December 17, 2015
This winter, rediscover Philly’s potential to let you shop, skate and sled all the way into the new year. By staying active and exploring the city’s cheery holiday scene, you’ll keep the entire family happy! Bundle up and chase out the winter chills with these six great winter activities.
After you school Santa on the rink, warm up by the fire as you sample decadent food and cocktails. On Friday nights, jam on the ice with a DJ and catch your favorite holiday film at the lodge during the 12 days leading up to the 25th. Every weekend features special events like a holiday flea market, where you can pick up cool finds, and a winter Brewfest, showcasing local brews. The joy extends well into 2016, so you can experience New Year’s Eve fireworks on the waterfront and skate with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. And if you're an Independence Blue Cross cardholder, free admission to the skating rink can be enjoyed all winter long!
The park system boasts 10,200 acres, including more than 100 neighborhood parks, and is perfect for snow angels and snow sport lovers. Explore miles of terrain for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, all while taking in gorgeous city views. Start with the Belmont Plateau to warm up, and then swing up north to the Wissahickon Valley Park to explore its challenging gorge. If cross-country skiing doesn’t suit everyone, just build an igloo and enjoy a winter picnic!
Take a stroll along the 1600 block of S. 13th St. to experience what aficionados call “the Miracle on South 13th Street.” This community of holiday lovers decorates their homes with bright lights that will dazzle even the orneriest uncle. The homemade displays function as a nostalgia time machine that will have you stringing up lights of your own before you know it. Bring along a camera, as these spectacles are sure to impress.
To peruse worldly, fine-crafted goods and mingle with locals right in the heart of Center City, look no further than Christmas Village. Share a hot drink and a European waffle with a loved one, and tell Santa Claus your last-minute wish. With more than 60 vendors, there is something for everyone, and the gorgeous lit Christmas tree and live entertainment every week will open your heart to the spirit of the season. To work off all those treats, just pop across the street to City Hall and stretch your legs at the Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park.
If the cold doesn’t scare you, winter is a fine time to get out on the water — provided it’s not frozen! Pilot a kayak north of the Fairmount Dam to view the lights of Boathouse Row up close and personal. If you’re the adventurous type, take a page from Scandinavian thrill-seekers and do some winter swimming this season. For a quick, heart-racing dip, pick a safe location like Devil’s Pool in Wissahickon Valley Park, and be sure to bring along lots of extra blankets and friends.
Just outside the city, there’s even more seasonal cheer to explore. Head to Peddler’s Village in Bucks County and waltz through a Christmas wonderland outfitted with trees decked head-to-toe in whimsical lights. Be sure to check out the gingerbread house competition, world-class shopping and sample food from the Village’s several restaurants. For a historical jaunt, head to Washington’s Crossing just north along the Delaware River to witness a historic re-enactment of George’s famous journey across the river. Complete with several hundred actors, the re-enactment excites history lovers both young and old. Finally, head south to Longwood Gardens to discover its spectacular grounds that feature more than half a million lights. An afternoon stroll with family through the festive gardens will be an experience you’ll never forget.
The cold months will glide by if your family takes advantage of all the festive fun that Philly has to offer. Exploring Philadelphia is the perfect way to find a unique gift and discover new hobbies. Not only will your family adore Philadelphia’s holiday fun, they will also cherish these experiences for years to come, as they become new traditions.