35 New Things to Do in Greater Philadelphia for 2023
World-premiere exhibitions, immersive art installations, new hotels and more...
In 2023, the attractions, restaurants and businesses in Greater Philadelphia are set to do what they do best: innovate and stay refreshingly relevant to evolving culture and history, with an exciting slate of openings and special exhibitions offering both big fun and food for thought.
This year, Philly’s new offerings are as broad, inclusive and eclectic as the city itself, from the female, BIPOC recasting of the musical 1776 to the Museum of the American Revolution’s re-examination of the nation’s founding through the story of a prominent Black family in its Black Founders exhibit. And the Rising Sun exhibition brings the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The African American Museum in Philadelphia and 20 contemporary artists together to answer a critical question: Is the sun rising or setting on American democracy?
For all-ages fun, visit the blockbuster Disney100: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute, with its vast collection of rarely seen treasures from the vault. Later in the year, return for the opening of the new, permanent SPACE exhibit. Meanwhile, Sesame Place debuts a water attraction, Splashy Shores , and FDR Park opens its new welcome center and nature-inspired playground.
There are new amusements on deck, too, including conveyor-belt sushi at Kura , boozy, high-tech minigolf at the Puttshack and the opening of Otherworld Philadelphia , a 55-room experiential art exhibit of light and sound. Like to hang out with your dog? New social spots in Fairmount and Manayunk welcome you and your furry best friend.
Intriguing art shows, tempting new restaurants and food halls, brewery openings, and theater and hotel premieres offer even more reasons and ways to spend time in Philadelphia this year. Read on for new things to do in the Philadelphia region in 2023. (Looking for recurring events and fests in Philly in 2023? Head right this way .)
The realist painter Andrew Wyeth is considered an American master, and his story and work are intimately intertwined with his Brandywine Valley home and community. In this exhibition , visitors explore nearly 50 paintings and drawings of the local buildings and vistas that inspired Wyeth over his 70-year career. Enjoy a glimpse of his inspiration and a time capsule of the region over the course of his artistic life.
James Forten, born a free man of African descent, fought in the war for American independence in 1781, then returned to Philadelphia and became a successful businessman, philanthropist and stalwart abolitionist. This new exhibition chronicles Forten and his descendants’ story from the American Revolution through the lead up to the Civil War and women’s suffrage movement (1776 to 1876).
The Walt Disney Company turns 100 this year, and the whole world will celebrate a legacy of stories, characters and imagination — but only Philly’s Franklin Institute will house the official Disney100: The Exhibition . Making its world premiere right here in Philadelphia, the exhibition offers 10 galleries that cover the history of Disney from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Strange World , highlighting rarely seen original artworks, costumes, props and behind-the-scenes memorabilia from Disney and its companies, including Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and National Geographic.
Dates vary by event
America’s oldest natural history museum turns its focus to the importance of biodiversity this year with two big-name exhibitions. Conversations With Birds (February 18 – May 21, 2023) explores the complex world of our feathered friends, including their important role in ecosystems and their epic migration journeys. Summer brings the opening of Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity (June 24, 2023 – January 21, 2024), which invites visitors to reconsider the shape-shifting, color-changing and ever-evolving nature of this complex organ.
Meet notable Black artist Henry Taylor , whose work has been shown at the Whitney, the Venice Biennale and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. During his residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Henry Taylor has turned found objects into assemblages, tapestries and textiles. His show takes over the second floor, where Taylor merges his favored medium of painting with sculpture to disassemble and recreate forms and art itself.
Bucks County author James Michener took an active interest in Japanese art and printmaking, as his collection reflects. This special exhibit in his intimate Bucks County art museum spotlights Japanese printmaking in the post-war period and celebrates contemporary Japanese and Japanese-American illustration and print-making.
The Barnes Foundation hosts this groundbreaking, cross-generational exhibition examining the legacy and memory of apartheid in South Africa from the perspective of two of the nation’s most notable contemporary artists. Spinning personal and oral histories into photography, film, textiles and installations, the artists reflect on history and the role of the narrator in shaping common memory and telling the story of the past.
“Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?” Nearly two dozen artists interpret that question in new artworks that appear in this collaborative exhibition at both the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and The African American Museum in Philadelphia. This landmark exhibit invites visitors to consider complex issues from multiple viewpoints.
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The sky is not the limit at The Franklin Institute’s SPACE exhibit . The massive expansion project triples the size of the museum’s permanent space exhibit, with two floors of displays built to stimulate excitement for space travel and share new tech advances. An interactive component allows guests to experience space phenomena and explore what it takes to live and play in outer space. The project is due for completion ahead of the museum’s 100-year anniversary in 2024.
Whodunnit fans have a new favorite spot in Philly with the opening of the city’s first theater dedicated to the murder mystery genre. Without A Clue Productions has found a permanent home — after touring its shows nationally for 20 years — at the interactive, cabaret-style Red Rum Theater, where guests join the search for clues, interact with players and get their mug shots taken. The first show: A Golden Girls Mystery , which runs through April 29, 2023.
