Welcome to Philadelphia!
Dear SSSP Graduate Students,
Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love! As a graduate student who has lived in and around Philly for my whole life, I can confirm that summer is one of the best times to be in the city! SSSP is in one of the best locations this year! It’s within walking distance to plenty of amazing restaurants and activities and a quick public transportation ride away from plenty of others. Philly has a lot of wonderful neighborhoods, so if you have the time, it’s worth checking them out and seeing their different personalities. I’ve chosen a few classic things and fan favorites, but for even more recommendations check out Travel and Leisure’s guide as well as Eater Philly’s 38 Essential Restaurants in Philadelphia.
Classic Philly Activities
Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is located in Independence National Historical Park. It’s free to visit and you don’t need advance tickets! It’s roughly a 12 minute walk from the conference hotel.
Magic Gardens. Magic Gardens is a must see. You’ll see glimpses of the glass artwork found there around the city, but the main exhibit is on 10th and South St. (about a 15 minute walk from the conference hotel). Once you’re there, make sure to check out all that South Street has to offer. There are great thrift and boutique shops and even better restaurants.
Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Market (just two minutes away from the conference hotel) is a famous indoor farmers market with tons of food stalls. Once you’re in there you really can’t go wrong and can find any cuisine you’re craving. If you have a sweet tooth and can brave the line for Beilers Donuts, I promise you it will be worth it.
Frankford Hall. A German biergarten with indoor and outdoor seating, games, and small bites and drinks. It's located in Fishtown which is a neighborhood in Philly with lots of music venues, bars, and some of the best restaurants in the city. Grab a bite to eat somewhere in Fishtown and then head over to Frankford Hall afterwards. It’s great for groups!
Spruce Street Harbor Park. Summer in Philly means an obligatory visit to Spruce Street Harbor Park. Known for the colorful hanging lights at night, it’s the perfect place to spend some time by the waterfront. There are food stalls and arcade games in the park. Ice cream fans should make sure to check out Franklin Fountain which is a few minutes away.
Cherry Street Pier. Cherry Street Pier is located a few minutes walking distance from Spruce Street Harbor Park. It also has a casual restaurant for light snacks and drinks right on the water. It’s great for big or small groups and is right next to Race Street Pier which has lots of green space to sit and hang out.
Barnes Foundation. This one is for the art enthusiasts. The Barnes is a stunning art collection located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Once you’re over that way, head on over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see below) and walk Benjamin Franklin Parkway to see the road lined with flags from all over the world.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. So you want iconic Philly you say? Well here it is! Head over to the Art Museum and climb (or if you dare, run) up those iconic Rocky Steps! Once you’re up there, hit the Rocky Pose, catch your breath, and walk through this massive museum.
Franklin Institute. The Franklin Institute is a science and technology museum located in the same area as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Barnes Foundation. They are known to have interactive exhibits that are family friendly. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they have others that rotate in and out. Some of the most popular ones on rotation in recent years have been the Harry Potter and Marvel exhibits.
Philly has one of the best food scenes in the U.S. For example, we are home to Zahav which won the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in the Country in 2019. There are so many amazing places, so I can’t fit them all here, but these are some must-trys that will give you a feel for all the wonderful cuisine Philly has to offer.
K’far Café. From the creator of Zahav comes K’far. K’far is an Israeli bakery and café that serves Israeli pastries and dishes like borekas, babka, and Jerusalem Bagel sandwiches!
La Colombe. Headquartered in Philly, you will find a few La Colombes across the city. Head there for a pastry or a cup of coffee before your early morning session.
Middle Child. Middle Child has two locations – one in Fishtown and one in Center City that is walking distance from the conference hotel. They’re known for their fluffy egg sandwiches so if you’re looking to grab something heavier than a pastry in the morning, I would definitely recommend stopping here.
Sabrina’s Café. Sabrina’s is a brunch staple. There are a few locations around the city. If you’re able to make your way there, make sure to try their signature stuffed French toast – you won’t regret it!
Huda. Located in center city, Huda is bringing you fast casual sandwiches on homemade milk buns as well as salads and veggie rich sides.
Goldie Falafel. Goldie is one of my favorite places in the city. Also owned by Michael Solomonov of Zahav, Goldie is bringing you vegan fare by way of falafel sandwiches and falafel salads. Try the shawarma spiced fries or tahini shakes for an unbeatable lunch.
Angelo’s Cheese Steaks. This isn’t one of those guides that will lead you into the Pat’s vs Jim’s battle for cheesesteaks because there’s a clear winner of Philly cheesesteaks and it’s Angelo’s. Once you’re there order the cheesesteak with cooper sharp. Another popular spot is Ishkabibble’s on South Street.
Double Knot. Double Knot is a happy hour staple. Enough food for a meal and so much of it is under $10. If you make it here, try the kimchi fried rice!
Suraya. Suraya is a Lebanese restaurant located in Fishtown. They offer an all-day market and café, restaurant, and outdoor garden. You won’t be disappointed!
Vedge. Vedge is a vegan restaurant located steps away from the conference hotel. Known for both its drinks and dishes, Vedge will give you a new way of thinking about vegan food. If you want vegetables done right and done differently – head here!
Tuna Bar. Tuna bar is for the sushi lovers. Located in Old City (not far from Race and Cherry Street Pier and Spruce Street Harbor Park), Tuna Bar is the place to go if you’re craving sushi. Offering full dinner and happy hour specials, there isn’t a wrong time to go.
Suya Suya. A newer restaurant in Philly, Suya Suya offers West African fare. If you’ve never tried Nigerian cuisine, there’s no better time to do it than at Suya Suya. Located in Northern Liberties it’s walking distance close to Fishtown, North Bowl, and plenty of other activities.
Abyssinia. Another amazing African restaurant is located in West Philly. This time bringing you Ethiopian cuisine. It’s also open late so if you’re craving a late night meal – look no further!
Dim Sum Garden. Last but certainly not least is Dim Sum Garden – a Philly staple. Located in Chinatown (walking distance from the conference hotel) you will find Dim Sum Garden serving high energy and some of the best dim sum you will ever have. Head over with a group of friends for an unforgettable night. It’s also BYOB if that’s your thing!
Neighborhoods to Explore
South Philly/Italian Market
Happy eating and happy exploring! I hope you enjoy your stay!
Marilyn Baffoe-Bonnie, Ph.D. Candidate and Predoctoral Fellow
Department of Sociology, Rutgers University
National Institutes of Health, Department of Bioethics
National Human Genome Research Institute, Health Disparities Unit
Local Arrangements Committee, 2022-2023