Where to Stay in Philadelphia – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

Casually nicknamed “Philly,” Philadelphia sits in Southeastern Pennsylvania, in the Mid-Atlantic region, and borders Delaware and New Jersey. The former capital of the United States of America, the city is extremely significant to the life and history of the nation. Home to world-class museums and universities, Philly’s architecture and colonial legacy is unrivaled.

The birthplace of America’s modern democracy, Philadelphia was home to the founding father of the country, Benjamin Franklin, who is credited with the inception of the city’s first public library and first fire department, along with the nation’s first insurance firm. The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser, started in 1784, was America’s earliest newspaper. Interestingly, this pioneering city is also known to have given the United States its first zoo, first medical school, and first hospital.

Philly is the “mural capital of the United States” and has more impressionist paintings than any other city in the world except Paris. Home to the historic Liberty Bell, the mouth-watering Philly cheese-steaks, and of course the momentous Declaration of Independence, the ‘city of brotherly love’ also boasts the oldest continually operating theatre in the English-speaking world.

Philadelphia is steeped in intriguing facts and culture, no matter which corner of the city you explore. No wonder hundreds and thousands of tourists flock to the city every year. If you’d like to see this impressive metropolis for yourself, it is important that you know about the popular neighborhoods so you can decide where to stay in Philadelphia on your visit.

Old City/Society Hill

Society Hill, Philadelphia

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Society Hill

Old City is both the birthplace of America and its most famous historic neighborhood, while neighboring Society Hill is where you will find some of the greatest sites in Philadelphia. Contemporary art galleries, intriguing monuments and museums, quiet residential zones, upscale boutiques, and great nightlife – this neighborhood has it all. 18th-century grand edifices line the cobbled streets of this area. The nine-foot tall Benjamin Franklin bust, probably one of the most significant landmarks in the city, is dedicated to the life and works of the iconic personality. Then there is the Betsy Ross Museum, named after the woman who, if the rumors are to be believed, stitched the first ever American flag. Last but definitely not least, the Old City is also home to the two most historic attractions of America – the Liberty Bell and Independence Park.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Ben Franklin Bridge, Elfreth’s Alley, Museum of the American Revolution, and Independence Seaport Museum

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Penn’s Landing – A few hundred meters from the historic district of Philly, this elegant property features well-appointed guestrooms with HDTV and cable, work desks, and private bathrooms. The hotel also features a well-equipped fitness center, 24-hour front desk, and a business center. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia – Boasting a fully-functional fitness center, a wine cellar, and an a la carte restaurant, Penn’s View Hotel Philadelphia offers spacious guestrooms with comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi, TV, and private bathrooms. Many notable attractions are located nearby, including Liberty Bell and Independence Park. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Wyndham Philadelphia-Historic District – A short walk from Independence Park, Wyndham Philadelphia provides well-equipped guestrooms with a flat-screen TV, iPod dock, and an ensuite bathroom. Additional facilities at the hotel include a seasonal rooftop pool and an on-site restaurant specializing in American cuisine. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.

Center City

Center City, Philadelphia

Source: Jon Bilous / shutterstock

Center City

Comprising the central business district and other important central neighborhoods in Philly, this area is what essentially constituted the City of Philadelphia before Philadelphia County became a part of the city in 1854. The second-most inhabited downtown in the United States of America, Center City is home to some of the tallest structures in Philly, including but not limited to Philadelphia City Hall and One Liberty Place. In fact, the William Penn Statue at the City Hall was the tallest structure in the municipality until One Liberty Place broke the record in 1987. As a result of the “Curse of Billy,” the city’s major league sports team couldn’t manage a single win in over two decades until a three-foot statue of William Penn was fixed atop Comcast Center in 2007, making it the tallest. In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies, now curse-free, won the World Series. Masonic Temple, located across the street from the City Hall, is the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and was constructed in commemoration of the Founding Fathers, many of whom, including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, were Freemasons. While here, you absolutely cannot miss mimicking Rocky’s famous climb at the famous Rocky Steps – a series of 72 stone steps right outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art made memorable by the classic Sylvester Stallone film, Rocky.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Washington Square, Philadelphia’s Magic Garden, National Constitution Center, One Liberty Center Observation Deck, Spruce Street Harbor Park, and Franklin Square

