Philadelphia Holiday Attractions

 In Holidays

Rittenhouse Square at Christmas is a beautiful Philadelphia sight

We are headed back to Philadelphia for the holidays today. I just can’t wait! Dek is finally old enough to get excited about a few lights, some model trains and even some frozen water. More importantly, we will be arriving a few days before Christmas Eve and actually have some time to explore the city and check out all the festivities. Here is just a small list of all I hope or wish we could do in the two days we have free.

The John Wanamaker’s department store tradition continues even after Macy’s took over (All images © Macy’s)

Macy’s Festival of Lights

This used to be the John Wanamaker’s department store. Sadly, the company had to shut its doors and Macy’s took over. However, Macy’s did keep a very big Wanamaker’s tradition alive, the Festival of Lights. Philadelphians of every generation know about this yearly event. The still functioning pipe organ at the store is legendary. The last time I was at the Festival of Lights was when I was 8 years old. Mike wasn’t even 2 years old when he got to visit. I cannot wait to share this with Mike and Dek. I can just picture their faces now! Fingers crossed that it is not too insane though. This close to the holidays can bring out an overwhelming hoard of merry makers.

Art Museum Christmas Trees

Head on over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for live music, strolling carolers, a guided tour through artwork depicting the Christmas story and trees lining the Great Stair Hall. With so much to see, even the littlest art critique will be entertained.

Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing

I have fond memories of cold nights during high school and college skating around this rink with my friends. Dek isn’t quite ready to strap on some skates, but it will be magical when he does. Santa stops by for a visit during the season and with the lights and music this really is a great holiday memory in the making.

Model trains take over the winter garden at Morris Arboretum (images © Morris Arboretum)

Morris Arboretum Holiday Garden Railway

A quarter mile of track with 7 loops, 9 bridges and tunnels are home to 15 rail lines. NO matter they age, your model train lover will be in heaven. This special display made its debut in 1998 and is an anticipated Christmas season sight year after year. Philadelphia landmarks are recreated in true garden fashion along with all of the other buildings and displays by using natural materials such as bark, twigs, mosses and acorns. Open from 10am until 5pm now through December 31st, our little conductor won’t be able to get enough of this enchanting Christmas display. It will be a must see for Mike, Dek and grandpa this season.

Longwood Gardens fountains can’t be beat (image © Longwood Gardens)

Longwood Gardens

The lights display at Longwood Gardens holds a very special place in the hearts of Mike’s family. His brother-in-law went to school there so it has been a long-standing tradition to visit the gardens especially around Christmas. Since Mike and I live so far away and we usually go up to his parents, we haven’t been at Christmas in years. I think the last time was when we were dating in college and his future brother-in-law got us free tickets. It was a special time to wander hand in hand with the man I had no idea would one day be my husband, but I sure did think he was cute. We have since been back at various times in the winter, but never in time to catch the lights. This year we will be back in the area just after Christmas day. I’m hoping we can sneak on over with my nieces and nephews before bedtime to take a stroll around the fountains, trees and carolers. We may need to pop into the conservatory to warm up for a bit. I don’t mind. That is where the amazing rose garden is housed. I seem to remember a rather impressive tree and some poinsettias too.

Dicken’s Christmas (Wellsboro)

It may be too late to catch Dicken’s this year, but you should already be planning a trip up to Wellsboro, PA next year to check out this one day festival. Lodging books up fast. My in-laws are already sold out for 2012. We have our reservations for 2013 at their B&B. Yes it is THAT popular. Locals dress up in period costume, carolers roam the streets, vendors sell along Main Street and horse-drawn sleighs give you a lift. I can’t think of anything that screams traditional holiday like a day in downtown Wellsboro. It is always the weekend after Thanksgiving, so mark your calendars and head on up.

I think we can squeeze a trip to Macy’s, Longwood Gardens and the Morris Arboretum in. You never know though. The holidays usually have a way of derailing whatever I may think should happen and taking us into a different, sometimes unexpected, but always wonderful direction.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Know Before You Go

  • Check websites for hours and special closings or extended hours around the holidays at each attraction.
  • If you have extra time head over to Rittenhouse Square, Reading Terminal and City Hall for extra festive cheer.
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Showing 2 comments
  • More Kids Than Suitcases

    Have a great trip back to Philly! Looks like you’ll have plenty of stuff to keep you busy, but remember…Seahawks > Eagles.

  • Lisa Wood

    Great to read all about your holiday attractions! Sounds like the perfect recipe to put you into the festival mood for xmas. Would love to see the Longwood Gardens display!


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