Explore Philadelphia

Top Things to Do Off the Beaten Path in Philly

Looking for something a bit different to do in Philadelphia? This city is home to some of America’s most iconic attractions (hello, Liberty Bell), and while we highly recommend visiting those spots, there really is nothing like exploring some uncommon places in a new area.

Philadelphia is made up of neighborhoods with distinct personalities. Rittenhouse Square offers high-end shopping and a very Philly brunch at Parc or Rouge (at the latter, order the burger). Old City is a playground for history buffs, while Fishtown is the city's unofficial artistic and cultural hub. No matter what vibe you’re looking for, each neighborhood holds something special. You just have to know where to look.

So to help you find these distinctive gems, we’ve rounded up some top spots—many of which locals will admit they have yet to discover. From Prohibition-era bars hidden in alleyways to historic buildings with a twist, the following recommendations are great ways to explore Philly like a local.

Mütter Museum

At The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, explore this fascinating museum full of anatomical and pathological artifacts and anomalies, medical instruments and skeletons. Exhibits include "Our Finest Clothing: A Layered History of Our Skin," and "Grimms' Anatomy: Magic and Medicine." $15-$20, children 5 and under free.

The Ranstead Room

Hidden off a side street adjacent to restaurant El Rey, this dimly lit enclave serves libations minted at the turn of the century in true speakeasy style. Look for the “RR” on the door. Open daily.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia

Experience chilling tales on a 75-minute candlelit walking tour of Independence Park and Society Hill year-round. Tours depart from Signers’ Garden at Fifth and Chestnut streets, nightly at 7:30 pm; call for additional times. $17; $10 ages 4-12.

Dream Garden Mosaic

Visitors seek out this beautiful, 15-by-49-foot mosaic inside the Curtis Center, the elegant building that once housed the offices of the Ladies Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post. Completed in 1916, the mosaic was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in conjunction with Philadelphia artist Maxfield Parrish (and based on

Shofuso Japanese House & Garden

This picturesque destination is located in Fairmount Park, two blocks from the Please Touch Museum. Escape to Japan by touring the house and garden, feeding the koi fish in the pond and viewing ikebana flower arrangements. Look for the “Shofuso Waterfall” fusuma murals by famed contemporary Japanese artist Hiroshi Senju.

Fabric Workshop and Museum

This nonprofit pushes the frontiers of contemporary art by supporting artists who work with experimental materials. Design enthusiasts find plenty to see here, from an extensive permanent collection to special exhibitions, plus lectures and tours. Don’t miss the design-driven gift shop. Free. Open daily.

Fairmount Park Houses

These 18th- and 19th-century mansions, which feature period furnishings, are considered to be some of the finest examples of early American homes. Tours of mansions are offered by the Park House Guides. $5-$8. Check website for hours.

Sister Cities Park

This green space offers diverse activities and quiet respite on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Families explore the Children’s Discovery Garden, rent and sail boats in the boat pond, splash in the fountain, grab a bite to eat at the cafe, or just sit and relax. Daily 6 am-1 am.

Yards Brewing Company

Pennsylvania’s craft beer scene is thriving, thanks in part to Tom Kehoe, who founded Yards in 1994. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of Pennsylvania’s first 100% wind-powered brewery, also one of the only breweries within city limits. Free tours are 30 to 40 minutes, and include a beer sample.

Mural Arts Program Tours

Explore the world's largest outdoor art gallery by taking a walking, trolley, train tour or Segway with alternating themes of interest. Experienced guides give visitors an insider's view of the murals, artistic process and community histories that the murals embody. Guided tour prices vary. Check website for details.

The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Housed inside two beautiful townhouses on one of Philadelphia’s most charming streets, the Rosenbach offers changing exhibitions and programs inspired by its remarkable collection of rare books, manuscripts, and fine and decorative art. $5-$10. Tu and F noon-5 pm, W-Th noon-8 pm, Sa-Su noon-6 pm.

Mummers Museum

Learn about Philadelphia’s colorful New Year’s tradition as you strut and twirl through Mummers exhibits and demonstrations. Collection includes memorabilia and the Mummers’ trademark elaborate costumes, some of which date from the early 1900s. $5. W-Sa 9:30 am-4 pm.

Macy's Center City

Housed in the historic Wanamaker Building, this sprawling department store is worth a stop just to view the architecture. Of course, the fine fashions, accessories and decor typical of Macy’s encourage visitors to shop until they drop.