116 Market St., Old City
The goal of this Old Town gem is to introduce a whole new generation of sweet-teeth to the traditional ice cream soda fountain experience. As with their candy-focused venture, Shane, the Berley brothers looked to the past for inspiration for both the décor (Art Deco-ish, with an antique bar and tin walls) and the menu (milkshakes, sundaes, house-made waffle cones). Try a phosphate soda or one of the classic banana splits (there are currently three on the menu).
38 S. 3rd St., Old City
An eclectic custom and vintage furniture shop, Conversion is one of those places you'll score a Mid--century coffee table or accent piece that you'll have forever. There's a great ethos here: All the items are either vintage or handmade with incredible detail in the US. The woodworking and welding team will also help you design a custom piece.
Art in the Age
116 N. 3rd St., Old City
You don’t have to be a mixology enthusiast to appreciate the beauty of this cocktail-and-bar-centric shop, but if you are, welcome to mecca. The shelves are beautifully merchandised with bottles of booze (both classic and indie), every alcohol-related book imaginable, obscure mixers, garnishes, and a dizzying selection of bar tools—plus, you’ll find incredibly knowledgeable staff to show you how to put it all to good use. Not a DIY-er? The space plays host to lots of tastings and booze-related events, so make sure to inquire about the social calendar.
47 N. 2nd St., Old City
Doing vintage in a way that feels fresh and current is no easy feat, and the folks behind this local-adored shop do it exceptionally well. The secret is in the mix of new and old: pre-loved Levi’s, concert tees, and leathers marched alongside Cuttalossa-designed linens, candles, and giftables. Make sure to check in regarding events as the owners constantly host music- and art-themed events.
Sonny’s Famous Steaks
228 Market St., Old City
It wouldn’t be a trip to Philly without sinking your teeth into a Philly cheesesteak. Sonny’s in Old City makes half a dozen or so iterations of the classic steak (or chicken) and cheese sandwich. And while no one would suggest the melts are in any way healthy, they do have gluten-free buns and the ingredients are as fresh as can be. The communal tables inside are ideal for a low-frill lunch—though we prefer grabbing one of the outdoor seats.
110 Market St., Old City
An old-timey candy shop at first glance, recently, the new Shane Candies has been carefully restored (by the brother team behind Franklin Fountain) to mirror the original confectionary—in business on and off since 1863. Their claim to fame: “clear toy” candies, made right on site, where they also craft bonbons, fudge, perfect marshmallow hot chocolate, and so much more, from scratch.
205 Arch St., Old City
What separates this adorable little toy store from its big-box counterparts is its focus on learning the old-fashioned way: through imaginative play and make-believe. Proof: There’s a play area where kiddos can test out floor models and an arts-and-crafts table, meaning customers are encouraged to stay a while. The toy selection is as vast as it is thoughtful, much of which is blessedly analog for when you need a break from screens, buttons, and the like. If you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with one of the many in-store events (story time, sing-along, etc.)
High Street Market
308 Market St., Old City
You’ve been forewarned: High Street is not a place for the carb shy. Here, at chef Eli Kulp’s lowkey eatery, it feels like the entire menu is designed to spotlight the extensive (and delicious) breads in all their glory. Let’s start with the Forager, a veggie take on the breakfast sandwich featuring oyster mushrooms, braised kale, a fried egg, and Swiss cheese on a Kaiser roll. Then, come lunch, there’s the “Best Grilled Cheese Ever” on a house-made roasted potato bread, which despite the #humblebrag, seriously delivers.
139 N. 3rd St., Old City
Tucked into the Old City’s historic quarter, the six-room, apartment-style Lokal is a breath of fresh air for those who want to feel like staying in a good friend’s well decorated apartment rather than a flashy hotel. The naturally-lit rooms maintain a pared-back, minimalist vibe with a mix of mid-century modern furniture and thoughtfully selected found objects from local flea markets. There are all the requisite creature comforts, too—a Sonos sound system, Apple TV, and even linens from LA-based (and goop fave) Parachute Home. In the absence of a formal concierge, guests are encouraged to correspond with hotel staff via e-mail or text, which is a big part of Lokol's unique “Invisible Service” hospitality philosophy.
37 N. 3rd St., Old City
This boutique stocks hard-to-find, smaller label women's clothing, vintage pieces, edgy jewelry, plus a small selection of home accessories. Founded by two design-minded ladies, both with a background in all things pattern-making and knitting, they also sell yarn and supplies if you're feeling crafty.