Ultimate Casino Guide-Philadelphia Area of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Area Casinos- Where to stay, where to park, what to eat, what else to see and do
Welcome to your ultimate guide to casinos in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This hub is intended to provide you with comprehensive information on everything you need to know to have a fun and successful gaming visit to the Philadelphia region of PA. You’ll find an overview of each casino, restaurant information, lodging locations, the inside scoop on the downsides of each establishment and more. Let’s jump right in:
SugarHouse Casino, 1001 N Delaware Ave Philadelphia, PA 19125, (267) 232-2000
Overview: SugarHouse is located overlooking the Delaware River just a few minutes from Penn Treaty Park and a short car ride from Center City. It is a relatively small casino with 1,602 slot machines and 53 gaming tables. When standing in the front of the casino, the back of the casino seems to be an arm’s length away, making the gambling floor feel rather…shall we say… “cozy.” It’s open 24 hours a day and has a free parking lot attached. Valet parking is available, but not necessary for those who are ambulatory because the parking lot is not very big. Expansion plans were approved in May of 2013, and include a goal of adding between 1,000-2,000 additional slots, four more restaurants and a parking tower.
Common Complaints: SugarHouse is incredibly smokey, and since it is so small, the smoke is impossible to escape. Those who are allergic would do well to avoid this place. The bathroom is often very dirty, with a wet, slippery floor. The clientele tends to be on the elderly side, so there is a lot of maneuvering around medical equipment such as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks that needs to be done to get to the slots. Safety has been a major issue for this casino in the past, with numerous muggings occurring in the parking lot.
Dining: At the time of publication, SugarHouse has three dining establishments; The Refinery, Jack’s Sandwiches and Sweets, and Lucky Red. The Refinery offers typical pub fare such as burgers and wings along with some Asian inspired cuisine. Seating with a water view is available, and this is your best bet for a full sit-down meal. At Jack’s Sandwiches you can grab a hoagie or meatball sub along with a few other basic choices, and finish your meal off with a cookie and coffee. Lucky Red is a sports bar that seats approximately 20 people on high top bar stools.
Where to Stay: Since SugarHouse is located just five minutes from “Center City” Philadelphia, you have a huge range of options for lodging. Here are three choices that have consistently good reviews in each price range:
Expensive: Hotel Monaco-Starts at $279 per night, located about a mile from Sugarhouse.
Mid-Range: Wydham Philadelphia Historic District-Starts at $118 per night, located a mile from Sugarhouse.
Cheap: Quality Inn Philadelphia Airport-Starts at $80 per night, located 14 miles from Sugarhouse.
Insider Tip: SugarHouse runs a pretty extensive shuttle with routes from Center City, South Philly, and Northeast Philly. If you’re staying at a hotel near the airport, you can hop a bus to center city and then take the shuttle to SugarHouse from there.
What Else to see and Do: Don’t miss taking a tour of Olde City Philadelphia, South Street, Center City, The Liberty Bell, The Italian Market at 9th Street, Northern Liberties, eating a soft pretzel from a street vendor, and for heaven’s sake, if you want a cheesesteak, please don’t go to Pat’s or Geno’s. Locals don’t eat there. We eat our cheesesteaks from Jim’s on South Street or Tony Lukes.
Parx Casino, 2999 Street Rd Bensalem, PA 19020 (888) 588-7279
Overview: With 3,500 slot machines, 140 gaming tables and 60 poker tables, Parx definitely pulls its weight as a significant gaming establishment. It also has the benefit of pretty swank décor (some compare it to the Borgata in Atlantic City) and a new-feeling vibe, even though it’s been open in one form or another since 1974. It was previously a racetrack called Philadelphia Park. The casino portion opened in 2006 and in 2010, it was renamed Parx. There is a huge outside parking lot and valet parking is also available for $5.
Parking tip: If you enter the casino from Street Road, stay to your right and make a right where the road splits. Take your first left into the parking lot and drive all the way down to the end. If you can find a spot on the left hand portion of this parking area, you’ll be very close to the casino entrance.
Common Complaints: Many online reviewers hate the fact that the casino is divided into two separate buildings, and that the buildings are rather far away from each other. The poker tables are located in this second building, and are not all that convenient to reach on foot. There are also complaints about the smoke. However, the casino floor is quite large and some areas are designated as non-smoking, so it’s possible to escape this particular problem. The music from the 360 Lounge is so loud that it can really break your concentration when gambling at the slots or tables nearby. Finally, some feel that the drink service is very slow, so you’re better off ordering a drink at one of the bars instead of waiting for the complimentary drinks served by the hostesses.
