Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia This July

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The heart of summer is a great time to enjoy all that Philadelphia has to offer. Whether you’re looking for outdoor fun in a waterfront park, you want to live it up on Independence Day, or you want to beat the heat at a special museum exhibit, there is a lot to do in Philadelphia in July.  

Visit the Chinese Lantern Festival

Large, multi-colored lantern shaped like a chameleon surrounded by grass.
The festival is full of incredible lanterns

Colorful lanterns, great food, and cultural performances make visiting the Chinese Lantern Festival a summer highlight. Each year, artisans install over 30 fanciful, hand-painted displays throughout Franklin Square depicting elements of Chinese culture and legends. This year’s displays include a palace, Asian elephants, Giant pandas, and birds soaring over towering mountains. We love the festival and go every year.

Wander among the lanterns, play with the interactive displays, and enjoy the music, dance, and martial arts performances. Don’t miss out on the dumplings, spring rolls, and other treats. The smoothies served in a whole pineapple are particularly good.

Advanced tickets (timed on Friday and Saturday) are required. The festival runs through August 18.

Hang out at Spruce Street Harbor Park

People sitting and walking on floating barges in a river.
Spruce Street’s floating barges

Philly’s waterfront oasis, Spruce Street Harbor Park is ideal for hanging out on a summer day. In addition to the awesome hammocks, there are food vendors distributed throughout the park, games, and frequent special events for the whole family. Grab some crabfries at Chickie’s and Pete’s and join the line at Somerset Splits to try one of their delicious creations.

New for 2024, the Lazy Hammock is a covered bar alongside a stage for live entertainment and a projection screen for regular movie showings. Grab a drink and try the fluke wrap and lobster roll from addition Little Fish. Adjacent to the Lazy Hammock, you can try your hand at axe throwing Friday through Sunday. The park is open through September 30.

Special events in July include (see the full calendar):

  • Liberty Flea market – Vintage and artisan goods on July 6, July 20, and July 27
  • Summer Concert Series – Evening shows July 6 and July 20
  • Makers Market – Handcrafted treasures every Sunday of the month

See Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington’s Tent

Large fabric tent on a stage in a theater.
George Washington’s field tent

Seeing George Washington’s original tent is the highlight of a visit to the Museum of the American Revolution, so much so that it even has a dedicated theater. A new exhibit, which runs through January 5, 2025, provides even more context about the remarkable artifact that Washington used throughout the war.

The intriguing Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington’s Tent includes over 100 letters, artworks, and photos tracing the history of the unique mobile home and headquarters. You can even see Washington’s foldable bed frame.

Visit a museum for free

Metal gate with a red cross in an abandoned prison cellblock.
Inside Eastern State

One of my favorite things about the weeks before July 4 are the free museum days. As part of Wawa Welcome America, over 30 museums and cultural institutions offer complementary admission on select days.

Free places to visit in July include:

  • July 1 – See artistic masterpieces at the Barnes Foundation
  • July 3 – Walk through the cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary
  • July 3 – Immerse yourself in history at Weitzman National of America Jewish History
  • July 4 – Explore the historic Cliveden House
  • July 4 – Learn about the Underground Railroad at Johnson House Historic Site

Celebrate the Fourth of July

It’s no surprise that the city that brought you the Declaration of Independence goes big on July 4th. There are three main experiences on the big day that are not to be missed.

  • Salute to Independence Parade: Beginning at 11am in Old City, thousands of dancers, musicians, and float riders begin their procession along the parade route from Independence Hall down Market Street and ending at Chestnut and Front. Expect to see plenty of colonial re-enactors who have been training for this day.
  • July 4th Concert: Kesha and NE-YO take the stage on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a free concert. The section closest to the stage requires tickets, but anyone can line up along the Parkway for music, food trucks, and games in a family-friendly environment. Gates open at 4pm and the show starts at 7pm.
  • Fireworks: The day culminates with fireworks above the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They typically begin between 9:35 and 9:45pm and can be seen from the Parkway, Belmont Plateau, and around Fairmount Park.

Enjoy a rooftop bar

People sitting at tables at a rooftop bar.
Bok Bar at golden hour

Philly is full of excellent rooftop bars perfect for enjoying a nice summer day. Bok Bar has the best views in the city, and they’re serving Down North’s acclaimed pizza this month. For great drinks perched above the parkway, Assembly is the place to go. If you’re craving Mexican, head to El Techo—the roof there is retractable, so you don’t need to worry about the weather.

Have fun at Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Ferris wheel, carousel,and food stands.
RiverRink in summer

In July, Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest is a festival of fun that feels like a riverside carnival. Rides and boardwalk games are big draws, and there is a huge arcade and plenty of food options. I mean, who doesn’t love a good funnel cake?

An 18-hole mini-golf course is new this year along with an expanded selection of rides, including a children’s roller coaster. It’s important to know that the skating rink is closed during the ongoing construction at Penn’s Landing, but it will be back for the winter.

Admission is free, and the attractions and concessions are pay-as-you-go. ​Summerfest is open daily through September 2.

Experience Blobfest

Lovers of the campy and quirky, rejoice! Phoenixville’s annual Blobfest festival is back for the 25th year from July 12 to 14. The 3-day event commemorates the 1950s sci-fi/horror movie The Blob starring Steve McQueen, which was filmed in and around the area.

Blobfest’s main event is a recreation of the movie scene in which people run screaming out the doors of The Colonial Theatre. For the first time, this year there are two run-outs. Saturday’s Street Fair includes lots of music, food, and unique merchandise vendors plus a parade and costume contest. Sunday brings a 5K, 10K, and half marathon. See the full schedule of events.

See a movie at Sunset Social

Movie screen at the base of a high-rise building.
Movies and entertainment at Sunset Social

Catch a movie 12 stories up at Sunset Social. The bar and restaurant at Cira Green hosts movie nights every Wednesday throughout the summer. Grab a burger and enjoy a show on the 60-foot screen at the city’s unique rooftop park. Many showings are accompanied by a costume contest. Dogs and kids are welcome.

July showings include:

  • July 3 – Top Gun Maverick
  • July 10 – Barbie
  • July 17 – Dune 2
  • July 24 – Superman: ATSV
  • July 31 – Mean Girls (2024)

See Mary Cassatt at Work

A special exhibit at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mary Cassatt at Work showcases the painter and printmaker’s dedication to becoming a professional artist in the late 1800s. It examines her innovative techniques, her experiences as the only American member of the French Impressionist movement, and her pieces that often depicted the invisible work of women. The exhibition runs through September 8, 2024.

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