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).

Yo – You Should Visit Philadelphia During the Winter Holiday Season

by Suzanne Fluhr on December 2, 2014 · 59 comments

Updated for 2018-2019

When I was growing up in Philadelphia, especially even Philadelphians said things like:

Did you hear about the contest? First prize is one week in Philadelphia. Second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia.

That was then. Now I feel completely comfortable enthusiastically urging you to visit Philadelphia during the winter holiday season. By February, I’ll be begging Mr. Excitement to take me somewhere warm and sunny, but in December, I’m happy to be soaking up all the holiday cheer Philly has to offer.

Reasons to Visit Center City Philadelphia During the Winter Holiday Season

Rittenhouse Square holiday lights.

Rittenhouse Square is decorated and illuminated for the holiday season.

  • Philadelphia is decked out during December. I even tolerate enjoy walking our dog, Dino at midnight when it’s freezing cold in Rittenhouse Square because the holiday lights cast a cheerful glow and young people are still out enjoying the local upscale bars in the area.
  • A few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, in the lobby of the Comcast Center , you can catch the 15 minute holiday spectacular video and sound show, daily on the hour, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (except at 5:00 pm on weekdays) through December 31, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day. The show is presented on a massive, very high resolution LED screen. Dancers seem about to whirl out of the screen as music fills the air. If you have travel plans, under the Comcast Center, you can enter a major  hub for the Philadelphia subway, trolley and regional rail systems.
Comcast Center Holiday Show

Comcast Center Holiday Show

  • As long as you’re checking out holiday “shows”, meander over to the Macy’s department store across the street from Philadelphia’s historic City Hall (1300 Market Street). Every two hours (from 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.) through the end of December, there is a four story holiday sound and light show in the store’s Grand Court, featuring the Wanamaker Grand Organ—live for the noon show. The Wanamaker organ, built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, is reputed to be the largest playing pipe organ in the world. It has 28,677 pipes!
  • While you’re in the building, go visit the Dickens Christmas Village on the third floor.
Philadelphia Christmas Village on Dilworth Plaza, City Hall

Part of the 2016 Christmas Village set up on Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall.

  • After (or before) you’ve seen the Macy’s sound and light holiday show, head over to the Christmas Village. This is Philly’s version of a German Christmas market. The Christmas Village has returned to Dilworth Plaza (a/k/a Love Park), just northwest of Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall. There are some 80 temporary booths selling everything from jewelry, to toys and international crafts. And—yo—this is Philly, so of course, there’s food.
  • If you’re not exhausted by shopping, take time to show off your best ice skating moves on the Rothman Ice Rink set up in Dilworth Park in front of City Hall. You can rent ice skates there. (Could it be a coincidence that the enterprise that bought the naming rights for this ice rink is a large orthopedic medical practice?) (Continuing the ice skating medical theme, the other public ice skating rink is named after a health insurance company, the Blue Cross RiverRink next to the Delaware River.)
Art Deco Building Facade on Walnut Street, Center City Philadlephia

The art deco facade of a building on Walnut Street, west of Broad Street.

  • If you haven’t finished your shopping, walk 3 blocks south of City Hall to Walnut Street, Philadelphia’s version of Rodeo Drive. Walk west (turn right) on Walnut Street towards Rittenhouse Square for shopping at price points from bargain (i.e. H&M) to super high end (i.e. Armani). If you’re interested in architecture, look up. Walnut Street is lined with some of Philadelphia’s earliest “skyscrapers), some in art deco style, others topped by Greek revival and other nods to past architectural styles. At the corner of Broad and Walnut Streets, you can pop into the Hyatt at the Bellvue Hotel which opened in 1904 and is still referred to as the Grand Dame of Broad Street. Consider having a cocktail with a view on the 19th floor.
Reading Terminal Market

Choose from a range of Pennsylvania Dutch, International and Philly staples at the Reading Terminal Market.

  • This is Philly, so don’t worry about not being able to find somewhere for lunch or a snack—and another snack. In addition to the food booths at the Love Park Christmas Village, there are food courts under the Comcast Center, in the One Liberty Place shops and downstairs in the Bellvue Hotel at Broad and Walnut Streets. (Yes, the same Bellvue Hotel of Legionnaires Disease fame, but, hey, that was a long time ago). Then there’s the mother of all food courts—the famous Reading Terminal Market, two blocks east of City Hall.
Philadelphia Orchestra performing the Messiah at the Kimmel Center

The Philadelphia Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Broad Street.

