Full of great restaurants and home to one of the city’s best parks, the Rittenhouse neighborhood is one of the most popular places in the city. Its streets are full of shops, cafes, and magnificent brownstones with window boxes overflowing with seasonal flowers. At the heart of everything is Rittenhouse Square, a park which William Penn planned when Philadelphia was founded.
What is it like?
On a nice day, Rittenhouse buzzes with energy. The park is filled with locals enjoying the weather, and residents and visitors pack the surrounding restaurants for excellent meals and people watching. Some of the best shopping in the city can be found in the neighborhood, particularly along Walnut Street.
One of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, Rittenhouse has plenty of luxury high rises. There are also lots of stately homes along some of Philadelphia’s prettiest streets (just take a look at the white lights along tree-lined Addison Street). As you walk along, you may notice many of the homes have historic markers of different types.
The beautiful backdrops make the neighborhood a popular filming spot. It has appeared in classic movies like Trading Places and more recent shows like Dispatches From Elsewhere. From The Sixth Sense to Servant, if you’re watching an M. Night Shyamalan production, there’s a chance some part of Rittenhouse may be featured.
- Population: 13, 432
- Median age: 33
- Median rent: $1910
- Median home value: $492,400
Where is it?
The neighborhood is in the western part of Center City, stretching from 21st Street on the west side to Broad Street on the east side. The northern boundary is Chestnut Street, and southern boundary is (aptly) South Street. At its heart is the one-square-block Rittenhouse Square park.
Name and history
When William Penn planned his city, he plotted five parks, including what was originally called Southwest Square. It was renamed in 1825 in honor of David Rittenhouse, an 18th-century astronomer and inventor who became the first director of the U.S. Mint.
The area’s first resident was James Harper, a former congressman who built on the square in 1840. His former home is now the exclusive Rittenhouse Club. Many other stately homes followed, owned by wealthy families involved in business, real estate, the railroad, and more.
Performance venues and cultural institutions
Curtis Institute of Music – A music conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music hosts regular performances. Offerings range from recitals and ensemble concerts by the Institute’s highly accomplished students to operas featuring renowned performers from around the world.
Kimmel Cultural Campus – The home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Broadway series, there is almost always an event on at Kimmel Cultural Campus.
Chris’ Jazz Café – For over 30 years, Chris’ Jazz Café has been a go-to destination for jazz and one of the top music venues in the city. The on-site restaurant has a Southern-influenced menu.
Rosenbach Museum – Located in a 19th-century townhouse, the Rosenbach Museum features a remarkable collection of rare manuscripts and books, including Lewis Carroll’s own copy of Alice in Wonderland. Several rooms showcase ancient statues, artwork, and artifacts collected from around the world by the Rosenbach brothers.
Mutter Museum – Medical oddities and curiosities are the theme of the Mütter Museum. With preserved specimens, photos, and historical medical instruments, the museum traces the history of medicine and treatment of disease.
Farmers market – The twice-weekly farmers market is a huge draw in the area. From fresh made apple cider donuts to flowers, craft beer, and fresh vegetables, there are lots of good things to choose from.
Spring Festival – In early May, the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival takes over the neighborhood with special food events, live entertainment, a fashion show, and more.
Fine Art Show – Early June and mid-September bring the Fine Art Show. A tradition for nearly 100 years, over 140 artists bring their works to sell in the park.
Christmas tree lighting – A hallmark of the Christmas season in Philadelphia, attendees gather for live music and the lighting of a 30-foot-tall tree decorated with thousands of lights.
A.Kitchen+bar – The French-inspired menu at a.kitchen+bar features innovative small plates like octopus Lyonnaise with Calabrian chili and beef tartare with a cheddar and jalapeno croquette. The menu changes seasonally.
Barclay Prime – On the east side of the park, Barclay Prime is a steakhouse that is the definition of indulgence. The premium wagyu steaks and cheesesteak made with wagyu ribeye and foie gras are notable.
Friday Saturday Sunday – The restaurant features an eight-course tasting menu that changes frequently but often includes caviar with crème fraiche, sweetbreads, and New York strip. Friday Saturday Sunday is among the best restaurants in Philly.
Her Place Supper Club – This 24-seat restaurant is designed to feel like a dinner party with friends. The six-course menu changes every two weeks.
Parc – One of the city’s most popular restaurants, Parc is a French brasserie known for its fresh bread, cheesy French onion soup, and steak frites, among other outstanding dishes. Their brunch is not to be missed.
The Dandelion – A sophisticated British pub, The Dandelion has a menu packed with UK classics from Welsh rarebit to bangers and mash. Their fish and chips are some of the best around.
The Love – Buttery Parker House rolls, a honey-brined pork chop, and buttermilk fried chicken and grits known as the Lovebird are just a few highlights of the New American cuisine at The Love.
Vernick Food & Drink – Located in a bi-level brownstone, Vernick reservations are worth planning ahead for. The food is seasonally driven, so the menu changes often, though it always includes divinely roasted chicken, perfectly grilled fish, and toasts.
Where to stay
Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square – The French-influenced Sofitel has more than 300 rooms, including 67 luxury suites. Two restaurants ensure there are plenty of good dishes and cocktails to choose from.
The Warwick – The Warwick has welcomed guests to its well-appointed rooms for nearly a century. With modern décor and three restaurants, it’s hard to ask for anything more in the heart of the neighborhood.
Rittenhouse Hotel – The definition of luxury, the Rittenhouse Hotel is one of the top places to stay in the Mid-Atlantic. An on-site spa with an indoor pool, the beautiful Library Bar, and stunning park views help visitors have an unparalleled experience.
Hyatt Centric Center City – A pet-friendly hotel, the Hyatt Centric gets high ratings for its fitness center, restaurant, and comfortable beds.
How to get there
The neighborhood is easily accessible by several methods of public transportation.
SEPTA Regional Rail lines stop at Suburban Station a few blocks away at 16th Street and JFK Blvd. while the PATCO Speedline stops at 16th Street and Locust.
Numerous buses service the area. Bus lines 9, 12, 21, and 42 run along Walnut Street while the 40 bus runs on Lombard Street at the southern end of the neighborhood. Buses 17 and 2 also make convenient stops.