Philly Fun After Dark: Clubs, Bowling and Axe Throwing To Get You Started

Philadelphia is a vibrant town full of amazing history and food, it’s also home to a fantastic nightlife scene. Let’s take a look at the fun you can have after dark in this Pennsylvania town.

Philadelphia’s famously hip bars, jazz lounges, indie rock haunts and electric dance clubs are worth exploring. If your after-dark tastes trend toward the less usual you can also enjoy bowling, dance lessons, drag shows, museum parties and game nights. To make the nighttime fun continue into the next day, turn your night into a weekend visit to Philly.

Philly Fun After Dark

Games For Grown-Ups

  • Barcade – Childhood dreams come true when grown-up gamers can defeat Donkey Kong and master Marble Madness—all while choosing from a list of a couple dozen top-notch microbrews. What’s more, the Fishtown hotspot isn’t too hard on the allowance.
  • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and Summerfest – Two popular parks turn the Delaware River Waterfront into a seasonal wonderland. In winter, guests toast marshmallows over fire pits, get cozy in The Lodge and take a spin on an outdoor ice rink. In the summer, they can play mini-golf and outdoor games, try their luck in the arcade and spin again—this time around the city’s only outdoor roller rink.
  • Buffalo Billiards – Two floors of Old City’s handsome pool hall are outfitted with classic pub games like darts and foosball, along with tabletop shuffleboard and perennial barroom favorites, Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter. The big attraction, however, are the eight Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables.

  • Everybody Hits – The batting cages at this Fishtown hangout are a home run, even during the off-season. And because beer and baseball go hand in hand, batters here are welcome to bring their own beer for birthday parties and other private events.
  • Garage Passyunk and Garage Fishtown – Skee ball, billiards and a serious canned beer selection make for fun times at both locations (one in South Philly, the other in Fishtown) of these game-day destinations, regardless of what’s playing on the flat screens.Each spot offers rotating specials from different Philadelphia chefs, food trucks and other clever cooks making some of the best bar food in the city.
  • Keystone Mini Golf & Arcade A hole-in-one is even better with a cold beer in hand, which is precisely why this bring-your-own-bottle venue is popular for all-age parties. Guests here should be sure to bring quarters for the retro arcade games.
  • Urban Axes – This ax-throwing club is perfect for big groups and, believe it or not, would be a great date night too. Here, people pretty much play darts—but with axes—and competitors can bring their own food, beer and wine. Reservations strongly recommended at this 21+ establishment. Seriously, you had me at axe throwing

Art Museums & Gallery Nights

  • Barnes Foundation – On the first Friday of each month, one of the world’s most prominent art museums pairs its stunning collection with live music and dancing—lots of dancing. Tickets are $28; $10 for college students (walk-up only).
  • First Fridays – Philadelphia’s Historic District shows off its artsy side on the first Friday of every month, when Old City’s galleries open their doors to the public beginning at 5 p.m. and offer free snacks and sips, live music and new installations.
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – One Wednesday each month, the nation’s oldest art school and museum puts on PAFA After Dark.Admission includes access to the full collection, a cash bar, gallery talks and an opportunity to create art, all for $15.11
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art – A Friday happy hour requires a little more style and sophistication, and Fridays Nights at the Art Museum comes through week after week. Priceless art, live music and a full bar with tapas transform the Great Stair Hall and set back each guest just $16.

Bowling

  • Harp & Crown – Hidden in the basement of a vintage-inspired American pub is a swank two-lane alley that’s straight out of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Available by reservation, the alley can be booked for 10 or more bowlers—and is conveniently located next to a cozy cocktail bar.
  • Lucky Strike – This upper-level venue occupies prime Center City real estate and features all sorts of adult-friendly amenities: craft cocktails, elevated pub grub and an unbeatable $15 all-you-can-bowl deal on weeknights from 9 p.m. until last call.
  • North Bowl and South Bowl – With locations in Northern Liberties and South Philly, these mod bowling alleys boast stylish decor, strong cocktails, loaded tater tots and plenty of lanes, along with retro arcade games and billiards tables.

philly fun after dark

  • Pep Bowl – This under-the-radar South Philly alley embraces Philly’s love for the bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) phenomenon. Six 1950s era lanes are open to guests bringing everything from adult beverages to snacks and pizza. Best of all, this nonprofit alley donates proceeds to Programs Employing People, a vocational and educational program for those with disabilities.

