What’s the best time to visit Philadelphia?

©iStock/steveweinik

The best time to visit Philadelphia depends on your preferences, but most visitors tend to arrive during the spring (March to May) and summer (June to August). Philadelphia’s heat and humidity can be a hassle, especially if you want to enjoy this extremely walkable city by foot, and summer vacationers crowd popular tourist attracations. Winters are relatively mild for the Mid-Atlantic, drawing those with a love of snow and holiday décor. However, keep in mind that many attractions — such as the river, bus and trolley tours — are seasonal and are better enjoyed before the chill arrives. Before planning a visit, we recommend figuring out what you want to see and do, so that you time your trip just right.

  • On July 25, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best day trips near Philadelphia?

    Looking to enjoy even more time in the Philadelphia area? Rent a car for the day and explore what's hiding just beyond the city limits.
    To the north of Philadelphia lies Bucks County, rolling hills and open countryside only 30 minutes from the skyscrapers. You could fill a day simply driving down unmarked roads and stumbling upon farms and orchards, but point your GPS in the direction of adorable New Hope. Nestled on the Delaware River, this town is the definition of charming. B&Bs, cafes, art galleries, and tony boutiques lines the roads, while music halls and bars flll up the evening.
    Head east from town about an hour and come face-to-face with the Jersey Shore. A beloved destination for locals, the South Shore area starts at Atlantic City and stetches into the dolphin-populated bay of Cape May. Each shore point has it's own personality, from family-friendly Ocean City to retro Wildwood to refined Stone Harbour. But all offer warm sand and crashing waves...and a taste of shore specialties like salt water taffy.
    South of the city sits the Brandywine Valley, a tree-dotted area that is home to wineries, art galleries, historical sites, and the famous Longwood Gardens. Start your day by strolling the massive site (1,000+ acres) and its meticulous gardens, fountian shows, and peaceful vistas. Nearby hamlets like Kennett Square and Chadds Ford offer up local eating and quaint atmosphere to rest your tired feet. 
  • On July 25, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best day trips near Philadelphia?

    Looking to enjoy even more time in the Philadelphia area? Rent a car for the day and explore what's hiding just beyond the city limits.
    To the north of Philadelphia lies Bucks County, rolling hills and open countryside only 30 minutes from the skyscrapers. You could fill a day simply driving down unmarked roads and stumbling upon farms and orchards, but point your GPS in the direction of adorable New Hope. Nestled on the Delaware River, this town is the definition of charming. B&Bs, cafes, art galleries, and tony boutiques lines the roads, while music halls and bars flll up the evening.
    Head east from town about an hour and come face-to-face with the Jersey Shore. A beloved destination for locals, the South Shore area starts at Atlantic City and stetches into the dolphin-populated bay of Cape May. Each shore point has it's own personality, from family-friendly Ocean City to retro Wildwood to refined Stone Harbour. But all offer warm sand and crashing waves...and a taste of shore specialties like salt water taffy.
    South of the city sits the Brandwine Valley, a tree-dotted area that is home to wineries, art galleries, historical sites, and the famous Longwood Gardens. Start your day by strolling the massive site (1,000+ acres) and its meticulous gardens, fountian shows, and peaceful vistas. Nearby hamlets like Kennett Square and Chadds Ford offer up local eating and quaint atmosphere to rest your tired feet. 
  • On July 25, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia?

    Selecting a "best" neighborhood in Philadelphia, a city that thrives on its make-up of many small, distinct neighborhoods, is akin to choosing a favorite child. It's impossible -- or at least not fair -- so instead think about your mood and use it to find the area best matched to it for the day.
    If you are looking for trendy, buzzy, and people-packed and it’s a weekday, head to Rittenhouse Square. The neighborhood, centered around a green, leafy park of the same name, is one of the city's most popular addresses and is adjacent to the business area, making it packed with top-notch restaurants, shops, and other fun. On weekends the area is decidedly more low-key, with farmers markets and brunching families.
    For one-of-a-kind boutiques, urban edge, and a touch of hipster flair, head to Northern Liberties. Once a warehouse district, the neighborhood recently saw an influx of young professionals and families, and is now teeming with BYOBs and boutiques.
    For a similar vibe with a more casual, South Philly vibe head to East Passyunk, an area flanking the avenue of the same name. In the last year or two the stretch has become a coveted address for restaurateurs and business owners, and the neighborhood business association keeps up a steady stream of events and festivals to ensure the avenue is almost continually worth a walk.
    Those looking for something more serene and traditional will enjoy a quiet am stroll through Society Hill, a residential area made up of beautiful, classic Philadelphia brick homes, wrought iron-clad trees, and a decent amount of rustic cobblestone -- perfect for the horse-drawn carriages that frequent the neighborhood.
  • On July 18, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best restaurants for a business lunch in Philadelphia?