  • Philly might be mostly known for Rocky, cheese steaks and poorly behaved sports fans, but Philadelphia is also home to the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Both perform Christmas classics in December, including the Nutcracker Suite ballet and, my favorite, Handel’s Messiah.
  • If you have time, most of Philadelphia’s famous historic sights (i.e. the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center) and our newest history museum, The Museum of the American Revolution are also in Center City Philadelphia and are open daily, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Check out the Philadelphia Liberty Trail, a great walking tour guide book by Baby Boomer travel bloggers Larissa and Michael Milne.
  • Have another day? Check out the fantastic museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, ending at the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can even get someone to take a photo of you with the Rocky statue at the bottom of the famous Rocky stairs. Our newest Parkway art museum is the Barnes Foundation Museum, well worth a visit.

A Worthy Day Trip Outside Philadelphia: Longwood Gardens and Winterthur

  • Thirty miles southwest of Philadelphia, is the famed botanical garden, Longwood Gardens. While winter is not a time to visit to admire the outdoor fountains and plantings, there are seasonal concerts with light displays and indoor greenhousees.
  • A sixteen minute drive southeast of Longwood Gardens will bring you to the old Dupont estate, Winterthur, just over the Delaware border. The Duponts brought entire rooms over from Europe and these are beautifully decorated during the holiday season.  The estate is closed on Mondays. During the holiday season, it is best to buy tickets ahead of time on line.

Or Go North and Visit Historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Check out the Mercer Mile in Doylestown, the county seat of Bucks County. It’s more relaxing if you sleep over. We did, at the Galvanized America Inn and Art Gallery.

The Philadelphia Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day

Philadelphia Mummers Parade on New Years day

The New Year’s Day Philadelphia Mummers Parade is a sight to behold.

Unlike Mr. and Mrs. Excitement, who  usually spend New Year’s Eve falling asleep in front of the television waiting to watch the ball drop on Times Square, many Philadelphians spend New Year’s Eve out and about at restaurants and hotels, usually capped off by brilliant fireworks over the Delaware River at midnight. (If you want to celebrate with the kiddies, there is also a 6:00 p.m. fireworks display for those with an 8:30 p.m. bedtime). It is worth spending New Year’s Eve in Philly, so you will be here on New Year’s Day for the traditional Philadelphia Mummers Parade, an all day parade in Center City with bands and elaborately costumed mummers.

Philadelphia Logistics

For those unfamiliar with United States’ geography, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a northeastern city of over 1,500,000 people, located 100 miles south of New York City and 150 miles north of Washington, D.C. One of Philadelphia’s best attributes for visitors is that it is an eminently walkable city, but if you prefer not to walk, the Center City area is well served by public transportation and taxis. (Uber and Lyft also operate here. I am a fan of Uber. If you’ve never used it, sign up using this promo code to get $20 off your first ride and for me to get $10 off my next ride. Win. Win.  suzannef1006ue ). So, if possible, leave your car home and arrive by plane or Amtrak (train). It is also easy to rent a car in Center City if you want to take a day trip outside the city .

Accommodations in Center City Philadelphia range from a well ranked hostel to high end hotels. If you do drive, you might  consider staying at a hotel with parking near the airport and using regional rail or a taxi to travel from the airport into Center City. You could even leave your car in one of the long term parking lots at and around the airport, but pick a Center City hotel. Currently, there is a flat rate of $28.50 for a taxi ride from Philadelphia International Airport into Center City, a 15 to 20 minute ride if there are no traffic snarls.

Philadelphia is actually well regarded by foodies, with a  range of fine dining options, including a French bistro on Rittenhouse Square.

To aid in your trip planning, I highly recommend Philadelphia’s Destination Marketing excellent website, Visit Philadelphia. If you have any questions for a local Philadelphiaphile, feel free to contact me.

Have you ever visited Philadelphia during the winter holiday season? Would you consider spending a few days in the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection)?

