While I love the excitement that comes with being on campus during the week, sometimes the best way to relax and unwind without taking a full-blown vacation is leaving University City and exploring Philadelphia. As a Philadelphia native, I still find myself discovering new things about my city even as I go to the same places I did as a child.
Whether it’s a stony walk on the cobblestoned streets of Old City or a rush down Walnut Street in Center City to make a dinner reservation, there’s something special about being able to leave University City and immediately be in a place that doesn’t carry all the weight and pressure that campus carries. Whatever you want to call it, stress, anxiety, and pressure exist on every college campus, but the ability to keep that isolated and cross a bridge into the peaceful green spaces or hustle and bustle of downtown Philadelphia to destress is really helpful.
One thing I’ve learned in my three full semesters at Penn is that when you put thousands of young people in the small area that is University City, things get to be intense. When you’re in college, sometimes it feels like the things going on in your life are the most pressing or important things ever. Leaving campus every now and then and taking in some different surroundings has proven itself to be one of the best ways to learn how to take things in proportion and appreciate the little things in life.
That being said, with a city that houses a booming food scene, amazing museums, and great urban greenspaces, it’s not hard to go on an excursion into a different area of Philadelphia. Some of my favorite things to do downtown is combining dinner with a movie, some shopping, or a museum visit. There are a bunch of great movie theaters in the area, but to take in indie or foreign films, the Ritz theaters downtown never fail to please. Closer to campus in Rittenhouse Square is the PFS Roxy Theater, which also plays indie films as well as some more mainstream ones.
Both theaters are situated next to a bunch of different restaurants, from fast-casual Shake Shack and Poi Dog for burgers or poke, or something more upscale and celebratory like The Continental in Old City or The Dandelion for English pub fare. As for museums, my personal favorites are the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and the National Museum of American Jewish History, all of which are easily accessible by SEPTA or a longer walk.
While I love the excitement that comes with being on campus during the week, sometimes the best way to relax and unwind without taking a full-blown vacation is leaving University City and exploring Philadelphia.