Summer Arts & Culture Crawl

Live Music Under the Stars | Mid-Day Museum Hopping | Free Concert Fridays | Nights (and Mornings) in the Garden

Penn is a destination for the arts year-round, but the summer months are nothing short of extraordinary. With free outdoor concerts, special art exhibits and gallery talks, nights in the garden at a local arboretum, and more, you’ll want to add some—if not all—of these cultural offerings to your social calendar this summer.


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The Rotunda

Entertainment
Address

4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Save the date for Saturdays June 23, July 14, August 18, and September 15, when the popular 40th Street Summer Series returns to the green space behind the Walnut Street Library at 40th and Walnut. Co-produced by University City District, Penn, and The Rotunda, this free outdoor concert series is a favorite for music lovers of all ages. Activities, free giveaways, and performances begin at 6pm, so grab takeout from some nearby favorites and come on over!

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Dine
Lunch
Dinner
Snacks
Address

214 South 40th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

This vegan fast casual restaurant has become a popular Philly spot—and it’s easy to see why. Their burgers, sandwiches, salads, and frozen treats are so delicious, you’ll completely forget that they are good for you. Don’t miss the return of the single-ingredient banana whip—HipCityVeg’s magical take on traditional ice cream.

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Dine
Breakfast
Lunch
Snacks
Address

4000 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

If you’re looking for a little pep in your step, grab a cup of iced coffee at Saxbys before showtime. They also serve delicious, all-natural fruit smoothies and their own “frolatte,” a frozen latte available in vanilla, chocolate chip, cappuccino, caramel macchiato, mocha, and white chocolate mocha. If it’s ice cream you’re after, head down the block to Ben & Jerry’s, a sponsor of the Summer Series and a staple of any summer night.

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Cinemark University City Penn 6

Entertainment
Address

4012 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Maybe it’s one of those nights where picnicking outside seemed like a good idea until you realized how hot and sticky it was going to be out there. While we recommend enjoying the Summer Series at least once this summer, we won’t judge if you escape the heat for a feature film at Cinemark. They have six screens playing all the major releases and, of course, movie theater popcorn and other yummy concessions.

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Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Play
Museums
Address

3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Want to make the week feel more like the weekend? Pencil the Penn Museum into your plans. Every Wednesday evening, people of all ages are invited to socialize, snack, and engage with popular collections after hours. (Think what’s old is new again with the recently opened Middle East Galleries.) What makes this time of year especially fun? The “Summer Nights” music series. Rain or shine, the museum brings in an eclectic lineup of live bands from 5-8PM and encourages listeners to make themselves at home in Stoner Courtyard. Chairs, picnic blankets, seat cushions, and dogs (!) welcome.

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Arthur Ross Gallery

Play
Museums
Address

220 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Do you have 12 minutes to spare over your lunch break? The Arthur Ross Gallery hosts brief and informative gallery talks every first Wednesday of the month at 12pm, starting in May and continuing through July. If you haven’t visited the Gallery yet, consider this your invitation!

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Institute of Contemporary Art

Play
Museums
Address

118 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Self-care isn’t just for Sundays. Ease out of the workweek with a guided meditation on Fridays at 12PM at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Inspired by the themes of the current exhibition, “Mindfulness at the Museum” sessions are free, drop-in, and open to all—whether you’ve honed your ability to turn inward or you’re still giving the idea of sitting palms up the side-eye. Between the stress reduction techniques and intention-setting rituals to guide the rest of your day, the rotating trio of lead practitioners just may convince you this is the best thing you do all summer.

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Dine
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Snacks
Address

3401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Fridays are arguably the best day of the week. And what better way to kick off your weekend than grabbing some grub at Penn’s newest food hall before a free concert broadcast from the University’s radio station, WXPN 88.5FM. Their Free @ Noon concerts showcase a mix of roots rock, folk, and country music—and all you have to do is sign up and go experience the entertainment. World Cafe Live hosts these shows, only a few blocks from Franklin’s Table, so enjoy some Goldie falafel or Pitruco pizza before heading to the show! Alternatively, grab your headphones and listen to the webcast in the campus open space of your choosing, as you enjoy your food hall eats. 

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Books
Address

130 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Penn Book Centerindependently owned and operated near campus since the ‘60sis your cozy corner book stop for a distinctive selection of titles and research, and host to frequent up close and personal author events. And on Fridays, they offer a 15% discount on all hardcover fiction. You can’t beat that kind of deal, so make sure you visit the Penn Book Center to start your weekend off right.

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Morris Arboretum

Play
Parks
Address

100 E. Northwestern Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118

Ok, so it’s a bit off campus, but the Morris Arboretum is well worth the trip. The historic public garden and educational institution offers extended hours on Wednesday nights in June, July, and August, so you can enjoy their gardens until 8pm. They also offer early morning Saturdays and Sundays from May through September, with the garden opening at 8am. If that isn’t enough to entice you, Out on a Limb offers fun for the whole family, with a canopy walk 50 feet above the trees. And don’t miss Time in the Garden, a special exhibit running for the next six months featuring paintings, sculptures, and photographs by 17 artists inspired by the natural world. No visit is complete without a stop at the Compton Café and the Shop at Morris Arboretum. Happy exploring!

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