The Philadelphia Convention Center Is Near Many Attractions and Restaurants

Philadelphia Convention Center

Added Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - this photo is of the Philadelphia Convention Center - known officially as the Pennsylvania Convention Center - at 12th and Arch Streets. / CC BY 3.0

Center City District - TEAL - Convention Center District

This page on the Philadelphia Convention Center, is primarily intended for the conventioneer - a practical guide for someone who is in Philadelphia for a convention, has limited time, and who has never been to the city before.

Added, Sunday, August 29, 2010...

Looking for Somewhere to Stay? Check Out Our Comprehensive Guide to Philadelphia Convention Center Hotels

Of course, if you have functions to attend at the Philadelphia Convention Center, you'd like to stay as close to it as possible. There are many Philadelphia Convention Center hotels, naturally, and you'd like to make the best choice for your budget, time, and enjoyment of your visit to Philadelphia.

Accordingly, we've created our comprehensive Guide to Pennsylvania Convention Center Hotels - we called it Pennsylvania Convention Center Hotels, not Philadelphia Convention Center Hotels, because that's the official name. But it's the same place, and you'll find the guide to the surrounding hotels equally useful, regardless of which name you think of it as...

Added, Wednesday, July 27, 2010...

Getting To the Philadelphia Convention Center

If You're in the City Already

If you are already in downtown Philadelphia, the easy winner of the decision is the purple Phlash Trolley - which has a stop at the Philadelphia Convention Center, and will take you all over downtown, to the major Philadelphia tourist attractions.

However, there are two important caveats, with the Phlash:

1) Unfortunately, it only operates between May 1 and Halloween - the heavy visitor season.

2) It stops operating, every day, around 5:30 - 6 PM.

If you are getting on board the Phlash at around 5 PM or later, make sure you ask the driver if this is the last trolley for the day, as well as asking the time for the last trolley, so that you don't get stranded elsewhere and would have a long walk back to the Convention Center. (The Phlash has been known to cease service without warning, even in the middle of the day, so ask!)

From Other Points in the Philadelphia region

SEPTA offers a variety of options to get to the Philadelphia Convention Center - year-round and also after the PM rush hour. In fact, the Convention Center is one of the easiest and most convenient places in the city, for taking mass transit. So we highly recommend that option, whether it's the Phlash, SEPTA, or a combination of the two. Your options:

The SEPTA Blue Line / Market-Frankford Line / "el" - which are all synonymous terms, for the same SEPTA line - will take you right to the doorstep of the Convention Center. Just take the Blue Line to its 11th Street Station, disembark, and you're right there - just follow signs for the Convention Center.

If you happen to be on Broad Street, you can take the SEPTA Broad Street Subway/Orange Line - and benefit from the free interchange you can make with the Blue Line.

Just take the Broad Street Subway to its City Hall station - which will take you to Broad and Market Streets. From there, if you'd like to walk, you can - it's only about two blocks to the Convention Center, east on Market Street.

However, if the weather is bad, or you're pressed for time - just follow the blue-and-white signs within the Orange Line station that read "Market-Frankford Line." If you follow them, you wiil enter the Blue Line's 15th Street Station, without having to pay with another token or transfer.

Once you're at 15th Street station, just follow signs reading "Eastbound to Frankford", to the eastbound platform. When the el train comes, don't bother to sit down - you're only going to be on it for about two minutes - it will stop at 13th Street, and then 11th Street, where you disembark. Just follow signs for the Philadelphia Convention Center from there.

SEPTA Regional Rail Service

If you are coming from an outlying neighborhood of the city, or the suburbs of Pennsylvania or New Jersey, the best way for you to get there is via SEPTA Regional Rail service, which takes you literally to the Convention Center. As a matter of fact, you won't even need to go outside the train station to get there!

Nearly every inbound SEPTA Regional Rail train will be stopping at Market East Station - which is directly adjacent to the Convention Center, since it is located at 11th and Market Streets.

Once you come up from your Market East platform, just follow the clearly marked signs reading "Pennsylvania Convention Center" - or ask of the SEPTA employees which way you should walk. By following the signs, you'll ultimately end up on an escalator, with a beautiful mural depicting a scene from the now-departed Reading Railroad during the heyday of rail travel in the 20th century. There are also panels there, discussing the history of rail travel and the Reading Railroad.