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hampton Inn Philadelphia Center City-Convention Center – Featuring an indoor pool, 24-hour front desk, an on-site bar and lounge and a well-equipped fitness center, this stylish property offers luxurious guestrooms only a quick stroll from the Convention Center. A delightful complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to five members.
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Philadelphia Center City – A short distance from City Hall Station, Residence Inn features lavishly-decorated studios and suites with a fully-equipped kitchen, satellite TV, and a separate dining area. For extra convenience, the property also provides a grocery shopping service and on-site ATM. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Philadelphia Marriott Downtown – Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood, this opulent property features beautifully-appointed guestrooms with a flat-screen TV, mini-refrigerator, and private bathroom. Business travelers can make use of the on-site meeting space. Great for solo travelers and couples.

Parkway Museums District

Parkway Museums District

Source: Kelleher Photography / shutterstock

Parkway Museums District

Situated along the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Parkway Museum District is a picturesque boulevard that traverses the cultural heart of Philly. The parkway begins at the City Hall and continues to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul sits on Logan Square’s east side and is the main church of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is also the largest of its kind in the state of Pennsylvania and has hosted two papal Masses, one by Pope John Paul II and another by Pope Francis. Another remarkable attraction in the area is the Rodin Museum. Established in 1929, the museum contains the largest collection of sculpture works by any artist outside of Paris. The neighborhood also has a brilliant outdoor sculpture garden that features some of the most exquisite statues found anywhere in the world: Robert Tait McKenzie’s The Ideal Scout, Calder’s Shakespeare Memorial, and Rodin’s The Thinker.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
The Mutter Museum, Fairmount Park, The Rocky Statue and the Steps, Fairmount Water Works, and the Barnes Foundation

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Le Meridien Philadelphia – Offering an on-site French restaurant, 24-hour fitness center with special cardio and weight training, and a bar with lounge, Le Meridien Philadelphia provides wonderfully-appointed guestrooms within a 10-story historic building featuring an enormous central courtyard. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton – Several hundred meters from the Franklin Institute, the Logan Philadelphia, Curio Collection by Hilton offers spectacular guestrooms with brilliant views of either the city or the courtyard. Guests staying at the property can savor delicious steaks at the on-site steakhouse and enjoy a refreshing cocktail before calling it a night. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Windsor Suites Philadelphia – Featuring a 24-hour fitness center, an Irish-style pub and restaurant, and on-site private parking, the Windsor Suites Philadelphia offers lavishly-designed studios and suites with state-of-the-art facilities, including a fully-equipped kitchen and seating area. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.

Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Source: Jon Bilous / shutterstock

Rittenhouse Square

One of the most prominent districts in the city, Rittenhouse Square is named after the public park that sits right in the middle of the neighborhood. Also known as Rittenhouse Row, the area is one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the country. In fact, the public park is regarded as one of the finest urban open spaces in the United States and is one of the five original spaces that were planned by William Penn and Thomas Holme. Named after astronomer and clock-maker David Rittenhouse, the area is dotted with luxury apartments and residential homes, upscale restaurants, and several high-end shopping venues. The neighborhood is also home to several other popular sites such as the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Rosenbach Museum and Library, and Delancey Place – a quiet but historic street known for its Civil-war era architecture that has been the setting of many Hollywood movies. If you are visiting in May, you must absolutely time your travel with the Rittenhouse Square Spring Festival.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Curtis Institute of Music, Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the Franklin Institute

