6 Cool Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

Here’s the thing about Philadelphia: Deeming one neighborhood “cooler” over another can only end poorly—the “brotherly love” and “sisterly affection” often stops at one’s neighborhood borders. 

But neighborhood pride aside, there are a handful of neighborhoods that are having a moment, thanks to thriving arts and culture, delicious dining scenes, and fun things to do. Here are six cool neighborhoods in Philly that are worth considering. 

Fishtown

Once a modest neighborhood, today Fishtown is one of Philly’s hippest areas. Along with endless rowhomes—now neighbors with million-dollar condos — you’ll find an influx of new and thriving independent businesses, restaurants, and bars setting up shop along Frankford Avenue. Some of the most notable and new restaurants include Pizzeria Beddia, which once earned the title of the Best Pie in America by Bon Appetit, as well as the all-day Lebanese cafe Suraya.

For all of the action that Fishtown offers, it’s no wonder young creatives and millennials want to live here—if they can afford it. The median sale price of Fishtown homes hovers in the mid-$300s, according to neighborhoods.com, but the most high-end properties skyrocket up to $1.3 million. That said, act fast if you see a home hit the market on the lower end—it won’t last long.

Spots to check out:

  • Johnny Brenda’s: This longtime Fishtown establishment is the place to catch Philly’s indie rock scene. 
  • La Colombe: This coffee roaster can be found in many major U.S. cities, but its roots are here in Fishtown, and this location is the largest in Philly. 
  • Penn Treaty Park: Living right on the Delaware River has its perks. Fishtown’s largest neighborhood park offers some of the best views of the city skyline. 

Mt. Airy

The first thing you notice in the front yards of Mt. Airy homes is that nearly every lawn or window features a sign that reads, “Hate has no home here.” Mt. Airy has the reputation of being one of the most welcoming neighborhoods in the city—which is why it attracts social activists and residents who are committed to civic engagement. 

If you’re looking for a loud, bustling nightlife, you won’t find it here. That’s because Mt. Airy residents know how to have a good time all day. On Germantown Avenue, it’s main retail corridor, you will find boutique shops, breweries and pubs, and delicious restaurants, such as the neighborhood staple Earth Bread + Brewery.

Spots to check out:

  • Wissahickon Valley Park: This massive park hugs the Mt. Airy neighborhood and offers a dizzying array of trails to hike, mountain bike, or go horseback riding. 
  • Trattoria Moma: This Italian restaurant on Germantown Avenue is unassuming on the outside, but offers heaping plates of delicious Italian food piled so high it’s a miracle you’ll be able to squeeze out its tiny door. 

Washington Square West

The Gayborhood is a neighborhood within Washington Square West that wears its pride on its sleeve, as evidenced by its rainbow sidewalks and street signs and many LGBTQ-owned restaurants, bars, and shops. 

The handful of delicious restaurants from Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran are a must. Enjoy Bud & Marilyn’s throwback comfort food in a cozy restaurant decked out in midcentury modern decor, or try the meatballs from Little Nonna’s next door. 

Still, living in the heart of the city and in the middle of all the action doesn’t come cheap. While there are lots of rental apartments available, the majority of homes for sale are luxury (read: pricey) condos. Some of the most expensive homes can set you back upwards $3 million.

Spots to check out:

  • Charlie was a Sinner: Down a delicious cocktail (or two) on a velvety smooth chair while nibbling on vegetarian tapas at this restaurant-bar located bar on the bustling 13th Street.
  • Double Knot: Go here for the great atmosphere and pan-Asian food, whether you opt for lunch upstairs or dinner in the dark and moody basement. 
  • Philly Aids Thrift at Giovanni’s Room: This is the oldest LGBTQ and feminist bookstore in the country. Come here for the good reads, stay here for the people.

Cedar Park

Named after its eponymous neighborhood park, Cedar Park is home to gorgeous Victorian homes on tree-lined streets, lived in by a diverse collection of residents ranging from families to young professionals to college students. In fact, co-housing is common in this pocket of West Philly. 

Baltimore Avenue is the neighborhood’s backbone and offers an eclectic mix of businesses and restaurants. On one end, Dock Street Brewery slings wood-fired oven pizzas and beer in its 110-year-old firehouse while welcoming folks from all walks of life. On the other side, families flock to Vietnam Cafe for its bowls of vermicelli.

Spots to check out:

  • Greensgrow West: This community hub in Cedar Park is home to a greenhouse, a tiny reading library, a farmstand, and chickens.
  • Mood Cafe: This saffron-painted corner restaurant offers lassi drinks in dozens of flavors and varieties of chaat, and common type of East Indian and Pakistani street food.

East Passyunk  

East Passyunk is named after Passyunk Avenue, a lively diagonal corridor that cuts through this South Philly neighborhood and has become a mecca of must-visit restaurants, bars, and cafes.

At all hours, the avenue is alive with locals streaming in and out of neighborhood haunts, such as Fountain Porter, to the hottest new restaurant for tacos (South Philly Barbacoa) or French cuisine (Laurel).

But East Passyunk isn’t just a scene for restaurants—it’s also a popular spot for creatives. BOK Building, a school-turned-makerspace, is home to small businesses, community services, designers, restaurants and cafes, and when the weather’s fine, a summer rooftop bar.

Spots to check out:

  • Perla: On Wednesdays and Sundays, this Filipino establishment serves family-style dinners on banana leaves—and eating with your hands isn’t just encouraged, it’s a necessity.
  • Essen Bakery: You’ll never forget your first bite of babka from this Jewish bakery. 
  • Jinxed: This second-hand shop is stocked with so much vintage furnishings and antiques, and chances are you’ll want to go home with all of it.
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