Hey, my name is Shea, and I’m a photographer originally from Philadelphia. After spending four years out of the country and returning home this past June, I thought it would be nice to spend one day traveling around the city and photographing some of the best locations in the city of brotherly love. My intention is to showcase the city I love so much to the overnight travelers, tourists and fellow photographers hoping to capture some awesome images of the Philly skyline. Hopefully you will learn a lot about my favorite Philadelphia photo shoot locations.
Locations to Photograph in Philly
Below I’m going to share a bunch of locations in Philadelphia (21 to be exact) that I photographed over the course of one day. Now keep in mind I’m an early riser. Because of this, I started my day with a 5:30am alarm ringing in my ear. I wanted to see how much of the city I could cover in a 12 hour stretch. However, keep in mind that I hustled from one location to another. It’s significant to note that I didn’t spend any extended time in one location. Most stops were 15 minutes or less, scouting for creative shots and angles, then on to the next stop.
The best photography locations to visit in Philadelphia are listed below by title and address. They are accompanied by a brief description of each location. The photographs shown with the “hot spot” were shot during my one-day tour of the city.
These Philadelphia photo shoot locations are not in any particular order. Depending on how much time you have and where your interests lie, you should plan your schedule accordingly. Also, if you are looking for some great photos to share on your social media, I have good news. These are some of the most instagrammable places in Philadelphia.
1. Boathouse Row – 1 Boathouse Row
One of the most celebrated and beautiful sites in the city of Philadelphia is Boathouse Row, located on the bank of the Schuylkill River just west of center city. These 19th century boathouses are homes to social rowing clubs and their racing shells. They reflect the sports, history, and culture of the city. You can photograph it effortlessly from behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is just the first of many Philadelphia photo shoot locations that I am sharing with you.
2. Philadelphia Museum of Art & Rocky Statue – 2600 Benjamin Frankly Pkwy
Completed in 1928, the museum contains over 240,000 objects for art lovers worldwide including drawings, photographs, paintings, prints, sculptures, armor and decorative arts. Iconic to this Philly location are the art museum steps, which became widely known when Sylvester Stallone ran to the top as part of his training in the movie, Rocky. Rightfully so, a classic Rocky statue stands proudly at the bottom of the museum steps for all guests to pose with.
3. Philadelphia City Hall – 1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Upon its completion in 1894, Philadelphia’s City Hall was the world’s tallest habitable building. It now serves the municipal government of the City of Philadelphia, including the office of the Mayor of Philadelphia. Built out of white marble and limestone, this historic landmark is a must see for any visitors to the city. If you look closely at the top of the building, you will notice the sculpture of William Penn. It was created by Alexander Milne Calder. This notable statue of city founder William Penn watching over us is the tallest statue atop any building in the world.
4. Race Street Pier – N Christopher Columbus Blvd
Located just south of the Ben Franklyn Bridge, Race Street Pier is a waterfront promenade with spectacular views of the Delaware River and surrounding architecture. It’s a huge hit for walkers, joggers, artists, sunbathers and anyone looking for a unique place to picnic in the city.
5. Elfreth’s Alley Museum – 126 Elfreth’s Alley
Just a three minute walk from the Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley is one of the most historic streets in Philadelphia dating back to 1703. This must-visit gem is the nation’s oldest inhabited residential street in the USA. Once you step foot in this street you will find 32 historic houses lining the cobblestone alley. Today it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
6. Ben Franklin Bridge – 1 Benjamin Franklin Bridge
Originally named the Delaware River Bridge, this suspension bridge across the Delaware River connects Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey. It’s a great spot for pedestrians as there is a dedicated walkway and if you head towards the Camden side you can look back on Philadelphia for a skyline view like no other. This is truly one of the best places to photograph Philadelphia skyline.
7. South Broad Street – 200 South Broad
Just south of City Hall, South Broad Street has many attractions from famous steak houses and opera houses to universities and historic downtown Philadelphia hotels. This location also offers the iconic shot of City Hall surrounded by the streets of Philadelphia, which is a must have photograph for anyone visiting the city.
8. Divine Lorraine – 699 N Broad Street
Located on the corner of Broad Street and Fairmont Avenue in North Philadelphia, this historic hotel turned apartment building is an iconic Victorian architectural structure looking over the northern part of the city. It is one of the more unique Philadelphia photo shoot locations.
