Things to do non-touristy US > Southeast Pennsylvania > Philadelphia

10 Best Non-Touristy Things To Do In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

non touristy things to do in philly
Sowmya
Sowmya
Updated

There’s so much more to Philadelphia than the Liberty Bell, Rocky Steps and the LOVE sculpture! While the standard tourist attractions are perfect for time-strapped tourists, if you are interested in going off the beaten path, then there is no dearth of hidden gems of this historic city. Gorgeous gardens, fascinating neighborhoods, forgotten historical landmarks - you have loads of choice. So whether you are a tourist or a local looking for something different, our curated list will show you a side of Philadelphia you may not have known about. Read on to find exciting places to add to your travel itinerary and get to know this amazing city better. Here’s a list of the best non-touristy things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1. Visit Cira Green

Cira Garden
Source: Photo by Flickr user Michael Stokes used under CC BY 2.0

An oasis of green right in the middle of Philly, Cira Green is a unique park atop a 12-story parking garage featuring landscaped grounds with stretches of grass, walkways and benches, just like a regular park. Situated at around 100 feet from the ground, you will get incredible views of the city skyline and a wonderful place to just chill out. A variety of events are held regularly at the park so do check before you visit.

Cira Green

Address: 129 S. 30th Street, Philadelphia

Website: Cira Green

Opening hours: Summer months: 6am - 10pm; Other months: 7am - 8pm

2. Do some vintage shopping at Fabric Row in Queen Village

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Fabric Row is a historic thoroughfare in Philly where textile shoppers have been buying fabric for over a century. This distinctive shopping area still has a plethora of places you can shop for outdoor/indoor and apparel fabrics. Today, Fabric Row is transforming into a hip neighborhood with boutiques, chic cafes/restaurants, and art galleries coming up alongside the older stores. Spend a day walking around the remarkable street, and shop for vintage collectibles, fabrics and knick-knacks. If possible, visit on the fourth Friday of every month when the entire street hosts after-hour shop-and-dine event.

Fabric Row

Address: S.4th Street between Bainbridge and Catherine Streets, Philadelphia

Website: Fabric Row

3. Explore the Nerve of Harriet Cole

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This attraction may not be for the faint-hearted! The Nerve of Harriet Cole is a stunning exhibit that showcases the human nervous system. Harriet Cole was a janitor at Philadelphia’s Hahnemann Medical College (part of Drexel University today) who willed her body to scientific research. After her death in 1888, Dr. Rufus B. Weaver, a professor of anatomy at the college, dissected, extracted and preserved her entire nervous system, mounting it in shape of a human form. This remarkable effort was a medical first and the exhibit became famous as an educational tool. You can find her today, enclosed in a glass case inside the Drexel University College of Medicine.

Drexel University College of Medicine

Address: Outside the bookstore in the Student Activities Center, Drexel’s College of Medicine, 2900 W Queen Ln, Philadelphia

Website: Drexel University College of Medicine

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

4. Go to the Cave of Kelpius

Cave of Kelpius
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Johnson, Steven L. used under CC BY 2.0

Discover a little known part of Philadelphia’s history by exploring Fairmount Park for the Cave of Kelpius. In 1694, a cult headed by mystic and scholar Johannes Kelpius set up base at the edge of the Wissahickon Wood anticipating the end of the world. Kelpius and his followers created several structures in the area, but only the stone vault that Kelpius reportedly lived and meditated in survives, although many believe it may be just an old springhouse. Marked today by a granite monolith, you’ll find the cave near Hermit Lane, above the Wissahickon Creek. Beware it can be a little hard to find. And it can get spooky!

Cave of Kelpius

Address: Wissahickon Valley Park, Fairmount Park,

Website: Fairmount Park

5. Admire Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Shofuso Spring
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 松風荘 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Enjoy a slice of Japan in Philadelphia with a visit to the serene Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. This beautifully designed garden spread over 1.2 acres (0.5 hectares) was constructed in the 17th traditional Japanese style using authentic materials and techniques. Walk around its grounds taking in the landscaped gardens, feed the koi fish that you will find in the pond and tour the Japanese tea house and tea garden. Events including tea ceremonies are held regularly so be sure to check. The Annual Cherry Blossom Festival (usually in April) is a wonderful time to visit.

