Lifestyle in Philadelphia

Philadelphia provides small town living in the midst of a buzzing metropolis. The city's culture and lifestyle is shaped by its immigrant population as much as it is by deep historical roots that reach back to the founding of the USA. This can be seen in its diverse culinary offerings, in a city that places as much emphasis on work as it does on community spirit and leisure.

Despite its blue-collar character and rough-around-the-edges reputation, the shopping and lifestyle in Philadelphia are two of its largest drawcards.

Shopping in Philadelphia

Whether in search of world-class shopping centres, luxurious boutique stores or the quirky character of street-side stores, shopping in Philadelphia is always an experience. To top it off, clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free. 

The King of Prussia Mall, to the northwest of the city, has more retail space than any other mall in America. An attraction in its own right, it offers everything from budget to luxury retail outlets and has three food courts.

Expats wanting something a bit more organic should try the Reading Terminal Market in Center City. With a history that stretches back to 1890's, the market offers fresh produce, international cuisine and handmade crafts. 

Any major shopping excursion in Philadelphia should also include a visit to Macy’s Center City. During the 19th century, the iconic building housed Wanamaker's, one of the first department stores in the world, and is a National Historic Landmark. Originally one of the first department store buildings in the USA, it houses the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the largest playable instrument in the world, with 28,750 pipes. It is played at least twice a day, six days a week.

Eating out in Philadelphia

Expats will have no shortage of options for eating out in Philadelphia. The city's restaurants are a reflection of its distinctive character and some of its most famous foods, much like other beloved favourites in the USA, are a product of its adopted citizens.

The Italian population has arguably left the biggest mark on Philadelphia’s culinary landscape, pioneering the famous Philly cheesesteak and the mother of all submarine sandwiches, the Philadelphia Hoagie. The Philly cheesesteak is most famously sold in South Philadelphia by Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, a cross-street rivalry that goes back around 50 years. 

Philadelphia restaurants are increasingly becoming known for their international cuisine as well as for the acronym BYOB. Owing to state liquor laws, many restaurants don’t sell alcohol and instead allow patrons to bring their own bottles, although it is always best to check up front.

Nightlife and entertainment in Philadelphia

Whether expats want to dance and dine in Old City, swing with jazz musicians in Northern Liberties or watch sport and take part in the craft beer explosion, there is something for everybody to enjoy when it comes to the nightlife in Philadelphia.

There are also several venues that host large concerts, such as the Wells Fargo Center, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and the picturesque Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Parkway, which stretches from City Hall to just before the Museum of Art, hosts many large outdoor concerts and houses some of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Academy of Music, open since 1857, is the longest-operating opera house in the USA. Here, expats with more discerning tastes in music can watch one of the orchestras, choirs or chamber groups that regularly give performances.

Museums and attractions in Philadelphia

A historic city, there is an abundance of museums and historical attractions in Philadelphia. The Parkway is also a sculpture garden, containing works such as Rodin’s famous The Thinker, which greets visitors as they enter the Rodin Museum. Also situated on the historical boulevard is the famous Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia, which houses such rarities as Charles Dickens’s stuffed pet raven.

The city prides itself on being child friendly and boasts the first zoo in America, the fully interactive Please Touch Museum and the Adventure Aquarium, the only aquarium in the world to house hippos.

Sports and outdoor activities in Philadelphia

Outdoorsy residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks in Philadelphia. In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia has one of the largest landscaped urban park systems in the world. Expats looking to run, cycle or even row in Philadelphia will not have to look too far for scenic routes in places such as the Valley Forge National Historical Park and Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Creek, the latter of which allows horse riders and cyclists to ride without a permit.

As much as the city is known for its natural spaces, it is even more famous for its passionate sports fans. It is one of the few cities in the United States which has sports teams in the major leagues of the five most popular sports in the USA. The Philadelphia Eagles play American football at the Lincoln Financial Field and fans can be seen having barbeques outside of the stadium from dawn on Sunday match days. The Philadelphia Phillies are the oldest active professional sports team in the US, and what they may lack in recent sporting titles, they make up for with the best and most vegetarian-friendly food in baseball.

The Wells Fargo Center, in addition to concerts, also hosts two of Philadelphia’s major teams. In the NBA, the city cheers the Philadelphia 76ers and, when the basketball court is covered in ice, Philly shows its support for the Philadelphia Flyers, who play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

The newest of the major sports teams in the city, Philadelphia Union has been playing football (soccer, to Americans) in the MLS since 2010, largely as a result of a campaign by a supporter's club based in the city – a fitting example of how serious Philadelphians are about sport.