About 15 minutes from University City is a strip of shops, restaurants, and bars, among other things, that advertises “Urban Experience, Small Town Charm.” This neighborhood is Manayunk, which has become a destination for shoppers, foodies, and college students alike. 

“It’s very charming,” says Kathy Piccari, Owner of Pineapple on Main, a local decor boutique. “It’s all small business owners, independent retailers, everyone who owns the restaurants are always just there and greeting. There is a lot of intimacy I think between the business owners and the loyal customers.” 

The main street (actually called Main St.) spans about 7 blocks. The streets are lined with brick two–to–three story buildings with independent retailers on the bottom. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, there is a mixture of runners, families, and couples walking the streets. They pop in and out of stores or eat brunch outside some of the many eateries. One such eatery is Winnie's Le Bus, where there is a constant flood of people trying to get their brunch on (pro tip: try the cranberry walnut bread, because it will change your life). The restaurant boasts outdoor seating so that guests can enjoy the sunshine and people–watching that is Main Street. 

Other popular restaurants in Manayunk include Goat’s Beard, which serves American, Somo, and Yannako, and has awesome sushi. Or, if you're sick of Distrito and Copa, other great Mexican places are Cactus and Taqueria Feliz. Taqueria Feliz has a variety of outposts across the city and is considered one of the best restaurants in the ‘burbs. There are even some awesome BYOs, such as Chaaba, a Thai restaurant. 

Photo: Emma Boey

Main Street includes a variety of other storefronts. One is the aforementioned Pineapple on Main, owned by Kathy Piccari. The store has a variety of candles and soaps, which waft lavender scents through the air, as well as linens, baby gifts and other housewarming gifts. Another gem on Main Street is Threads on Main. This boutique store has a variety of blouses, sweaters, comfy yet stylish sweatshirts and tons of jewelry. The products are moderately priced, with earrings priced anywhere between $20 to $68. They also have sunglasses and other accessories available. Though perhaps not the place for a regular splurge, their edgy accented pieces are potentially perfect presents.

Though they may not go to Penn, many students live in Manayunk. One of the reasons that it is so popular for students is the vibrant bar scene. Though many Penn students are aware of it—mostly due to friends at other Philadelphia area schools—few ever really venture to Manayunk. But are we missing out? A great Friday night could consist of tacos and sangria at Taqueria Feliz and then bar hopping in one of 15+ bars in the area. “It’s a great community to live in as well as [for] going out,” says Marisa Kirwan, a senior at St. Joe's. “There are so many great happy hour deals too.” 

To boot, Manayunk has a lot of events coming up. One of the highlights is the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival on April 15th, which coincides with Manayunk's Restaurant Week. Like its Center City counterpart, this offers a great opportunity to try all of the different restaurants in the area at a discounted price. The StrEAT Food Festival has over 50 food trucks, live music, and shopping—what more could you want while recovering from Fling? During the summer, Manayunk also has Stroll the Street on Thursday nights beginning at 5 pm. This event includes food trucks, food and drink specials at restaurants and sales at participating stores. If you want a break from the typical Center City Sips, only a short ride stands in the way. 

“You can do everything here.” says Piccari. It is worth the short travel to visit this charming, yet Urban area that feels a world away from Penn.