and Connection.
Philadelphia Ballet announces plans for a transformative expansion of its home on North Broad Street
Philadelphia Ballet is set to break ground in late September 2022 to expand its home on North Broad Street, the Philadelphia Ballet Center for Dance. The five-story center will feature new rehearsal studios, administrative offices, a black box performance, innovation, and rehearsal space, new spaces for community programs and events, and much more. The transformative renovation and expansion will add 43,000 sq. ft. to the company’s existing footprint. This major building project will provide much needed space to allow for the continued growth of the Company, the School of Philadelphia Ballet, and community and educational programs. The project is set to be completed in spring 2024.
New Giraffe Encounter opens at Philadelphia Zoo
Philadelphia Zoo has launched a brand-new Giraffe Encounter allowing visitors to feed three of America’s first zoo’s tallest residents – Stella, Abigail, and Bea. Guests of all ages are invited to get up close and personal to the gentle giants. The hands-on experience takes place in the zoo’s newly enhanced giraffe area in African Plains. Giraffe Encounter is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. For more information, click here.
Valley Forge National Historical Park opens renovated visitor center
Visitors are now greeted by a newly renovated visitor center at Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia. The Valley Forge Visitor Center, located at 1000 North Outer Line Drive, is now open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The brand-new museum exhibition in the visitor center tells the history of the 1777-1778 Winter Encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. The $12 million renovation project includes updated restrooms, efficient lighting, improved spaces for park staff and partners, plus upgraded security and fire protection, improved collections storage, an all-new HVAC system, windows, flooring, carpets, signage, and a variety of energy efficiency improvements. On display are Revolutionary War artifacts from the George C. Neumann and John F. Reed Collections, along with new accessible display panels, interactive videos, a toy log hut building activity, and a complete audio walkthrough for visually impaired visitors.
Museum of Illusions Philadelphia opens in Old City
Get ready to see double, maybe even triple at Museum of Illusions Philadelphia. Now open in Old City, this mind-bending museum is designed to shock your senses and puzzle your perceptions of reality. Visitors will have the chance to engage with more than 60 exhibits featuring holograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms. The museum strives to combine education and entertainment, encouraging its guests to have fun while learning about the mechanisms behind each illusion.
Mario Lanza Institute & Museum honors a South Philadelphia legend
What better place to honor a talented tenor than in the place he called home, South Philadelphia. The Mario Lanza Institute & Museum is keeping the star’s memory alive with rare memorabilia including records, family photos, and other personal items once belonging to Mario Lanza. Now, in his name, the Mario Lanza Institute & Museum is located at 1214 Reed Street Philadelphia, PA 19147 on Mario Lanza Way and just a few blocks from the Mario Lanza Mural. The location is in the heart of South Philadelphia and houses a large collection devoted to the South Philadelphia born tenor who rose to great heights in the 1940’s and 50’s in the movies and on the concert stages of the world. The collection features film memorabilia, photos, paintings, sculptures and personal items associated with Lanza’s life and career. The museum is open most Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. and admission is $10 per person. Street parking is available. The Lanza Institute regularly has events at the museum including lectures on various musical personalities and luncheons which feature a complete showing of one of Lanza’s films. The space is also available for rental for corporate and organizational events and meetings as well as birthday parties. For more information, click here.
The Clay Studio opens state-of-the-art facility in South Kensington
The Clay Studio‘s new state-of-the-art, 34,000-square-foot, four-story home in South Kensington is the first-of-its-kind ceramic arts facility built from the ground up in the United States. Established in 1974, The Clay Studio is a non-profit arts institution dedicated to promoting and creating ceramic arts through artistic, educational, and community programs. Visitors to the building at 1425 North American Street will be greeted by The Clay Studio’s Inaugural Exhibition Making Place Matter. The exhibit features work by Peruvian-born artist Kukuli Velarde, American-born, Massachusetts-based artist Molly Hatch, and Egyptian American artist Ibrahim Said, now based in North Carolina. Through the use of clay, each artist explores the idea of place with regard to personal history, cultural heritage, and social justice. Making Place Matter will be on view through October 2, 2022.
New “underwater” virtual reality experience at Adventure Aquarium
Home to more than 15,000 aquatic animals in Camden, New Jersey, Adventure Aquarium is now offering guests an “underwater” virtual reality experience. Guests are invited to enter the first set of virtual reality pods in New Jersey. The experience features six pods and a selection of themed shows, taking guests “under the sea” while bringing them close to sharks, whales, squids, and mermaids. For more information, click here.