This popular Tony Award-winning musical about the American Revolution got a Broadway reboot last summer, replacing the white male Founding Fathers with women of color and a racially and ethnically diverse ensemble, adding new resonance to the play’s ideas and anthems. It’s only fitting that the Broadway show’s 16-city national tour starts in Philly. Bonus: Enter our Valentine’s Day Weekend of Indulgence in Philly Sweepstakes through February 6, 2023 for a chance to win $1,034 in prizes, including two tickets to the show.
Bark Social and The Boozy Mutt
Drink with your dog! Really? Really. The social zeitgeist has moved to embrace canine companions in restaurants and bars, and Philly welcomes two new spots for creatures on both two and four legs this year. Bark Social , opening in Manayunk in February, is a dog-friendly sports bar and cafe, complete with craft beer (for humans) and self-serve baths (for dogs). Later in the year, The Boozy Mutt sets up in Fairmount, featuring a restaurant and bar, as well as a dog park and pet boutique.
Reopening: Carpenters' Hall and Second National Bank of the United States
History buffs, take note: Two of the city’s (many) important historic landmarks reopen this spring. Explore the building where the First Continental Congress met in 1774 when Carpenters’ Hall opens after a yearlong restoration. Also reopening: the historic Second Bank of the United States , home to the People of Independence exhibit that’s a veritable who’s who of history, featuring 18th- and 19th-century portraits, with over 100 paintings by Charles Willson Peale.
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A Philadelphia outpost of this popular adult mini-golfing amusement chain comes to the Shops at Liberty Place this summer. Billed as “the only upscale tech-infused mini-golf experience with global food and drink” — plus all the lights and music of a nightclub — this is clearly not your mother’s putt-putt. The coolest part: There’s no need to keep score, as a patented system codes each ball to its player and logs points as you play, so you can focus on drinking and throwing shade.
The nation’s first Sesame Street theme park adds yet another reason to bring the family this summer with the opening of an all-new water attraction, Bert & Ernie’s Splashy Shores. This water adventure area on Sesame Island invites visitors to splash, spray and play in water umbrellas, spraying jets, tipping buckets and a water tower. There’s no better way to beat the heat on “ sunny days .”
This fall, South Philly’s beloved FDR Park opens a new Welcome Center at Broad and Pattison, as well as an adjacent playground. The renovated 5,500-square-foot guardhouse includes a staffed information center, restrooms, food vendors, equipment rentals and an open-air community courtyard gathering space. The Pattison Playground offers nature-based play equipment like spinners, landscape slides and treehouses. And the new picnic area pavilions offer the perfect spot for a family lunch.
This next entry into the region’s pantheon of interactive, immersive, Instagram-ready art spaces opens in the Northeast later this year. Otherworld Philadelphia will be immense (40,000 square feet), encouraging guests to roam through a cinematic experience that is equal parts art installation and escape room. Experience dramatic sound and expansive lighting effects and look for iridescent creatures, crawl tubes and other surprises in room after colorful room.
New Hotel Openings
Dates vary by hotel
Philadelphia is best when you sleep over, and 2023 offers the debut of three new places for visitors to do just that. Stay in the heart of Queen Village at Yowie Hotel, a small, independent hotel brought to you by Shannon Maldonado of the uber-hip Yowie design and lifestyle brand. The inn, featuring 11 rooms at 226 South Street with a ground-floor cafe and curated merch shop, is set to open in spring 2023.
Due in December: a couple larger hotels being developed by Choice Hotels International. The new Comfort Inn in Chinatown offers 220 rooms, occupying the first six floors of 932 Arch Street. Quality Hotel is slated to open at 4155 Lancaster Avenue in University City, featuring 110 rooms and easy access to West Philadelphia’s museums and restaurants.
New Food & Drink Openings
The city’s lauded dining scene continues to top itself. Here’s a sampling of what’s on the dining docket for this year:
- Kura Revolving Sushi Bar is now open on Chestnut Street, with a server robot and a conveyor belt delivering tasty treats.
- Reading Terminal Market celebrates its 130th birthday this year. Get tickets for this year’s Time After Time party at the market on February 25.
- Gilda , a Portuguese cafe and market, opens in late February in Fishtown.
- The Arsenal Taproom of Artillery Brewing Company opens in Drexel Hill in March.
- Bake’N Bacon opens in March in South Philly with a real restaurant version of the popular food truck.
- Alice, a new bistro from chef Dave Conn (of El Vez), is set for a spring opening in the Italian Market, at the former site of Butcher’s Cafe.
- Cloud Cups artisanal gelato plans to open a scoop shop on Frankford Avenue in Kensington this spring.
- Two Locals Brewing Co. , Philadelphia’s first Black-owned brewery, is slated to open a taproom at uCity Square in University City this summer.
- Tapster , a self-service bar and tasting room with a broad beer selection, will open a Philly location this summer.
- Chotto Matte opens later this year in Midtown Village’s Jessup House with a Japanese-Peruvian food fine-dining concept.
- Blue Elephant, from the Win Signature Restaurant Group, opens a new location in downtown Wayne later this year.
- Rosalie, the popular Italian restaurant in Wayne, opens a second location in Glen Mills later this year.
- Urbanspace Philadelphia — a four-story, 16-vendor food market in Schuylkill Yards — opens in fall of 2023.