1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Five Reasons to Visit Philadelphia in the Fall

by Suzanne Fluhr on September 6, 2016 · 22 comments

Fall at Longwood Gardens

Philadelphia might not be the first fall travel destination that springs to mind, but I highly recommend my hometown as an excellent, engaging choice for a fall getaway.

5 Reasons to Pick Philadelphia as a Fall Travel Destination:

1. You Can Have the Nation’s Most Historic Square Mile Mostly to Yourself. 

Independence Hall in Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park

Independence Hall in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park

The spring and summer are prime times for class trips and families visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Although there is something special about joining the hordes to celebrate the Fourth of July in the nations’s birthplace, standing in line is probably not the way you want to spend your fall getaway time. Come October, the crowds at Philadelphia’s most visited venues thin, and you can probably get a photo of the Liberty Bell that doesn’t include a bunch of strangers. Use the excellent website of the Independence National Historic Park to help plan the history part of your visit to Philadelphia. While you’re in the area, take a walk over to funky South Street to have a cheesesteak and to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

2. Philly is Comfortable in the Fall.

There’s a reason many Philadelphians can be found “down the shore” in New Jersey during the summer. The Founding Fathers who debated the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia during the summer of 1776, bitterly complained about the sweltering hot and humid conditions. That much hasn’t changed. The city’s summer weather can most charitably described as “muggy”. In contrast, Philly fall days are crisp with low humidity — perfect for sightseeing and for outdoors activities.

3. Avoid the Leaf Peeping Menaces in New England.

Williams College campus fall foliage

Williams College campus in the fall. I’ll grant you it’s beautiful, but look at all the cars full of leaf peepers!

When many people think of an autumn trip in the United States, the colorful New England fall foliage is an obvious choice. I was fortunate enough to attend Williams College in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of northwestern Massachusetts. My first September there, upperclassmen warned me to be especially careful crossing the main road because the fall “leaf peepers” were a menace behind the wheel. Sure enough, as soon as the leaves started changing colors, there was a never ending stream of cars with out of state license plates being driven across campus by distracted drivers. So, if you’re looking for a fall getaway without the leaf peeping hordes, Philadelphia (and the surrounding countryside), is a splendid alternative.

4. The Leaves Change Colors in Philadelphia Too.

Covered Bridge in Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia

An 18th century covered bridge in Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia during the early fall.

If you must leaf peep in New England, you’re in luck because you can follow the changing colors south as the season progresses. The fall foliage colors in Philadelphia and environs usually peak in mid to late October. Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System is one of the largest urban park systems in the country. One of my favorite places to commune with fall foliage is in Wissahickon Valley Park in the northwestern section of Philadelphia, complete with a covered bridge first built in 1737, fifty-seven miles of trails, and a 7 mile gravel road only for bikers, walkers and equestrians.

Fall foliage in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square.

Fall foliage in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.

For a truly urban park experience, check out leafy Rittenhouse Square where you can revel in fall foliage (and people and dog watching) while enjoying a snack or meal at a French Bistro.

5. Fall is a Lovely Time to Visit Attractions in the Countryside Southwest of Philadelphia.

Within an hour’s driving distance of Center City Philadelphia, are three visit worthy venues all of which have both inside and outside components:

  • The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art: Set in an adapted old mill building in the bucolic Brandywine River valley, the Brandywine River Museum of Art showcases the work of three members of Wyeth family of artists who called this area home. The conservancy preserves the natural and historic beauty of the Brandywine watershed, so there are plenty of fall leaves to peep at.
  • Longwood Gardens:  Located close to the Brandywine Museum of Art, is a 1,077 acre botanical garden, home to at least 4,600 species of plants and trees, some of which is natural meadow and woodlands. Longwood Gardens is a beautiful place to visit year round, and the fall is no exception. In case it starts raining, 4.5 acres and 20 gardens are inside heated greenhouses.
Fall at Longwood Gardens

Fall colors at Longwood Gardens. Photo: Public Domain

  • Winterthur Museum, Garden and LibraryWinterthur is located just over the Pennsylvania border in Delaware, but still within an hour drive of Center City Philadelphia, and close to the Brandywine River Museum of Art and Longwood Gardens. It is the ancestral home and estate of the Dupont family. The estate includes a 60 acre naturalistic garden brimming with fall foliage. Again, if you need to get indoors because of uncooperative weather, the Dupont home is described as the “is the premier museum of American decorative arts.” 

Come to Philadelphia for a fall visit because despite Philly’s perhaps deserved reputation for grittiness, poorly behaved sports fans and an artery clogging signature food (cheesesteaks), in fact, you’ll find a city with a charming, walkable central core; beautiful parks; and friendly, helpful natives (like moi) anxious to welcome you.

