In these pandemic-ish times, there’s really no way to know what fall in Philadelphia will actually look like. (I mean, look at what Delta did to our summer.) The good news is that this city is at least planning for a somewhat normal autumn, with tons of fun things to do now through Thanksgiving.
Keep reading for ideas on how to spend fall in Philadelphia, which annual block parties are returning for the first time since the pandemic, and where to go when you want to get out of the city to do all the quintessential fall things, such apple-picking, hay-riding, cider-chugging and hiking.
MORE IDEAS FOR WHAT TO DO THIS FALL IN PHILLY
As an added bonus, you’ll be supporting a local business or grassroots group that put hard work and dedication into making these events happen—whether it’s an emerging local artist at a craft fair, an upstart PR rep helping to spread the word, or a Philly restaurant or bar doling out food and drinks for your merriment.
Make sure to check Covid protocols wherever you go. Chances are you’ll need masks and proof of your Covid-19 vaccination. And keep coming back to this list, I’ll be updating as the season moves along.
THINGS TO DO THIS FALL IN PHILLY (AND A LITTLE BEYOND)
Step up your citizenship
Maybe commit to doing something for your community to boost your citizenship this fall. Perhaps you could start one of those cute little free libraries in your neighborhood, or start a community fridge to help feed those in need. You could also help clean up this filthy city by organizing a street cleanup. We have lots of other ideas about how to be more civically engaged here.
Ice Skating at Dilworth Park, November 5–February 27
Dilworth Park begins its transition to winter on November 1, when it opens the Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn, which will be decked out with lights, whimsical décor and a kiosk serving warm mulled cider. Then, on November 5, the popular Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink and its accompanying cozy ski chalet open for the holiday season with ice skating, and seasonal food and drink through February 27.
Theater at the Kimmel Center, all season long
The Kimmel Center is raring up for a season full of flashy shows, including Hamilton, which runs October 20 to November 28. The season also features a two-hour homage to The Beatles (Oct. 29–31); and lush Broadway musical Anastasia (Nov. 23–28).
Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival: Fall Fest, November 7–20
The 41st annual local festival spotlighting Jewish cinema from around the world is branching out this year to include not only a full slate of flicks—shown both virtually and in-person—but other ways Jewish stories are being told, including burlesque, cocktail and mixology workshops, theatrical presentations and even a neo-Hasidic rock opera. Find the full list of events here.
Go for a hike outside the city 🥾, all season long
Philadelphia is surrounded by breathtaking places to get out around trees, open land, rivers and streams. Check out this guide by local nature hound Jared Brey for ideas on where to go hiking near Philadelphia—including Tohickon Valley Park, Hickory Run State Park and that place where the rocks actually sing to you.
Explore changing leaves and a Philly sunrise in Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park is an idyllic spot to spend a warm Saturday or Sunday afternoon this fall. You could just show up and set out on one of its many hiking trails, or plan your day around some events. Here’s an idea: Veteran hike leader Brad Maule leads a once-monthly Morning on the Meadows hike to view the sunrise over Philly from the Belmont Plateau. This digital guide will tell you all you need to know to get the most out of the park.
First Person Arts Festival, November 10–20
The delightful 20th annual Philadelphia festival that champions storytelling as a way to “bring people and communities together” runs for 10 whole days this fall with virtual and in-person programming. Browse the lineup of events—everything from story slams to workshops to musical performances—here.
Take in endless nature in Wissahickon Park
You could live in Wissahickon Park for an entire year and never run out of things to do—whether it’s hiking one of its 50 miles of rugged, breathtaking trails, biking along Forbidden Drive, horseback riding, spin and fly fishing in Wissahickon Creek, or trying to find as many of the 200 species of birds that live in the park as you can. We also recommend Sunday brunch at the oh-so-homey Valley Green Inn, which sits at the base of several hiking trails and streams to explore.
See great art at local museums, various dates
Local art hounds can look forward to several cool art exhibitions this fall.
- “Blood Moon,” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum from September 24 to February 20, 2022, spotlights the darkly humorous video works of artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley.
- The Barnes Foundation debuts a collection of paintings by groundbreaking French artist Suzanne Valadon in “Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel,” from September 26 to January 9, 2022.
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art is teaming up with the Whitney in NYC for “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” a massive retrospective of the American painter that’s spread across nearly 30,000 square feet of gallery space between the two museums. Running September 29 to February 13, 2022, the exhibition will feature more than 500 works of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints.
LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo, November 18–January 9
If Santa had an animal park, it would look something like the Philadelphia Zoo during LumiNature, which will transform the attraction into a dazzling winter wonderland with over a million lights (!); hundreds of illuminated penguins and flamingoes; a cool, 100-foot-long aquarium tunnel and tons more. Holiday tunes wafting overhead add to the wintery charm.
Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, November 20–January 1
A bustling marketplace opens at Dilworth Hall just in time for holiday shopping season. More than 40 local vendors will set up booths selling handmade jewelry, clothing, home goods, art and tons more. It’s open every day of the week, with extended hours happening around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park, November 22–January 1
The westward-facing facade of City Hall will glow with stunning holiday light projections throughout the holiday season, overlooking the ice skating rink, winter garden and other holiday attractions going on at Dilworth Park.
Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day, November 25
The 6abc/Dunkin’ Donuts Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade is set to kick off on Thursday, November 25, at 8:15am. The 1.4-mile procession starts at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard, turns left onto 16th Street and then turns left again left onto Ben Franklin Parkway. Start planning your viewing spot now!
Christmas Village, November 25–December 24
Starting Thanksgiving Day, LOVE Park and parts of the City Hall courtyard will be transformed into a whimsical Bavarian-themed holiday village, full of wintery treats and knickknack-shopping galore. New for this year: a double-decker carousel and a German food court will take up space in the City Hall courtyard. The Ferris Wheel and Kid’s Train will also be back on the North Apron of City Hall, after taking a break last year because of Covid. For all of you itching to check it out early, you can catch a preview weekend happening November 20 and 21.
Fall activities outside the city, now through November 7
For the ultimate autumnal experience, travel outside the city to visit some farms and villages throughout the region. From November 6 to 7, enjoy all the benefits of the fruit-picking season at Peddler’s Village’s Apple Weekend, which feeds visitors with all the apple-based things you can imagine: apple pies, apple fritters, apple cider, apple butter and the list goes on and on … 🍎