With midterms fast–approaching, the time has come to find that prime study spot for the rest of the semester.  Or, if you’re like me, the time has come to find a place to drown your sorrows after the impending doom. Sure, Van Pelt basement can be great for nitty­–gritty studying (and for reminding yourself that To Live Is To Suffer) and Smokes’ is always reliable for a drink with friends, but sometimes we all need a change of a scenery. You might not enjoy what you’re doing, but you’ll love the vibe of these artsy coffee shops and bars around Philly.

To Feel at Home: Chapterhouse Café & Gallery 

620 S 9th St. 

With its fireplace, board games, and book collection, this place looks and feels like home. And, as the name says, this coffee shop also functions as a local art gallery, hosting new art shows every season. Only one block away from the bohemian part of South Street, Chapterhouse is a healthy (but still accessible) distance from Penn’s campus. That being said, don’t kill the cozy vibe with hardcore coding bent over your laptop screen—reserve it for the reading and writing of your humanities courses.


Photo: Emma Boey


To Satisfy Your Seedy Side: Boot & Saddle

1131 S Broad St.

If you’re looking for a dive with character, this is it. In an attempt to follow a Western theme, this bar has crooked–hanging pictures of horses and cowboys, coils of rope above the bar, random horseshoe designs, a sliding barn door over the bathrooms, and an obnoxiously bright and dirty boot­–shaped neon sign out front. For beer lovers, this bar has a lot of great local brews on tap, as well as some creative spins on house­–made cocktails. With a dingy backroom that regularly hosts intimate rock concerts and independent art shows, a night here will be one of drinking and entertainment.

To Escape Nearby: The Satellite Café

4901-4999 Willows Ave. 

Located near 50th and Baltimore, this coffee shop is within reasonable walking distance from campus (or maybe an Uber drive if you’re not down for a 30 minute walk in the cold). The tabletops are covered in mosaics, and there’s an eclectic assortment of local art and decoration throughout the café. In the summer, there’s an outdoor garden that’s echoed by hanging plants around the interior as well. Also known for its Bike Shop Special Wrap, The Satellite Café is great for a long day of studying that requires both caffeine and sustenance.


Photo: Emma Boey


To Go Back in Time: Barcade

1114 Frankford Ave. 

Though Barcade has a reputation for getting overrun by annoying hipsters, its popularity is for good reason. Not only does this Fishtown bar serve craft beers, but it also features vintage video games like Donkey Kong, Galaga, and Pac–Man for patrons to play. Their website even has a running list of high scores, with some going back to 2011. This bar may not be as social as the others on this list, but honestly, who wouldn’t want to forget midterms by drinking beer and playing old video games?

To Elevate Your Spirit: Higher Grounds Café 

631 N 3rd St.  

Exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, ornately tiled counters and oriental rugs. This place is the classic mellow coffee shop, as its name might suggest. There are desks with banker’s lamps to write at, and tufted sofas to relax on. With freshly baked quiches and loose–leaf tea available, Higher Grounds encourages the slow life. With old board games like Operation and Candy Land, this is a good study space for when you want to pace yourself and take the occasional break.

To Finally Visit That Quintessential Hipster Bar: Tattooed Mom

530 South St. 

It’s hard to decide if this place is gross, weird, or cool, what with all of the colorful art, stickers, and graffiti that cover the walls. Complete with grandma–print couches in dire need of re–upholstering, this bar is never boring. With art–themed events every week, Tattooed Mom is more than a place to just get drunk; it’s a place to relive your years of teenage angst in the grunge–art vibe of this hipster mothership.

So stay away from Saxby’s this midterm season. Maybe you’ll actually have fun studying. 


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