For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Get to Know Your New Neighborhood

September 12, 2023

Dragon statue with Drexel building in background

Welcome to Drexel University! Hopefully, you’re slowly but surely getting acquainted with the University City Campus — learning where the library, dining halls and buildings for your classes are — but there’s plenty to get to know off and around campus too.

Here’s a list to get you started, full of places like grocery stores, coffee shops and more. Give your new neighborhood a go and get familiar with Philadelphia as you get settled at Drexel.

As for getting to these places, several of them, like the Giant Heirloom Market, Saxbys, Board and Brew and others, are walkable from campus, but the others can be reached with Drexel’s bus routes or SEPTA trolley, subways or buses.

The Drexel buses are free to ride with a DragonCard, and you can take a Center City route, Powelton/Spring Garden route or a Queen Lane campus route if you’re in East Falls. Drexel students can also take a University of Pennsylvania route, even though it’s through UPenn instead. Nearby SEPTA stations include the Market-Frankford subway stations at 30th, 34th and 40th streets; the trolley stations at 30th, 33rd, 34th and 40th streets; and bus routes include the 21, 42 and 44.

Grocery stores

If you’re a new Dragon, you’ll likely be getting many of your meals from the dining halls on Drexel’s campus, but everyone needs a grocery store.

The closest one to Drexel’s campus is the Giant Heirloom Market at 3401 Chestnut St. It’s a mini version of the, well, giant grocery stores around Philadelphia. The Heirloom Markets focus more on offering organic items than regular Giants, but you can still get a wide variety of groceries here, plus bakery items, hot foods and ready-to-go items like sushi.

It’s a bit farther away, but there’s a Trader Joe’s about a 15-minute walk from Main Building (or directly in front of the 22nd SEPTA street trolley station) at 2121 Market St., where you can get Trader Joe’s-brand foods and cult-favorite frozen foods like Mandarin orange chicken, gnocchi and plenty of seasonal items.

For more of a classic grocery store experience, there’s the Acme at 40th and Walnut streets. It’s a bit west of campus, but it’ll supply most of what you need.

Coffee shops

Figure out where to get your caffeine fix, and the start to the school year will go more smoothly. There are tons of coffee shops near campus, including two Saxbys, a Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Board and Brew and even Wawa.

One Saxbys is located in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (PISB) and the other is at 34th Street and Lancaster Avenue, and you can get cold brew, smoothies, avocado toast and lattes there. Starbucks is located in the Gerri C. LeBow Hall — pick up your specialty drinks and pumpkin spice items there. There’s also Pret a Manger, which offers coffee, breakfast, lunch and other treats, in The Summit at 3400 Lancaster. (You can also use DragonDollars and dining dollars here!)

Board and Brew is a board game café, breakfast and lunch spot and coffee shop all in one. It’s at 33rd and Chestnut streets (near the Drexel Barnes & Noble) and offers a cozy spot for studying and getting a bite to eat. ELIXR Coffee at 3675 Market St. is a coffee roaster that boasts some high finishes in national barista and coffee roasting competitions, so it’s a great spot for a coffee fanatic.


Need some green space? There’s plenty to be had around campus, both east and west of the Schuylkill River. Close to campus is, of course, Drexel Park at 32nd Street and Powelton Avenue. It features a large lawn, benches and a stunning view of the skyline. You’ll find plenty of fellow students taking a break here.

At Market Street and JFK Boulevard is the Gateway Garden, a little oasis that’s perfect for sitting to eat lunch, get a bit of fresh air while studying or take part in one of the events that happens there, like Makers Markets and Meet the Brewers.  

A bit higher off the ground is Cira Green, a rooftop park that’s open year-round. Head to the parking garage at 129 S. 30th St. and take the elevator to the 11th floor to take in the views, the breeze and even events. Cira Green’s Sunset Social has events planned in late September.

If you’d like to go for a stroll, run or bike ride, just get yourself down to the Schuylkill River Trail, which is just across the aforementioned river. There are multiple access points near Market Street, and you can go north or south from there. There are even events, including movie nights and kayak rides, occasionally on the banks.

Exterior of Academy of Natural Sciences
Head to the Academy of Natural Sciences and get in free with your DragonCard.


You’ll have a chance to explore the Franklin Institute, a Philly classic that dives into science, during Welcome Week, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for museums in the area.

Near the Franklin Institute, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, are the Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art, a trio of art museums that you can get into at a discounted rate with a student ID. There’s also the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, which, as the name suggests, is part of the University — meaning you can get in for free with your DragonCard. Here, you can see exhibits on bugs, dinosaurs and other facets of the natural world.

Over in University City, there’s the Penn Museum, which features artifacts from throughout history and has free admission for college students (bring your DragonCard!) fromTuesday to Friday, 3-5 p.m. There’s also the Institute of Contemporary Art, which also has free admission and is associated with the University of Pennsylvania.