Dining: Just to keep it real, Parx has pretty lousy food. At first glance it appears that there are tons of choices for eating, but two of those places are cafeteria style and have quite limited choices. Chickie and Pete’s is just o.k. for a sit-down dinner, but everything must be ordered separately. No salads or side dishes come with any of the entrees, and the entrees themselves tend to be on the small side. Sangkee Noodle House has a mediocre selection of noodle soups which must be ordered at the counter (no wait staff service.) Foodies is cafeteria-style with bland pizza, sandwiches and snacks. Parxgrille is a steakhouse that offers a $35 prix fix menu. In the other building, Parx East (that’s the one with the poker tables,) there is The Clubhouse Restaurant, a very expensive upscale place; Paddock Grill, a cafeteria style place for sandwiches; Trackside Dining, where you can watch the races and have food brought to your table and Circle Bar, where you can order sandwiches and soups along with drinks.
Insider Tip: Forget the casino restaurants and head to Carrabas instead. It’s located directly across the street from the casino on Tillman Drive right off of Street Road and offers above-average Italian fare for very reasonable prices.
Where to Stay:
Expensive: Crowne Plaza Bucks County, rooms start at $140 per night, located 1.5 miles from Parx.
Mid-Range: Sleep Inn and Suites, rooms start at $99 per night, located .02 miles from Parx.
Cheap: Days Inn Horsham Philadelphia, rooms start at $50.99 per night, located 13.99 miles from Parx.
What Else to see and Do: Don’t miss the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle! This is a super cool place that was built by Henry Mercer. It features tons of tiles and tile work, and his house is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, guaranteed! If you have children, you’ll want to stop by Sesame Place. Also be sure to check out the mansions along the Delaware.
Harrah’s Philadelphia, 777 Harrah's Blvd Chester, PA 19013 (484) 490-1800
Overview: It’s not really in Philadelphia, but rather a suburb of Philly called Chester. Calling it Harrah’s Philadelphia was a marketing decision, so don’t let the name fool you into thinking you’ll be downtown if you stay very close by this casino. You will need a car if you want to tour Philadelphia itself (and you definitely don’t want to tour Chester.) Harrah’s Philadelphia has 2,900 slots and the largest selection of gaming tables in the region. The décor is modern, glitzy and appealing. Parking is free in a parking tower or valet parking is $10, and there is also a racetrack.
Common Complaints: Harrah’s is known to be a very “tight” casino and this is echoed in many online reviews. Don’t expect loose slots here; you’re better off with table games. It’s been widely noted that this casino is right next door to a prison, and some folks have had issues with a lack of good security while walking to their cars (aka-some muggings have occurred.) There are complaints about the smoke but a large non-smoking section is offered. The ATM fees are very high: up to $9! Make sure to have plenty of cash on you when you arrive. Many are also not too wild about the food choices and numerous people cite the buffet as “the worst” they’ve ever had.
Harrah’s has numerous restaurants which are pretty decent, but like most casinos, nothing to write home about. Still, you can generally get an ok meal if you stick with the places that make fresh-cooked items (aka: stay away from the buffet.) Philly Tap and Tavern offers a gorgeous view of the Delaware River and traditional pub food like burgers and wings. The salmon here is exceptional and always very fresh. Mein serves up Asian noodles and soups in a very casual atmosphere. Tony Luke’s is a great place to grab a cheesesteak, Café Napoli is cafeteria-style light Italian cuisine and The Cove is the upscale expensive restaurant on the upper level of the casino. The buffet is…well… the buffet.
Insider Tip: Don’t worry about fighting for a parking spot on the 4th floor of the parking garage (that’s the casino floor). Any floor you park on leads you to an elevator, which takes you to the casino floor in a jiffy.
Where to Stay
Expensive: Springhill Suites Philadelphia Airport, rooms average $185 per night, located 2.11 miles from Harrah’s.
Mid-range: Wyndham Garden Philadelphia Airport, rooms average $125 per night, located 3.5 miles from Harrah’s.
