Where to Keep Cool in Philly

Looking to escape the 95-degree weather and code orange air quality? Here's where to mooch some free AC.

franklin fountain

Considering a dip in the Franklin Square fountain? This list is for you. | Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

It’s not officially summer, but it sure feels like it.

Maybe the 90-plus-degree heat wave is welcomed by some, but for others, it marks the return of sticky, sweaty, AC-less days. 

The National Weather Service has issued a code orange air quality alert for Philadelphia – meaning children, the elderly and otherwise sensitive groups (those with heart or lung issues) should avoid strenuous activity. And pretty much everyone should stay inside or at least in the shade, seeing as a heat advisory has also been issued for the area.

Here’s where you can catch a break from the high temps and mooch some free air conditioning in the city.

1. The Free Library branches

A long-established go-to on hot days – cool down and catch up on some reading while you’re at it. Find the nearest location to you via Google Maps or the Free Library’s list of locations.

2. City Cooling Centers

They’re open during excessive heat warnings, and the city’s got more than 20 of ’em. Here’s where you can find one.

3. The Shops at Liberty Place

You’ve got a food court, retail outlets and a skylight in the Rotunda to make you feel like you’re still sorta kinda outside.

4. Independence Visitor Center

Especially great if you’re in need of a free bathroom. Plus, catch up on your Philly history.

5. The Bourse

A tourist haven and Philly classic that makes for a convenient rest stop in Old City, featuring a giant atrium and lots of places to shop. It’s just a stone’s throw from the Independence Visitor Center if you’re looking to switch things up and rotate between the two.

6. Reading Terminal Market

Maybe not the best option during the lunchtime rush hour – it can get pretty packed and stuffy in there. But at least you can find something tasty to munch on and keep your mind off the weather (if you can find a seat).

7. Public transportation

OK, so you might have to fork up a few bucks, but this is a viable option if you’re looking to get from point A to point B (or just want to waste some time). Options include the Market-Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line. There’s also the lesser-known Philly Phlash, the city-run shuttle with service to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Center City, Old City and Penn’s Landing. It’s just $2 for a single ride or $5 for a day pass.

8. Barnes and Noble

We’re thinking specifically of the Rittenhouse Square location, which is perfectly convenient if you want to take a break from people watching in the park. Use the bathroom, peruse the bookshelves and grab an iced coffee in the Starbucks.

9. 30th Street Station

Even with all its bustle, there’s something relaxing about sitting on the wooden benches at 30th Street Station. (Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of knowing you’re not one of the people running to make a train.)

10. The Comcast Center

Hey, there’s a 2,000-square-foot, LED-lit HD wall to distract you from the sweltering temperatures. And I’m sure Comcast would be just delighted to have you.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.