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) December 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

I am completely amazed that I have been around the world and somehow missed Philadelphia! And I was born and raised in Pittsburgh! These shots look like it would be great fun during the winter holidays…and I really am not fond of cold weather. But looks like it might have to go on my list of places I need to visit! Have a great holiday!


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 9:56 am

Oh dear. You really need to remedy the glaring “I’ve never been to Philadelphia” gap in your travel resume. If you finally get here, by all means let me know. I love meeting cyber friends IRL (in real life).


Maddy Resendes December 3, 2014 at 11:50 am

Almost makes me willing to fly east from California for Emma’s 2 week winter break from High School!! Operative word ALMOST. We’ll be coming in the Spring, as planned. But, seriously, this post should remind all of us to make/take time to enjoy and explore what our local environs have to offer! Happy Holidays!!


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Since when do kids get two week winter breaks? Actually, I was full of holiday cheer when I wrote this post (I swear), but I have now descended into my yearly struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder—sigh.


Donna Janke December 3, 2014 at 11:53 am

I laughed when I read the saying about the contest winner getting 1 week in Philadelphia and the loser two. The same thing was said about the city I live in – Winnipeg. Even today, people are often surprised to discover great things to see and do in Winnipeg. I didn’t know much about Philadelphia until starting to read your blog. I now think it would be a great city to visit. By the way, Handel’s Messiah is one of my favourites too.


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Donna, it’s not too late, I’m going to see the Messiah performed on December 22nd. You could bop down from Winnipeg and be back home in time for Christmas. 🙂


Roz Warren December 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm

My own December-in-Philadelphia plans involve seeing “Down Home Holiday,” the Philadelphia Gay Mens Chorus Christmas show.
Maybe I’ll see you there.


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm

It would certainly be an easy trip to the venue, so, maybe, you never know.


Patti December 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

It’s on our list! One of our goals – while we live on the east coast for however long that will be – is to road trip our way through the north east, it’s the last frontier for us as we’ve been in/through pretty much every other state in the country. Actually, we’ve been to PA as well, but not eastern PA, so we have much to see. We’ll get there!

p.s. I’m rarely awake when the clock strikes midnight on NYE. I have never understood the fascination, but, what do I know?! 😉


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Patti, I would love to meet you IRL and to show you around Philadelphia and environs.


santafetraveler December 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

When I was 15, I spent Thanksgiving in Philly at the house of a girl I’d met at summer camp. I loved shopping at Wanamaker’s and walking around the downtown area all decorated for Christmas. We went to see the Liberty Bell, too. What I remember the most- after all these years is the Philadelphia Museum and all those wonderful stairs- Rocky brought them back to me years later. Also- the amazing Japanese house that was recreated there. I’ve always wanted to go back. Haven’t made it yet.


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Billie, now that you know another Philadelphian, maybe you’ll make it back some day. Does your camp friend still live in Philly?


Valeria Terpytska December 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Organ the biggest in the world, OMG, love listening to it, so want to visit Philly one day, thank you for interesting reading Suzanne,


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Val, I hope things calm down enough in Ukraine for you to be able to visit your FB friends in the US and Canada. I would love to meet you in real life.


Mike December 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Today is the 38th anniversary of Rocky being released in the U.S.! I was there that night to see it in my hometown in California. Hence, that would be when I fell in love with my thought to someday make it to Philadelphia. Who could have known all these years later I would meet a friend online who lives there! I don’t know what a nutella puff is but I know I want one! Most definitely Geno’s Steaks and John’s Roast Pork would need to be on my itinerary. The Wanamaker organ at Macy’s oh and duh, almost forgot, the Rocky statue and Art Museum steps!! My favorite part of your post is of course taking Dino out for your late night walks under the lights. That made me smile. Great post, Suzanne! 🙂


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Mike, we might have to agree to disagree about Geno’s steaks, but I can endorse your other “must sees” and add quite a few others.


nan @ lbddiaries December 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

IF I could get Alpha Hubby to go back, I’d go with him in a second! I love everything you’ve described! He had to go there a couple of years ago for work and while he brought me back cute a snow-couple, he swore never again. He hates, loathes and despises cold. Then again, after living in Wyoming, I don’t blame him. I LOVED this post.


