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Things to Do in Rittenhouse Square

May 10, 2021

Stroll the sidewalks that weave through six-acre Rittenhouse Square, a tree-filled public park which was one of the original five squares in William Penn’s plan for Philadelphia. Lush lawns and ample benches make the park a picturesque setting for picnicking and enjoying take-out food from one of the many nearby restaurants. Art lovers will notice an impressive collection of sculptures throughout the square, including Antoine-Louis Barye’s Lion Crushing a Serpent – the first sculpture installed in the park in 1892. Browse home goods, fresh produce, plants, local beer, and more at the Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market – held on the park’s perimeter on Saturdays year-round, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Indulge in retail therapy at Walnut Street’s chic boutiques, national retailers and luxury brands, including Tiffany & Co., Steve Madden, Rag & Bone, atmos USA, and Philadelphia-based Anthropologie (housed in the historic Van Rensselaer mansion). Additional storefronts await just one block north along Chestnut Street, including fashion-forward luxury boutique, Joan Shepp, and the landmark Boyds Philadelphia department store, which the New York Times called “The Last Great Clothing Store.” The Shops at Liberty Place shopping center is home to well-known brands such as H&M and J.Crew, and also features a second-floor food court. TIP: Clothes and shoes are tax-free in Philadelphia!

Photo courtesy of Boyds Philadelphia.

Take an architectural walk through the neighborhood to see many extraordinary structures including the Church of the Holy Trinity, dating to 1857 and known for its stained glass, including five windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel is housed in a magnificent, historic Gothic stone building that dates back to the 1890s. The First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia was built in 1872 and offers self-guided tours of the Victorian Gothic building, praised for its Tiffany stained-glass windows and stone carvings by Alexander Milne Calder.

rosenbach museum
The Rosenbach photo by R. Brandenberg.

Tucked within the residential blocks of Rittenhouse, The Rosenbach Museum holds the private collection of the Rosenbach brothers, noted rare book dealers. Among the treasures inside: the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin’s first Poor Richard’s Almanack, Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula, the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses and more than 100 personal letters of George Washington. See the country’s finest collection of medical artifacts housed at the Mütter Museum, featuring anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments displayed in a Victorian “cabinet museum” setting.

Stroll down the Avenue of the Arts, the section of South Broad Street from City Hall to Lombard Street, to find many of the city’s top theaters, including The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Wilma Theater and Academy of Music – the oldest opera house in the nation still used for its original purpose. TIP: Don’t miss out on one of Philadelphia’s best photo ops on the Broad Street median!

Head to the Schuylkill River Trail – named one of the best riverwalks in the nation by USA Today – to walk, run, or bike along the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. The path, suspended over the Schuylkill River, presents stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline. The grassy banks of the river are also ideal settings for riverside relaxation and picnics.

Photo courtesy of SPiN Philadelphia, a Ping-Pong Social Club.

For late night fun, reserve one of 16 Olympic-grade ping pong tables at SPiN Philadelphia, A Ping Pong Social Club, with a full bar, food menu, DJ booth and bleachers for watching the action. Dance the night away at Howl at the Moon and Down Ultra Lounge with live dueling pianos or settle in for an evening of live jazz at Chris’ Jazz Café.

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