Ride the escalator up, and just follow the signs for the Convention Center - you won't even need to go outside, and you're there.

From Amtrak - 30th Street Station

If you are arriving from out of town, via Amtrak, you'll be disembarking at it's easy to get to the Convention Center from 30th Street Station - this architectually appealing station is located at 30th and Market Streets - too far to walk, as it's 18 blocks to the Convention Center.

However, your Amtrak ticket is good (on the same day of your travel, to or from Philadelphia) for a free ride to either Suburban Station = which is located at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard - and/or Market East Station. Since Market East Station is directly attached to the Convention Center, that's the one you want.

After you get off the Amtrak train, follow signs for SEPTA and/or SEPTA Regional Rail. Ask at the ticket window, if they can direct you to a platform with an eastbound train going to Market East (service is pretty frequent, since most trains hit all three stations).

Once you're on the SEPTA platform, when the train arrives, make sure by asking the conductor, before you board: "Is this train going to Market East?" If so, jump on. Your trip will take less than 10 minutes.

You'll be on for about 10 minutes. Looking out the window, you'll be able to see some of the city as the train lumbers to Suburban, and then you'll go into the tunnel. After Suburban, Market East is the next stop, so be ready to disembark. You can tell when you're at Market East, because there will be a multi-colored mosaic panel on the walls at Market East, that you won't see anywhere else.

From there, follow the directions above to get to the Convention Center.

Air Travel - From Philadelphia International Airport

SEPTA offers easy, inexpensive, and convenient service from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to the Convention Center. Once you're in the Airport terminal, ask someone to direct you to the SEPTA R1 Airport Line (it was recently decided to eliminate the "R" designations on all SEPTA Regional Rail lines, but they will likely be used for a long time, unofficially, from memory).

Once you're there, make sure you ask if the train is going to Market East. If so, sit back and enjoy the ride, get off at Market East, and follow the directions above. It will be a lot cheaper, and probably faster, than a cab, if the Convention Center, in particular, is your destination.

Where to Eat At the Convention Center

Our highest recommendation goes to the Reading Terminal Market - which is located across the street from the Convention Center, at 12th and Arch Streets. We'd recommend a visit, even if the Convention Center weren't across the street, and the fact that it is across the street, accordingly, makes it an easy decision. You should eat there - it's not open at night, unfortunately, but you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there before they close at 6 PM.

It is inexpensive, and incredibly eclectic in its offerings - there will be something (and often multiple things) for everyone to enjoy in your party. It's a Philadelphia institution, as its roots go back to the 19th century. And the food's really good.

A Map of the Philadelphia Convention Center - officially, the Pennsylvania Convention Center - and the Surrounding Area

View Philadelphia Convention Center in a larger map

Explaining the map above-

The red placemark indicates where you are, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center - the formal name for the Philadelphia Convention Center. Here are the distances between the Convention Center and the nearby, prominent Philadelphia attractions and places to visit. We also recommend the various ways to reach them.

From the Convention Center - defined as 1101 Arch Street - to:

Independence Visitor Center at 525 Market Street - 0.80 miles

The Liberty Bell at 526 Market Street - 0.80 miles.

Independence Hall at 520 Chestnut Street - 0.91 miles.

Franklin Court at 314-321 Market Street - 0.97 miles.

National Constitution Center at 525 Arch Street - 0.49 miles.

Elfreth's Alley at 126 Elfreth's Alley - 0.91 miles.

Betsy Ross House at 239 Arch Street - 0.73 miles.

We recommend walking, the Phlash, a surface SEPTA bus, or a cab.

Added, Sunday, August 1, 2010...

Literally across the street from the Convention Center is Chinatown - and although we're not enthusiasts about Chinese food, you can always appreciate the artistry of the Chinese Friendship Gate, located at the intersection of 10th and Arch Streets, right down Arch Street from the Convention Center. Created by highly skilled Chinese artisans from material donated by Philadelphia's sister city in China, Tianjin, the Friendship Gate is the largest of its kind outside China, and the first one in America.

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