Fun things you can do in-person this week include visiting the carnival-like atmosphere at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, checking out brews and river views at two new Parks On Tap pop-ups along the Schuylkill River, and taking a twirl or 12 around the funky new outdoor roller rink at Dilworth Park.
All you early birds could also start filling your calendar with our list of events worth planning ahead for. That includes the first outdoor Philadelphia Flower Show, Center City District Restaurant Week and the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival.
You’ll find details on all those things and more below. We update this list almost daily, so stop by regularly for more ideas about things to do in Philadelphia. Have event ideas or suggestions about how we could make this list better? Email me at [email protected].
THINGS TO DO IN PHILLY THIS WEEK IN-PERSON
- BLUE CROSS RIVERRINK SUMMERFEST: The carnival-like destination along the Delaware River waterfront is back for summer 2021. Visitors can stay entertained for hours with roller skating, ferris wheel rides, boardwalk games, mini-golf, an arcade and all kinds of summertime grub, such as funnel cakes, cotton candy, chicken wings, crab fries and beer, beer, beer. To align with safety protocols, masks are required on premises and roller skating tickets must be purchased in advance.
- PARKS ON TAP ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL: You can now find the popular pop-up beer garden open at two locations along the Schuylkill River through the entire summer: one at Water Works behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the other in a brand new location, at Trail’s End just off the South Street Bridge. Besides idyllic views of the water, both locations offer menus of snacks, sandwiches and sweets, plus beers, wines and specialty cocktails. For more, including safety protocols and hours of operation, go here.
- CHEF TAKEOVER: Chris Kearse, the acclaimed chef of Forsythia in Old City, is taking over the kitchen at Community (1200 S. 21st Street) in Point Breeze on Wednesday, May 13, from 5 to 10pm. He’s promising an intriguing menu that fuses his signature French-style cooking with Japanese yakitori cuisine. Look out for duck meatball skewers, grilled shishito peppers, tempura Japanese cauliflower and more.
- PAFA’S ANNUAL STUDENT EXHIBITION: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts hosts it’s 120th annual student exhibition, where you can ogle the inspiring works made by students throughout the year—and maybe pick up a new piece or three for your budding art collection. It’s happening May 14 to June 6, but you can get a special online preview on May 13.
- OUTDOOR MOVIES: Swing by The Bourse food hall on Friday, May 14, from 7 to 9pm to check out a screening of Secret Life of Pets. Ticket sales benefit the Pennsylvania Animal Welfare Society. The Pennsylvania Film Society’s drive-in movie theater at the Navy Yard is screening Spiral and new Angelina Jolie pic Those Who Wish Me Dead every night from May 14 to 16 at 8:45pm. For all you ’80s movie fans, The Goonies is showing there on Monday, May 17, at 8:45pm.
- LGBTQ PRIDE FESTIVITIES: Get an early taste of Pride Month celebrations starting this weekend in New Hope, PA. In lieu of its annual parade and festival, the gay-friendly Bucks County town is kicking off an itinerary of mini 2021 Pride events, which continue throughout the month of May. To-dos include drag shows, drive-in movies, panel discussions and more. See the full lineup here.
- POP-UP PERFORMANCES: The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the arts troupe behind Late Night Snacks and the dearly departed Bastille Day festivities at Eastern State Penitentiary, will be rolling around town in a “queer performance truck” throughout the month of May, stopping at locations around town for special pop-up performances. A host of drag queens, poets and performance artists will join the productions. You can check out the complete schedule here.
- GARDEN DAYS ON EAST PASSYUNK AVENUE: East Passyunk businesses celebrate the countdown to the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show with three weeks of activities along the avenue from through May 31. Go here for the full list of events, that includes selfie stations, workshops and panel discussions, live music and more.
- FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: Do you work in a hospital in Philadelphia? In honor of National Hospital Week, a handful of local cultural organizations are offering free admission to hospital workers—and some let you bring guests—on select days throughout May. Pick one and treat yourself to an exploration. Here’s the lineup:
- Franklin Institute: Now through–May 16 (up to three guests)
- Academy of Natural Sciences: Now through May 9, and May 13–16 (up to three guests)
- Eastern State Penitentiary: May 12 (one guest)
- Barnes Foundation: May 13 (one guest)
- Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rodin Museum: May 14–17 (four guests)
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: May 20-May 23 (any guests)
ONGOING ACTIVITIES AT LOCAL ATTRACTIONS
Some of Philly’s most iconic attractions are back open for spring with fun, socially distant activities during Covid-19. Here’s some stuff worth checking out:
- The Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink is now open at Dilworth Park from through June 27, giving you the chance to roller skate old school-style in the shadow of City Hall. The setup is retro-inspired, with a checkerboard floor and there are tons of neon-hued hula hoops hung overhead. Go here to start booking your tickets. The first few weeks are bound to sell out fast.
- The above mentioned roller skating rink aside, you could also stop by Dilworth Park any day of the week for lunch or dinner at the Air Grille, watch kids playing in the fountains, try an outdoor fitness class (Mondays and Tuesdays, 6pm), live music at lunchtime (Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon–1pm) and evening arts performances (Wednesdays, 5–7:30pm). Also, keep your eyes peeled for a summer garden opening in June.
