Trying to figure out what to do when visiting Center City? Why not ask the experts who help keep Center City safe, clean, and attractive! From maintaining and programming four of Center City’s parks and promoting local businesses, to helping keep our sidewalks clean and providing a welcoming presence to the city, our team has learned more than a thing or two over our thirty-two years.
We asked our team: “What is your favorite thing about Center City?” Check out a few of our team’s responses. Note that submissions have been edited for grammar and clarity.
Who better to ask about some of the best things about Center City, than the people tasked with promoting it? With over 2,900 retailers, restaurants, and service providers, there’s so many places to visit. Below are just a few of the limitless possibilities.
Michelle: “My favorite day in Center City District would start outside on Rittenhouse Square, with a glass of champagne, tuna carpaccio and the amazing bread basket at Parc. Followed by a facial, blowout and pedicure at the amazingly luxurious new Rescue Spa.”
Leo: “While I love a Saturday where I’m grabbing an espresso martini at Moriarty’s and catching a Broadway show at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, I always look forward to the calm Sundays after, when I’m reading a book in Rittenhouse Square and listening to the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Giavana: “My favorite thing about Center City are the vegetarian-friendly restaurants! Everyone should try the brussels sprout tacos at Jose Pistolas, the porcini agnolotti at Via Locusta, the Philly “steak” empanadas at Bar Bombón and the Reuben at LUHV Vegan Deli in the Reading Terminal Market.”
Bonnie: “Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my aunt and uncle bringing me into Center City for the day, to shop at the Reading Terminal Market, dine at a "fancy" restaurant and then go out to see a show. I loved the energy, diversity and uniqueness of the city and all there was to do and see there, and it made the suburb I lived in at the time seem so boring in comparison.”
Aimée: “My favorite thing about Center City is the winter Made in Philadelphia Market at Dilworth Park. I love going there with my friends and family to eat Nutella crêpes and look at all the handmade products from local artists.”
Aside from staying busy programming our hundreds of events and maintaining the beauty of our four parks, our parks and events teams are busy exploring everything that the city has to offer! Below are a few of their favorite things about Center City.
Aaron: “Sampan and Giuseppe & Sons happy hour can’t be beat. Might have moved out the city without them!”
Laurel: “Three things that really stand out for me:
1) The fact that I can walk to work, and even with my broken toe, I find it very easy to hop on a bus, so kudos to our public transit system making it easy for residents to get to the office.
2) My love of Sister Cities Park. My kids were the perfect age when CCD opened the park in 2012, and I have so many great memories of meeting up with friends and watching our kids explore and have a great time there. They felt like they owned that place, and even though they are teenagers now, they enjoy going back to the park for our animated Pictures in the Park movies, and I personally enjoy the serenity the park offers, and seeing the pure joy SCP brings to so many families.
3) Lastly, Restaurant Week! Who knew that back in 2003 when Michelle and I gathered a small group of restaurateurs together that it would still be in full swing, survive a pandemic, and ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.”
Mackenzie: “It’s hard to define exactly what my favorite things in Center City are because there’s so much to do and see in such a small area. However, the Deck the Hall Light Show might take the cake. It’s got everything you want – local vendors and artisans, ice skating, a projection mapped light show, and an over-the-top Christmas tree. It’s my go-to destination to take friends and family who are visiting over the holiday season.”
Jhona: I’ve lived in Center City for the last 10 years and this is the first neighborhood that I’ve lived in that I didn’t have to leave for anything; not grocery stores, not drug stores, not fantastic dining options, not to party, not to see a show or a movie, not to hear live music. Anything and everything I want or need to do, I can find in Center City.
Between supporting our Foundation, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, and our corporate partners, our administrative team hears a lot of the unique stories from Center City. Below are a few of their favorites!
Prema: “I love that my family can eat idly and dosa – traditional South Indian food that my late mother used to make – at Amma’s South Indian Cuisine on Chestnut Street. The fact that “amma” translates to “mother” in several South Indian languages only makes the experience more meaningful.”
Kathleen: “Open House, for always giving me a great answer to ‘what should I buy this person?’ And Macy’s; I love the history of the building, and the fact that the greatest movie of all time (Mannequin) was filmed there.”
Siobhan: “One of my favorite things about Center City is Restaurant Week! It has become a yearly tradition for me to try a new restaurant and either go with my friends or family.”
Holly: My favorite thing about Center City is that there is always something new to see. Sometimes that thing is new, but more often than not, it’s something I just never noticed before- an interesting detail on a building, an old ghost sign, a secret little alley, the way a group of buildings looks from a particular angle... I am constantly amazed that after the many years I have lived and worked in Philadelphia, I can discover something new to me that’s been there all along.
Tony: Center City during the Christmas holiday. It’s especially fun and festive on a cool brisk and clear winter evening having dinner with friends at a restaurant around Rittenhouse Square, with the trees and the lights and restaurants decked out for the holidays. Christmas in the city at its best!
Lauren: Sampan, specifically the kimchi fried rice. I was sitting outside eating with family and a guy brought a speaker right in the middle of 13th and Sansom (when the street was closed). And everyone broke out in dance. Honestly one of my favorite moments in Center City. It was joy.
Joanne: I love the historic architecture and façades that define Center City. The walkability and transit in Center City should definitely be highlighted, as a tourist I feel at ease, as a worker I enjoy the lively environment.
Aside from keeping our streets clean, safe, and attractive, our teams are also talking to the city’s visitors, tourists, and business owners on a daily basis! Below are a few of their favorites.
Karl: One of my favorite things about Center City when you’re traveling out and about around Center City is all the different type of aromas of all the different type of foods you can smell at all times of the day.
Anonymous CSR: My favorite thing about Center City is the ever changing Dilworth Park. There is always something to see, something beautiful being built or something delicious to eat.
John: I started my law enforcement career with the PPD’s 6th district in 2001, when I was 22 years old. Having essentially grown up in Center City, I take great pride in providing safety and security to all the residents, business owners and any local visitors and tourists. The individual diversity of the 6th District not only afforded me the opportunity to be the best Police Officer I could be, but also allowed me to be compassionate and understanding to what people from all types of backgrounds face on a daily basis. I love the atmosphere in Center City. From watching families enjoy our parks, to walking around finding different places to eat, or even taking in a show, I know every day in Center City will surely be a unique experience. That’s what makes it such an attraction, and that’s why I love it here.
Anonymous On-Streets Team: In Center City, I like to shop in the Fashion District and eat in the restaurants with friends. Also, my friends and I went to the Art Museum and we have lots of fun!
Denise: My favorite thing about Center City is the Christmas holiday time. The lights that line Market East & Dilworth Park make everything so bright & colorful and makes Center City feel so warm, festive & inviting.
Anonymous CSR: I love our Holiday light show! It has a special place in my heart as it was the last thing my brother and I did together before he passed away. My family and I come to see it every year!
Andre: I enjoy the all the annual holiday Christmas Village events in LOVE Park and Dilworth Park, as well as the diverse theatrical options available at the city theaters, the Kimmel Center, and the Academy of Music.
Be sure to check out our current job openings. And while you’re out and about in Center City, be sure to tag us at @centercitydistrict on Instagram to share your favorite things!