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square – Only 10 minutes’ walking distance from City Hall, Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square provides spacious, well-furnished guestrooms with modern facilities. The pet-friendly hotel also offers a fully-equipped 24-hour business center and fitness center. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • AKA Rittenhouse Square – A stone’s throw away from the Philadelphia business district, AKA Rittenhouse Square offers fully furnished studios and suites with self-catering facilities. Fitness lovers can make use of the on-site health center or enjoy complimentary access to the Bellevue’s Sporting Club. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Rittenhouse Hotel – Within walking distance from many notable Philly museums, the Rittenhouse Hotel treats its guests to a world-class Spa and Club with a heated indoor pool and a sun terrace. Additionally, guests can enjoy a full workout at the state-of-the-art fitness center and savor a meal at the on-site restaurant. Perfect for solo travelers, couples, and small families.

University City

University City, Philadelphia

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University City

Home to two of the largest and most distinguished educational institutions in America, University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, the University City is extremely popular with the student crowd. Although a medical facility, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, founded in 1855, is one of the oldest and largest hospitals in the world dedicated to the treatment and care of children. A literary treasure trove for bibliophiles, the Free Library of Philadelphia is the 13th largest of its kind in the United States and has a combined online and offline annual readership of over 15-million patrons. Among its special collections are the most renowned works of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and Edwin A. Fleisher’s Orchestral Music collection.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Penn Museum, World Café Live Philadelphia, and Penn Park

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Homewood Suites University City Philadelphia – A couple of minutes’ walking distance from the highly-revered University of Pennsylvania, this remarkable property offers a fitness center, an indoor pool, complimentary dinner on selected nights, and a free shuttle to the University region. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel – Featuring a fully-equipped fitness center, 24-hour front desk, and an award-winning on-site restaurant, this exclusive hotel offers well-appointed guestrooms with satellite TV, minibar, iPod dock, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Study Hotel at University City – Offering sophisticated, neatly-designed guestrooms and suites with the latest features, including cable TV, laptop safe, and free Wi-Fi, this pet-friendly hotel welcomes its guests to stay directly adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania Campus. An optional breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.

Around the Airport

Philly Airport Art Exhibits

Source: EQRoy / shutterstock

Philly Airport Art Exhibits

If you are travelling to Philly for the weekend or have a few hours layover in this historic American city, the area around the Philadelphia International Airport is perhaps the best and most convenient option. The largest in the Delaware Valley and the state of Pennsylvania, Philly Airport has been connecting world travelers to this extraordinary city for almost 75 years. Depending on how much time you have, you could either check out the many permanent and temporary visual arts exhibitions scattered around the airport or take a quick 20-minute cab ride into town. In fact, the easiest and best way to explore the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ is to head directly to the Center City/Old City area and visit some of the most exclusive landmarks in Philly, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Park, and of course, the Rocky Steps.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Blue Cross River Rink, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Hotel Recommendations:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Airport – Perfect for visitors on a short trip, this amazing hotel is located next to Philadelphia International Airport and has a free shuttle service to the airport. Guests can also appreciate the well-furnished guestrooms and additional facilities, including a heated indoor pool and fitness center. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Embassy Suites Philadelphia – Airport – Within a short distance of several important attractions in the city, Embassy Suites Philadelphia Airport is an all-suites hotel with expansive guestrooms, an on-site fitness center, and a complimentary evening reception every night. Great for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to five members.
  • Philadelphia Airport Marriott – With direct access to Philadelphia International Airport, a well-equipped fitness center, an upscale restaurant specializing in American cuisine, and a full-service business center, Philadelphia Airport Marriott is the best accommodation choice for business and short-term travelers. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA)
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List of Image Sources

Where to Stay in Philadelphia – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

Center City, Philadelphia

  • Society Hill: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
  • Center City: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
  • Parkway Museums District: Kelleher Photography / shutterstock
  • Rittenhouse Square: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
  • University City: f11photo / shutterstock
  • Philly Airport Art Exhibits: EQRoy / shutterstock