Turn it into the city of broke-rly love: A brokester’s guide to visiting Philly for the DNC

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Get ready for the DNC next week with our affordable trip tips. Photo via @philadelphia_independents on Instagram

After this week, national plagiarism scandals and speeches from orange-tinted offspring will have receded from our minds (hopefully), and we can look forward to the Democratic National Convention, which takes place Monday July 25-Thursday July 28 in Philadelphia. Considering 50,000 people are expected to head towards Philly way in the next week, chances are at least one of you reading this right now is planning to do so, and could use a couple Brokester tips for your trip. National conventions aside, Philly has much more going for it than Cleveland.

Here’s our affordable guide for how to get there, where to stay, and a selection of free or cheap parties and events to check out while you’re celebrating the hope of a non-Trump presidency in America’s birthplace.

Getting there

Although word of a potential strike at the Philadelphia International Airport could interfere with travel, Philly is close enough to New York, there’s hardly a need to fly. If you’re planning on driving, which generally takes about two to two and half hours, be sure to check out the Philly DOT’s website, which has real time updates on traffic, road closures, and parking restrictions to help visitors navigate the city during the convention.

Taking the bus there is always an affordable option—check the site Wanderu, which aggregates tickets from several major bus companies, to find the best deal (one way departures next week are as low as $10, which certainly beats Amtrak prices at $55 and up for a one way).

Where to stay

A quick search on Airbnb for the dates of the convention week pulled up a Center City “hostel-style” room accommodating six guests for only $136/night, with the catch that power is out for the month of July. You probably don’t want to stay there, but hey, maybe you’re that broke. A loft near downtown Philly that sleeps four for $238/night sounds like a better option. Hopefully you won’t get as desperate as this Craigslist ad, which offers “s-e-x(f-u-c-k)making love instead of money – any body part to be used” for DNC lodging.


What to do for fun and politics: Events that are free or less than $20

Donkeys Around Town, Free

57 fiberglass donkeys, painted by local artists to represent where each convention delegate hails from, are installed throughout the city, on view thru Sept. 1. If you download the app Scavify, you can participate in a scavenger hunt of sorts and win prizes for spotting donkeys. At the very least, be sure to commemorate each sighting with an ass selfie!


The HIstorical Society of Pa has a free exhibit of rare documents, like early drafts of the Constitution, on view next week. Photo via @historicalpa on Instagram.
As part of PoliticalFest, the Historical Society of PA has a free exhibit of rare documents, such as early drafts of the Constitution, on view next week. Photo via @historicalpa on Instagram.

PoliticalFest, July 22-July 27

PoliticalFest is the poor person’s DNC — a week of political and historical exhibits and events that will make you feel like an active participant, even if you’re not attending the convention directly. For only $15, you get access to all six days of the fest, held at seven sites throughout the city, which are located within walking distance, or you can take the Philly PHLASH bus, free to ticket holders. Register here.

If you’re arriving over the weekend, you’ll catch Political Feud, a live game show held Friday July 22 through Monday July 25 at the National Convention Center, that you can compete in; just get together a three person team and sign up for one of the available slots here.


51 foot joint

Pot parties — free

On July 25, around 1 or 2pm, activists from PhillyNORML and other pro-pot organizations will march a 51-foot inflatable joint from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Building. The march is to galvanize support for a Bernie Sanders’ Senate bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which will be discussed at the convention and then voted on July 27. They need volunteers to help carry the joint, so maybe that can be you!

That same night, from 8pm-midnight, there will be a free DNC Marijuana Welcome Party at the bar Connie’s Ric Rac, and on Thursday, July 28, an afternoon Cannabis Pride Parade  to close out the convention. Philly is as good a place as any to toke up for our freedom, as they decriminalized weed two years ago.


Other parties

Emily’s List, Free

The democratic women’s advocacy group is putting on a party July 25, from 3-5pm at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Speakers include House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Katie McGinty, among others. It’s free, but RVSP here.

DNC LGBT Welcome Happy Hour, Free

If you arrive by Sunday, July 24, you can catch a free party put on by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club to welcome LGBT delegates, held at Woody’s Bar from 3-6pm. Open to everyone. There will be happy hour drink specials, plus food trucks outside.

StorySlam: Inside the Political Machine, $18

July 27, 6-9pm, attend a night of storytelling at Fishtown dive bar favorite Johnny Brenda’s. Hear political tales from the likes of former mayor John Street and hosted by R. Eric Thomas, or tell your own, followed by a live-stream of the DNC. $18 admission.


The citywide special at Bob & Barbara's: $3 for a shot of Jim Beam and a PBR. Photo via @diane_negan on Instagram.
The citywide special at Bob & Barbara’s: $3 for a shot of Jim Beam and a PBR. Photo via @diane_negan on Instagram.

If you get thirsty

Bars and venues that are hosting DNC events can apply to extend last call to 4am, Philly.com reports. A list will be available by the end of the week, so if you’re game to get turnt, late night style, you’ll have some good options—be sure to check Philly.com before you head out. You can’t go wrong toasting Hillary with original Citywide Special at Bob and Barbara’s, pictured above. The Citywide is actually one of Philly’s best traditions that most respectable dives carry: $3 for a cheap beer and a cheap whiskey shot.


Joes Steaks and Soda Shop, with locations in Fishtown and Northeast Philly, is a favorite spot for a cheesesteak and a milkshake. Photo via @joessteaks on Instagram
Joes Steaks and Soda Shop, with locations in Fishtown and Northeast Philly, is a favorite spot for a cheesesteak and a milkshake. Photo via @joessteaks on Instagram

If you get hungry


On July 25, from 11am to 3pm, food trucks will be set up at 3rd and Arch Streets in the neighborhood of Old Philly. There will be live music as well; it’s still TBA which trucks and bands are participating.



DNC Deals

Extremely relevant to our broke interests: a number of businesses are offering happy hours, specials and discounts during the convention. Search Twitter with the hashtag #DNCdeals to see who’s participating.

If you need a break from the politics, or, God forbid, start to miss Brooklyn, you can have your own simulated Brooklyn night right in Fishtown, hitting up Fette Sau and Barcade—which we hear has better games than the original.

Follow Kate, who can’t seem to stop writing about Philadelphia: @yatinbrooklyn.

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