A film festival founder’s guide of things to do in Philadelphia that you might not find on a standard travel guide. Please note, these are all my personal opinion, and fellow Philadelphians (and probably my fellow festival-volunteers) might have their own strong opinions (especially about cheesesteaks), but those guys were too lazy to write up a blog, so I win.
First off, if you’re looking for driving, parking, or transit information, visit the Directions portion of our site.
If you’re looking for general tourist/travel info & deals, we have an awesome tourism board, so check VisitPhilly.com
Philly on Foot
Philadelphia in October is often brisk, but not frigid. The smell of pumpkin pie spiced coffee and apple cider fill the air as you walk past droves of cafes, shops, parks, restaurants, museums, galleries, and amazing sites. Our city is built on a grid, so it’s very easy to navigate once you get the numbers down! All of our Project Twenty1 Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival events are in the University City District, so we highly suggest taking a look at this cool University City Interactive Map as your guide to the city!
At the Festival
- Try to attend as many screenings and workshops as you can. They are all AWESOME.
- If you’re a filmmaker, consider being a part of the Q&A
- If you want to network, find me or another “Susie” (we’ll all have badges) and we can introduce you around. Many of our participants are “regulars” and will welcome newbies into their group.
- Bring your ID so you can get into our after-parties. You 21+ to get into any bar in the City.
- Bring a camera – regular, flip, HD, whatever. Hilarity usually ensues, and you don’t want to miss it.
Film Stuff You Need to See
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Philadelphia Museum of Art – One of the most recognizable movie sites in Philadelphia is the steps of this world-famous art museum where Sylvester Stallone ended his famous training run in the movie Rocky. The museum’s steps and Philadelphia skyline were also featured in Rocky II and Rocky III. Embedded in concrete at the top of the steps are “Rocky’s” footprints, indicating where he stood as he gazed out over the city, and you can also find the Rocky Statue at the base of the steps and slightly around the building counter-clockwise. Today, visitors recreate the famed Rocky run and are rewarded with one of the city’s most spectacular views.
The Italian Market (South Philadelphia, around 900 block of S. 9th Street) was made famous in the first of the Rocky movies in 1975. The area was also the site for Two Bits, starring Al Pacino (1993) and scenes from The Sixth Sense, with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.
30th Street Station – This magnificent rail hub appears in the opening sequence of the film in which Harrison Ford later went undercover in Lancaster’s Amish country to investigate a murder. Several scenes from Trading Places also were filmed here.
Juniper & Market Street. Built in 1861, Wanamaker’s (then Lord & Taylor and now Macy’s) is one of the nation’s first department store and its soaring atrium provided the set for the film , starring Andrew McCarthy, and its sequel, Mannequin on the Move (1990). This sotre was also features Blow-Out, when John Travolta crashed into one of the store’s display windows at the corner of Market Street & Penn Square. Also Andrew McCarthy visited his girlfriend near the Dorchester Apartments on the southwest corner of Rittenhouse Square.
City Hall – The building’s remarkable architecture and recognizable clock tower also could be seen in Twelve Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt; Blow-Out, with John Travolta; and Up Close and Personal (1993), starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford, and Witness, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
Rittenhouse Square & Rittenhouse Row – Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis strolled around this park for many scenes.
Also, just a few blocks from City Hall, Broad and Sansom (the Avenue of the Arts) is TD Bank, formerly the Fidelity Bank, home of the law offices of Duke and Duke in the film.
The Sixth Sense
Nearby, along Walnut Street in the Rittenhouse Row district, diners at the Striped Bass restaurant will recognize it from a scene where Bruce Willis and his movie wife share a table on their anniversary.
Age of Innocence
The Academy of Music. This authentic 19th-century opera house was used for the opening scenes from The Age of Innocence, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis.
