Hi everyone! Although I just moved here four months ago to start my program, I quickly fell in love with Philly and all of its quirks. It is really easy to get sucked into the university coursework and stay within the bubble of University City, but I have found that I feel more connected to Philly and feel like my mind is able to step out of the stress that is often associated with courses when I explore other parts of Philly. Although I am still very much new to Philly and there are still so many other neighborhoods and places to explore, I thought I would share with y’all my favorite places in Philly so far!



            One of my favorite restaurants in Philly is in Chinatown. Bubblefish offers both sushi and bubble tea. When I say that this place has the best sushi I have ever tried, I am not lying. The textures and the flavors go so well together, that I literally feel so happy whenever I eat here. For people who want to try this restaurant, I would recommend the Spicy Maki Combo, which has a mix of crab, tuna, and salmon.


Lulu Cafe

            Alright, before I discovered Lulu Cafe, I thought Tea-Do was my go-to. This bubble tea shop is a little far from the GSE, but it is a total gem. It has such a cozy feel, and they offer so many different types of drinks, such as bubble tea, bubble tea with cheese foam, smoothies, etc. I would describe their bubble tea as sweet but not too sweet. I would recommend the Taro Milk Tea from here!


Los Gallos 

            One of my students had recommended this Mexican restaurant to me in South Philly. Their portion sizes are huge, and the food is so fulfilling. The restaurant is super lively, and fun. I also ordered their horchata, and it had all the right flavors in it. It was sweet, but not overwhelmingly sweet, and the cinnamon was just right.


Ice Skating at Dilworth Park

            One of my favorite winter activities is to go ice-skating, so when I found out that there was ice-skating in front of City Hall, at Dilworth Park, I was very excited! They light up the ice rink at night, and they play music above you. They also have a space set up for food and drinks as well, near the ice rink. This is a beautiful spot to go for sights of the city at night!


Movies at Landmark’s Ritz Five

            This movie theater shows independent, foreign, and documentary films. I have seen the film Parasite here and Farewell as well. Both films were beautifully filmed and very thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this movie theater for anyone interested in films that are out of the mainstream.


Philly AIDS Thrift Shop

            This thrift shop is amazing, there are many good finds here! If you are lucky, you may be able to find something designer for a very low price! But my favorite thing about this bookstore is the 4 books for $1 section. Like many thrift stores, you need to search through many random things until you find something you like, but this thrift store makes it so fun. There are interesting things at every corner.


Cuba Libre

            I went here on Saturday night with my friends, and we honestly had such a fun time! Cuba Libre is in Old City, which is a beautiful area at night, full of bars and restaurants. Cuba Libre itself is a restaurant that turns into a club at night. We were there through that transition, and it was fun to see the place fill up with so many people dancing along to Latinx music.


Sunset at Penn’s Landing

            Penn’s Landing is a fun place to visit in the summer or winter. In the summer, there is a roller rink, with carnival games surrounding it and also food stalls as well. In the winter, there is an ice rink. My favorite part about Penn’s Landing is the views of the sunset on the water. It is such a relaxing sight and it is beautiful to see the sky grow darker, with the Ben Franklin bridge looming ahead.


Farmer’s Market at FDR Park

            Coming to Philly, I felt like I was on the lookout for authentic places that sold Southeast Asian foods. I really craved papaya salad and tried one at a restaurant in University City, but it did not live up to my standards. One of my students recommended the farmer’s market at FDR Park in South Philly. The farmer’s market is very lively, and the Southeast Asian community really gathers there to socialize and to buy groceries as well. There were an assortment of vegetables and fruit, but also barbequed meats, and sugarcane drinks. Most importantly, there were many stalls with papaya salad that they made on the spot! 


I hope that these random finds are helpful for those of you who are debating about moving to Philly or even for those of you who are already living in Philly. Philly has lots of great gems and it always feels so rewarding to find a place that I know I can always go back to. Overall, Philly is a fun city to live in, and there is always so much to see and do!