Comedy Clubs

  • Good Good Comedy Theatre – This place goes hard every night of the week with multiple shows each evening. Look out for comedy rap battles, a sobriety test game show, awesome out-of-town acts and more on the edge of Chinatown.
  • Helium – When big-name comedians come to Philly for a long weekend, this Rittenhouse venue is where they typically perform (Thursdays-Saturdays). On Tuesdays, aspiring funny people can sign up for three-minute open-mic slots; Wednesdays are for local shows.
  • The N Crowd Open every Friday night for an evening of BYO short-form improv, this veteran club tends to sell out early. Regulars know to reserve in advance, grab a six-pack and bring plenty of suggestions for crowd-sourced scenarios.

philly fun after dark

  • PHIT (Philly Improv Theater) – A seven-night-a-week, multiple-show-per-night, two-stage comedy operation is Philly’s answer to New York’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade. Here, guests take in sketch, improv and offbeat alternative acts.
  • Punch Line Philly – Just steps from the Fillmore Philadelphia music venue, this comedy club hosts a diverse monthly lineup, showcasing national talent, local up-and-comers, burlesque with a sense of humor and storytelling slams.

Dance Classes

  • Brasil’s – Salsa pros who know their mambo from their cha-cha offer lessons in this Old City hotspot on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Admission runs from $5 to $10, and $3 tequila shots ensure inhibitions are left at the door.
  • Byblos Restaurant and Bar Greek and Mediterranean night takes place on Sundays at this Rittenhouse hideaway, when patrons learn, practice and show off sultry belly dancing moves.
  • Society Hill Dance Academy – For $20, a lively, 45-minute, beginner-friendly dance class requires no partner, experience or reservation to learn salsa, cha-cha, foxtrot or rumba at this serious-yet-friendly school. These open classes are offered Monday, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.—and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. An open-house dance party takes place Fridays, 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Drag Shows

  • Bob & Barbara’s Lounge – Lawyers, students, hipsters and more pack this legendary dive bar on Thursday nights for a weekly showcase of drag talent. The $8 admission includes a drink ticket. (For no admission on Fridays and Saturdays, patrons enjoy live jazz.)

  • L’Etage – Atop a Bella Vista creperie, Martha Graham Cracker Cabaretlights up the second Thursday of every month. The beloved performer demos her arsenal of music, comedy and androgynous theater—all while wearing heels. The tickets are first come, first served; patrons know to arrive when the doors open at 8 p.m.; show starts at 10 p.m.
  • Tabu Sportsbar and Lounge – The lounge of this welcoming LGBT nightclub features live entertainment seven days a week and is known for attracting world-famous drag and burlesque performers.

Karaoke

  • Distrito – Chef Jose Garces’ taqueria in University City keeps a private karaoke lounge in front of the host stand—all the better spot for a patron to belt out margarita-fueled and possibly ill-advised tunes.
  • Donna’s Bar – A neighborhood Port Richmond joint known for its homemade pierogi transforms on Friday nights when, it seems, the whole city decides it’s time to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
  • Locust Bar – This Washington Square West dive might not be much to look at, but come Sunday it’s where some of the city’s most talented cover singers meet.

  • McGillin’s Olde Ale House – Thenation’s oldest continually operating bar heats up on Wednesday and Sunday nights when the DJfires up the karaoke machine.
  • Tango – This sleek Chinatown spot books private singing parties upstairs while patrons croon tunes at the ground-floor bar, where, on occasion, there’s competition involved. Snacks include crab Rangoon and Vietnamese spring rolls.

Quiz Nights

  • Fergie’s Pub – This side-street star traces its roots to the British Isles, where pub quiz nights are synonymous with well-poured pints.Tuesdays and Thursdaysoffer trivia buffs a chance to flex their Quizzo muscles in exchange for free food and drinks.
  • Local 44 – West Philly’s go-to for Sunday night Quizzonight keeps with the crafty spirit of the bar by awarding prizes such as beer swag and gift cards to use in the adjacent bottle shop.
  • National Mechanics – Evan “EZ” Kushin hosts this Old City hang’s popular Best of Philly Pub Quiz. Every Wednesday night, a packed house gathers to have their trivia knowledge tested by Kushin.

If you can’t find something to do after dark in Philly on your next visit, then I don’t know what to tell you! It’s a nightlife scene that can rival some of the “big cities”. 

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