The Best Neighborhoods in Philadelphia | Home Buyer’s Guide

A house in a Philadelphia neighborhood

 

When I first moved to Philadelphia in 2004 I had a lot to learn about all of the neighborhoods in Philadelphia. At that time I don’t think Google Maps existed yet. If Zillow existed then I wasn’t aware of it. I didn’t have a smart phone. Finding information about neighborhoods in Philadelphia was pretty hard to do, especially from a distance and as someone who had only visited once. My company at the time, REI, had moved me here and I had to find a place to live and learn a new city pretty quickly. It was a challenge.

Things have changed now and there’s a ton of information for home buyers about Philadelphia neighborhoods. But, it’s still a big city and there’s a huge number of neighborhoods. Figuring out where to live is still a challenge, just in a different way. This Home Buyer’s Guide to Philadelphia Neighborhoods is designed as guide for those who will be moving here and need to learn about the area and for those who already live here but are narrowing down where they’d like to buy a home.

This guide to the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia includes areas in Center City, northwest Philadelphia, and nearby Philadelphia suburbs.

The Best Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

What makes a neighborhood one of the best places to buy a home in Philadelphia? It really depends on your budget and what you’re looking for in a neighborhood. I chose the neighborhoods in this list based on the following criteria:

  • Neighborhood Amenities
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping
  • Parks
  • Walkability
  • Access to Transportation
  • Appreciation of Home Values

Philadelphia Neighborhoods Map

Below is a map of Philadelphia neighborhoods to help you get your bearings. The cluster at the lower end of the map are the neighborhoods in and around Center City (our name for downtown Philadelphia). The points on the upper part of the map are the northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods also listed in this post.

Map of Philadelphia Neighborhoods

 

Center City Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Here in Philadelphia our downtown area is called Center City. This is where you’ll find major employers like Comcast. Center City is where you’ll find high-rise office buildings, condos, and apartment buildings. There are plenty of amazing restaurants, great nightlife, beautiful urban parks, museums, and theaters. Center City is extremely walkable and public transportation around the city is easy to find. Many residents of Center City, especially those who live and work in the city, don’t have cars because it’s so easy to get around.

There are a lot of neighborhoods that are part of Center City Philadelphia. There are also many nearby neighborhoods that surround Center City and still offer easy access.

Center City can be divided into two basic parts. Center City West and Center City East with Broad Street being the dividing line between the two.

Fitler Square

Fitler Square is a mostly residential neighborhood in Center City West. The neighborhood is located between Rittenhouse Square and the Schuylkill River. The neighborhood offers easy access to the University of Pennsylvania, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. It’s not uncommon for residents of Fitler Square to commute to these employers by bike or walking to work.

Two of my favorite things in Fitler Square are Fitler Square Park and Schuylkill Banks Park. Fitler Square Park is a small park in the Center of the neighborhood which is home the local farmer’s market. Schuykill Banks is a large park adjacent to the river. Our kids love the large playground and our dog loves going to the fenced in dog park. The dog park is the only dog park in Philadelphia that I’ve seen with a turf surface and there are separate areas for smaller dogs and larger dogs.

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Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood

The Rittenhouse Square neighborhood surrounds the scenic Rittenhouse Square Park in Center City West. Rittenhouse Square is among the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. Living in Rittenhouse Square offers easy access to many of the city’s best restaurants and major employers like the University of Pennsylvania, CHOP, and Comcast.

The park is surrounded by high-rise condos that offer amazing views. Throughout the neighborhood you’ll also find plenty of single-family rowhouses with some of the largest along Delancey Street.

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Graduate Hospital/Southwest Center City

The Graduate Hospital/Southwest Center City area is located between Broad Street in the center of the city and the Schuylkill River. The neighborhood is named for Graduate Hospital, which no longer exists. In recent years the area has also become known as Southwest Center City. The name depends on who you ask, but they’re pretty much interchangeable. I tend to call it Graduate Hospital.

Graduate Hospital is one of the most convenient neighborhoods for access to UPenn, CHOP, and HUP. Many residents who commute to these employers walk or bike to work across the South Street Bridge. The neighborhood is located just south of Fitler Square and Rittenhouse Square making it very convenient to parks, shopping, and restaurants.

The neighborhood is mostly residential but you can find a number of great restaurants here, too. The homes in the area include a large number of new construction homes with parking and roof decks with views of the city. There are also a large number of older rowhouses that have been remodeled.