-Check out South Street if you can; there are a lot of cool places along that one strip. There is usually more parking on Broad & South and Front & South (which are on opposite ends of the street.) Avoiding driving on South Street because it’s usually congested – it is better to drive up Pine Street or Bainbridge Street and cut across.
-Philadelphia Local Beer = Yuengling (pronounced Ying-Ling.) Usually cheap, usually on tap, everyone seems to like it. Another local favorite is Pabst Blue Ribbon – I have personally never acquired the taste, but everyone tells me the price is right. We also have about 1 billion local brews – try the pumpkin.
-Philadelphia Pretzels – Something our city is known for! A lot of us eat them during breakfast while they’re still warm. (I know, weird, right?)
-Best Cheesesteak: Hands down, Jim’s Steaks (4th & south), but a lot of other people have strong and differing opinions about this. Ask a local! You should probably know, the default cheese is often “cheese wiz”, so if you prefer another type of cheese, ask before they make it. (I prefer provolone)
Some people would argue about this point and feel that Pat’s & Geno’s are the best places. Although Pat’s & Geno’s are famous due to the family rivalry (they are directly across the street from one another and constantly try to “outdo” one another with the levels of Neon-lights & general gaudiness) If you feel like cruising down to South Philly, by all means, compare the famous recipes for yourself.
-Best Convenience Store: Wawa (located a half block from the fest, open 24/7, has the best coffee, made-to-order hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and sides)
-Best Bar Food: Time, 1315 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA. The best damned onion rings I’ve ever had in my life.
-Best Fancy Food: Fogo De Chao 1337 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA or Chima, 1901 Jfk Blvd. Brazilian Steakhouses. I’m talking all-you-can-eat filet mignon! Pricey, as you might expect for all-you-can-eat filet mignon.
-Best French: Bistro St. Tropez 2400 Market Street
-Best Chain: Cosi. Many of them have free WiFi and awesome paninis.
-Best Bar/Local Hangout: Tattooed Mom’s, 530 South Street (between 5th & 6th on South) Very cool atmosphere – they have action figures glued all over the restaurant!
-Most Unusual Foodl: TriTone, 1508 South St (between Broad & 15th on South): AMAZING food, I have never had anything bad. Things to try – the pirogues, hummus. This place will fry ANYTHING.. including CANDY BARS, COOKIES, TOMATOS, AND PICKLES!
Best Buffalo Wings: Manny Browns (right next door to Tattooed Mom’s, between 5th & 6th on South)
Best Bang for Your Buck: $2 Tuesdays @ Chris’s Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom Street (between Broad & 15th on Sansom). After 9 pm, $2 cover for the jazz, $2 calamari, $2 drafts, $2 well drinks, $2 Chicken Fingers, $2 Fries. You have to ask for the menu because they don’t advertise it – it’s a local secret It’s also a great “date” place.
Best Pizza: Lazaro’s (1743 South St)
Best Chinese (Vegan): 1006 Race St – Awesome fried bananas. Also Kingdom of Vegetarians on 129 N. 11th St. has a fantastic Dim Sum deal (all you can eat). While in Chinatown, check out the shops and stop by any bakery for some Bubble Pearl Tea.
Best Sushi (All You Can Eat): Aoi, 1210 Walnut St, Philadelphia
Best Falafel: Maoz 248 South St, Philadelphia
Best “Dive”: Dirty Franks, 13th & Pine. I don’t even think the bar is labeled – it is directly across from the Wasabi House (great sushi) and has a blue mural of all the “Franks”(Frank Sinatra, Ben Franklin, etc.) on the side. Keep in mind, this is not for the faint of heart – this place is a TOTAL dive, but it has the cheapest drinks in town, and they have great karaoke & Quizzo.
Feel free to forward this along to any other members of your Team and/or guests that are also visiting Philadelphia for the first time. Local filmmakers/regulars – if you have suggestions to expand this list, e-mail me projecttwenty1 (at) gmail.com.
Please have a safe trip & we’ll see you at the show!