- South Philly rooftop destination Bok Bar, with gobsmacking views of the Philadelphia skyline (and then some), is back open with a brand new slate of weekly activities, such as restaurant pop-ups, drag brunches, rooftop yoga sessions, maker workshops and tons more. You can find the full schedule here. Plan ahead; reservations are required in lieu of Covid safety protocols.
- There’s always something fun going on at Cherry Street Pier—from art shows to food markets to just sitting back, beer in hand, and gazing at the monstrous Benjamin Franklin Bridge looming above you.
- Take a Morning Magic Tour at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens every Wednesday and Friday at 10am.
- Eastern State Penitentiary is offering after-dark tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through September 4. Guests will have a chance to explore everything the daytime tours offer (like Al Capone’s cell), but under the eery light of the moon—plus grab a beer from Triple Bottom Brewing Company in the prison’s Fair Chance Beer Garden.
- Walk among massive animatronic dinosaurs in a prehistoric setting at special exhibition “Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age” at the Philadelphia Zoo.
- The Shofuso Japanese house and gardens in Fairmount Park is now open for spring tours.
- Looking for an outside-the-city experience? Abington Township’s bucolic Meadowbrook Farm boasts 25 acres of unique and beautiful gardens to explore—for free!
- Check out some of the city’s best murals on one of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s spring walking tours.
WHERE TO EAT IN PHILLY RIGHT NOW
Dining out is not only one of the best things to do in Philly right now—it’s also a great way to support our local dining scene. Get out and try something new this week.
- Our newly updated outdoor dining guide includes all the best places to eat outside this spring, mostly focusing on spots with beautiful patios and garden areas.
- Looking for something to eat at home? Order takeout in Philadelphia from a local restaurant doing good.
- It’s beer garden season in Philadelphia! Check out some of the cities best outdoor watering holes, such as Parks On Tap and the PHS Pop-Up Garden on South Street.
- Our guide to awesome Black-owned businesses in Philly includes great cafes like Franny Lou’s Porch, spots for water ice and new pizza joint Down North.
- On the flip side, you could help others in need find food with our guide to fighting food insecurity in Philadelphia.
THINGS TO DO AT HOME
- VIRTUAL THEATER IN PHILLY: Those looking to take in something on the virtual stage CAN check out:
- Fat Ham, the latest from local playwright James Ijames that reimagines Hamlet through a queer, POC lens (through May 23).
- The Catastrophist at People’s Light tells the story of real-life virologist Nathan Wolfe, who proposed pandemic-related insurance long before Covid-19—to no avail (May 10–23).
- Quintessence Theatre Group’s Sojourner is a one-woman show about abolitionist, women’s rights activist and one time confidante to Abraham Lincoln Sojourner Truth. (May 10–23)
- 215 FESTIVAL: The annual festival that “celebrates the power of storytelling by bringing literature off the shelf and into unlikely spaces” is happening now with a full itinerary of virtual readings, insightful panel discussions and even online dance parties DJ’d by local literary heroes. See the full schedule here.
- MURDER MYSTERY: CSz Philadelphia reimagines its popular improvised whodunit Murder Manor for a virtual audience. With all the suspects, victims and detectives performed by expert ad-libbers, you never quite get the same show twice. Catch the hour-long performance at 8pm on May 14 and May 21.
- JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH (JAHM): Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History leads the way during the nationally recognized JAHM, with events happening every week throughout May that “highlight historical moments in which American Jewish communities demonstrated remarkable resilience and care for communities outside of their own.” Go here for the full itinerary, which includes film screenings, online exhibitions, thoughtful panel discussions and more.
- ARTS FESTIVAL: First Person Arts launches its new—and free—Anthology festival with a host of online events from May 13 to 21. Highlights include a screening of “We Live, We Breath,” a documentary featuring five Philadelphians impacted by the protests in the wake of the George Floyd riots, and a special story slam featuring stories from five people who’ll share experiences about getting the Covid vaccine. See the full list of events here.
- ONLINE COMEDY SHOWS: Looking for a chuckle? Brand new Philly theater company Crossroads Comedy Theater’s website is full of online comedy shows and podcasts. This weekend you can catch Extree! Extree!, an improvised show inspired by by the news; Not Yet Rated, an improvised movie making funny of familiar movie tropes; and more.
PHILLY EVENTS WORTH PLANNING AHEAD FOR …
- CENTER CITY RESTAURANT WEEK: This annual food event, happening May 17 to 28, includes a range of three-course, prix-fixe indoor, outdoor and takeout menus starting at $20 for lunch, and $35 for dinner. Participating restaurants include some of our outdoor-dining faves, such as Abe Fisher, Little Nonna’s and Mercato.
- PHILADELPHIA LATINO FILM FESTIVAL: The 10th annual flick fest returns with a massive slate of feature and short films from May 30 to June 6.
- PHILADELPHIA FLOWER SHOW: The 100-plus-year-old festival of flora and fauna is being held outdoors, at FDR Park, for the first time in its history this summer, from June 5 to 13. You don’t want to miss this (possibly last ever) opportunity to see the Flower Show’s spectacular exhibits up against the natural greenery of one of Philly’s most expansive parks. Tickets are on sale now, the calendar of events—which include Butterflies Alive!, picnics and morning walking tours—is full of fun activities.