What to do in Philadelphia over spring break

March 14, 2017 / Philadelphia

Maybe you’re not making it anywhere exotic for spring break this year, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy some of the perks of a sunny getaway. Philadelphia has plenty of spots where you can eat, drink, and dance like you’re on the best tropical vacation of your life. Grab a few friends, request an uberX or uberXL, and get ready to party just like you’re visiting an exotic beach—complete with fruity cocktail and designer swimsuit.

Shopping in Philadelphia

Start off with the right spring break accessories: a stellar swimsuit and some sunnies. Philly’s best shop for swimwear has three locations in the suburbs, so head to Elkins Park, Langhorne, or Ardmore to Shirley and Co., which sells a huge variety of swimsuits from more than 50 designers, plus resort wear.

Back in Center City, swing by one of the city’s chic boutiques for a pair of sunglasses to match. Eyesite has drawers full of shades by innovative designers like Face à Face and FACTORY900, and they can even make you a custom pair. Modern Eye has two locations, both of which boast a curated selection of sunglasses from vintage 1960s pieces to handmade-in-Japan tinted specs from Blake Kuwahara Eyewear.

Drinking and dining in Philly

Where to eat in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s island-inspired restaurants run the gamut from high-end to budget, but they all have the kind of laid-back atmosphere that helps you feel like you’re on vacation. Alma de Cuba is where Miami-raised chef Douglas Rodriguez turns out menus of delicate Cuban cuisine, from a gussied-up black bean soup to empanadas with artichoke escabeche, to crispy roasted pork accompanied by cocktails made with rum, black cherry-infused cachaça, and tequila that’s adorned with treats like smoked and candied lime.

In Queen Village, the more casual Reef has been bringing a taste of the Caribbean to the city for years. After a dinner of grilled pineapple salads, pepper shrimp, and fried plantains, head to the second floor which turns into a nightclub after 11pm.

West Philly (a short Uber ride away), is home to a slew of mom-and-pop restaurants that make the kind of tasty Caribbean dishes you’d find at a tropical beach shack. The 48th Street Grille is one of the best, serving Jamaican classics like whole red snapper, curried goat and—in a Philly/island mashup—a jerk chicken cheesesteak.

Where to grab drinks in Philly

March might still be mostly blustery winds and cloudy days, but inside Philadelphia’s two tiki bars, it’s 80 degrees and the atmosphere screams summertime. Midtown Village has Tiki, with its Polynesia-meets-California surfing vibe, complete with tiki masks and sunset murals. The Pacific Rim menu offers shrimp dumplings, spicy beef ramen, and Spam satay sticks, plus fruity cocktails including the Zombie (white, gold, and dark rums, apricot brandy, Bacardi 151, pineapple, papaya, and grenadine), which is sweet, boozy, and almost as deadly as its namesake.

Farther north is The Yachtsman, which looks like every cheap island bar you’ve ever entered—think dried palm leaves, leis, and paper lanterns—but with drinks from some of the city’s best cocktail-makers. Try the Tree Frog, a banana daiquiri mix with gold Puerto Rican rum, allspice ginger, and lime, which tastes like the best smoothie you’ve ever had.

When you’re in full party mode, it’s time to head to Old City. Cuba Libre, an airy, palm-fringed spot with high ceilings, is famous for its weekend dance parties. Every Friday and Saturday night DJs spin Latin fusion tunes, the salsa dancing starts, and the drinks specials (classic mojitos and Cuba Libres are discounted) kick off. It might not be Havana, but it’s pretty close.