Living in Philadelphia
Drexel University is located in Philadelphia, an exciting and vibrant city. But in addition to being world-class in business, art, and education, Philadelphia is also one of the first and largest cities in the United States. A lively campus in the birthplace of the nation, Drexel is proud to be part of this no-nonsense town founded on revolutionary thinking.
Get to know Philadelphia
During the late 1600s and through the 1700s, Philadelphia was a bustling hub of industry and government, even serving as the nation’s temporary capital between 1790 and 1800. Philadelphia was also where the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence and where the Liberty Bell rang. We’re not done making history though, with Drexel Dragons making up part of the 340,000 college students in Philadelphia and fostering an environment of innovation and technological advancement.
Steeped in history, you can see artifacts from the Revolutionary Era and later across our city. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Independence Hall is where The United States of America was born, the site of the signing of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Liberty Bell Center
A symbol of American independence from English rule, the Liberty Bell calls Philadelphia home. On display across from Independence Hall alongside x-rays, you can learn about the legends surrounding the bell and the way it was adopted as an icon of freedom.
A huge influence in American politics and technology, Benjamin Franklin’s presence looms large in Philadelphia. Franklin Court is the site of Ben Franklin’s home, where you’ll find an underground museum, the Franklin Print Shop, the Franklin Post Office, and the United States Postal Museum all on the same block.
United States Mint
This free tour of the first U.S. Mint puts the coin-making process on display, allowing visitors to watch as actual coins for circulation are made.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Opened in 1829 and abandoned in 1971, Eastern State Penitentiary was once the world’s most famous and expensive prison. There are a variety of tour styles available, including themed tours in the fall.
If you’re heading to Drexel’s campus, commuting for co-op, or just exploring our city, you’ve got plenty of options. Despite the population, Philadelphia is a relatively small city, which makes it extremely accessible by walking, biking, and public transit. BoltBus, Megabus, Greyhound, and Amtrak also have a large presence in the city, making excursions outside of Philadelphia easy as well – plus Philadelphia International Airport for those farther trips.
Looking for one of the campuses? Find directions here!
Philadelphia is laid out in a way that makes public transit extremely effective – to say nothing of the positive environmental impact you can have taking it! Each of the links below will take you directly to the page where you’ll be able to find fare information, schedules, and more.
An acronym for “South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority”, SEPTA encompasses all the subway, trains, buses, and trolleys that take Philadelphians around the city and to the surrounding suburbs.
With two stops near Drexel’s main campus, the Market-Frankford Line (also known as the Blue Line, the MFL, or “El”, due to its elevated tracks) goes east from the Frankford Transportation Center west towards 69th Street. This line also stops at City Hall where riders have free interchange to the other Philadelphia subway, the Broad Street Line.
Broad Street Line
Decked out in iconic orange, the Broad Street Line follows Broad Street from Fern Rock Station (north) to AT&T Station (south), where you’ll find the stadium complex and Philly’s great sports teams like the Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers.
There are several green trolley routes that pass through Drexel’s campus, stopping at both 33rd and 30th streets. You can take them south to Center City and 13th Street, or to the 40th Street Trolley Portal where they then split off into farther routes.
SEPTA buses go all over Philadelphia, but there are several routes that are convenient for Drexel’s campus – you’ll see the 21, 30, 31, 42, and LUCY Loop buses around, with more routes available from 30th Street Station.
Regional Rail provides train service to the surrounding suburbs, with stops at 30th Street Station, University City (near Penn Hospital), Suburban Station, and Jefferson Station. The Airport line goes to and from Center City every 30 minutes.
Indego Philly Bike Share
Philadelphia prides itself on being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, launching its own bike sharing program in Spring 2015. Indego allows visitors or members to rent bikes from 70+ stations located in Center City and parts of North, South, and West Philadelphia. Similar to SEPTA, you can get monthly passes or pay by the trip.
Drexel operates shuttle buses in loops through University City, Center City, and the Queen Lane campuses for Drexel students with their Drexel ID (DragonCard). Drexel students may also utilize the University of Pennsylvania bus route. Both the Drexel and Penn shuttles are free to ride.
If you're visiting, you have many options when deciding where to stay overnight in Philly. Drexel has negotiated discounted rates with participating hotels that are only a few blocks from campus or near the highway. There are additional options nearby in Center City.
Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, ranging from slick urban chic to sleepy residential rowhomes. With 10 main areas of Philly and a different vibe in each one, you’ll hear these names frequently.
Taking its name from the trio of universities between Market Street and the Schuylkill River, University City typically refers to the area around Drexel, Penn, and the University of the Sciences. This neighborhood has a high student population with plenty of hot spots and delicious food trucks.
West Philly is a verdant and hilly area with a different architectural style than the rest of the city, featuring more stone duplexes than the typical brick rowhomes. Originally a suburb of Philadelphia, it has become popular with the vegan and punk communities, the faculty and staff for local universities, and serves as home to a large African community. This has created a diverse neighborhood with food ranging from vegan taquerias to great Ethiopian restaurants.
As the downtown business district, Center City is a hub for students on co-op, but it’s also where Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions campus is located. This business district knows how to have fun though – it’s full of gourmet dining, designer shopping, and nightlife.
An upscale neighborhood envisioned and planned by William Penn himself, Rittenhouse Square is home to boutiques, restaurants, and residences, and is known for its brunch spots and people-watching in one of Philly’s most beautiful parks.
Just north of Center City, you’ll find the Friendship Gate, built by Philadelphia and its Chinese sister city, Tianjin, to welcome you to Chinatown. Although it’s a small neighborhood, Chinatown is packed with authentic Chinese restaurants and shops.
An iconic destination for tourists and locals alike, South Street stretches from Broad Street to the Delaware River. Populating this street you’ll find shops, restaurants, and coffee shops, along with the cheesesteaks, giant slices of pizza, bars, and venues that make it a popular nightlife spot.
South Philly encompasses a big swath of Philly, covering neighborhoods from the Italian Market to the stadiums. Historically an Italian neighborhood, you’ll also find a large Asian and Latinx population with specialty markets from these cultures and more.
The original downtown area of Philadelphia, Old City is the location of many of the city’s historical sites. Today, you’ll find artisan boutiques, art galleries, and independent movie theaters mixed in with the pubs and restaurants. Old City is also home to Penn’s Landing, which runs along the Delaware Riverfront – an iconic spot for concerts, festivals, and even free outdoor movies in the summer.
A popular area for young professionals and the hipster crowd, Northern Liberties lies north of Old City. You’ll find all styles of restaurants, bars, and shops here, but Northern Liberties is also known for its parks and the Piazza, a European-style plaza where people attend festivals, farmers markets, and more.
Located near the Delaware River and north of Northern Liberties, Fishtown is so named for the Irish fishing community that called it home. More recently, it’s become a beacon for students, artists, musicians, and hipsters who enjoy the many gastropubs, coffee shops, and art scenes.
Philadelphia offers opportunities to learn, play and engage with a city full of world-class art, history, and culture. No matter what your favorite pastime is – you’ll find it in Philly.
Outdoor Activities and Sports
Philadelphia contains Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban park systems in the country. You’ll find beauty in the architecture of buildings like the historical mansions and the Shofuso Japanese Garden House dotting the parks, walking along Boathouse Row and even a lighthouse if you know where to look (hint – check the Sedgley Club!).
Philadelphia is well-known for our passionate fans, proud to cheer for our five major sports teams. You’ll find the Flyers, Eagles, Sixers, and the Phillies in South Philly at the stadium complex, and the Philadelphia Union soccer team makes it home on the banks of the Delaware River. That passion is a two-way street, and our teams are proud to represent our city; the Phillies are the oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in the entirety of professional American sports. They go back to 1883! Drexel also has several great athletics programs including our division one basketball teams, part of the City Six.
Although the GAP and American Apparel are right around the corner from Drexel's campus, the city has so much more to see. On Chestnut Street, The Shops at Liberty Place is one of the finest urban retail centers in the country. When you're looking for more sophisticated upscale merchandise and a gourmet treat, the shops at The Bellevue are a great destination spot. If you need variety, Old City features a number of small shops with clothing, accessories, home goods, and more. For an eclectic collection of clothing and impressive art selection, a stop at Art Star is the way to go.
Secondhand and Thrift Shops
For some, a great find at a thrift store or consignment shop is far better than any boutique purchase. Drexel is close to two fantastic consignment shops, Greene Street and the Buffalo Exchange, as well as two great thrift stores, Second Mile Center and Philly AIDS Thrift. Visit these stores for unique and affordable shopping.