Travel Tip: You’ll find to be a very helpful website for planning all aspects of your trip to the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection).

For more fall travel ideas, check out these posts by other Travel Buzz Media collaborators:

Fall Travel Getaway Guide: Providence, Rhode Island by Mary Jo Manzanares of Traveling with MJ

Fall Road Trip through Croatia by Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery

Oktoberfest Getaway in Munich  by Betsy Wuebker of Passing Thru

Where to See Fall Foliage by Kerwin McKenzie of Pass Rider

So, should we leave a light on for you in Philadelphia this fall?

Reflections in the Wissahickon.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

noel September 6, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Fall time looks gorgeous in Philly, I’ve always wanted to go visit Longwood and I’m sure it is quite spectacular with all the fall colors and transitions in the garden, have you been?


Suzanne Fluhr September 6, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Yes, I have been there several times. It is quite lovely and worth a visit no matter the weather because there is also so much to see in the 20 Longwood greenhouses. As a Hawaiian, I think you’d be impressed by their orchid collection.


Stacia Friedman September 6, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Not only is the Fall Foliage fabulous in Philly but so is the food! You love small, chef/owner restaurants with inventive cuisine and affordable prices? Come on down! Our restaurants -and food trucks – are half the price of NYC and twice as friendly. As long as you avoid Friday & Saturday nights, you’ll have no problem getting a reservation at the eatery of your choice. My faves? D’Nic’s Roast Pork & Broccoli Rabe (with Provolone) at the Reading Terminal Market; Dizengoff (the humus mecca); Paradiso in East Passyunk; and any Vetri-owned establishment!


Alice D September 6, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Reason #6: Our reunion of the Phila. HS for Girls in a little over 2 weeks!


Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm

See you then. Proof that you can indeed go home again.


Jacqueline Gum September 7, 2016 at 8:11 am

I think reason #3 – Avoiding Leaf Peeping Menaces is plenty reason:) But I must say that the picture of Longwood Gardens in the fall is very tempting. And just one cheesesteak never killed anybody… I don’t think:)


Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm

if you come visit Philadelphia, I’ll make sure you get your cheesesteak—and I’ll eat half of it for you—you know, for your health.


Billie September 7, 2016 at 8:41 am

Even before I read your article, I identified the shot you posted on FB as being Longwood Gardens, not Philadelphia! Purist that I am, I kept thinking, maybe there actually is someplace in Philly this flowerful (like Morris Arboretum or Awbury Arboretum), but alas, I was correct. The gardens around the Rodin Museum on the Parkway are also beautiful.


Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

Longwood Gardens is less than an hour drive from Philly. Close enough, I figured.


Donna Janke September 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

You’ve sold me. I’d like to visit Philadelphia and fall sounds like a perfect time. I don’t think it will be this fall though. Longwood Gardens will be a must-see when I do get there.


Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Donna, actually, both the spring and fall are wonderful in Philadelphia. As I mentioned, the summer is over the top hot and muggy and the winter can be pretty gray and cold and we sometimes get smacked with significant snowstorms.


Madaline Resendes September 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm

How did you know Eddie, Emma and I were contemplating a Thanksgiving trip to Philadelphia? You may have pushed us over the edge with this post replete with alluring points of interest you so seductively present! You Philly vixen, you! Our lives are complex and many moving parts always have to be considered, but I think we can make it work! Lovely places to see and lovely people to visit. Of course, by then the Founding Fathers will either be turning over in their graves or celebrating the fact that the democracy they so lovingly crafted is still progressing, however haltingly!


Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

You do realize that the leaves will no longer be on the trees by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, but your family will still be there.


Edward Holmes September 8, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Philly looks really great in the fall.


Irene S. Levine September 9, 2016 at 1:44 pm

You’ve really whetting my travel appetite!


nan @ lbddiaries September 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm

This sounds like a perfect vacation to me! We lived in Vermont for a year and a half and the peepers there were also amazingly distracted – although it was understandable – the leaves were AH-MAZING!! I am bookmarking this one and make plans to visit your town – I love that area!


Roz Warren September 10, 2016 at 10:29 am

As I Philly native, I enjoy all of these things. And Philadelphia is a great city for just walking around in.


Candy September 29, 2016 at 10:52 am

My daughter is moving to Philadelphia in a couple of months to open a brand new hotel in University City. We’ll be traveling there regularly and your posts about Philly just make me more excited to visit! My husband’s dad grew up there, and I’m also a HUGE history and genealogy buff, so I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your posts about Philly… all the way over here in the Palm Springs desert in California.


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