The city we love
You can look Philadelphia up on Wikipedia, and check out photos on Instagram, but nothing short of a visit can capture all the reasons why we adore our hometown.
Walkable, historic, bustling, and unpretentious: you can make yourself at home in Philadelphia.
Let’s start with history. As you explore Philadelphia, the historical buildings and cobblestone streets give the city a warmth that’s hard to ignore. There’s always something around the corner, from the Constitution Center to the Liberty Bell and many famous firsts — including the country’s first zoo, library, stock exchange, hospital and medical school (our own Perelman School of Medicine), among others. Philadelphia contains 67 National Historic Landmarks and the World Heritage Site of Independence Hall. The city is a member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in 2015, as the first UNESCO World Heritage City in the United States.
The city isn’t just about history, though. It’s a mix of then and now with an eye toward the future. In 2016, Philadelphia was the fifth largest metropolitan economy in the US. It’s home to five Fortune 1000 companies and corporations across the spectrum of industries. As a Penn student, this means you’ll have a wealth of internship opportunities and real-world environments to dig deeper into your area of study and help set your career path.
Come visit Philadelphia and see why we’re so proud to call it our hometown.
Named by William Penn, the word Philadelphia means “brotherly love.” A deep sense of brotherhood is reflected in the more than 8,000 nonprofit organizations incorporated in the city. If you want to engage with the local community, you won’t have to venture far off campus to find ways to contribute. Become a mentor, teacher, activist, or community leader. At Penn, students do more than discuss social issues: they take action.
You can work with local organizations that have a direct tie-in to your major or find a nonprofit that’s related to something you’re passionate about. Whatever your motivation, Penn offers on-campus resources that are directly connected to the community, such as the Civic House, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Fox Leadership Program, Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy through the School of Social Policy and Practice. You can also explore opportunities through SERVE Philadelphia and United Way's Community Action Center.
Green Space, Urban Campus
Penn’s setting—a tight-knit, beautiful, green campus in the nation’s fifth-largest city—offers the best of two worlds. Our campus is more than 215 buildings (excluding hospitals) on 299 continuous acres. While in a city, the West Philadelphia campus alone has so much green space that it was officially declared an arboretum in 2017. Impressive when you consider that campus is our second arboretum, the first being Morris Arboretum outside of the city. Penn is an environment like no other, bringing together intellectual and social connections, and fostering an indomitable community spirit.
Our urban campus is highly regarded for student safety. Penn has been ranked first for safety in the Higher Education Sector by Security Magazine for seven straight years. With a private police force and a 24-hour-a-day walking or riding escort program for students, Penn is one of the nation’s safest campuses. Learn more about Penn's Clery reporting.
Penn is located in a friendly, walkable city but students may still have transportation needs. Our campus is well-served by an extensive network of subway, bus, regional rail, national rail, and trolley lines. For most services, discounted passes for the Philadelphia and New Jersey transit systems are available to full-time Penn students.
Penn Transit's comprehensive system provides integrated transit free of charge to all PennCard holders. Penn buses make continuous loops downtown and through Penn’s surrounding neighborhoods. Visit Penn’s transportation page for more information.
We hope you’ll come visit Penn and have the opportunity to see for yourself what makes our campus so special. Whether you get around on foot, by bike or public transportation, don’t miss our favorite places in and around campus.
Vibrant and tree-lined, Penn’s central artery is a place to gather, share ideas, promote causes, and discover new interests. It brings the University’s vast resources together while serving as the physical heart of the Penn community. It is a symbol of our unified University: the thoroughfare by which all students, undergraduates and graduates walk. A friendly, intimate space, Locust Walk feels worlds removed from the city lights—yet within minutes, you can find yourself on the bustling streets of University City or in the middle of Center City Philadelphia.
Penn’s neighborhood, University City is an artsy, dynamic college town. From nearby Clark Park (featuring its own Shakespeare Company), to shopping and restaurant dining options, to a fleet of over 60 food trucks that serve up quick, cheap cuisine from around the world, you can get anything you need within a few blocks of campus.
Shop at Penn! A curated collection of retail offerings provides the highest quality options at every price point. Something for everyone in the heart of Penn's campus.
A green gateway from Penn into Center City Philadelphia, Penn Park is a 24-acre recreational and athletic facility—as well as a model for sustainable urban development. Featuring sprint turf fields, a softball stadium, a tennis center, and an enclosed seasonal air structure, the park also collects two million gallons of storm water annually and saves 300,000 watts of energy per hour through a green lighting system.
Philadelphia is a city rich in arts and culture. You can visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, watch animals play at the Philadelphia Zoo, have lunch in Reading Terminal Market, and experience iconic, dynamic neighborhoods.
Here are just a few of the places we think you should explore:
Dr. Albert C. Barnes, a Penn alumnus, believed that art had the power to improve minds and transform lives. He amassed a treasure trove of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings, as well as old master works, Native American fine crafts, and early American furniture and decorative art. He was also an early and influential collector of African sculpture.
Visit ‘America’s most historic square mile’ to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, and the National Constitution Center. Walk in the footsteps of America’s Founding Fathers, including Penn’s Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.
The historic open-air marketplace in South Philadelphia famed for its Italian influence. Vendors pack up early, so a morning/afternoon visit is best!
A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone.
Over 100 vendors in this public market located at Jefferson Station make Reading Terminal Market a foodie's dream. Come hungry!
In this tranquil oasis you’ll find one of the world’s great collections of works by Auguste Rodin—and the only dedicated Rodin Museum outside France.
America’s first zoo, the region’s leading family destination, and one of the area’s foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Philadelphia Zoo is working double-time to educate more than 1.2 million annual visitors about animal and environmental conservation via a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration trail system, called Zoo360, that offers animals more room to roam.
Visit these links to research more must-see places in the city:
Everyone is a Phan in Philly
Whether you plan to call Philadelphia home for 4 years, 8 years or for life, you can’t miss the chance to cheer with our sports fans, some of the best in the world!