Groceries and Everything Else
Looking to get cooking? You can visit The Fresh Grocer, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods, but don’t forget to check out the smaller shops and specialty markets in West Philadelphia. For everything else, there's always Target, Walmart, and Ikea conveniently located in the city.
Outside the City
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle, or just a change of scenery? Philadelphia is located close to several options for a quick trip. You’ll find farmer’s markets in Lancaster County, snow sports in the Pocono Mountains, the boardwalk on the Jersey Shore, and more. We’re also just a short ride away from both NYC and Washington, D.C.
Nearby – Fast and Casual
There are plenty of great options for a quick bite around campus. One option is to head to 30th street Station, where you’ll find a variety of local fare and a number of fast-food standards. Take a quick walk to 40th street and you’ll find more yummy choices like Qdoba and a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop. Want something between classes and don’t feel like leaving? There are several awesome food trucks at Drexel as well, lined up next to Main Building and on Market Street.
Nearby – Sit-down Service
If you’re not in a hurry, University City has a variety of restaurants to please even the pickiest eater. There are great burgers, Asian-fusion, the famous Federal Donuts, and much more in the area, so check out the list of restaurants on the University City District website.
Around the City
Looking to explore outside University City? Philly is on the rise as a foodie destination, and with good reason. Reading Terminal Market contains over 80 unique restaurants and stores, including Beiler’s Doughnuts, DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef (featured on the Travel Channel as the “best sandwich in America”), Beck’s Cajun Café (try the gator gumbo), and more. Dim Sum Garden is an affordable feast in Chinatown, and several world-famous restaurateurs and chefs like Stephen Starr and Jose Garces’ have opened a variety of incredible places to eat.
There are plenty of great places off the beaten path too. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been in the city for a while – they’re sure to have some opinions about the best places to eat! If you haven’t had the chance to meet a local, however, you can always check out the Visit Philadelphia list of restaurants.
Although we have plenty of local delicacies including Tastykake, peanut chews, soft pretzels, and water ice, cheesesteaks are the ubiquitous food of Philadelphia and everyone has their own pick for the best in the city. The only option is to try them all and decide for yourself! Here are some places to start your cheesesteak journey.
With an original location in Northeast Philadelphia and a newer spot on the corner of Girard and Frankford, Joe’s Steaks is a Philadelphia icon. While their menu has grown, their steaks have stayed the same, delighting customers with their classic recipe since 1949.
In the summer of 1976, Jim’s South Street location opened and brought a delicious steak to the heart of Philadelphia. Perfect for a bite while exploring the shops and festivals on South Street!
Originally serving up Italian favorites like their roast pork sandwich and the chicken cutlet, Tony Luke’s has expanded both their menu and their locations. Now a brand with shops all over the mid-Atlantic, you still can’t beat the original location on Oregon Ave.
Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies
Located in Roxborough, Dalessandro’s prides themselves on their freshness, with produce, bakery and meat deliveries happening several times a day. While not as close to Drexel as some of the others, many Philadelphians swear it's worth the trip.
Philadelphia has a number of large-scale annual events, with more starting all the time. Here’s a glimpse at some of the Philly fun.
Philadelphia Flower Show
Over 250,000 visitors flock to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which is transformed every spring into the horticultural spectacle known as the Philadelphia Flower Show. Presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, this tradition dates back to 1829 and year after year, incorporates a new unique theme.
Philadelphia Races and Runs
Philadelphia has plenty of opportunities for runners to get their kicks including the Philadelphia Marathon, Broad Street Run, and the Gritty 5k. The variety of distances and participants means you’re sure to find the right race for you.
Dad Vail Regatta
The largest intercollegiate rowing event in the nation, the annual Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta draws over 100 college and university rowing teams from the United States and Canada. This Philadelphia tradition is held on the Schuylkill River in beautiful Fairmount Park.
Concerts on the Parkway
The parkway transforms into a party with concerts and more. Toast our independence with free concerts during the Welcome, America! Fourth of July weekend celebration, or head to the Made in America music festival during Labor Day weekend.
Cherry Blossom Festival
Celebrating Japanese culture throughout the region, the Cherry Blossom Festival encompasses more than a dozen events including sushi-making classes, a sake garden, crafts, performances, and more. A Philadelphia tradition since 1997, this festival has become synonymous with the return of spring thanks to the 1,000 flowering cherry trees in Fairmount Park.