An Insider’s Guide to the Best Seats in the Academy of Music

Academy of Music best seats

The Academy of Music / Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Whatever performance you happen to be seeing, just being inside this crown jewel of South Broad (built in 1857) is an experience. That ceiling! The 5,000-pound chandelier! Here, Crystal Brewe, audience experience officer for the Philly Orchestra and Ensemble Arts, spotlights some of the special seats.

academy of music

1. Heads-up: The amphitheater has stunning views. But it’s not great for acrophobes or anyone with vertigo. Seriously high; seriously steep.

2. Best seats overall: The first rows of sections D, E & F are close (not too close) and especially great for dance, opera and Broadway shows.

3. Mobility issues? Parquet circle sections C, D, F & G — the aisles especially — offer easy access without having to deal with any stairs.

4. Mind the columns: When they say obstructed views, they mean it. The original columns — dating back to when they built the place as an opera house — are still intact, so not every seat is perfect for every show. When in doubt, ask the box office, or check out,­ a crowdsourced collection of photos and reviews from specific seats at venues around the world.

5. The front-row myth: Closer isn’t always better, Brewe says, especially with dance or musicals — the angle here means you might miss some of the footwork of the performers.

6. Want to impress your date?
Brewe likes the parquet circle boxes for the grandiose elevated view of the entire orchestra section and a straight sight line to the action onstage.

7. Best acoustics: Parquet circle and balcony boxes. (And the best spot for getting the full scope of a production is the center balcony.)

More Tips for the Academy of Music

For the little theatergoers: Head to the coat room to borrow a free booster cushion in exchange for your ID.

Worth considering: Aisle seats — particularly the ones near the exits — are helpful for children and other small-bladder owners.

Yes, you can bring your drink to your seat! Buy yours in the reusable tumblers sold at the Academy’s bars. It costs a little more, but you can keep bringing your cup back for discounted drinks, including the themed cocktails you find at each show. (Loved Mrs. Doubtfire’s Run-By Fruiting last season.)

To get the full effect, check out our cheat sheet to the Academy of Music, here.


>> Click here to return to The Best Seats in Philadelphia

Published as “The Seating Chart: Academy of Music” in the July 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.