The Philadelphia skyline and Schuylkill river at night, showcasing some of the top areas and choices for where to stay in Philadelphia

Where to Stay in Philadelphia (Best Places, By a Local)

I’m a Philadelphia local here to help you decide where to stay in Philadelphia. This city is home to many vibrant neighborhoods, all having unique attractions and appeal. 

In this guide, I share top-rated hotels and the best things to do in each area. Whether you’re most excited about the city’s history, museums, parks, or food, I’ll help you find the best place to stay in Philadelphia! 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in Philadelphia

Downtown Philadelphia overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the autumn season
Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Philadelphia? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Philadelphia: 

7 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Philadelphia

There are many unique neighborhoods in Philadelphia spread throughout the city. Check out this map of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. If it’s your first trip to the city, I recommend staying in Center City. From there, you can easily get to almost any other neighborhood via public transportation or a short drive. 

Center City

The red LOVE Park sign surrounded by tall buildings in downtown Philadelphia
LOVE Park in downtown Philadelphia

👉 Best Area For First-Time Visitors | ✨ Best Center City Hotels: Hyatt Centric Center City PhiladelphiaFour Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast CenterSonder the Heid

Center City is Philly’s downtown area. It’s home to Philadelphia City Hall, LOVE park, the famous Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square. There’s also a newly-established fashion district. If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Philadelphia as a first-time visitor, this area is a great choice.

You can get to downtown Philadelphia from the Philadelphia National Airport by car or train. The area has attractions for all ages. 

Solo travelers, couples, and families will enjoy the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Museum District. Here, you’ll find many museums including the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Rodin museum.

There are endless options for excellent restaurants (don’t forget about happy hour!) within walking distance of City Hall. You’ll also find theaters and music venues such as the Wilma Theater and Kimmel Center. 

Pros of Staying in Center City:

  • Walkable, central location 
  • Access to public transportation by City Hall and throughout the area
  • Lots of great restaurants and bars
  • Close to tourist attractions and many luxury hotels 

Con of Staying in Center City:

  • Lots of traffic 
  • Restaurants and bars can be expensive
  • Business-oriented area

📚 Center City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First-Time Visitors
📍 Google Map

West Philadelphia

Exterior view of The University of Pennsylvania from across the street at night
University City section of West Philadelphia

👉 Best Area For Park Access and Outdoor Markets | ✨ Best West Philadelphia Hotels: The Inn at PennHomewood Suites 

West Philadelphia is a large area west of the Schuylkill River. It’s only a short 15-minute drive from the Philadelphia International Airport. 

It includes an assortment of smaller neighborhoods, each with its own feel. University City, Spruce Hill, Powelton Village, and Cobbs Creek are a few of those closest to hotels.

The West Philly neighborhood as a whole is a great area for park access. It’s home to Clark Park, Malcolm X Park, the Woodlands Cemetery, and Bartram’s garden to name a few. Clark Park has a farmer’s market and various flea markets throughout the year.

West Philly is a diverse neighborhood with large Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities. It’s perfect for travelers seeking to get to know Philly outside of its main tourist attractions. See a bit of nature in the city and eat some excellent Ethiopian food in this great area!

Pros of Staying in West Philadelphia:

  • Many parks and outdoor events
  • University City includes the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University
  • Accessible by public transportation
  • Large Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities in the neighborhood

Con of Staying in West Philadelphia:

  • Few hotel options
  • Few nightlife options

📚 West Philly Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Park Access and Outdoor Markets
📍 Google Map

East Passyunk/South Philadelphia

People strolling on the sidewalk of Italian Market in Philadelphia
(Photo: f11photo / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Excellent Restaurants and Bars | ✨ Best South Philly Hotels: Sonder The QueenCourtyard by MarriottThe Philadelphia Hotel Bella Vista

South Philadelphia is a vast area south of Center City. If you want to know where to stay in Philadelphia and you’re a big foodie, East Passyunk is perfect.

It’s somewhat more difficult to get to South Philly from the airport. But once in the city, you can get there by public transportation. I would not recommend driving in this area if you’re not used to city driving, as parking can be tricky.

