Fun Things to Do in Fishtown

Persistence, a mural showing a woman in a red polka dot dress.
Persistence by Jason Andrew Turner

Philadelphia’s eclectic, artsy district, Fishtown is packed with unique stores, outstanding restaurants, parks, and more. Wandering around the neighborhood might mean finding yourself in the midst of a giant block party or discovering your new favorite spirit at a craft distillery. The energy here is always fun, and you never know quite what you’ll find.

Development in the neighborhood is booming, and there are always new things to see. We spend a lot of time here trying new restaurants and checking out new spots. Here’s a look at some of our favorite things to do in Fishtown.

Relax in Penn Treaty Park

Stone statue of a main in 17th-century dress holding a document on a pedestal that says: "William Penn. Pennsylvania. Founded, 1682. Commemorated, 1982."
The statue of William Penn in the Penn Treaty Park

Take in views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge while the little ones swing on monkey bars and your fur baby greets a gaggle of friends. Originally the site of a peace treaty negotiated between William Penn and the Native Americans that occupied the land, Penn Treaty Park now offers nearly 10 acres of green space for locals to roam that is maintained by a non-profit foundation. With waterfront access to the Delaware River, it is not uncommon to see folks fishing on sunny days.

Rather than deter nature lovers, Penn Treaty’s industrial edge entices visitors to learn more about the neighborhood’s past. With the addition of the adjacent Rivers Casino, Penn Treaty Park threads old and new world together under the Philadelphia skyline. Come for a jog on the park’s paved trail, let your children loose on the jungle gym, or simply take in the scenery from a riverside rock.

The park gets very busy on nice weekends, especially if there are events being held, which is frequent. If you’re planning to picnic, bring a trash bag to clean up because there never seems to be enough capacity.

Grab a slice

Wall of framed pizza memorabilia.
The wall of pizza memorabilia at Pizza Brain

Philly may not be New York when it comes to pizza, but this city lives for a challenge. Just a few years ago, Pizzeria Beddia–which was then a nondescript storefront with two employees, no phone, and no seating won the title of “Best Pizza in America.” It’s now a full-fledged Fishtown restaurant and faces some harsh competition with Pizza Brain just a four-minute drive away. Pizza Brain is known for its giant slices, thin crust, and museum of pizza memorabilia.

Other contenders for the best slice? Circles + Squares is a great option. If you have the flexibility for the ordering process, you’ll be rewarded with the signature square-style ‘za with a perfectly crunchy crust. Equally stellar are the giant slices from Pizza Shackamaxon. Even the plain cheese there is a revelation, and at $4, it’s budget-friendly.

Perfect your putt at Five Iron Golf

People playing at an indoor golf simulator.
Playing a round at Five Iron

No matter your skill level, Five Iron Golf is a fun place for an outing. Over 100 simulated golf courses from around the world are available to play on for novices and experts alike. We are definitely not frequent golfers but have always had fun here, despite a distinct lack of skill. If you’re looking to improve your game, you can even schedule an instructor and dive deep with their swing simulator.

If–like us–spectating is more your speed, nosh on items from Five Iron’s restaurant and full bar. The smashburger sliders are a winner! There’s plenty of space to hang out plus other games to play and TVs to watch all the sports you can manage.

Raise your glass at Frankford Hall

People at picnic tables in beer garden.
It’s always Octoberfest at Frankford Hall

No one in Philly recreates the Oktoberfest atmosphere quite like Frankford Hall. With a stein in one hand and a beer cheese-coated pretzel in the other, you can enjoy the open-air beer garden with friends. After a drink or two, stumble over to the game area to challenge onlookers to a game of ping pong or just sit back and watch.

With tree-strung twinkly lights, picnic tables, and fire pits, Frankford Hall is the quintessential spot for a happy hour drink. Don’t let weather deter you, though! There is also indoor bar seating.

Frankford Hall is great for groups and doesn’t take reservations, so there is often a wait at peak weekend times. Fortunately, once inside, service tends to be quick.

Explore the street art

Mural of a young girl whose face is covered with a collage of famous Black women.
Monée by Nazeer Sabree on East Palmer Street

Known to many as an arts district, Fishtown isn’t shy when it comes to creative public displays. Some commissioned by the city, some independently designed, murals fill walls throughout the neighborhood that were once empty.

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is responsible for most of the large-scale mural installations in Fishtown that catch your eye. We love the mural celebrating trans and gender non-conforming people at Cake Life Bake Shop and Rippling Moon: An Urban Fairytale, which is packed with colorful beacons of light on the side of the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center. Notably, Mural Arts also worked with Philly street artists to create the Front Street Walls display, a rotating group of murals that runs under the El.

In addition to murals, look out for trashcans with fish head lids that are decorated with sea life and address placards that are colorful and shaped like fish.

Dine at a destination restaurant

Cocktails and food on a table in a restaurant courtyard.
Food and drinks in Suraya’s gorgeous courtyard

Planning a date night or special occasion? Eating out is one of the main reasons people come to Fishtown because it’s packed with some of the city’s best restaurant. From farm-to-table to Mediterranean to Thai, you’ll find a little bit of everything delicious here.

Suraya is is our top pick in the neighborhood. Not only are the Middle Eastern dishes like fatteh and kafta kebabs unforgettable, but the atmosphere of the restaurant is unbeatable. Sit in the marketplace café, dining room, courtyard, or on a barstool right in the thick of all the action. Wherever you sit, order the Taste of Suraya to try many of the standout dishes.

