One of the most exciting neighborhoods in Philly’s Center City district, Rittenhouse is a vibrant, high-end neighborhood of Philadelphia centered around Rittenhouse Square, one of the four central parks dating back to the original founding of the city in the 1600s. 

Rittenhouse is truly a can’t-miss neighborhood for any traveler, hosting some of the city’s best and most exciting dining, shopping, and recreation sites. Not to mention, Rittenhouse features plenty of hidden gems that make it a wonderful place to spend a day and explore some of the city’s best attractions.

There is a fascinating collection of modern luxury and respected history in this small but richly-interesting section right near Center City.

Local tip: Don’t forget to look up! As one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Rittenhouse features stunning architecture smushed between some of the city’s skyscrapers and highrises. 

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, day-tripper, or local, we’ve put together our best suggestions for a truly splendid day visiting this vibrant neighborhood. Ready to start planning? Follow these tips and tricks for making the most out of your full-day Rittenhouse adventure!

Coffee at Vibrant Coffee Roasters

Nestled just steps away from Rittenhouse Square, Vibrant Coffee Roasters stands as one of Philadelphia’s premier destinations for coffee aficionados. This brick-and-mortar coffee shop and bakery, located just off Rittenhouse Square, truly embodies the art of coffee-making, offering an impressive range of expertly crafted espresso and drip coffee. With their team of skilled baristas behind the counter, you can expect nothing short of perfection in every cup.

As you step into Vibrant, prepare to be greeted by a tantalizing display of baked goods and the enticing aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. Their carefully curated selection of pastries and treats pairs harmoniously with their meticulously roasted beans, ensuring a delightful sensory experience. You’ll also find a wide selection of coffee beans they are currently roasting – likely roasted within the last two weeks.

While the seating area may be limited within the shop itself, the proximity to Rittenhouse Square provides the perfect solution. Take a short stroll and find yourself a cozy spot on one of the park benches, allowing you to savor your steamy cup of caffeine while immersing yourself in the vibrant surroundings.

Pastries at The Bakeshop on 20th 

Before setting out on your day, we highly recommend a quick stop at The Bakeshop on 20th (269 S 20th Street). This quaint bakery and breakfast spot is a quick walk in the center of Rittenhouse. While it may seem like a simple store as you walk in, it has earned a prestigious reputation around the area for its baked goods and specialty breakfast options like the babka buns and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

Everything is made fresh from family recipes with the highest quality ingredients

The bakery also features a host of classic baked goods likely cookies, scones, muffins and breakfast sandwiches like their Smoked Salmon Special and Roasted Turkey Special on sourdough. The full menu can be found on their website.

Rittenhouse Square

The clear central landmark of Rittenhouse is Rittenhouse Square, the large central square with winding walkways, dozens of benches, and art pieces scattered throughout. The central plaza features a seasonal rotation of flowers around a reflecting pool, a beautiful meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

The park is named after David Rittenhouse, a famous astronomer, and clockmaker who lived in Philadelphia during the 18th century. Stroll the park for some of the most beloved sculptures in Philadelphia, most notably Lion Crushing a Serpent by Antoine-Louis Barye and Duck Girl by Paul Manship – both works of art are over 100 years old, and created by globally-renowned artists.

In addition to its fresh air, lush grassy patches, natural beauty, and artistic offerings, Rittenhouse Square Park is a hub of community activity. Throughout the year, the park hosts a variety of events, including farmers’ markets, concerts (and buskers, often from the nearby Curtis Institute of Music), and street festivals. The lively atmosphere, combined with the park’s stunning surroundings, make it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Philadelphia.

Time Travel at the Rosenbach Museum

Philadelphia is a city of rich American history, and the Rosenbach Museum (2008-2010 Delancey Street) has some of the most fascinating pieces of American, and Philadelphian, history of literature.

Anyone fond of literature or just a fan of American history will be gleefully impressed with the collection of over 130,000 manuscripts and over 30,000 first-edition books. Read George Washington’s earliest-known letter, view Lewis Carroll’s personal copy of Alice in Wonderland, or be awed at the sight of the world’s final first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin.

Cheese Samples at Di Bruno Bros – Chestnut St

Di Bruno Bros (1730 Chestnut Street) is one of the most beloved culinary institutions in all of Philadelphia, most known for its selection of cheeses, meats, bread, and artisanal Italian imports. 

A Philly-local favorite, Di Bruno Bros’ roots run deep in Philadelphia with their original Italian Market shop dating back to 1939.

At the self-proclaimed ‘Cheese Cave,’ guests are welcome to sample their rotating assortment of select cheeses, along with recommended pairings of Italian wines. Some of the most popular options include Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano, and a Le Cret Gruyere 1655. We highly recommend the Prima Donna gouda, often featured in their various locations. 

If you have the time during your day, consider booking a guided tour of Di Bruno Bros, providing guests with unique recommendations on what to sample around the large space that can admittedly be intimidating on the first or second visit.

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

As one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, some of Philadelphia’s most popular luxury stores can be found scattered throughout the blocks of Rittenhouse. You can spend the whole afternoon browsing the many boutique shops and fashion staples for clothing, shoes, accessories, and even home decor.

