Fun at 21: Olde City Philadelphia

Megan Donoghue

Sick of the Brick? Not too wild about the Onion? Brownies not as sweet as it used to be? By senior year, some Villanova students experience a major social dilemma – what to do on Saturday night.

Having gone to happy hour the night before, they probably also made an appearance at a bar on Conestoga Road and perhaps even ventured across the street to another on Garrett Avenue. Although these popular Villanova watering holes are just what the doctor ordered for a fun Friday night, by Saturday some seniors long for a change of sceneryand a temporary escape from the sometimes “too predictable” social circuit.

This problem is easily solved with a quick car ride away from Villanova and into Olde City, Philadelphia – home of historical sites, art galleries and three chic nighttime hotspots that are definitely worth the trip.

Olde City stretches from the Ben Franklin Bridge south to Chestnut Street and from the Delaware River west to Sixth Street. So how does a Villanova student get there? Travel west on Lancaster Avenue, take 476 North toward Plymouth Meeting, merge onto 76 East and get off at exit 344.

From there, take the Vine Street Expressway to Central Philadelphia toward the Ben Franklin Bridge. Now turn slightly right onto North Sixth Street and Olde City awaits you! Amidst famous landmarks including the Betsy Ross House, are three of the hippest nocturnal destinations-perfect for a socially discouraged Villanova senior on a Saturday.

One such place is Plough and the Stars, a restaurant and bar located at 123 Chestnut St. that serves up interesting Irish fare, potent alcoholic elixirs and the opportunity to meet just about every yuppie living anywhere close to Philadelphia. The crowd is enjoyable, friendly and very nicely dressed.

Plough and the Stars is located in the restored and historically preserved Corn Exchange Building but its atmosphere is far from the farm.

A real fireplace casts a warm and inviting glow upon the strikingly high cathedral ceilings and merry revelers, not to mention the gorgeous gold stilettos the fashion diva at the bar next to you is wearing!

Such trendy décor is described as “downright gorgeous” by Philadelphia Weekly and rightly so.

If that description does not leave you starstruck, then perhaps Finnigan’s Wake is just the trick. Located at the corner of Spring Garden and 3rd streets in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia’s first Irish immigrant neighborhood, it is the largest pub and entertainment complex on the East Coast. Villanova students will surely be seeing green here as they ascend through four levels of Finnigan’s. The lower level is the Quiet Man Pub with a unique Irish feel and a cobblestone floor while the main level, often referred to as “Finnigan’s Wake,” has two large bars and tons of Irish memorabilia. Still not dancing the jig? History buffs, head up to “The Lincoln Level” where the famous Lincoln Doors are located. It was behind these doors that the president’s body was dressed!

The top floor is reserved for special events and claims to have a spectacular view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The crowd at Finnigan’s is typically in its 20s and 30s and there is a cover charge. Inside, however, the prices are average and the bands are great. With its upbeat surroundings, Finnigan’s Wake will make some Villanova seniors wish they were Irish!

If a posh night is what you crave and the Emerald Isle is just not doing the trick, then perhaps the “see-and-be-seen” environment of The Continental is just what the savvy Villanova senior prefers.

Located at 138 Market St., The Continental is a proud award winner of the hippest atmosphere, along with Playboy’s Best Bar award, not to mention that it was featured on MTV’s “Sex in the 90s.”

The vibe is cool, the crowd looks like they just walked off the runway, and the lamps are shaped like martini olives with toothpick stems!

The potions they mix are just as chic but slightly more lethal. (Try the white chocolate martini – it comes with a Hershey’s Kiss!) The Continental also serves exotic “global tapas” that complement the mega martinis perfectly. Do not be fooled though, The Continental’s crowd is definitely legal; owners of fake New Jersey licenses need not try!

So next time Villanova seniors experience the Saturday night social debacle, have no fear. Olde City and these three hotspots, not to mention the other clubs, lounges, bars and restaurants that the historic neighborhood has to offer, are all just 20 minutes away!

Oh, and tell your favorite booth at the Wild Onion to relax – although Olde City is a blast, local bars will never be forgotten.