Kalaya, a vibrant Thai restaurant, is another neighborhood destination that should be at the top of your list. We love it for lunch or dinner (honestly, just take any reservation you can get) and always get the outstanding dumplings and river prawns. Fair warning: this place does not skimp on spice.

There are so many other spots worth a mention–Hiroki is the place for Japanese omakase; Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is tops for pizza and grilled meat; and Tulip Pasta & Wine Bar makes some of our favorite pastas in the city. If you love dining, check out our other recommendations on where to eat and drink in Fishtown.

Go hunting for thrift store finds

Racks of clothes and a mannequin sitting in a chair outside the brick exterior of a store called Urban Exchange.
Urban Exchange is for thrifters

Fishtown is a thrifting hot spot and some of the best thrift stores in Philadelphia are located here. Small but packed full of goodies, Circle Thrift is worth checking out. Circle has great deals, including 50% off for the tag color of the day. For thrifted furniture or vintage home decor, Jinxed is our pick. Along with a great selection of clothing, their antique home goods section is impressive. Prices are remarkably good given the caliber of what they sell.

If you want a mix of new and old, Urban Exchange Project might be the spot for you. Urban Exchange still has great thrifted finds but their vibe is a little more curated than your typical thrift store. The first weekend of every month, they have a “fill a bag” sale that can lead to some great deals because whatever you can fit in the bag is only $40. The staff is also really helpful here.

Catch a show at Johnny Brenda’s

Sign on exterior of Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown
Johnny Brenda’s is a small space with amazing music

A killer music venue with great food is hard to find, but Johnny Brenda manages to achieve both. On the weekends it transforms from a quaint, corner pub to a jam-packed concert hall, vibrating with live music. Still, it has an old-school Fishtown vibe, so people over age 25 (read: us) can feel like they belong. We went to our first show there nearly 15 years ago, and the same things that were good then are good now–dive bar ambiance, friendly service, way better than dive bar food.

Whether you choose to see a show, grab a bite, or enjoy a few rounds after work, Johnny Brenda’s brings it. Burgers are excellent, fries are crispy, and the Nashville hot chicken sandwich is superbly spicy.

Play a game at Barcade

People playing pinball and video games in an arcade.
It’s always a party at Barcade

If you’re a fan of classic video games and good drinks, look no further than Barcade. With over 50 arcade games and pinball machines, this is the place for a little Pacman, Super Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong alongside your favorite craft brew. If that brings back memories of your childhood, there’s a reason for that–many of the machines are 20-40 years old.

Tacos, pizza, and classic bar fare are on the menu with 24 beers on tap and a full bar. The menu of what’s on tap is updated regularly on their website, so you always know what to expect. Service is friendly, and parking is usually easier here than in other parts of the neighborhood. Unless it’s a designated Family Day, Barcade is 21+, so have your ID ready at the door.

See live music at The Fillmore

Exterior of a brick concert venue with signage for "The Fillmore" and "live Nation."
The Fillmore is a local legend

The Fillmore is the perfect place to start or end the night. The venue’s exposed brick and pipe interior gives the space an industrial, underground feel. With a large bar and even bigger dance floor, there is plenty of space to move around. In terms of sensory experience, the sound system and lighting are top-tier and so are the acts.

Having hosted the likes of The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors, this place is no joke. Whoever is playing, you are bound to have a great time in this 25,000-square foot venue. If you’re not ready to stop the party, visit the second floor to find the Foundry, a club within a club with lounge seating and a relaxed atmosphere.

Experience the Philadelphia Brewing Company

Exterior of a two-story brick building with lots of windows and a painted sign for "Philadelphia Brewing Co."
Philadelphia Brewing Company is a city classic

Philadelphia Brewing Company or, PBC, has a decade of experience brewing more than dozen different styles of ale. One of the few independent breweries in Philly, PBC operates out of the oldest and largest brewing facilities in the city.

Known for their customer loyalty, PBC delivers fresh beer daily to the ale lovers of Philadelphia. Grab a pint in the Peacock Room Bar or find a table and umbrella in the garden to enjoy their Joe coffee porter or Black Cat lager, which are two of our local favorites. Brewery tours are available if you want to know even more about their process.

Indulge at a distillery

People enjoying cocktails at a distillery.
The bar at Philadelphia Distilling

The first craft distillery in Pennsylvania since prohibition, Philadelphia Distilling was founded in 2005. If you’ve ordered a gin cocktail in the city, you’ve probably seen Bluecoat Gin, the distillery’s signature spirit, on the menu. Philadelphia Distilling is one of the top distilleries in Philadelphia and is internationally renowned for its premium spirits for good reason.

Tucked away on Allen Street, the distillery evokes the charm of a speakeasy with copper accents and leather bar stools. The ultimate experience here is the tasting room, complete with custom cocktails and gourmet food options. We loved taking a guided tour to learn about how they make their spirits.  

Try your luck at the casino

Exterior of a white building with a sign for "Rivers Casino."
Try your luck at Rivers Casino

For a fun night out, consider rolling the dice at Rivers, a popular Philly casino. Located on the Delaware River, Rivers is a vibrant atmosphere for entertainment. Besides the typical slot machines and poker tables, Rivers Casino also features an event center for musical acts, comedy shows, and more.

While you’re trying your luck, enjoy a meal at one of the dining establishments. Choose from steakhouse Martorano’s Prime, elevated bar fare from Jack’s Bar and Grill, or Martorano’s Sicilian Slice for an excellent Sicilian pizza. Expect ID checks and security screening when you visit.

1 thought on “Fun Things to Do in Fishtown”

  1. So fabulously descriptive, I want to experience the many colorful attractions of Fishtown Philadelphia. I now want to visit and explore this attraction.

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