In a city known for BYOB restaurants and restrictive alcohol laws, Philadelphia is undergoing a beer garden renaissance. Ten have opened this summer, and in unusual places: City Hall, the busiest train station in town, and along once-neglected riverbanks. Each spot has its own vibe.
“We’re reclaiming underutilized public spaces,” says Meryl Levitz, CEO of Visit Philly. “People have said ‘I was in Philadelphia ten years ago and there was nobody on the street.’ Now you can go out any time of day and you know that it’s going to be a scene.”
Levitz credits the popularity of beer gardens to the growth of millennials and empty nesters now living in Center City, the city’s long history of beer brewing (there’s even a neighborhood called Brewerytown), and our need to disconnect in a technology-tethered world.
Then there’s the food. Forget hot dogs, stale pretzels and lite beer—Philly’s top chefs have curated menus populated with pork belly bao buns, watermelon salad, grilled lobster, and local ales and lagers. By combining creative design and mouthwatering brews and bites, these energetic public spaces represent the best of Philadelphia right now.
Sarah Maiellano is on the Philadelphia beat for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @SarahMaiellano.