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Old City Philadelphia

Old City is a beautiful Center City neighborhood on the eastern side of the city. Here you’ll find many of Philadelphia’s tourist attractions like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, so it certainly gets busy in the warmer months. The neighborhood includes the historic Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually inhabited residential street in the United States. Old City is very walkable and provides easy access to the Ben Franklin Bridge, which leads to New Jersey, and I-95 which offers convenient access to New Jersey and Delaware.

There’s also a number of museums in the neighborhood and plenty of excellent restaurants, local art galleries, and boutique shops. For instance, one of my favorite stops in Old City is Pinot Boutique on 2nd and Market Street. The owner, Dan Soskin, is an old friend who opened the shop to sell wine accessories like wine glasses. Over the years the store has expanded to include a selection of Pennsylvania wines. The shop does regular events including wine classes, too. Definitely stop in for a wine tasting if you’re checking out the neighborhood.

The majority of the homes in Old City are mid-rise condos with 1-2 bedrooms. The median price for all homes in the neighborhood, including condos, is $350,000.

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Washington Square West

The Washington Square West neighborhood is centrally located between Old City and Broad Street. The neighborhood borders Washington Square Park on the east. The neighborhood offers a variety of home styles including 2 and 3 story rowhouses and mid-rise condo buildings. You can find some really amazing hidden cobblestone streets with historic homes in the neighborhood. These quaint streets make you wonder if you’re still in the heart of major city.

The Washington Square West neighborhood is well-known for it’s great restaurants and local shops. Within Washington Square West lies the Gayborhood, well-known for rainbow flags and an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants.

When visiting Washington Square West be sure to visit Washington Square Park. The park is home to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You’ll also want to visit Talula’s Garden, one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

Washington Square West includes a good mix of mid-rise condos and single-family homes.

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Society Hill

Society Hill is a picturesque and historic neighborhood located just south of Old City in Center City East. The neighborhood is one of just a small number of Philadelphia neighborhoods that has a zoning overlay to preserve the historic appearance and charm of the community. The neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city, along with Old City, and that shows in the historic architecture. Throughout the neighborhood you’ll find plenty of gorgeous rowhouses dating back to the 18th century and picturesque brick sidewalks.

Be sure to visit the seasonal farmer’s market at Headhouse Square and the popular Three Bears Park on 3rd and Delancey when checking out the neighborhood.

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Philadelphia Neighborhoods Near Center City

The Philadelphia neighborhoods listed below are mostly adjacent to Center City, or very close to it. Some would say that they’re in Center City, but technically speaking they’re outside of the borders of the Center City District. These neighborhoods are mostly residential but many feature plenty of great restaurants and parks with ease of access to the heart of Center City.

Queen Village

Queen Village is located just south of Society Hill in Center City East. I love the architecture and picturesque streets and the amazing restaurant scene. Throughout the neighborhood you’ll find rowhouses dating back to the 18th century and tree-lined streets. You can find some of the best sushi in the city at Royal Sushi & Izakaya and some of the best burgers around at Lucky’s Last Chance. The neighborhood offers easy access to Center City and I-95 making it a popular area for residents who commute to New Jersey and Delaware.

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Northern Liberties

Northern Liberties has seen a new construction boom in the past decade. It competes with Graduate Hospital for the top spots in the city for new construction and appreciation of home values. The neighborhood is located north of Old City along the banks of the Delaware River. One of the main attractions is Schmidt’s Commons, a mixed-use development that includes an eclectic mix of great restaurants and a plaza with regular events and concerts.

The restaurant scene in Northern Liberties rivals just about any in the city with a unique mix of great local spots. The neighborhood is extremely walkable with restaurants and shops just a stone’s throw away from anywhere in the neighborhood.

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Fairmount

The Fairmount neighborhood, also called The Art Museum Neighborhood, is located just north of Center City West. The neighborhood is mostly residential and has a great variety of local restaurants and shops. One of the interesting landmarks in the neighborhood is the historic Eastern State Penitentiary. The Penitentiary is open for tours and events. The neighborhood is also steps away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and The Rodin Museum. One of my favorite things about the neighborhood is the easy access to Boathouse Row where you can access the Schuylkill River Trail, a paved path for walking, running, and biking that follows the river for miles.

Most of the homes in the neighborhood are 2-3 story rowhouses, many of which were built in the 1800’s. There’s also plenty of new construction homes throughout the neighborhood. Many of the new construction homes include garage parking and roof decks that offer amazing views of the city.

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Fishtown

Fishtown is located just north of Northern Liberties along the Delaware River on the northeastern side of the city. The location makes it relatively easy to get to Center City and New Jersey. Fishtown can be described as vibrant and eclectic. The neighborhood has tons of great restaurants and bars. Some favorites are the whiskey bar Lloyd, Ekta Indian Restaurant, and barbecue at Fete Sau. There are so many great bars and restaurants it’d be tough to list them all.