9. The Liberty Bell – 526 Market Street
The Liberty Bell is the symbol for American independence. It was commissioned in 1752 and is located in the Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia. This piece of American history arrived in Philadelphia cast with the words “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout the Land unto all the inhabitants Thereof.” The bell still has the crack which occurred during a test strike after it arrived in the city. The Liberty Bell Center is open 364 days a year, every day except Christmas. Millions of people visit it every year.
10. Pats & Genos Steaks – South 9th Street& East Passyunk Avenue
South Philadelphia has become the cheese-steak epicenter of the city. There, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks are facing off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a must for any visitor of Philadelphia to decide for themselves who has the best cheesesteak. And these are the two places you must try.
11. Reading Terminal Market – 51 N 12th Street
Offering a diverse fare of food, this famous indoor farmer’s market has both dine-in and takeout option. Also, it is a great place to swing by for a quick bite to eat while exploring the city.
12. Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is a continuation of the Schuylkill River Trail, and hovers over the water offering scenic lookout points all throughout the city. Bicyclists and joggers often seek it out in order to avoid the traffic lights of center city.
13. Logan Circle – 200 N 19th Street
An open-space park in Center City Philadelphia, Logan Circle is famous for its lush gardens, trees, large water fountain and views of center city and the art museum. This is one example of Philadelphia investing in its urban green space and bringing nature back into the city.
14. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – 1020 South Street
Both a folk-art environment and gallery space on South Street in Philadelphia, the Magic Gardens is a courtyard that was famously created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The outside mosaics are comprised of bottles, kitchen tiles, bike wheels, and even China dinnerware plates.
15. The El Train – 63rd & Market Street
Running on Market Street, “The El” train is an elevated railway that crosses through the city of brotherly love above street level. At the 63rd street station, you have a great shot from the overpass looking back at the skyline while the trains are coming and going below you.
16. Chinatown Friendship Arch – Arch Street & N 10th Street
A historical landmark in Philadelphia, this colorful 40-foot-tall gate is the entrance to Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Once you’ve passed through the brightly painted portal you will find a variety of delicious Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and Burmese food, along with many eclectic shops making this place a staple for locals.
17. Belmont Plateau – 1800 Belmont Mansion Dr
This is one of the best places to photograph Philadelphia skyline and get great photos. Belmont Plateau is located in West Fairmont Park, which offers over 10,000 acres of land in their Conservancy. You may also remember the famous line “a place called the plateau is where everybody goes” from Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s famous track, Summertime.
18. Spruce Street Harbor – 301 S Christopher Columbus Blvd
With a boardwalk along the Delaware River, Spruce Street Harbor is lauded as one of the best urban beaches in America. It is located in the Penn’s Landing area of Philadelphia. It’s a must visit park filled with summertime vibes, from colorful hammocks to floating gardens, local food, and craft beers.
19. Eastern State Penitentiary – 2027 Fairmont Avenue
This former American prison once housed famous inmates “Scarface” Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton. Today the prison stands in ruin, but it is a great place to explore for amazing shots when visiting the city.
20. Rittenhouse Square Park – 210 W Rittenhouse Square
This public park in Center City is one of the original open-space parks designed by William Penn during the late 17th century. Today luxury high-rise buildings surround the tree-filled park, which is in one of the highest-income urban neighborhoods in the United States.
21. William H. Gray III 30th Street Station – 2955 Market Street
This is the last of my favorite Philadelphia photo shoot locations. A major stop on Amtrak’s Northeast and Keystone corridors, Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station boasts a neoclassical architectural design that is great for photographing, especially during sunrise.
Secret Spots in Philadelphia
It’s fairly certain that if you’re visiting Philadelphia, you won’t be bored or left wondering what to do. Most of the places listed above are the iconic parts of the city. However. there are also a few hidden gems that wait to be discovered while exploring any of the destinations.
If you have any questions about Philadelphia, feel free to connect with me. And if you’re looking for some Philadelphia artwork for you home or business, check out my fine art print and poster shop which offers both antique and blueprint maps of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Lastly, I will leave you with an infographic I created for you to easily remember the hottest picture places in Philadelphia.