Philadelphia provides small-town living in the midst of a buzzing metropolis. The city's culture and lifestyle is shaped by its immigrant population as much as it is by deep historical roots that reach back to the founding of the USA. This can be seen in its diverse culinary offerings, in a city that places as much emphasis on work as it does on community spirit and leisure.
Despite its blue-collar character and rough-around-the-edges reputation, the shopping and lifestyle in Philadelphia are two of its largest drawcards.
Shopping in Philadelphia
Whether in search of world-class shopping centres, luxurious boutique stores or the quirky character of street-side stores, shopping in Philadelphia is always an experience. To top it off, clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free.
The King of Prussia Mall, to the northwest of the city, has more retail space than any other mall in America. An attraction in its own right, it offers everything from budget to luxury retail outlets and has three food courts.
Expats wanting something a bit more organic should try the Reading Terminal Market in Center City. With a history that stretches back to the 1890s, the market offers fresh produce, international cuisine and handmade crafts.
Any major shopping excursion in Philadelphia should also include a visit to Macy’s Center City. During the 19th century, the iconic building housed Wanamaker's, one of the first department stores in the world. Today it houses the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the world's largest playable pipe organ. It is played at least twice a day, six days a week.
Eating out in Philadelphia
Expats will have no shortage of options for eating out in Philadelphia. The city's restaurants are a reflection of its distinctive character. Some of its most famous foods, much like other beloved favourites in the USA, are a product of its adopted citizens.
The Italian population has arguably left the biggest mark on Philadelphia’s culinary landscape, pioneering the famous Philly cheesesteak and the mother of all submarine sandwiches, the Philadelphia hoagie. The Philly cheesesteak is most famously sold in South Philadelphia by Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, a cross-street rivalry that goes back more than 50 years.
Nightlife and entertainment in Philadelphia
Whether expats want to dance and dine in Old City, swing with jazz musicians in Northern Liberties or watch sport and take part in the craft beer explosion, there's something for everybody to enjoy when it comes to the nightlife in Philadelphia.
There are also several venues that host large concerts, such as the Wells Fargo Center, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and the picturesque Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Parkway, which stretches from City Hall to just before the Museum of Art, hosts many large outdoor concerts and houses some of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia.
Museums and attractions in Philadelphia
A historic city, there is an abundance of museums and historical attractions in Philadelphia. The Parkway is also a sculpture garden, containing works such as Rodin’s famous The Thinker, which greets visitors as they enter the Rodin Museum. Also situated on the historical boulevard is the famous Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia, which houses a unique Rare Book Department.
The city prides itself on being child-friendly and boasts the first zoo in America, the fully interactive Please Touch Museum and the fascinating Adventure Aquarium.
Sports and outdoor activities in Philadelphia
Outdoorsy residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks in Philadelphia. In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia has one of the largest landscaped urban park systems in the world. Expats looking to run, cycle or even row in Philadelphia won't have to look too far for scenic routes in places such as the Valley Forge National Historical Park and Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Creek.
As much as the city's known for its natural spaces, it is even more famous for its passionate sports fans. The Philadelphia Eagles play American football at the Lincoln Financial Field and fans can be seen having barbeques outside of the stadium from dawn on match days.
►See What's On in Philadelphia for the city's best annual events
Are you an expat living in Philadelphia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Philadelphia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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