Regarded as “The City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia, PA is best known for its rich history, world-famous cheesesteaks, and vibrant art and music culture. While there are many famous attractions to check out like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the LOVE statue, there are also many lesser-known hidden gems that only a local would know about. Whether you are considering living in Philadelphia, renting an apartment in the Washington Square West neighborhood, or just playing tourist for the week, we reached out to locals to share their best-hidden gems in Philadelphia from favorite restaurants to must-see locations. See what they had to share.
1. Cherry Street Pier
Located on the Delaware River, Cherry Street Pier is a public space that offers events, concessions, flea markets, and classes. You’ll never get bored with the many stores to explore, delicious food options, and stunning waterfront views.
Momentum Virtual Tours shares, “An underrated spot that never fails to disappoint is Cherry St. Pier. Located a stone’s throw away from Penn’s Landing, enjoy tropical cocktails and festive light bites over waterfront views, while seeing the occasional jet ski pass by. The building might be centuries old, but the parties and events make it feel as young as ever.”
2. Pastorius Park
Pastorius Park is a 16-acre park located in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. During the summer, Pastorius Park hosts summer concerts featuring a diverse range of musical bands from rock to folk music.
Jennifer Kirby of Piggyback Treats Company notes that “The space has woods, grassy meadows, a pond with a fountain, a small section of the creek, and benches to sit on. During the summer months, there are free concerts in the park on Wednesday nights through the months of July and August.”
3. The Rodin Museum
The Rodin Museum houses one of the largest collections of Auguste Rodin’s work outside of Paris. The museum itself is a beautiful Beaux-Arts-style building surrounded by a stunning garden you can walk around and explore.
“The museum could brand itself as The Hidden Jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” shares Cityspace Photo. “Once trees are in full leaf, you might even miss Rodin’s best-known sculpture, The Thinker. Once you pass through the portal (it’s all façade, with no depth) you get a spectacular view of a reflecting pool with the small museum building itself at the far end.”
4. Schuylkill Banks Trail
“Our favorite Philadelphia hidden gem is the Schuylkill Banks trail and greenway from Fairmount Dam to South Street Bridge. This three-mile, multi-use section of the 120-mile Schuylkill River Trail runs right through the heart of Center City. Before heading down the trail we recommend a stop at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center,” notes Patriot Harbor Lines.
5. Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm
Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm was owned by the Wister and Haines Families who were traditional Quakers. It’s located in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Eva Monheim, a local author, shares, “The family members were pillars of Philadelphia’s leadership – especially in the sciences, innovation, business, natural history, educational reform, and sustainability. The rose garden was built in the 1820s and is the oldest rose garden in the United States. It still maintains its original layout. The antique roses are some of the most fragrant when in bloom in the month of May.”
6. Old City neighborhood
Old City boasts historic charm, beautiful cobblestone streets, and stunning views of the Delaware River. It’s best known as the birthplace of American independence.
“We love spending the morning touring the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia,” says Jeremy Vaa, CEO of GL Travel. “Some highlights include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Ben Franklin’s printing press. After a day of exploring, he recommends lunch at Reading Terminal Market, a famous indoor market that is housed in a National Historic Landmark building.
7. Graffiti Pier
Graffiti Pier is an outdoor gallery located on the Deleware River that features unique and underground styles of graffiti. It is the perfect place to visit if you have an itch for urban exploration.
“Our favorite hidden gem in Philadelphia is Graffiti Pier,” raves Underground Sports Philadelphia. “It’s a fascinating attraction that has evolved from a stereotypical pier to a living, breathing hub for street art. To see an entire area covered from the ground up in beautiful art that makes you feel immersed in a new world is such an experience.”
8. The Black Squirrel Pub and Haunt
The Black Squirrel Pub and Haunt is a restaurant created by Chef Arthur Cavaliere and developer Mark Sherman. It is a British-style pub that has an elevated take on its food.
“I recently moved to East Falls and fell in love with The Black Squirrel Pub and Haunt,” notes Heather McBride Photography. “I have yet to try something on their menu that I didn’t absolutely love, but I might have to say the cottage pie is my favorite.”
She also notes that you can’t go wrong with any of their cocktails. Some cocktails to try out include Pimm’s Lagoon which consists of Pimm’s, Hayman’s Gin, cucumber, and lavender as well as Kokomo Vice which is made of Appleton Rum, pineapple, strawberry, and coconut.
9. Barclay Prime
Barclay Prime is a high-end steakhouse located in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia. It was founded by restauranteur Stephen Starr.