Cheap: Microtel Inn and Suites, rooms average $80 per night, located 6.42 miles from Harrah’s.
What else to see and do: There is nothing else to see or do in Chester, but there’s plenty to see and do just 30 minutes up the road in Philly. Or, head out the opposite way to Lancaster County (about a 1.5 hour drive from the airport hotels.) If you want to stay even more local, you can hit Longwood Gardens, Chadd’s Ford Winery and Booths Corner, all about a 30-45 minute drive away.
Valley Forge Casino Resort
Valley Forge Casino Resort, 1160 1st Ave King of Prussia, PA 19406 (610) 354-8118
Overview: They always say “forewarned is forearmed” and you would do well to note that this casino is much different from the other three in the Philadelphia area. Firstly, it is a “class three” casino and that means that it’s governed by different (and rather confusing) rules. Guests of the casino must either buy into a “membership” which, at the time of publication, costs $20 for three months, or purchase a “day pass” for $10. However, if you spend $10 on food or in any of the casino shops, it will be counted toward the day pass. Once you get your entrance card, you will be greeted by an itsy bitsy, teeny tiny casino consisting of just 600 slot machines and 50 table games. Parking is pretty straightforward; there is a free self-park lot right in front or you can choose complimentary valet service.
Common Complaints: This casino has just two stars on Yelp, with the biggest complaints being the extremely tight slots and the entrance fee. As reported by the American Casino Guide, the Valley Forge Casino Resort has the lowest payout of all the casinos in Pennsylvania, at 89.50% payback. The Guide notes that this statistic was calculated during the first four months the casino was open, however, it seems relatively safe to assume that rate won’t be going up anytime soon. The tiny dance floor, the extremely strong stench of smoke and the low quality food also appear in the comments numerous times. Many also note the “extremely filthy,” “dump” hotel that is attached, and based on those comments, staying at the Casino Tower Hotel is not recommended.
Dining: The casino website makes it seem like the casino has seven restaurants, but a recent visit revealed that three of those restaurants are cafeteria-style eateries, including Nosh Deli, Asianoodle and the Italian Market, which all sit next to each other in a small food court. The American Grill is located on the casino floor and features burgers and sandwiches served 24/7. There are two “upscale” (and that term is used lightly) restaurants, Pacific Prime and Viviano; and one pub-type establishment called Valley Tavern, which is located a day’s journey away from the casino floor, inside the hotel itself. Pacific Prime is a very expensive steak house (about $48 per entrée with no side dishes) and Viviano is a pricey Italian place. During a recent visit there, a cheese tray was served which contained cheese that had spoiled. The manager removed it from the bill, sent a complimentary replacement and provided two free glasses of champagne. Despite these efforts to make up for the mistake, the rest of the food was not of the quality which would warrant a recommendation.
Insider Tip: Avoid the hotel section at all costs. Eat something before you go, and don’t expect to win any money. The crowd is 30-60 something’s, so if you’re looking to party with young folks, you’re not going to find them here. However, if you enjoy a more mature crowd, you can have some fun having drinks at the little “nightclub” in the middle of the casino floor and kicking up your heels to classic 80’s hip hop.
Where to Stay
Expensive: Courtyard by Marriott, rooms start at $194, located 1.48 miles from Valley Forge Casino.
Mid-range: Crowne Plaza Valley Forge, rooms average $130 per night. Located 2.4 miles away from Valley Forge Casino.
Cheap: Hyatt Place King of Prussia, rooms from $107 per night. Located 1.14 miles from Valley Forge Casino.
What else to see and do: Check out the King of Prussia Mall and its adjacent Imax Theater, then try out the new location of Ralph’s for real Italian food. Of course, Philly is just a 35 minute drive away, with thousands of choices of activities.
Philadelphia area casinos in order of payout rate as reported by American Casino Guide:
- Parx: 90.59%
- Sugar House: 89.66%
- Harrah’s: 89.62%
- Valley Forge Casino Resort: 89.50%
Philadelphia area casinos by average Yelp review:
- Harrah’s: 3 stars
- Parx: 3 stars
- Sugar House: 2 stars
- Valley Forge Casino and Resort: 2 stars
Philadelphia area casinos by number of machines and games:
- Sugar House
- Valley Forge Casino Resort
Please weigh in and share your comments on your experiences at any of these or other Pennsylvania casinos you’ve visited. Most of all, good luck!