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Nan–you can compromise with Alpha Hubby. Come to Philly during the spring or fall when the weather is lovely. Apparently, last winter was a bear in Philly. (We had the good sense to be in Hawaii and missed most of it). Summers can be very muggy.


Leigh December 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I’ve never been to Philly and would love to pay your fair city a visit. I think the holiday season sounds like a great time to come. The Botanical Gardens and some skating would definitely figure in my itinerary.


Suzanne Fluhr December 3, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Leigh, if you ever do make it to Philly, we also have a lovely city park with hiking trails. Philly is also not too too far from the Appalachian Trail — about 100 miles.


Doreen Pendgracs December 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm

the Mummers Parade looks like fun, Suzanne!

I shall have to get myself down to Philly to visit you sometime soon. I’m finding more and more reasons!


Suzanne Fluhr December 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

Doreen, we’ll leave the light on.


Emily December 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I haven’t spent much time in Philly, but it looks like a great place to visit!


Ursula Maxwell-Lewis (@YouTravel) December 6, 2014 at 3:06 am

Once more, I’m reminded I must get to Philadelphia – especially the Mummers Parade. I did know about it, but had forgotten. Good info. Thank you!


Irene S Levine December 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

What a great guide to the city of love! In some ways, it looks like Philadelphia has all the richness of a small town at holiday time. It’s one of those city that seems to be under-rated!


Suzanne Fluhr December 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

IMHO, Philadelphia is definitely underrated. It really annoys me when they do the national weather and skip right from Washington, D.C., to New York.


Carole Terwilliger Meyers December 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Someday I would like to be there in Philly for the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. I saw part of it last year in Cape May,


Suzanne Fluhr December 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The New Years Day Mummers Parade in Philly is on a whole different order of magnitude than the sample in Cape May.


Marilyn Jones December 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

I worked in Philadelphia for 10 years and I loved your article and photos. Such great memories!!! Thank you for taking me down memory lane!


Patricia Weber December 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

It’s been too many years since I’ve been to visit Philadelphia. And I’ve never been to that parade which looks fabulously fun. Some of the photos you share actually remind me of traveling to NYC during the holidays – I grew up on Long Island and we got to that city frequently.

Great to know a Philly person Suzanne.


Suzanne Fluhr December 8, 2014 at 12:16 am

Patricia, if you haven’t been to Philly for many years, I urge you to come back for another visit. The city is much more alive and vibrant than it used to be.


Phoenicia December 7, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Philadelphia looks very enticing.

Thank you for sharing.


Megan December 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Suzanne I am currently in New Jersey and your festive pictures and details have convinced me that a trip to the City is in order before Christmas. Your excitement and love for the area are contagious and the spirit is shared. I look forward to bundling up and walking around!


Sala December 8, 2014 at 5:17 am

Great post, Suzanne! The best Philly travel invite ever!you totally got rid of my SAD vibes.


Catarina December 8, 2014 at 8:19 am

Sounds and looks really nice, Suzanne. I would visit if I could.


andleeb December 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Seems its so much fun in Philadelphia during winter. I love all the pictures. Thanks for introducing me to a fun place. Parade seem amazing.


Andy December 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I lived in Philadelphia for the better part of 10 years. If weather is an issue for you, I very much recommend that you visit Philadelphia in September, which is the one month of the year in which the weather in Philadelphia is consistently nice.

If you suffer from hay fever (as I do), do NOT come to Philadelphia in the spring.


Suzanne Fluhr December 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm

But, if you don’t suffer from hay fever, Philly is absolutely gorgeous in the spring (mid-April through May)—azaleas, cherry trees and other flowering trees. September can still be quite warm. October to early November you can catch the changing leaves, especially in northweast Philly (Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill) and in the Wissahickon Valley Park.


Ken Dowell December 8, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I live in Northern New Jersey and I love visiting Philadelphia. I spend at least one long weekend there a year as well as occasional trips for specific events. I never get tired of the Franklin Institute and have also repeatedly visited the Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation. Growing up a few miles outside of New York, my parents never took me to the Thanksgiving Parade there but we went to the Mummer’s Parade every New Year’s Day.