“My hidden gen in Philadelphia is Barclay Prime. It is hands-down the best meal I’ve ever had, anywhere in the world. The restaurant has a relaxed ambiance, perfectly cooked steaks, and a menu of knives specifically chosen to add that little bit extra to your meal,” raves THG Holidays.
10. Tap Room on 19th
Tap Room on 19th is a gastropub that serves a number of delicious craft brews and farm-to-table foods.
“My favorite hidden gem in Philly is the Tap Room on 19th,” Kevin McElroy of Philly Rock Radio. “It’s a typical Philadelphia-styled corner bar that’s not typical. It consists of upscale pub fare, in a cozy atmosphere, served by friendly staff. There is always a great rotating selection of craft beers and bourbons. At Tap Room on 19th, I get the chance to sample a variety of whiskeys. But what makes the bar unique for me is the cask engine and always some new tasty brew to try.”
11. Gabriella’s Vietnam
An authentic Vietnamese restaurant, Gabriella’s Vietnam serves delicious Vietnamese street foods. Some eats on the menu that you need to check out include banana leaf-wrapped dumplings and king crab fried rice.
Poi Dog Philly notes, “One of my favorite restaurants in Philly is Gabriella’s Vietnam. The Lemongrass Tofu at Gabriella’s is something I can’t go without for longer than a week, and you can enjoy beautiful bite-sized renditions of Vietnam’s favorite street snacks on perfect little ceramic dishes.”
Philly Grub shares that, “Morea, located in Center City’s Midtown Village, is a gastronomic delight hidden in plain sight. This contemporary American restaurant offers a stellar lunch, dinner, brunch, and happy hour menu. More importantly, the specialty cocktail program by expert mixologist Billy Hines showcases inventive spins on classics and new concoctions that even the most discerning drinker can appreciate. The late-night happy hour available daily sets it apart from other comparable establishments, making it a prime choice if you’re looking for a late-night spot.”
Some cocktails you need to try include the Morea Colada, Peekaboo, Prickly Rose, Fig Get About It, and Old Fashioned.
13. Stina Pizzaria
A brick oven pizzeria, Stina Pizzaria offers unique pizza with a Mediterranean twist.
“One spot I love is Stina Pizzaria in Newbold,” boasts Philly Cheese School. “Their Borek caught my eye. It’s crispy phyllo covered in Greek honey, toasted sesame and pickled blueberries and stuffed with Kasseri, a Greek sheep’s milk cheese. Even in this melty beautiful mess, the Kasseri’s flavor held up and brought earthy, buttery notes to the table.”
14. Tacconelli’s Pizzeria
Another delicious pizzeria, Tacconelli’s Pizzeria was started by Giovanni Tacconelli in 1918. He then began to make tomato pies in 1946, and the Philadelphia staple has been alive to this day.
Flat Tail Photography reveals that Tacconelli’s Pizzeria is his hidden gem of Philadelphia. “My parents took me there when I was a kid and now I take my kids. You have to call ahead and reserve your dough, but it’s definitely worth it. The spinach and tomato pie is one of the best pizzas you’ll ever have in your life.”
15. Bad Brother
Bad Brother is a local neighborhood bar serving American classics like burgers, grilled cheese, and wings. Tails and Ales Philly shares that their favorite place for a date night is Bad Brother.
“With an amazing rotating craft beer list and a food menu to match, Bad Brother can easily be overlooked as just another row home if you pass by too quickly. However, those that know about this spot know always to order their award-winning sausage roll, get the caesar salad on the side, and don’t pass on their dessert, donuts filled with fruit jelly.”
16. Pizza Plus
Pizza Plus offers yummy options from buffalo chicken to pesto to cheeseburger-style pizza.
“My favorite hidden gem in Philly is a little pizza joint called Pizza Plus,” says Flower Clvb. “It is a no-frills pizza place yet the people who work there are friendly and seem happy that you are ordering pizza. As a florist who is surrounded by fanciful events, I love that Pizza Plus is not fancy. It feels like the kind of place you’d walk into in the 90s after a long day of surfing or at the beach. Oh, and the pizza tastes awesome too.”
17. Southeast Asian Market
The Southeast Asian Market is a unique market that offers vendor stalls from countries like Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Jamie S. of Philly Food Adventures notes that “The Southeast Asian Market in FDR Park is one of her favorite hidden gems in Philadelphia. It has grown over the past decade and is now a Wonderland of vendor rows under tents making Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, & Indonesian food, each stand with its own fragrant offerings. You can find grilled skewers, sugar cane juice, fried shrimp rolls, jerky, stews, plants, clothes, vegetables, and fermented pastes to bring home. It’s open every Saturday and Sunday in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.”