When checking out Fishtown be sure to visit Penn Treaty Park. This riverside park offers great views of the water, a playground, and plenty of space to relax in the open air.

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Passyunk Square

Passyunk Square is a South Philadelphia neighborhood with an amazing central business district filled with local shops and restaurants. Throughout the neighborhood you’ll find hip vintage shops, eclectic restaurants from Vietnamese Pho, gastropubs, and the well-known Pat’s and Gino’s for cheesesteaks. The neighborhood is bordered by Broad Street making for easy access to transportation routes including the Broad Street Line, the subway that runs north to south through Center City.

One of the things that I love about Passyunk Square is that the neighborhood has maintained its unique charm with quaint streets and homes.

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Point Breeze

Point Breeze has seen a boom in real estate development and home values over the last several years. There are new construction homes and existing homes that are in the process of being remodeled just about everywhere in the neighborhood. While home values are increasing, the neighborhood is still relatively affordable compared to many other areas in and around Center City.

The neighborhood lies just south of Graduate Hospital/Southwest Center City. The location makes access to Center City reasonably easy, though if you’re walking there it’s going to take some time. There are a few restaurants in the neighborhood but you’ll find far more options in nearby Graduate Hospital.

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Home Prices by Center City Philadelphia Neighborhood

Below is a chart showing median home prices for 3 and 4 bedroom re-sale homes in the Philadelphia neighborhoods in and around Center City.

Philadelphia Neighborhood 3 Bedroom Median Price 4 Bedroom Median Price
Fitler Square $865,000 $1,360,000
Graduate Hospital $612,500 $755,000
Rittenhouse Square $867,500 $1,700,000
Washington Square West $769,000 $792,000
Society Hill $775,000 $1,500,000
Fairmount $500,000 $562,000
Northern Liberties $525,000 $639,000
Fishtown $380,000 $420,000
Queen Village $572,500 $770,000
Point Breeze $299,500 $457,000
Passyunk Square $385,950 $600,000

 

Northwest Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Northwest Philadelphia is located just about 5 miles north of Center City. The area is popular for the easy commute to Center City via the regional trains and highway. However, you can expect a lot of traffic on the highways. This is especially true during rush hours.

Northwest Philadelphia is popular for the easy access to Center City and the suburbs. The area is also home to the Wissahickon Valley Park. The park offers visitors 1800-acres of hiking and biking trails along the scenic Wissahickon Creek. We live about 2 blocks from access to park and love that we can take our dog and kids for hikes just about every day.

East Falls

East Falls is the closest of the northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods to Center City. It’s located about 5 miles from Center City along the Schuylkill River. Residents of East Falls can get to Center City via I-76, Kelly Drive, or via train from the centrally located East Falls Station. Getting to Center City from East Falls by car takes about 15 minutes without traffic.

The neighborhood is mostly rowhouses built during the Industrial Revolution though there’s also plenty of new construction homes. Further up the hill past Henry Avenue you’ll find larger twin and single homes.

East Falls is well-known for great local restaurants and gastropubs including Falls Taproom and Le Bus East Falls. The neighborhood is also home to Wissahickon Brewery, a craft beer brewery that’s open for tastings (and to just hang out).

One of the most unique spots in East Falls is Laurel Hill Cemetery. The historic cemetery is open to the public and they offer tours and events throughout the year. If you visit the cemetery be sure to check out “Millionaires Row” named for the wealthy Philadelphian’s who are buried there. Millionaires Row offers some amazing views of the Schuylkill River.

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Chestnut Hill

Chestnut Hill is a quaint northwest Philadelphia neighborhood that borders Mt. Airy and Montgomery County. The center of the neighborhood is Germantown Avenue where you’ll find plenty of great restaurants and boutique shops. Like other northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods you’ll find easy access to the trails of the Wissahickon Valley Park. There are two train stations in Chestnut Hill which provide easy access to Center City.

Chestnut Hill is the most expensive of the northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods but there’s a wide variety of home styles. You’ll find mostly twin homes and detached single-family homes though there are also rowhouses and some condos. You’ll also find some of the largest homes in Philadelphia in Chestnut Hill, especially in the area near The Philadelphia Cricket Club.

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Mt. Airy

Mt. Airy is adjacent to Chestnut Hill along Germantown Avenue. Germantown Avenue is the neighborhood’s main business corridor. You’ll find plenty of great restaurants and shops here. Some favorites are Earth, Bread, and Brewery and La Puebla. Mt. Airy is also home to Weaver’s Way Market (known as The Co-op) and popular neighborhood hangout High Point Cafe.