Suzanne Fluhr December 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm

This is totally embarrassing. I’ve never been to the new location of the Barnes Museum nor the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. I’ve been to the Rodin Museum in Paris, but the one I can walk to in Philly?—-nah.


Noelle McNamara December 9, 2014 at 3:25 am

Wow, I really hope one day to be able to spend time travelling in the US and Philadelphia will be on my list…hopefully during the winter season too!


Lenie December 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

Suzanne, if the Philadelphia Tourist Society is on the ball, they would use this post to promote their town. Loved reading about all the different things you could do there.I would love to see and here the Wanamaker organ, especially at noon, my favourite kind of music. And I would like to attend the Philadelphia Orchestra for Handel’s Messiah. Since that’s not in the stars I will be listening to the Messiah here on CD, a traditional part of my Christmas.


Suzanne Fluhr December 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I’ll be at the Messiah on December 22nd at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra. I’ll give a listen for you.


Meredith Wouters December 9, 2014 at 11:06 am

One of my favorite trips was to Philly, but that was in the summertime. I would usually be disinclined to travel in the winter because I’m such a wimp about cold weather, but you’ve made me reconsider. I love the picture of Rittenhouse Square with the lights!


Tim December 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I have spent months in Philly spread over a couple of summers a few years back. I did not come away with your exuberance but now I thinking that this is because it was summer; maybe winter, well December, is the answer. I am not a cold weather person but even the chill (freeze) of Chicago was tempered over Christmas.


Suzanne Fluhr December 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Tim, Philly summers can be a tad uncomfortable. That’s why Philadelphians high tail it “down the shore” or to the Pocono mountains during the summer.


Jeri December 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I haven’t made it to Phily yet either, but as your post shows there is so much to do and see. I’m sure I will one of these days and you make a convincing case for visiting in winter.


William Rusho December 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I like Philly, it is an older city and I love the history of it. I must admit some of the places you mentioned, I have not visited. Something to go see next time I am there.


Jason B December 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Philly is on my list of cities to visit, but there is no way I could come up there during the winter holiday season. I am not a fan of cold weather at all.


cstocks/1xeritas December 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Dear Suzanne, Thank you for the update on happenings in the city of my birth. (and my parents and their parents…) Growing up in South Jersey, we always had to visit for our holiday shopping, the light show at Wanamakers, Santa’s Village (was that Gimbels? Lit Brothers? Bambergers?) I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize the town, but would not mind getting some “snacks” in Chinatown, visiting the Art Museum or a host of other choices. (Always got my fabrics on Fourth Street, “interesting” people on Front)
If I visit again, I’ll be sure to look you up! Have a brilliant day! c


Suzanne Fluhr December 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm

If you come back, by all means let me know. We can have a Zentangle session in Rittenhouse Square.


Welli December 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

If ever I visit Philadelphia I will definitely want to visit the Kimmel Centre for performing arts. That place looks very beautiful I just love it.


Jess @UsedYorkCity December 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

I’ve only visited the city during the summer (for the Love Letters Tour, which was amazing!) But it looks like there’s a ton of great stuff during the winter months too, I’ll have to check it out!:-)


Krystle Cook December 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I love going to see Christmas lights. There’s something magical about them. Philadelphia sounds amazing!


Patti December 5, 2016 at 11:32 am

Those are all really good reasons! As you know, we didn’t make it to Philly on our recent trip to the beach as the weather forecast was formidable.

But, we will try again hopefully, sooner than later to take in the sites, eat the food and lesson a few history lessons along the way.


Suzanne Fluhr December 6, 2016 at 1:32 am

We hope you and Abi do find the time to visit the City of Brotherly Love — and Sisterly Affection. Like Mr. and Mrs. Excitement, it’s more fun than people think. 😉


The GypsyNesters December 5, 2016 at 4:58 pm

I think Philly sometimes gets a bad rap, but we have always enjoyed visiting. Brotherly love and all. Looks even better during the holidays.


Suzanne Fluhr December 6, 2016 at 1:33 am

It is pretty festive from Thanksgiving through New Years. Most people visit during the summer when it’s hot as blazes. Ask the Founding Fathers.


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