Five Philly Date Ideas For Fall
Not sure what your interpretation of Philly’s reputation may be but to me, Philly can be incredibly romantic. Though Rittenhouse has its share of park paths lit by dreamy old lanterns, coziness can be found just about anywhere. Between rooftop bars with stunning skyline views, bars with offerings beyond just drinks that will surely bring out your inner child, and culinary gems that New York wishes it had, Philadelphia is the perfect place when it’s time to go a-courtin’. (Does anyone say that anymore? Or did they ever?) Because it’s cuffing season, you’re likely in need of some date inspo, especially because who wants to suffer through another casual dinner and drinks situation again? Life’s too short for your dates to be “blah!”
First things first, let’s knock one out for all the old souls out there. Rittenhouse is lovely, and while Parc is a favorite of mine, (THE CRANBERRY WALNUT BREAD. THE BASILIC COCKTAIL.) it’s been done. There are plenty of other eateries with quick and easy access to Rittenhouse Square, a few of which I think will make for a fine backdrop for falling in love. If you’re feeling your date in those oh-so-frustrating text message sessions before it you decide to take the plunge and meet up irl, what’s better than dinner and a stroll? Dinner, a stroll, and science. Did I lose you there? Bear with me. The Franklin Institute is the perfect place to go when it’s time to get to know a potential suitor. Not only can you access your inner child with a trek through the neuron or giant heart (aww) exhibits, but you can also take your boo to the planetarium for some stargazing. (And who doesn’t love that?) Afterwards, you can head over to The Love for dinner and drinks. Maybe even split a dessert? Then, it’s time to walk around the square—if you’re not sick of each other yet. If the date didn’t go well, cut it off early, take a lap around the square for yourself, then go back to The Love and have a dessert for yourself. (You earned it. And their desserts are REALLY good.)
Going to a restaurant for dinner is enjoyable but going to multiple restaurants and exploring a plethora of appetizers and small plates is the perfect foodie date idea imaginable—especially when you add some bowling to the equation. Center City has plenty of tapas places, and if you get an early start, you can find some pretty sweet happy hour deals to boot. Ones with not only great food but also a romantic ambience include Charlie was a sinner, Double Knot, and Barbuzzo. (All in the Gayborhood SUPER close to each other, as to minimize travel time.) When you can’t possibly eat any more, head across Broad Street to Harp & Crown, get one more drink before you spend the rest of the evening showing off your bowling skills. (Or lack thereof, which is certainly my case.)
Alternately, this sort of date would work just as well in South Philly. Start with small plates from Bing Bing Dim Sum, Barcelona Wine Bar, and Birra before crossing the street for some late-night karaoke at The Adobe Cafe. (PRIME people-watching, let me tell you.)
If you want all of the playfulness mentioned above but just a little more lowkey, any mix of Chinatown restaurants (I recommend hot pot!) and mini golf at Franklin Square will be sure to please.
This is one of my favorite dates ideas on this list. You can learn a lot about someone by how competitive they are bowling, how adventurous they are with their tapas, and, of course, their choice of karaoke song. (In case you’re wondering about me, very competitive but horrible at it, pretty damn adventurous, and it depends on the room but either Alone by Heart or Break Free by Ariana Grande.)
While some may be firmly against a brunch date, I’m here for it, and you should try it at least once, especially because there are so many great brunch options in this city. Old City is home to a lot of great brunch places, such as Fork, High Street on Market, Farmicia, and Luna Café. After brunch, there are a ton of shops to walk around, and ending the date with a smooch on Race Street Pier or the new Cherry Street Pier would be kinda sweet. If you’ve got a hankering for cocoa, United By Blue’s flagship location has the BEST oat milk hot chocolate, which is just perfect for sipping while you’re walking about.
Casual, low-pressure dates usually end up being the best. I’d say that when it comes to the best spot for dates like this, Northern Liberties or my home of Fishtown just might take the cake. Coffee is sort of a given, and for getting to know someone, I love Milkcrate a whole lot because it’s not just a coffee shop (with an extensive list of bagel sandwiches, btw) but also a record store. A stroll up Frankford Ave is a given, especially if you’re planning on stopping at Suraya for a quickie falafel or Little Baby’s for weird ice cream. (If they have the cucumber dill, get it. Don’t ask questions and thank me later.) Loco Pez is another favorite, and a trip to Fishtown isn’t complete without a walk around Jinxed and an Arctic Splash from a bodega. (I don’t care if you use one straw or two, just please dispose of your garbage properly.) Oh, and you have to stop and get a second coffee from ReAnimator.
For a NoLibs option, look no further than One Shot, which is a cozy spot off 2nd street with an intimate upstairs area and an extensive brunch menu. (And REALLY interesting latte specials that change every few weeks.) There’s another Jinxed in the Piazza nearby, and more cute shops along 2nd street that are worth perusing.
I’d say this kind of date is my second favorite. I feel like I’m my best self when I’m curled up in a comfy chair in a coffee shop, flipping through old records or admiring vintage collections, and stopping to observe and discuss things that seem interesting. Anybody else?
Last but not least, how about we do a slightly elevated take on a classic? Pizza and a movie. What could go wrong? How about fancy pizza and an indie flick? Porta has some of the best pizza in the Northeast (I’m Italian and from New Jersey. I can say that.) so it’s a must-do for a date. It’s also about a 15-20 minute (depending on what kind of shoes you’re wearing) walk to the Ritz East, where you can catch a flick you probably wouldn’t be able to see at your average theatre. Plus, the walk there is beautiful, especially in the fall. Take some time to look up and admire the facades and huge details of some of the gorgeous old buildings along the way. Upscale pizza, cozy walk, and a film that’ll be worth a cup of coffee and a discussion afterwards? Perfect.
Dating doesn’t have to be stressful, and even if you’re not in the market for a boo, of these ideas apply to self-dates as well! (Except for bowling… it might be uncomfortable to bowl against yourself but then, who am I to judge?)
So whether you’re looking to get cuffed by the end of the month, you’re in a long-term situation, or you’re content to be alone, get to it!