The premier shopping destination features dozens of highly sought-after stores including world-renowned streetwear stores, high-fashion and luxury staples, and a wide variety of local purveyors like Blue Sole Shoes.

You can find even more shopping in the Shops at Liberty Place (1625 Chestnut Street), the ground floor of one of our pointy skyscrapers, or the five-story Anthropologie (1801 Walnut Street).

Get goosebumps at the Mutter Museum

For visitors open to the odd and at-times uncomfortable, The Mutter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (19 S 22nd Street) is a charming museum home to over 20,000 pieces of fascinating medical history.

It should be repeated that this is a potentially uncomfortable museum that requires a strong constitution, but for those that are interested this is an incredibly rich collection that guides guests through the history of modern medicine.

The museum is home to a large collection of anatomical artifacts that inform the steady progression of medical science over the centuries, with details on the human body that will expand how a guest thinks of themselves and humanity at large.

For visitors unafraid of some squeamish sights and open to learning something completely unexpected during their day, The Mutter Museum is a great stop during your day. 

Nachos at El Rey 

When it comes to quick and casual dining El Rey Mexican Restaurant stands out as a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists visiting Rittenhouse. As the sister restaurant to the highly popular El Vez in Midtown Village, El Rey offers a slightly more casual dining experience while maintaining the same Mexican-inspired menu crafted with fresh, high-quality ingredients. 

While every dish on the menu is a treat for the taste buds, one standout item that deserves special mention is their huge tray of nachos. Loaded with a tantalizing blend of toppings, these nachos are a true crowd-pleaser and a must-try for anyone visiting the restaurant.

This culinary gem is a testament to the expertise of renowned Philadelphia restaurateur Steven Starr. With its fresh ingredients, expertly crafted menu, and mouthwatering dishes like its legendary tray of nachos, El Rey promises a delightful culinary journey that will transport your taste buds straight to Mexico.

See an Exhibition at Works on Paper Art Gallery

Located on the bustling Walnut Street, Works on Paper Art Gallery has been one of the city’s premier art galleries since its establishment in 1995. 

A hub for both local and international artists spanning multiple generations, what sets Works on Paper apart is its commitment to showcasing both world-renowned artists and emerging talent, giving visitors an opportunity to discover exciting new voices in the art world.

Open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, Works on Paper Art Gallery is an ideal stop for locals, tourists, and shoppers seeking an enriching experience in Rittenhouse. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or a curious passerby, Works on Paper Art Gallery promises to stimulate your senses and ignite your imagination, leaving you with a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of artistic expression.

Parc Brasserie – Book Ahead!

Widely considered one of the most in-demand dining locations in all of Philadelphia, Parc Brasserie (227 S 18th Street) offers French fine dining that brings in an endless stream of guests.

This authentic French bistro serves high-end dining options and a luxurious atmosphere. The most popular dishes include French Onion Soup, Beef Bourguignon, and Steak Tartare – but we would be remiss if we did not recommend the mussels.

If you are planning on attending their brunch or dinner during the weekends or even Thursday, make sure to schedule a reservation as the tables will fill up quickly.

Pro Tip: Anyone can purchase a fresh-baked baguette at the hostess table inside of the restaurant. Paired with some cheeses from Di Bruno Bros and a coffee from Vibrant, you’re one blanket away from a low-cost picnic in the park. 

Get Cultured at Philadelphia Art Alliance

As excellent and unique as any art exhibit in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts (251 S 18th Street) is a multi-faceted art gallery immediately facing Rittenhouse Square.

This multidisciplinary art gallery hosts art forms ranging from stage performances to modern and traditional visual media. Walk through the pristine building formerly known as the Wetherill Mansion home to intricately-designed interior architecture accentuated by a stunning grand staircase. Attend a modern dance performance, marvel at artistic sculptures or a painter’s gallery. 

Have a Laugh at Helium Comedy Club

Get ready to laugh until your cheeks hurt. If you’re looking for a hilarious and entertaining night out, look no further than Helium Comedy Club, one of our favorite things to do around Rittenhouse. Tucked away on Sansom St, this premier comedy club is a hidden gem in the neighborhood. 

At Helium, you can expect an impressive lineup of well-known comedians that will leave you in stitches. From seasoned professionals to rising stars, the club features an eclectic mix of comedic talent. You can find the list of upcoming performers on their website.

​​But Helium Comedy Club isn’t just about big names. They also provide a platform for aspiring local comedians through open mic nights. It’s not uncommon to see talented up-and-coming comics from the Philadelphia area taking the stage, showcasing their wit and charm. In fact, some renowned comedians like Kevin Hart, hailing from Philadelphia, and Shane Gillis from Mechanicsburg, got their start at Helium.

Ping Pong & Nightcap at SPIN Philadelphia

When the day is coming to a close, the first stop of many locals and tourists of Rittenhouse end up at SPIN (211 S 15th Street). Enjoy some late-night food and drinks while you play at your own private ping pong table.

This late-night bar and grill is famous for its 18 private ping pong tables each with its own space and seating areas. The expansive underground room is centered around a bar with a rotating seasonal selection of drinks. Some of the staple selections include the Moscow Mule and Emiliano, with a full dinner menu featuring a table hummus platter and a selection of pizzas and sandwiches.