From Amish apple festivals to a wintry urban oasis, and the Thanksgiving Day parade that started it all, the final weeks of November are full of reasons to celebrate fall in Philly. Here’s what to add to your list.
Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parade might have to compete for screen time with a certain New York department store chain, but this annual procession of floating fancy has one up on Macy’s. The Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade was the first in the country, with a festive (and balloon-filled) legacy that dates back to 1920. Over its almost 100 years of family-friendly festivities, its high-flying participants have included inflatable versions of everything from Bugs Bunny and Curious George to Dr. Seuss’s Thing 1 and Thing 2. Lining up with the crowds on Broad Street is the traditional way of taking in the parade, but for an incredible aerial view, consider spectating from a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia.
Just a quick walk from the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, kicking off on November 23rd, is an idyllic, if not a little unlikely winter wonderland. Tucked between the Delaware River and an elevated section of I-95, this frosty theme park features a full-sized skating rink, crackling outdoor s’mores stations, and a cozy lodge for lounging. A roster of Philadelphia’s favorite food and drinks vendors are on hand to keep bellies full and warm with seasonal snacks and toasty spiked cocktails. And there’s plenty of hot cocoa to be had for the kids too.
And They’re Off
The 26.2 miles that make up the Philadelphia Marathon take runners on a trip through the city’s main arteries, and supportive friends and family also head into town to cheer for their bibbed buddies. Center City hotels tend to fill up during the weekend of November 16–18, but The Inn at Penn is a much less frenetic place to rest up and carb-load before the big race. Whether you’re running or standing on the sidelines, conveyor belt sushi at Pod and modern French fare at Louie Louie are both ideal options for pre- and post-marathon appetites.
Fans of spells, sorcery, and all things magical will want to conjure up a room at Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Center City to best enjoy The Academy of Natural Sciences’ Wild Wizarding Weekend on November 23–25. Science and spell casting come together for a weekend full of magic-wand making, mythology, and a journey deep into the academy’s spooky research archives.
Mum’s the Word
Fall’s favorite flower gets the royal treatment at Longwood Gardens’ Chrysanthemum Festival, which is on until November 18. The largest display of yellow blooms in the world takes the flowers from simple fall centerpieces and transforms them into everything from glowing orbs and spirals to intricate pagodas and fans. The garden’s Children’s Corner gets into season with a Pumpkin Playground featuring a 550 pound specimen.