10 Best Things to Do after Dark in Philadelphia

At the end of a long day of work or sightseeing, shopping or visiting friends, heading out to enjoy Philadelphia at night can oftentimes be the best part of your day. Whether your idea of a great time is settling into a seat at the Kimmel Center to take in some culture, catching a band at World Cafe Live for a few hours, or wandering through shops and boutiques as part of First Friday, there's sure to be plenty for you to do here.

Fortunately, 10Best helps you narrow down the many clubs, bars music venues and performance halls here to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer a carefully vetted selection to let you explore Philadelphia nightlife on your own, with the confidence of finding just the right venue and experience for your group. We distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you won't want to miss. Explore music venues, art galleries, restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping, and even a casino. Find the option that will round out your city experience the best. If you've got enough time, perhaps you'll want to try several of the places on our list!

Union Transfer
Photo courtesy of mcvickerphotog


This newish Philadelphia music venue has already become a staple in the indie-rock scene, hosting touring bands and local musical groups alike. Located in a beautifully renovated historic building in the Eraserhood neighborhood, the place boasts three full bars, snacks and ice cream in the summer. This club is as hospitable, though, as it is rockin'. Folks welcome the opportunity to come here to check out new groups and to share their musical appreciation over a drink or two. Fans love that the space never feels crowded, has high ceilings so that ventilation and acoustics are good, and staff are accommodating and friendly.



From Thursday to Saturday night, the city's best-dressed party-goers ride an elevator to the second-floor club, where six bars, a light-show, and two elevated VIP platforms await them. Private bottle-service areas overflow with sparkling wines cognacs, and cocktails conceived by skilled mixologists. Technically, this is a private club � which allows it stay open until 3 a.m. � but memberships can be purchased at the door. Once inside, guests can enjoy a DJ with music that ranges from hip-hop to rap to house to classics. It's a great opportunity to take in the party vibe and let off some steam whether you tap your feet or let loose and dance.

SugarHouse Casino
Photo courtesy of SugarHouse Casino


Sugar House is the only casino in Philadelphia proper. It stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for gamblers and entertainment seekers, as well as those just interested in checking things out. Sure, slots and table games are the main attraction but there are also four on-site restaurants, live music on the waterfront deck four nights a week and special events like dance parties, sport promotions and tailgates. Great for groups, this place lights up an evening with plenty to see and do. Try your hand at a card game, pull the handle on a slot machine, or enjoy a game of chance. Who knows, you may end up a winner!

Fairmount/Art Museum area
Water Works Restaurant & Lounge
Photo courtesy of Water Works


One of Philadelphia's only waterfront restaurants is one of its most romantic. This is thanks to the sweeping porch that provides for a drink or a meal full of breathtaking views of the Schuylkill River and of Boathouse Row. The restaurant was built into a 19th century public works facility whose architectural and engineering marvels made it a tourist destination for 100 years. Saveur magazine named Water Works a "Top 100 Experience," and Chef Darryl Harmon and his team have hosted some of the world's most noted figures in politics, entertainment and sports here. Regular folks can come here and enjoy its quieter and more intimate setting to share a drink and enjoy the views.

University City
World Cafe Live
Photo courtesy of World Cafe Live


This unassuming venue is a community-focused listening room that caters to serious music fans in and around Philadelphia. World Cafe books an impressive variety of talent from week to week, including national acts like Shawn Mullins, Suzanne Vega, KRS-One and Rickie Lee Jones as well as local Philly faves like MJ Project and The Roddies. Catch a group you've heard about over and over again, or check out one you've never seen for an entertaining and foot-tapping evening that's perfect for groups. The upstairs cafe-bar is open throughout the week and features regular live acts of its own. Food is served both upstairs and down.

Monk's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Monk's Cafe


An oldie but a goodie. While dozens of newer craft-beer bars have opened since this one, you can't argue with a destination that's still considered the beer mecca of Philadelphia. Called "One of the Top Ten Places to Drink a Beer Before You Die" by All About Beer magazine, Monk's pours several hundred of the world's best beers and almost single-handedly originated the Belgian beer craze in America. If you can tear yourself away from the beer, there's also food: European dishes cooked in beer, eight different preparations of mussels and seven burger topping combinations, each named after something related to Belgium.



As the longest, widest, busiest street in the region, Avenue of the Arts would likely be some sort of destination even it weren't home to more than 50 of the city's premier arts and culture institutions. But as the home to dozens of performing arts venues and sprouting new high-end retail boutiques and eating and drinking establishments practically by the month, this stretch of South Broad Street grows ever more bustling. A trip here can include a theater visit, restaurant stop, or a retail boutique shopping excursion, among other things. Most noted for the many Broadway-quality shows it attracts during the year, this area is a must-do for visitors looking to add a little fun and culture to their Philadelphia nightlife scene.

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey M. Vinocur


As home to the American Theater Arts for Youth, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Peter Nero & the Philly Pops, Pennsylvania Ballet, PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Philadelphia Orchestra, the magnificent Kimmel Center is the cultural heart of the city. Beyond the resident companies, Verizon Hall and the Perelman Theater both play host to performances from Broadway shows to African Jazz ensembles. This tremendous venue has to plenty to offer music lovers, dance aficionados, theater fans, and those who appreciate quality vocals. Be sure to pause to take in the beauty of the place when you're seated. Enjoy the show!



If you are in Philadelphia during the first Friday of the month, don't miss a chance to explore the city's incredible art scene. This fun, free open house takes enthusiasts and newbies alike through many of the galleries and boutiques in the Old City Arts District. Found mostly between Front and Third, and Market and Vine Streets, the 40-plus galleries open their doors to share a wide range of artistic creations, including everything from contemporary works in various mediums to ceramic arts. In many, you'll be offered a bite to eat, or a glass of wine to sip while you browse. First Friday is a fun and funky way to experience art in the city, or to pick up a sweet picture for over the fireplace.



Located in the geographical heart of the city, Rittenhouse Square serves as a hub for much of Philadelphia's more upscale shopping, dining and people-watching. Rittenhouse Square itself glows gorgeously all year round with its multi-colored globe lights suspended from tree branches but it's what surrounds the park that's probably more interesting for a seeker of nightlife entertainment. The ritzy neighborhood (also called "Rittenhouse Square" or simply, "Rittenhouse") is home to a wealth of national retail boutiques like the Anthropologie flagship store, which stays open until 8, and dozens of top restaurants, bars and even late-night ice cream and cheese shops.