7 Great Philadelphia Shopping Spots

Visit some of the best shopping malls, specialty boutiques and shopping districts in Philly.

By Rob Stott, ContributorMay 3, 2017
By Rob Stott, ContributorMay 3, 2017, at 9:57 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

7 Great Philadelphia Shopping Spots

Boyds Philadelphia in Rittenhouse Square

The elegant decor in Boyds Philadelphia, a high-end local boutique in Rittenhouse Square, makes it feel like a museum.(Courtesy of Boyds Philadelphia)

Shopping might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about planning a trip to a city like Philadelphia. But mixed in with the tremendous historical sights and family-friendly activities are a number of great areas to grab a memento or two.

"Everything you can find in New York in a square mile, you can find in Philadelphia in the span of two blocks,” Tom Walker, owner of Philadelphia Personal Tours, says of the shopping scene.

The city proper is packed with everything from high-end shops to local boutiques – and everything in between. Or, if you’re up for an adventure, some of the best shopping in the country can be found a short distance outside the city. Here are some of the best places to shop around, as recommended by local experts.

Rittenhouse Square

Boyds in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia(Courtesy of Boyds Philadelphia)

The first place that rolls off every local expert’s tongue when asked about shopping in Philadelphia is Rittenhouse Square. The area is renowned for its endless selection of high-end local boutiques like Joan Shepp and Boyds Philadelphia.

“Joan Shepp has a great collection for women, and Boyds is such a beautiful store it almost feels like a museum,” says Daniel Vetrano, concierge at Sofitel Philadelphia.

If you’re more into the foodie-shopping scene, Rittenhouse also has the flagship Di Bruno Bros. location, a gourmet Italian food market that has a long, delicious list of specialty items.

King of Prussia Mall

King of Prussia Mall is a hike from Center City. But as the largest mall on the East Coast, located at the intersection of four major highways in the area, the shopping center can be well worth the 20-mile drive from downtown.

"KOP is always a home run with guests, but only if they're willing to travel 40 minutes," says Damien Infantino, event services manager at The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel. "It's such a massive mall. You can do a day there."

The mall, which opened in 1963, mixes department stores like Nordstrom and JCPenney, high-end boutiques like Diane Von Furstenberg, and fast-fashion favorites like Forever 21. Shoppers can dine at one of several food courts or choose from a range of restaurants. The nearly 3 million square feet of shopping space is sure to have something for every taste.

Century 21 Department Store

A popular retail destination in New York City since the 1960s, Century 21 Department Store expanded into Pennsylvania for the first time in 2014, opening a location in Center City Philadelphia right on the corner of Market and Eighth streets.

The spot Century 21 occupies is actually a bit of a shopping landmark in Philadelphia – it used to house the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store.

Macy’s in The Wanamaker Building

Speaking of historic buildings, The Wanamaker Building practically exists as a museum in its own right. Completed in 1911 and home to the first department store in Philadelphia, the building today holds the Macy’s Center City location, and is known for its annual Christmas light show and great shopping.

The Wanamaker Building is a National Historic Landmark. The Grand Court contains two relics from the St. Louis World’s Fair: a 2,500-pound bronze eagle statue that served as the centerpiece of the fair's German display and The Wanamaker Organ, which is the largest playable organ in the world and has been played twice a day since 1910.

Old City

Shopping in Old City, Philadelphia(Courtesy of J.Fusco)

If you’re looking for an area of shopping that is strictly local, Old City is the place to go. Aside from being immersed in the historic landmarks of Philadelphia, Old City features a collection of unique local shops.

"Old City has some great little vintage shops, midcentury modern furniture shops, great little local boutiques," says James Portner, chief concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.

You won’t find many chain stores in the area. Popular stops include Vagabond, Scarlett Alley and Philadelphia Independents.

Reading Terminal Market

Known mainly for its food options, Reading Terminal Market is a great spot to shop like a local. And while visitors typically go there for a meal or to buy groceries, there are a few locations in Reading Terminal that carry locally made items and Philadelphia-themed gifts.

“That's where we Philadelphians go,” says Frank Marandino, chief concierge at The Rittenhouse Hotel. “That's where we shop for our bare essentials and for specialty items.”

Great nonfood stops in the market include The Cook Book Stall, Amy’s Place and Market Blooms.

South Street

A popular area of Philadelphia known for its nightlife, South Street also holds its own as a shopping district.

"Everybody knows where South Street is,” says Roshid Milledge, concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. “You can kind of start in one area and just walk down, and just pick and choose what you want."

On South Street, shoppers might not be able to find the same name-brand stores, but the neighborhood's vibe and atmosphere make it stand out. It’s a great place to window shop and just walk around on a nice-weather day. Stop by unique shops like Sazz Vintage Clothing, Repo Records and Crash Bang Boom.

To experience more of what Philadelphia has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Rob Stott, Contributor

Rob Stott a contributor to U.S. News & World Report. He is a sports and tech junkie, and is ...  Read more

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