Neighborhood Guide: Queen Village

The best places to hang, eat, get fresh air and visit for kids and families in this beloved Philly neighborhood Read more

Mario Lanza

This well-established Philly neighborhood has long been a popular place for families to visit and put down roots. One major draw is that Meredith Elementary, one of the neighborhood schools, is ranked the highest in the city. There’s also the location — near the Delaware River, Society Hill and South Street — which make it geographically and culturally diverse, while the tree-lined streets, many green spaces and great retail/restaurants options add to the appeal. Here, some of the top must-visit spots for families in the ‘hood.

Neighborhood Vitals
Region: 6th Street to the River; South Street to Washington Avenue
Schools: Meredith Elementary; Nebinger Elementary
Population: 8,481
Bordering neighborhoods: Bella Vista, South Philly/Pennsport, Society Hill
Neighborhood Website: Queen Village Neighbors Association
Fun Fact: Chubby Checker went to Meredith Elementary

Parks & Playgrounds
Starr Garden: This block-long park fronts Lombard Street between 6th and 7th, and isn’t technically in QV proper, but it’s a popular destination. It’s a bit run down (a “Friends of” group recently started redesign efforts), but is still fantastic. First, there’s a huge baseball field which is used for kickball leagues, softball games, soccer lessons, and more. There’s also a basketball court (great for races and riding bikes), a playground with two areas (one for tots, one for older kids), a water pole (not quite a sprayground, but a place to get cool), picnic tables, and a community center. It’s clean and most importantly, shady.
Weccacoe Playground: This pretty space (which also could use a little love, but is tied up in an interesting issue involving a slave burial ground) has many swings, two playground areas, a community center, lots of open space for ball-throwing and scooter-scooting, and a tennis court. It’s on the 400 block of Catherine Street.
Mario Lanza Park: This shaded sliver of green space is a true neighborhood gem, with two grassy areas for picnic-ing and hill running, a central paved area with picnic tables, and a great dog run. On the 200 block of Catherine Street.
Shot Tower Playground: Sitting right on Front Street, this large area has a baseball field, a well-kept playground and a new-ish sprayground that’s not huge, but fun, with water streams randomly spitting from the ground.
Washington Avenue Pier: The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. recently redid this pier (tucked behind the Coast Guard building across Delaware Avenue). It’s not huge, but it lets kids get up close and personal with the water and mud. There’s also a lookout point you can climb.

Great Kid & Family Hangs
Queen Village Art Center: On Bainbridge, between 6th and 5th streets, this is the second outpost of the Philly Art Center. There are art classes and drop-ins for babies, kids and adults, after-school programs (with pick-ups), summer camps, infant music classes, BYOB nights, and more. The place is bright and clean, the staff is great, and they know how to throw a good birthday party.
Philly InMovement: Tucked in an alley behind the Art Center right off of Bainbridge Street (and attached to Sweat Fitness) is this adorable tumble gym which has open play time hours, classes for kids and adults, after-school programs (with pick-up), private lessons, summer camps and more. Another fantastic birthday party venue.
Zhang Sah: Steps down from the Art Center on the 500 block of Bainbridge Street is this karate studio, which offers classes, camps, and birthday parties. They have a van and pick-up from different parts of the city for after-school program pick-ups.
Philly PACK: This sweet performing arts center has an airy studio on Fabric Row (4th Street). They have dance, performance and creative movement classes, and summer camps.
Settlement Music School: This well-respected music school has a massive campus in QV (on the 400 block of Queen Street) with classes for kids and babies who are either just dabbling or are seriously training. There are also often free concerts on the weekends.

