Nightlife in Philadelphia: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Philadelphia skyline at night

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Philly is jumping all hours of the day, but the after-dark scene is pretty hot, too. With a variety of legendary bars, lively clubs, and some late-night dining spots, you can party well into the evening (and then find yourself at a classic diner for an early breakfast afterwards). The city is easily walkable, so some neighborhoods simply lend themselves to bar-hopping, such as Old City or Midtown Village, and it’s not unusual to see raucous pub crawls happening on the weekends. Since Philly bars are so diverse, drink prices depend on the watering hole you choose. Overall, it’s safe to assume the smaller, local bars offer the most reasonable prices for beverages. For the best Philly nightlife experiences, check out these bars, clubs, live music, and late-night dining options:

Bars

Philadelphia has plenty of diverse bars throughout most neighborhoods, so there’s definitely something for every imbiber around every corner. Most bars in Philadelphia are open until 2 a.m. Some of these bars have live music, and some bars even allow dancing. If you’re seeking a classic location with a hit of dive-y vibes, check out these top spots:

  •  McGillin’s Old Ale House: The oldest “continuously operating” tavern in the city, this iconic destination opened in the late 1800s and is steeped in history. In addition to 30 beers on tap, McGillin’s also serves a selection of bar food, such as pizza, sandwiches, and cheesesteaks.
  • Varga Bar: Varga Bar has a large selection of draft beer, classic pin-up artwork, and great food. There’s also outdoor seating during the warmer months. If you get here early, you can also enjoy their excellent happy hour.
  • Graffiti Bar: Hidden and understated, this tiny outdoor patio bar is situated behind the Asian-inspired restaurant, Sampan, which is always bustling. You can’t see the bar from the street, so look for the red neon sign and head down the narrow alley. It’s a favorite spot for sports fans, as the bar features a few TVs. You can also order food from the Sampan menu if you're feeling peckish.

Clubs

The club scene in Philly is robust and usually starts around 10 p.m., with some of the bigger clubs picking up steam after midnight. A few of the clubs have dress codes and the entrance fees can change, depending on the night. Be sure to check out the website for the club you wish to visit, as the DJs and music may change from week to week.

  • Voyeur Nightclub: You can dance 'til dawn at Voyeur, a popular three-story spot that’s sure to keep your heart pounding to a high-volume beat. Featuring multiple rooms with different types of music, Voyeur’s main dance floor is where most of the action happens. The Mezzanine showcases hip-hop, while the Lounge plays non-stop dance music. Voyeur opens at midnight most evenings. For easier access, download their app and become a member.
  • Brasil’s Nightclub: If salsa and other Latin dances are your jam, you’ll have an incredible time at Brasil’s Nightclub in the heart of Old City. This hotspot draws a fun, international crowd and features a popular DJ along with regular appearances by world-class professional dancers. If you’re new to salsa and need to learn the basics, go on a Wednesday or Friday night (around 9:30 p.m.) and take a lesson. This is a welcoming club so you don't need to worry about showing up alone. If you need a drink, be sure to order their signature Margarita cocktail. (Note: Men won't be allowed to enter wearing boots or hats.)
  • NOTO: NOTO (short for “not of the ordinary”) is the largest nightclub in the city, as well as one of the newest. Open Thursday through Sunday most weeks, this high-tech, trendy destination attracts all the cool kids with bottle service and world-famous guest DJs. The dress code is upscale here so be sure to dress to impress. Admission tickets must be purchased in advance online and the cover charge changes, depending on the night and the DJ.

Late-Night Restaurants

Midnight snackers love Philly because you can get a tasty meal around the clock. With an abundance of diners around the city, there’s always an open restaurant, serving up burgers, cheesesteaks, and just about anything for breakfast. Most of these places are well-known and attract an enthusiastic late-night crowd, which can be a lot of fun if you’re up for more partying.

  • Silk City: Half-diner, half-club, and one of the coolest destinations in Philly, Silk City has been a fan favorite for years. In the evenings, partiers pack the dance floor and head to the diner for a meal once they're done. It’s a win-win for the late-night crowd, and Silk City has great vegan and vegetarian options.
  • Melrose Diner: For over 70 years, the Melrose Diner has been serving up great food all day and night in the heart of South Philly. Be prepared to wait in line during busy times, but that gives you time to check out the menu in advance. The Melrose has all the classic diner food, but be sure to try a side of scrapple, a must-try Philly food, to go along with your scrambled eggs.
  • Pats King of Steaks: If you’re craving a late-night bite, add Pat’s King of Steaks to the top of your list. Serving up cheesesteaks 24 hours a day, every day of the year, Pats is the go-to spot for locals and tourists seeking a late-night snack. Keep in mind that this is an outdoor establishment with just a walk-up window, so warmer months are best time to visit. However, it’s always popular throughout the year, regardless of the weather.

Live Music

The City of Brotherly Love boasts some excellent live music venues of all sizes. These are some small-to-medium-sized bars that showcase fantastic music all year long:

  • World Café Live: With two floors of live music playing several days (and nights) each week, World Café Live is a fantastic place in Philly to catch great, new artists and well-known A-list musicians. The upstairs is a bar with tables and a smaller stage, while the downstairs is a much larger venue with a balcony. If you’re around on a Friday afternoon, World Café Live always sponsors a fantastic (and free) concert.
  • Boot and Saddle: Live music lovers adore this cool venue, as you can always catch a talented band or musical artist here on most Thursday through Sunday nights. This intimate Center City destination is ideal for grooving to your favorite singer or experiencing a rising star. In addition to a full bar, Boot and Saddle has a limited menu that serves up nachos, chicken sandwiches, vegan options, and more. Check out the website for upcoming shows and instructions for purchasing tickets. (Note: If you purchase tickets at the venue on the evening of a show, you'll need cash. Once inside, the you can use credit cards.)
  • Underground Arts: Intimate with great acoustics, this below-ground music venue is an optimal spot to see a musical act. The Underground Arts features plenty of local bands all year long. The inside is no-frills with no seating, so if you’re there to see a specific musical guest on a night that features multiple bands, it’s a good idea to call ahead to find out the time they are scheduled to hit the stage as the shows tend to go late into the evening.

Tips for Going Out

  • In general, for late-night partying in Philadelphia, it’s best to stick with popular, lively neighborhoods. Center City, Old City, Fishtown, and Midtown Village are examples of neighborhoods that have the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, and clubs.
  • Philadelphia offers a variety of transportation options. Taxis, ride-sharing companies (Uber and Lyft) are readily available, and they are great for getting around town.
  • Public transportation in the city generally runs 24 hours a day, but there can be a limited schedule late at night, depending on timing and your destination. If you are relying on a SEPTA train or a bus, be sure to check the schedules in advance. 
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