Like our foodie post from this year, we have an exciting set of updates to our list of things to do in and around Philadelphia for 2016. Here are some of the highlights — some new, some old favorites, that you’ll want to put on your “I should see that!” list.
If it’s listed in bold you can even walk there from the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown or the Convention Center! Those listed in italics are a bit farther of a walk, but just fine for a lengthy stroll.
- The Christmas Village in Philadelphia plus Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market in Dilworth Plaza Normally located in LOVE Park, the annual village of shops and displays has been relocated to City Hall (right up Broad Street from the Convention Center!) while LOVE Park undergoes repairs. The Holiday Market is mere steps away from the Village, around the side of City Hall. (More info on the Village is available here.)
- The Rothman Center Ice Rink at Dilworth Plaza While you’re in Dilworth Plaza, why not strap on some ice skates and take a turn around the rink?
- The Macy’s Holiday Light Show at Macy’s Center City Lights and the famous Wanamaker organ make this an annual tradition worth checking out.
- The Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum A wonderful outdoor miniature railway display in the midst of the beautiful Morris Arboretum.
- Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest A whole lot bigger rink than Dilworth Plaza and right next to the Delaware River, with beautiful views of the river and bridges.
- Franklin Square Holiday Festival Holiday lights, a carousel, and Square Burger — who could ask for anything more?
- The Comcast Holiday Spectacular Dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet, music, and a positively GIANT video screen, with displays on the hour, every hour, from 10am to 8pm.
- A Longwood Christmas Longwood Gardens is a bit of a hike by car, but its beautiful gardens, decorated for the holidays and world-class pipe organ are not to be missed.
- “A Very Philly Christmas” in Fairmount Park Fairmount Park is home to some AMAZING historic homes. These homes are decorated in a classic fashion for Christmas and are a sight to behold. More information is available at the official site.
- Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad Located in the Reading Terminal Market, right across the street from the Convention Center, the Holiday Railroad features over a third of a mile of track and 20 model trains.
- Christmas Celebration at the Adventure Aquarium Do you like SCUBA-diving Santas? Then you’ll love this feature at the Adventure Aquarium.
- Jurassic World exhibit at the Franklin Institute The Franklin Institute is a wonderful science museum and if you don’t get your fill of dinosaurs at the official WCUS after-party, you should definitely check out the FI’s dinosaur exhibit. (If robots are more your speed, then they’ve got you covered there, too.)
- Free First Sundays at the Barnes Foundation An unparalleled curated collection of artistic masterpieces, from Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, and more makes the Barnes a can’t-miss for art appreciators.
- Chemical Heritage Foundation The CHF museum features a mix of science, technology and art.
- Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA) Located directly across from the Convention Center on Broad Street, PAFA features a wonderful collection of classic, modern, and in-between artwork. The museum is also featuring a collection of World War I art which is free to view on Sundays.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art This museum is more than just the “Rocky Steps” — it features many collections (arms and armor, landscapes, furniture, and silver work, paintings and sculpture, and more) and is a wonderful stroll up the Avenue of the Arts. Don’t miss the current exhibit on Mexican Modernism.
- The Fabric Workshop and Museum Located just across Arch Street from the Convention Center, this unique museum features artists working in media perhaps beyond their usual methods (for instance, did you know Roy Lichtenstein designed a shirt?).
- Philadelphia Mural Arts Not a museum, per se, but Philadelphia’s vibrant public mural program has blessed many neighborhoods with vibrant, even breathtaking murals, many of which span entire faces of their host buildings. There are guided train, trolley, and walking tours, though if you’re interested, you can certainly view any/all of the work on your own.
- Institute of Contemporary Art “Founded in 1963, the ICA has earned an international reputation among contemporary art museums.”
- And of course the Academy of Natural Sciences, the venue for our official WCUS after-party features dinosaurs, butterflies, and a wealth of exhibits featuring animals of all sorts.
See A Little History
While in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our great nation, you should definitely take the opportunity to see some of historic sites, such as
- The Liberty Bell
- Independence Hall (They signed the Declaration of Independence here!)
- The President’s House
- Carpenters’ Hall (Site of the first Continental Congress)
- The Independence Visitor Center Base your trip to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the National Museum of American Jewish History out of the Visitor Center.
- The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia
- The Betsy Ross House
- The Edgar Allan Poe House
See the Great Outdoors
- Schyulkill River Trail Bike, run, or walk as far along the river to the West of Philadelphia. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Boathouse Row while you’re out and about, particularly after dusk.
- Valley Forge National Park is not just a park with national significance, it’s also a beautiful semi-wilderness escape, museum, and driving tour.
- Washington Crossing State Park Although the recreations of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware don’t start until December 11th, the park itself is still a beautiful trip to make.
- Fairmount Park Fairmount is the largest urban park in the world and its trails, playgrounds, art installations, and more make it a great place to spend some quiet time communing with nature.