Once there, you have endless options. Try upscale Vietnamese, Mexican, and Italian cuisine, or $7 plates of delicious Indonesian food. For fresh pasta and baked goods, make sure to visit the historic Italian Market, a well-preserved site that opened in the late 19th century. 

Pros of Staying in East Passyunk/South Philly:

  • Lots of delicious food at great restaurants
  • Near the famous Italian Market
  • Many cute, independent shops

Con of Staying in East Passyunk/South Philly:

  • Difficult to park
  • Hotel options are spread out

📚 South Philadelphia Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Foodies
📍 Google Map

Germantown

Exterior view of The Chew House or Cliveden  in the Germantown section of Philadelphia
Cliveden, where American soldiers fought during the battle of Germantown in the Revolutionary War

👉 Best Area For A Small Neighborhood Feel | ✨ Best Germantown Hotels: Chestnut Hill HotelResidence Inn by Marriott 

Germantown is a historic neighborhood in Northwest Philly. In addition to historic attractions, it has new, trendy shops and bars, both in Germantown and neighboring Mt. Airy. If you’re deciding where to stay in Philadelphia but want to get away from the busiest areas, Germantown offers a small-town feel.

Neighborhood attractions include the nation’s oldest rose garden at the historic Wyck House. There’s also Wissahickon Valley Park. History lovers won’t want to miss the Johnson House Historic site and the Underground Railroad museum. 

Stopping by Uncle Bobbie’s independent bookstore is one of my favorite things to do in Germantown. Also, be sure to visit the resident goats at the Awbury Arboretum farm!

Though there aren’t any hotels right in Germantown, the Chestnut Hill Hotel is a charming boutique hotel just 10 minutes from Germantown. 

Pros of Staying in Germantown:

  • Small town feel in a big city
  • Lots of great restaurants and shops
  • A picturesque, historic neighborhood

Con of Staying in Germantown:

  • Far from the city center
  • Few hotels
  • Travel there by car or Regional Rail (Philly’s commuter rail train)

📚 Germantown Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for A Small Neighborhood Feel
📍 Google Map

Old City

Façade of the brown brick building of Independence Hall in Philadelphia
Independence Hall

👉 Best Area For Historic Attractions | ✨ Best Old City Hotels: Penn’s View HotelIndependence Park HotelLokal Hotel

Old City is part of Philadelphia’s historic district and is a historic location for the entire nation as well. Lined with cobblestone streets, this beautiful neighborhood features the Independence National Historical Park. The park includes Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted. There’s also the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. 

Old City is an upscale neighborhood with luxury hotels. But you can also find more affordable options if you want to stay in Philadelphia on a smaller budget.  

The neighborhood has a wide variety of fantastic restaurants, bars, nightlife options, and museums. There are also outdoor attractions such as Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River. 

Old City is a lively neighborhood easily accessible by public transportation, and there is a lot to do within walking distance. You can walk right from the Liberty Bell to the Betsy Ross House, where the first American flag was sewn. Then continue to neighboring Society Hill and the Ritz Five movie theater, all in a day! 

After that, treat yourself to some delicious Chinese food at Han Dynasty’s Old City location. 

Pros of Staying in Old City:

  • Easy to walk to many attractions
  • Lots of great food options at a variety of price ranges
  • Excellent area for history buffs of all ages

Con of Staying in Old City:

  • Hotels can be pricey
  • Noisy at night
  • Farther from the Philadelphia airport

📚 Old City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Historic Attractions
📍 Google Map

Fairmount

The illuminated historical site of Boathouse Row reflected on the river of Philadelphia at night
Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River

👉 Best Area For Museums | ✨ Best Fairmount Hotels: The Maj HotelSonder at Sixteen HundredSonder the Tidewater

Fairmount is home to both the museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. There’s also the picturesque Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River. 

Just north of downtown, Fairmount offers an array of art museums. These include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundations, and the Rodin Museum. There are green spaces throughout Fairmount, some with beer gardens, and many delicious eateries. 

For a family with young kids planning where to stay in Philadelphia, Fairmount is a great option. The museum district includes the Franklin Institute, a science museum geared toward children. You’ll also find Philadelphia’s central public library in this area.