Of course, one of the reasons that residents love living in Mt. Airy is the easy access to the Wissahickon Valley Park. Another reason people love living here is that it may be one of the greenest neighborhoods in the city with plenty of trees and beautiful streets.

Homes in the neighborhood range from 1000 square foot rowhouses to beautiful 100+ year old mansions with landscaped yards and over 3000 square feet. There are some new construction homes in the neighborhood but the vast majority are older homes with historic charm.

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Manayunk

When most people think of Manayunk they immediately think of Main Street. Main Street is the central business corridor in the northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. It’s a lively and vibrant spot in the neighborhood where you’ll find no shortage of great restaurants and unique local shops. Main Street is home to events and activities throughout the year including The Manayunk Arts Festival, among the biggest arts festivals on the east coast.

When checking out Main Street be sure to visit Taqueria Feliz, Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar, Han Dynasty, and Tubby Robot Ice Cream. Just off of Main Street you’ll find access to the Manayunk Canal. Manayunk was home to a number of textile mills during the Industrial Revolution and the canal was used to transport materials and finished products. Today the scenic canal is a destination for walkers and bikers. My daughter and I have gone fishing down there as well and I can say it’s a great spot for a 4 year old to fish and watch turtles.

Other places in Manayunk that I recommend visiting when considering the area are the Manayunk Bridge and Pretzel Park. The bridge is an old railroad bridge that’s been converted to a pedestrian bridge over the Schuylkill River leading into Lower Merion. Pretzel Park is located just one block off of Main Street. The park features a great playground and a fenced-in dog park. It’s also home to the seasonal Pretzel Park Farmer’s Market.

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Roxborough

Roxborough shares borders with Manayunk and the Wissahickon Valley Park. One of the great things about living in Roxborough is the easy access to the park. It’s hard to be more than about 5 minutes from a trailhead when you’re anywhere in Roxborough. In addition to the Wissahickon Valley Park there are plenty of great neighborhood parks and playgrounds in Roxborough.

Some favorite parks are Gorgas Park (home to a seasonal farmer’s market, events throughout the year, and a large playground), Houston Playground which has tennis courts, ball fields, a large playground, and a sprayground, and Wissahickon Neighbor’s Park which as a playground and a sprayground. For nature lovers, be sure to visit The Schuylkill Environmental Center and The Upper Roxborough Reservoir Preserve.

Roxborough covers a large area. Within the zip code there several neighborhoods that are a part of Roxborough. The Wissahickon Neighborhood is the area near the Wissahickon Train Station, Central Roxborough is where you’ll find one of the two major business districts (lots of great restaurants here), Upper Roxborough where you’ll find the Mini Target and typically larger homes, and Andorra which is the most suburban-like neighborhood in Roxborough.

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Suburban Philadelphia Neighborhoods

There are nearly unlimited suburban Philadelphia neighborhoods so I’ll briefly cover those that are most convenient to Center City Philadelphia and those where I work the most since those are the ones that I know. These areas are within a short drive (depending on traffic) or train ride into the city and are located in Montgomery County. I’ll go over these in more detail in another post specifically dedicated to suburban Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Lower Merion School District

Lower Merion School District includes the Main Line towns of Narberth, Bala Cynwyd (pronounced ‘kin-wood’), and Merion Station among others. The area is just across the Schuylkill River from Manayunk in Philadelphia. The majority of the homes are single-family detached homes but you’ll also find a number of condo buildings.

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Colonial School District

Colonial School District is located further up the Schuylkill River past Roxborough and Manayunk. Towns include Conshohocken, Lafayette Hill, and Plymouth Meeting. You’ll find major retailers in this area including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Whole Foods, and more. In Conshohocken you’ll find a thriving main street on Fayette Street with local restaurants, gastropubs, and shops.

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The School District of Springfield Township

The School District of Springfield Township is located just north of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. FYI, there is also Springfield School District in nearby Delaware County which can cause some confusion. Towns in The School District of Springfield Township include Erdenheim, Flourtown, and Wyndmoor. When visiting this area be sure to check out some of the remnants of Whitemarsh Manor. At one time the manor was among the largest homes in the country. The house is long gone but you’ll find plenty of remnants of the garden throughout the area. Another main attraction is Morris Arboretum which includes amazing gardens and activities for kids.

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Jon Miller, RealtorJon Miller is a Philadelphia Realtor with Compass Real Estate. Jon has been working with home buyers and sellers in Philadelphia and Montgomery County since 2010.