    Whether buttoned up or business casual, the "power lunch" requires a restaurant with a calculated blend of style and reserve. Thankfully, Philadelphia's Center City business core is home to a number of dining rooms that will impress.

    On the ground floor of the area's tallest skyscraper, the Comcast Center, is Table 31. Dark tones provide structure while streaming light from massive windows gives the space life. Carved out booths provide privacy for discussions, but a private dining room and secluded mezzanize are available should the space be necessary. On the menu at this Italian steakhouse - charred pizzas, housemade pastas, fresh seafod, and prime steaks, accented by a stellar bar menu.

    A popular meeting place of local employees, The Capital Grill on Broad Street screams "boardroom" with its wood paneled walls and green leather seating. Dine on dry-aged steaks and enjoy an impressive wine list as you strategize in the shadow of Philadelphia's City Hall.

    When pulling out the stops, there's no where else to turn but The Fountain restaurant inside the Four Seasons Philadelphia. Named for its beautiful view of the Swann Memorial Fountain ouside on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this tres chic spot delivers impecable service and a menu of French-influenced dishes that will pull conversation away from the business at hand. And no one will be upset for it. 
  • On July 18, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best kids activities in Philadelphia?

    Philadelphia is an amazing city for families, and visitors to the city can enjoy a solid line-up of kid-friendly activities that will entertain and educate.

    The Philadelphia Zoo is America's first, and it also happens to still be one of the best. While the beautifuly landscaped park is home to prime examples of big cats, polar bears, giraffes, reptiles, and more, younger visitors will love the brand-new KidsZooU, just opened in Summer 2013. The space is a hand-on classroom for children and encourages play and greater appreciation for nature. Top off the day with a trip up in the Zoo Balloon, a teathered hot air baloon that boasts a stunning skyline view all ages will enjoy.

    Artistic families will appreciate Philadelphia's stellar collections in a variety of museums, but won't have to feel out of place with littles in tow. The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts stroller tours, and the new ArtSplash program features daily programming for kids ages 6 and younger, including hands-on art projects. Just down the Parkway The Barnes welcomes budding artists as well, with activities and tours for tots, kids, and families.

    Philadelphia's original calling card is its proud spot as the birthplace of America, so no child should visit town without seeing the stories they learned in school come to life. Historic Philadelphia's Once Upon a Nation program features colonial characters roaming the historical district, ready to share a detail of their life, storytelling benches where you can rest a moment and be told a true tale from the early days of Philadelphia, and a series of tours that take you inside buildings bursting with history. Ask a staff member for a flag -- kids who collect stars at the benches they visit can redeem their banner for a prize at nearby Franklin Square (where you can also take a spin on the carousel or enjoy a round of mini golf with a patriotic slant) or the Betsy Ross House. 
  • On July 11, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best fine jewelry stores in Philadelphia?

    Looking for the perfect way to recall your days visiting Philadelphia? Pass on cheesesteak T-shirt (we're more than that!) and instead class up your souvenier with a sparkling piece of fine jewelry from one of the city's top names.
    LAGOS is headquartered in Philadelphia, but its siganture heft, tone-on-tone play, and "caviar" pattern have made an impression on style seekers internationally. Visit the flagship store on Walnut Street by Rittenhouse Square for a prime selection of baubles, including the Heart of Philadelphia pendant. 
    For classic shapes and delicate lines head to the lovely Egan Day boutique. The unsuspecting storefront hand curates a beautiful collection of nature-inspired pieces by elite designers, ensuring you'll always discover something new that grabs your attention. 
    Of course, for more sparkling rings and bracelets than you could possibly look at, head west into Jewelers' Row, a cluster of blocks around the intersection of Fifth and Walnut streets that is home to more than 300 shops of all shapes and sizes, including popular engagement ring destinations like Safian & Rudloph, Steven Singer, Robbin's Diamonds, and Barksy Diamonds.
  • On July 11, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best sports bars in Philadelphia?

    Philadelphia is one of the few American cities that can boast professional teams in all major sports leagues, so it's no surprise we also have more than our fair share of places to root them on. 
    If soccer -- or "football" -- is your game, there's no better place in town to cheer for the teams in the states and across the pond that Irish pub Fado. A match is almost always on one of the many flat-screens, and a steady stream of viewing parties mean specials and the commrodery of fellow pitch masters. 
    Sports fans can always find something to cheer for at The Field House, a massive bar adjacent to Market East Station and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. And if nothing is on one of the 35 TVs, start your own game at the bocce court by the bar.
    While it now boasts many locations around the city and surrounding suburbs, the original South Philly Chickie's & Pete's remains a go-to destination for lively sports watching. Local radio and TV stations often broadcast from the floor of this boysterous bar, half for the energy and half to get their hands on the kitchen's patented Crab Fries.
    But the crown jewel of the Philadelphia sports scene is right in the heart of the action -- the Xfinity Live! complex nestled between the stadiums on Pattison Avenue. Stroll between more than a dozen restaurants and bars from casual dining to country (yes, there's even a mechanical bull), all while hearing and watching live streams of the games just around the corner. 

