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Top People Watching Spots Across Philadelphia

By Luke Field
We are living in a penny-pincher age. Everyone is trying to scrimp and save any way they possibly can. After all the bills have been paid and the groceries have been put away, there is hardly any cash left over to enjoy a movie or a ballgame. But here's the good news: Not far from your front door, there are a plethora of natural theaters and stages where our fellow man is the star. People watching is a delightful way to spend an afternoon with friends. The best part of it all: it's absolutely free. Here are a few of the best spots in Philadelphia for some great, free fun.
Rittenhouse Square
Photo Credit: Rittenhouse Management Corporation

Rittenhouse Square

18th Street and Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Rittenhouse Square Park is the de facto place to people watch in the city. The main clientele are locals and a mix of tourists. There is always something exciting going on. I've witnessed bustling farmer's markets, an old Japanese couple playing traditional Japanese instruments, a man whose suit was made entirely of coins and a woman walking a cat on a leash. With plenty of shade and lawn space, a sunny afternoon with a blanket, lunch, and friends is just as good as any movie excursion.

Philadelphia Art Museum/East River Drive

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19101
The Art Museum area provides an interesting mix of locals and tourists. At almost any time during the summer, and particularly on the weekend, there are thousands of tourists who come to see the famous Art Museum steps. Plant yourself anywhere along there and you'll have countless hours of entertainment as you watch any number of Rocky wannabes. Take a walk around the back of the museum and stroll down scenic East River Drive. Local runners, bikers, rowers and rollerbladers (who apparently still think it is 1993!) frequent this beautiful stretch of road. The running path and available green space along the river is perfect for people watchers who also want to get a workout in.

Love Park
Photo Credit: Farmount Park

Love Park

1599 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Website & Reviews

Love Park is a huge tourist attraction in Philadelphia. People form a line to take a picture in front of the iconic statue for which the park is named. I've sat by for just half an hour on a Saturday and heard at least four different languages spoken. There is also a massive fountain that is perfect for toe dipping on a hot summer day. Situated among the high-rises and just in the shadow of the beautiful architecture of City Hall, Love Park is a nice place to laze away an afternoon.

First Friday in Old City

The area from Front Street to 3rd Street, Market Street to Vine Street
Hours: First Friday of every month, rain or shine, 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

The area of 3rd and Market is generally a hot spot most nights, but the First Friday of every month is an explosion of sights and sounds. The local businesses bring their wares to the street for a varied display of art and culture. I've witnessed countless art displays, several musical performances and even a strongman flipping a giant tire. Spend a few hours walking these few blocks and you are bound to see some interesting people and art.

Copabanana on South Street
Photo Credit: Copabanana

4th and South Street

The corner of 4th and South
Philadelphia, PA 19147

In general, South Street is absolute madness. Nearly every night, the sidewalks are filled with all sorts of people; the weekends are especially colorful. There is a large number of tourists, thanks to Jim's Steaks on the southwest corner. There are all manner of punks and tattooed individuals, young and old couples on their way to a club, and tons of sports fans. Plop yourself down at the Copabanana's outdoor dining area and soak it all in. But the absolute best spot to people watch here is the second floor of Starbucks. Position yourself right in front of the large windows overlooking the street and make up conversations for people as they pass by.

Have a favorite spot to people watch? Share your thoughts below!

Luke Field is a writer, comedian and office drone living in Center City. You can see him perform every month with The Philly Improv Theater.

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