Longwood Gardens currently undergoing massive conservatory expansion project
One of Philadelphia’s most treasured countryside destinations and winner of Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice in 2021, Longwood Gardens is currently undergoing a major, $250 million expansion project. The expansion is set to transform 17 acres of the current conservatory grounds and 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. Longwood Gardens remains open during renovations.
From June 30 through October 30, 2022, Longwood Gardens will host Light: Installations by Bruce Munro — a garden-wide exhibition featuring eight installations both indoors and outdoors. Among the installations are Field of Light, which consists of 18,000 illuminated stemmed orbs along Longwood’s Large Lake, as well as an installation inside the East Conservatory where 1,820 recyclable bottles form a massive geodesic sphere that radiates light. To buy timed tickets for Light, click here.
Schuylkill River Trail to be extended
Plans to extend the Schuylkill River Trail to connect South and Southwest Philadelphia via the Passyunk Avenue Bridge are underway, thanks to a $2.5 million dollar Pennsylvania economic redevelopment grant. As of today, the Schuylkill River Trail stretches four miles along the eastern waterfront in Center City. The expansion will extend the trail farther south on the river’s western bank and connect bicyclists and pedestrians to the west side of the river, including Bartram’s Garden, St. Joseph’s University, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and University City. The new section of the trail is set to run 3,400 feet along the west side of the river. The expansion would also eliminate the dead end at 61st street and create a pedestrian bridge over the river. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
Recreational updates continue along the Delaware River waterfront
The central section of the Delaware River Trail was completed in Spring 2022 and offers 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 now connects and adds 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
Wells Fargo Center recognized for its sustainability efforts
Home of the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, and Wings, Wells Fargo Center has been recognized for its sustainability efforts, including successfully using renewable energy to power 100% of the facility’s electricity usage. The Green Sports Alliance named the South Philadelphia arena as its first-ever “Net Zero Energy Champion” at the Play to Zero Awards – given to facilities that lead the industry in sustainability. The awards have three areas of focus: energy, water, and waste. This prestigious award comes amid Wells Fargo Center’s ongoing $350 million dollar Transformation project. “We’re well on our way to making Wells Fargo Center one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable arenas,” said Valerie Camillo, President of Wells Fargo Center, in a statement. “As we completely transform every inch of Wells Fargo Center to ensure it remains a world-class home for basketball, hockey, and concerts for decades to come, we’ve also become a nationally-recognized, industry leader in our commitment to environmental sustainability.” To read more about this accolade, click here.
US Squash opens a premier facility in University City
The Arlen Specter US Squash Center now serves as the new headquarters for US Squash, founded in Philadelphia in 1904 and based in the city from 1978 until 2006. Located within the 33rd Street Armory building on Drexel University’s campus, the nation’s premier squash facility also houses the US Squash Hall of Fame. The 65,000-square-foot space adds 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 is also part of the project, focusing on engaging and educating the local community via its award-winning SquashSmarts program.
The nation’s first esports campus is now open in downtown Philadelphia
Philadelphia-founded esports infrastructure company Nerd Street Gamers has opened The Block, a 40,000 square foot esports campus — the nation’s first — along North Broad Street, just a short walk from City Hall, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and other downtown attractions. Housed in the historic, 12-story Terminal Commerce Building, the campus serves as Nerd Street’s headquarters and is home to the company’s broadcast and content creation studios. The Block is also home to Localhost, Nerd Street’s dedicated esports arena, which will be accessible to the public for hourly gameplay and will host local and national, amateur and professional esports events. The facility is available to rent for private events, such as receptions, team outings and other corporate events.
For more new sports facilities in Philadelphia, click here.
An event space from the team behind the acclaimed Zahav
Restaurateurs Steven Cook and James Beard Award-winner Michael Solomonov, whose CookNSolo restaurant group includes acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants such as Zahav, K’Far and Laser Wolf, have opened a new private event space in the heart of Philadelphia’s popular Fishtown neighborhood. Named Lilah — Hebrew for “Night” — the event space occupies a former industrial warehouse totaling 7,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 250 guests. The venue features on-site catering by CookNSolo, with customizable tasting menus featuring salatim, fresh pita, hummus, skewers and kabobs, Chef Solomonov’s borekas, and other dishes showcasing CookNSolo’s take on Jewish cooking. Lilah includes the fourth location of CookNSolo’s fast-casual restaurant concept Goldie, specializing in falafel sandwiches, salads, and Tehina shakes.