The famous Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is in East Fairmount park and is worth a visit for those with young kids. Just across the Schuylkill River is the Philadelphia Zoo, too. 

You’ll also find plenty to do as a solo traveler, couple, or out with friends! You can take a walk on the Schuylkill River trail and visit the Barnes Foundation’s eclectic art galleries. See the Fairmount waterworks, and stop to pose with the famous Rocky statue.    

Pros of Staying in Fairmount:

  • Lots of different activities for travelers of all ages
  • Many parks and green spaces
  • Great restaurants, cafes, and bars

Con of Staying in Fairmount:

  • Easiest to get around by car
  • Fewer hotel options

📚 Fairmount Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Museums
📍 Google Map

Queen Village

Innovative art from recycled materials in the Magic Gardens of Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on South Street

👉 Best Area For Thrifting and Quirky Shops | ✨ Best Queen Village Hotels: Sonder the QueenThe Philadelphia Hotel Bella Vista

Queen Village is a fun place to stay in Philadelphia. Explore the quirky shops and bars along South Street or find fashionable gems on a budget at the massive Philly Aids Thrift. Visiting Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a sprawling maze and museum of mosaic and sculpture is a must-see along South Street as well. 

Some of my neighborhood favorites include the Headhouse Square farmer’s market and Dottie’s Donuts (delicious and vegan!). I also love Queen and Rook game cafe where the incredible staff can hand-select a game for your group. 

Queen Village is conveniently located between downtown, Old City, and South Philly. This allows you to easily travel to multiple neighborhoods. It’s a great option if you’re figuring out where to stay in Philadelphia and know you want to visit many different areas. 

Pros of Staying in Queen Village:

  • Right by the lively and weird shops along South Street
  • Beautiful streets and architecture
  • Centrally located

Con of Staying in Queen Village:

  • Far from art museums 
  • Far from Philadelphia airport
  • Few hotels directly in the neighborhood

📚 Queen Village Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Thrifting and Quirky Shops
📍 Google Map

Tips for Staying in Philadelphia

Look at a Map of Philadelphia Beforehand

Philadelphia is a geographically massive city and there is a lot to see! Looking at a map can help you plan out which neighborhoods and attractions are closest to where you’re staying, and what’s feasible for your trip. 

An approaching light rail trolley and parked cars around the avenue of Philadelphia
(photo: Krtz07 / Shutterstock)

Identify the Nearest Subway, Trolley, or Bus Station

Staying near a subway or bus station can cut your costs, simplify travel, and facilitate seeing as much as possible while you’re in the city. Center City, West Philly, Old City, and parts of South Philly are all fairly accessible by subway. Other areas may be more accessible by bus. 

Consider the Best Time to Visit

Like much of the northeast, Philadelphia is most enjoyable during the spring and fall. Personally, I love the summer as well. Philly has lots to offer during the summer months, but it can be very hot and humid. Spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures.

Colorful façade of the cafes and restaurants at Head House Square
Restaurants at Head House Square, Society Hill (photo: Conchi Martinez / Shutterstock)

Make a Few Reservations at Philly Restaurants

Philly has a rich food and restaurant culture, which means popular spots often fill up quickly on weekends. Pick out a couple of restaurants you’d like to try before your trip and make reservations ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out.

Be Safe, But Don’t Believe all the Stereotypes

Like in any large city such as New York, D.C., or Chicago, it can be dangerous to travel alone at night in Philly. Always be aware of your surroundings and consider taking a Lyft or Uber to your hotel at the end of the night. However, don’t let negative stereotypes about the city shape your perception. Philly is a fantastic city and you’re sure to love it! 

FAQs About Where to Stay in Philly

What are the best areas to stay in Philadelphia?

The best areas to stay in Philadelphia are Center City and Old City. They’re ideal due to their central locations, nearby attractions, and easy transportation options. 

What are the nicest hotels in Philadelphia?

What are some good places to stay in Philadelphia on a budget?

Some good places to stay in Philadelphia on a budget include the Apple Hostels of Philadelphia and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Boise ParkCenter.

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Thanks for reading my guide on where to stay in Philadelphia. Safe travels and enjoy your visit!

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