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From antique architecture to the occasional pack of Redcoats marching through the vicinity, the charm of Philadelphia’s “Old City” is undeniable. This is one of America’s oldest neighborhoods, and it has retained much of its archaic look, which dates back to its founding in 1682. It’s home to a number of exciting things, among them the Liberty Bell and the Philly cheesesteak, and attracts both locals and visitors. You can stroll for hours, grabbing photo ops in front of its stately buildings, or you can show up with a heavy wallet ready to eat, drink, and shop.

Yep. Shop.

There’s no better place to squeeze in some browsing than at Third Street. This is part of Old City, but don’t worry—despite the place’s age, you’ll find perfectly modern goods at the various shops that have sprung up in North Third Street. Ready for some Old City shopping? Let’s go.

Body - Philadelphia's landmark historic City Hall building at twilight

Books & Music

No self-respecting visitor to Old City would turn their nose up at new books. The Book Trader isn’t exactly on 3rd Street—it’s about 2 blocks east on 2nd Street—but it’s still well within the boundaries of Old City, and it’s a must-see for anyone who’s ever been remotely fond of reading. Slip inside and breathe in the musty smell of paper, and watch where you step, because books are everywhere. They’re stuffed into every crevice imaginable, spilling off shelves and sitting in piles here and there.

So you bought a bunch of books at the Trader and now you need some music to play in the background while you read. Yes, you could trawl eBay in search of old records…or you can head to a.k.a. music, located at 120 N. 3rd Street. Browse the vinyl and pick out some of your old favorites. Don’t have a turntable? That’s okay; a.k.a. offers CDs, too, and we know you still have a boom box lying around somewhere.

Souvenirs & Snacks

Next stop, stuff for your friends. Walk to Art in the Age, just a half-block away at 116 N. 3rd Street. When you wander inside this brick building, you’ll find a surprisingly modern showroom filled with exactly the kind of stuff you take home and offer to your pals as relics of your cool Philly trip. From stamped flags and pennants to funky jewelry and cologne, you’ll find something for just about everyone you didn’t bring along to Old City.

They also sell their own liquor, and really, are you going to visit Philadelphia and not have a drink?

The group of wet bottles of beer

If the liquor at Art in the Age is a little too much for you, head about a block south to Rocket Fizz Philadelphia. Yes, it’s a chain, and yes, it’s on the corner of 3rd & Arch, but folks, if there’s a flavor of soda that you want to try, chances are Rocket Fizz carries it. They also sell enough candy to send your children into a diabetic coma, so if you’re traveling with the kids, tread lightly.

Art & Housewares

Moving along on our effort to broaden our Old City, Philadelphia shopping experience, we come to Reform Vintage Modern, at 112 N. 3rd Street. This isn’t just a great place to pick up a carved cactus lamp or that perfect retro chair to accent your living room; it’s also an art gallery. If you have an empty room in your house and a bonus check burning a hole in your wallet, you might want to head over.

Still need to give your house that extra dash of pizzazz? More Than Old, at 144-146 N. 3rd Street, houses an interesting collection of decorative goods, antiques, and all those other odds and ends you really, really didn’t know you needed for your kitchen. Pick out some beautiful glassware to complete your next dinner party and call it a day.

Odds are you’ve accumulated quite a lot of stuff since starting your shopping in Old City, Philadelphia. Throw your bags into your car and make the trek back to your hotel (or your family member’s house, we won’t judge) to unload, because you’ve got a lot more to do in “The City of Brotherly Love.” Put your wallet back in your purse or pocket and enjoy the rest of your trip!

Suz Baldwin
Suz Baldwin
Suz Baldwin likes history, zombies, and coffee, and any combination of the three. You can usually find her avoiding the sunlight and/or embarking on impromptu road trips with friends.

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