Points of Interest
Headhouse Shambles: There is great year-round programming (think Christmas Tree lightings and Easter Parades), and a fountain that’s a popular mini-sprayground. But in the warmer weather, the real draw is Headhouse Farmers’ Market, which opens on Sundays at 10 am. Besides amazing local produce, flowers, cheeses and baked goods, there are always some food carts, including tacos al pastor, a lemonade stand, and more. There is also flea markets on Saturdays.
Penn’s Landing: Right off of the Shambles, stay on South Street and cross over a bridge that takes you to Penn’s Landing. There are pop-ups in the summer (Spruce Street Harbor Park), swan boats you can take out, the Independence Seaport Museum, and a pier that has lovely views.
Society Hill: Society Hill technically starts just at Lombard Street. Walking around the Pine/Delancey Street area on a sunny day will make you instantly fall in love with Philadelphia. Take any cobblestone path and hidden alleys for lots of history. Make your way over to Delancey between 4th and 3rd for Three Bears Park, maybe the most charming neighborhood playground in the city.

Retail
Head House Books on 2nd between Bainbridge and South streets is the quintessential independent bookstore, with a carefully curated literary selection, staff picks, and an amazing area for kids. There is open space for story times (which they do, for free, on Fridays), low shelves so kids can browse, and a quality selection of toys and games.
South Street: Before it gets rowdy (a.k.a. sunset), South Street is a quirky and fun place to stroll. There are lots of options for sneakers for kids, furniture store Cella Luxuria, men’s store Totem, funny t-shirt shops, ice cream shops, pizza places, Jim’s Cheesesteaks, and more.
Vintage/Reclaimed Shops: There are a ton of vintage shops in QV, some with great finds for kids (think toys, clothes, things for decorating rooms). Look for Moon and Arrow, Jinxed, and Philly Aids Thrift.

Restaurants, Food Stuff, and Treats
Famous 4th Street Deli is quick-moving, has waiters who don’t bat an eye at a loud kid and ton of menu options. Plus, a dessert counter that makes kids and adults go wide-eyed, and free cookies at the end of every meal.
Pizzeria Stella is filled with kids between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm and a staff that happily welcomes them. The pizzas, pastas, salads and gelato can satisfy even the pickiest eater, and make mom and dad happy (the cocktails help with that, too). Outdoor seating is a big plus.
Nomad Pizza is technically in Bella Vista but another quality pizza place. Ask to sit upstairs where a giant screen plays movies.
Brauhaus Schmitz, on South Street, has extra-delicious food, and the resto-bar atmosphere is perfect for kids. (Not to mention the homemade applesauce and potato pancakes.)
Bridget Foy’s, on South Street near Headhouse Square, has a mom happy hour on Mondays, where kids eat free and parents get a free glass of wine.
South Street Philly Bagels has, arguably, the best bagels in town. They are open very early, and it’s a great place to grab some grub before heading out a playground. If you see the pizza bagel (an occasional offering) order one.
Primo Hoagies has a location on South Street in the back of a sport bar. There are a few tables in there where you can eat, too.
Philly Sweettooth is a candy store on Bainbridge that also has Bassetts ice cream.
Essene Market & Cafe, a holistic market, opened when Whole Foods was still in diapers. They’ve got all the good-for-everyone brands, baby food, plus fresh pressed juices and frozen banana whip in the back.
Phileo Frozen Yogurt is an immaculate and well-run fro-yo place on South between 4th and 5th. The toppings are notable, like mini-salted caramel bites. #yum.
Blackbird Pizzeria has good vegan pizza and sandwiches for takeout.
Red Hook Coffee, on Fabric Row, is a wonderful coffee shop that has a robust and quality menu. It’s great for a quick lunch or breakfast. The set-up, with large, lived-in couches and games, makes it very kid-friendly.
Square Pie is (another) pizza place. This tiny spot has puffy pies, an amazing chicken cacciatore, and chatty cooks who pull the pies out of the ovens and serve them right to the guests.
John’s Water Ice doesn’t have any seating, but you won’t be standing long: the water ice here is so subtle and finely shaven that it will take you, oh, about a minute to finish. A small costs $1.25, too.