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Address: Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia

Website: Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Opening hours: (Mar 23 - Oct) Wed - Fri: 10am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 5pm; (Nov - Dec 8) Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm

Price: 12 USD

6. Head to Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin structures - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Larry Lamb used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Spend a day soaking in American history with a visit to Fort Mifflin. A one of kind historical site, Fort Mifflin is the only fully intact Revolutionary War battlefield in the United States that’s still active. Spread over around 40 acres (16 hectares), this complex features several buildings authentically restored, such as the Commandant’s House plus several cannons. There’s also a beautiful riverfront along the Delaware River out front, where you can walk or have a picnic. Thanks to its notoriety as one of the most haunted sites in the country, paranormal/ghost tours in the Fort are popular if that’s of interest!

Fort Mifflin

Address: 8300-8390 Fort Mifflin Rd, Philadelphia

Website: Fort Mifflin

Opening hours: (Mar 1 - Dec 15) Wed - Sun: 10am - 4pm

Price: 8 USD

7. Visit Pizza Brain's Museum of Pizza Culture

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Here’s a museum with a rather unusual theme - pizzas! Yes, the Museum of Pizza Culture, located within a popular pizzeria Pizza Brain, is certified as having the world’s largest collection of pizza-related memorabilia and collectibles. Explore its one-of-a-kind collection that includes pizza-themed music, books, toys and advertising as you wait to enjoy its famed brick-oven pizza pies.

Museum of Pizza Culture

Address: 2313 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia

Website: Museum of Pizza Culture

Opening hours: Mon - Thur: 11:00am - 9:00pm; Fri - Sat: 11:00am - 10:00pm; Sun: 12:00pm - 9:00pm

8. Check out Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Magic Garden-Philadelphia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user sashafatcat used under CC BY 2.0

The Magic Gardens is a dazzling walk-through art installation created entirely of mosaics. Spread over two indoor galleries and a two-level outdoor labyrinth-like sculpture garden, Magic Gardens is a creation of artist Isaiah Zagar who has used a variety of materials ranging from mirrors, glass, tiles, to urban waste like bike tires to develop this fascinating art institution. There are guided tours and other events that you can register for, or else, just wander around enjoying the spectacular creativity of the artist.

Magic Gardens

Address: 1020 South Street, Philadelphia

Website: Magic Gardens

Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 11:00am - 6:00pm; Closed on Tuesdays

Price: 10 USD

9. Take a Latin dance lesson (from USD 59.0)

Experience the vibrant Latin dance scene of Philadelphia with an evening of social dancing. Don’t worry, you don’t need prior knowledge of dancing or a partner to have fun on this tour. Lasting 2.5 hours, the tour begins with you meeting your host and your fellow guests at a Center City rooftop lounge, where you’ll enjoy a complimentary drink taking in the beautiful city views. Next, you’ll get your bearings in the one-hour group beginner’s lesson after which you’ll head out to a dance club (in Society Hill area) to spend the rest of the evening on the dance floor.

Let's Dance, Explore the Salsa Scene

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

10. Enjoy indoor skydiving (from USD 76.0)

If you are looking for an adrenalin rush, then this tour is for you! Enjoy the thrill of free-fall without having to jump from a plane in this indoor skydiving experience. Guided by a trained instructor, you’ll have two one-on-one flights where you’ll fall through an 800-horsepower vertical wind tunnel. While the entire experience will last for about 75 minutes, your individual flights will be for 60 seconds each.

King of Prussia Indoor Skydiving with 2 Flights & Personalized Certificate

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes

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Explore the lesser-known side of Philly

As a tourist to Philly, make your itinerary a mix of the regular tourist attractions and the lesser known ones for a memorable experience. Don’t forget to check out the city’s top culinary specialties, especially the cheesesteak, so you don’t miss out on the essential Philly experience.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Writing and travelling both bring joy to Sowmya's life. Her favourite destination so far is Bhutan. A land of incredible beauty! And her favourite style of travelling is solo backpacking!...Read more

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