  • On July 9, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What are the best activities to do in Philadelphia?

    Touring Philadelphia's renowned museums and historic attractions is one thing, but to truly experience the city, you have to get a little interactive.

    While its available in nearly every city around anymore, hoping on a city tour is a great way to understand the layout and distinct neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Trolley Works, The Big Bus, and Ride the Ducks all offer a quick and affordable way to make sure you at least see all of town, and with hop on/off tickets you can simply disembark when something catches your eye.

    Historic Philadelphia's tours of Old City and its famous attractions are a wonderful way to not only see some important buildings, but get to know their interesting and sometimes surpising back stories. These aren't your classic social studies class lectures, either -- with themes like a Tippler's Tour to area pubs or an after-dark peak into a "live" debate in Independence Hall, you become a part of the history.

    If you have a few days in Philadelphia, another great way to feel the pulse of town is to get out of the tourist core and into one of the local neighborhoods. The old time charm of the Italian Market, the trendy boutiques of Northern Liberties, and wave-making bars of East Passyunk all are worth exploring, shopping, and, of course, tasting.
  • On July 9, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What restaurants have the best views in Philadelphia?

    Nothing upgrades a fabulous meal out like a side order of scenery. And thankfully, Philadelphia has plenty of tables with a view as divine as the dinner itself.
    If water is what you seek, head to either river for calming vistas. One the Schuylkill River side of town you'll find the picturesque Water Works Restaurant & Lounge, perched above the water and boasting a sweeping view of the river and Fairmount Park beyond. In summer months there are tables dotting the open plaza. On the other end of town The Chart House offers floor-to-ceiling eyefulls of the Delaware River, while the next-door Moshulu takes you onboard a tall ship for a mix of view and dramatic ambience. 
    If a more urban view is what you're after, head to Center City and look up. Both the swanky and sleek R2L and the special occasion favorite XIX are located atop the city's famous skyscrapers, offering sparkling city lights from their dining rooms.
  • On July 6, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    Should visitors rent a car in Philadelphia?

    Most visitors to Philadelphia will not have to worry about renting a car while in town. Philadelphia International Airport, 30th Street Station, and the major bus terminals are all connected to SEPTA, the local public transportation system, and you can easily catch a train or bus into the downtown core. Taxis are also plentiful. Once in town, walking is the perfect way to travel to nearby attractions and restaurarants -- the city's grid pattern makes it very easy to navigate. If you are traveling further or are unable to walk long distances, well marked bus routes, taxis, and tourist transportation like the Phlash are affordable and accessable ways to get around. Visitors taking in a game or concert at the sports complex in South Philly can hop on the southbound Broad Street Line subway from Center City and exit right across the street. If you plan to visit an outlying neighborhood like Manayunk or one of the suburban attractions, look into SEPTA's Regional Rail, the commuter train system. If you want a car for a day trip to explore the surrounding area, consider an hourly or daily rental from Enterprise CarShare or ZipCar.
  • On July 6, 2013
    Melissa Greiner answered the question: Melissa Greiner

    What should I pack for a trip to Philadelphia?

    Philadelphia, like much of the MidAtlantic, is lucky enough to enjoy four distinct seasons -- each of which will require different attire. Those visiting in spring from April to May can expect temperate weather with a mix of sun and rain. Light pants, shirts, and a jacket work well, and a small umbrella tucked inside a purse is always wise to have on hand. Philadelphia summers quickly escalate from the low 80s to the high 90s and above, with a decent punch of humidity in July and August. Pack sundresses, shorts, and T-shirts, and men should be sure to include light khakis or similar if heading to dinner somewhere upscale. Sunglasses, sun-sheilding hats, and a good SPF are also smart. Come October the temperatures begin to cool again as the leaves of Fairmount Park change, and jeans, light sweaters, and coats return. Winters in Philadelphia are often chilly and feature somtimes improessive falls of snow, so bring heavy clothing as well as a coat, gloves, hat, and waterproof boots. No matter the season, think wisely about the footwear you bring. Philadelphia's charm is often discovered while wandering on foot, and you'll want to have comfortable shoes to fully enjoy this walkable city.
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