Contrary to what many believe, this isn’t stalking— people watching is actually considered a hobby (according to Urban Dictionary.) It's the inner sociologist in us trying to learn more about the culture and environment around us. Plus, it only requires two abilities: moving your eyes and munching your mouth. So, if you’re bored and if you’re hungry, keep scrolling. Here are some of the best place to dine while people watching on Penn’s Campus.  

Byrsi: For the Athletes

Danielle Orie

This is the prime location for anyone active. Not only does Brysi have arguably the best peanut butter post-recovery milkshakes, but it’s also crowded with athletes all the time. If there's anything I know from being an athlete personally, it's that athletes are always hungry. So, if you’re looking to pick up a football player to bring to your next formal, or you want to find out the time of the next lacrosse match, stop in and ask one of Penn’s very own. Brysi has a great selection of smoothies and paninis, and a lot of space for you to sit and people watch. You can even eat your food and observe a practice in the bleachers by the famous Franklin Field if you so desire. 

Pret: For the Coffee Addicts

Danielle Orie

Situated right off of Locust Walk and new to Penn’s campus, Pret-a-Manger, is definitely an ideal people hub. With it being a café and located in such a central area, Pret is almost always crowded. You’ll find people coming here to get that quick coffee fix before class or to meet with friends for a nice lunch. I personally recommend trying their Butternut Squash Ricotta Mac & Cheese or one of their freshly baked, warm almond croissants— they definitely hit the spot.

Another piece of advice: I’ve been told that if you come here late at night, they sometimes give away some of the baked goods for free since they donate the remaining leftover food to the homeless. Because of its busy atmosphere, this place is perfect if you want to get the true “Penn student experience" and see Penn's finest at work. 

Mark's Café in Van Pelt: For the Studious

People watching can be considered a “study,” right? I mean, it does require intense observation and what better place to study than to study people who are studying? If you want to feel smart, then venture to Mark's Cafe because if there’s anything Penn students have, it’s loads of homework. A library during midterms or finals season is sure to be just as crowded as a mall on Black Friday, so you’ll easily find some people to watch, not in a creepy way though. If you want a scenic view, walk up to the sixth floor and you may just see one of your friends running to their next class. I would know— it’s happened to me before!

Tortas Frontera at the Arch: For the Ultra-Socialites

Danielle Orie

Another dining option located right on Locust with outdoor seating, Tortas Frontera is the ultimate center for our ultra-social students. Whether you’re in the mood for some guac’ and chips or a warm “torta” sandwich, you can also feel good about the food you’re eating because a lot of the ingredients are locally sourced. Not to mention, around this area, a lot of the student-run clubs give out information about upcoming events. You can see what’s going on and possibly snag a free Insomnia cookie. While you chomp down on your cazuela and watch the passersby, I’m sure you’ll spot something interesting. Hold your food close, though, the squirrels here may want a taste of your snack, and I don’t think you’ll want to share.

The acts of people watching and eating are relatively simple. The hard part is finding the best places to do both. I don’t know what better defines the normal Penn student than working out, coffee, and studying. That’s why these spots are perfect; they’re always going to be crowded because they’re places people need to go. Just don't get caught staring though— that might make things a little awkward.