Philadelphia, PA, has the makings of a perfect city. It’s got all the trimmings of a cosmopolitan capital, from swanky hotels, culture, and an explosive dining scene, while still retaining the charm and character of a historic small town.
Philly, as the locals call it, is graced with a great deal of history. In fact, it was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 2015 (the first in the United States).
So when is the best time to visit Philadelphia? The answer is: truly any time. Philadelphia is alive with excitement, activity, events, and celebrations year-round. If you’re planning a visit to Philadelphia, there’s no wrong season to go. In fact, we’ve rounded up what makes Philly great in every season, plus average highs and lows, so the planning can officially begin.
Philadelphia In The Winter
High: 44 Degrees
Low: 30 Degrees
Winter in the Northeast isn’t always dreamy weather, but Philadelphia is far enough south that it doesn’t have quite the same lows as the notoriously chilly cities further north. In fact, Philly comes alive with plenty of magic and holiday sparkle come winter season, all without the truly frigid temperatures.
Philadelphia absolutely loves to celebrate the holidays. From the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, where more than 75,000 lights decorate Franklin Square, to the Kimmel Center’s annual Philly POPS holiday concert, there is plenty of reason to come out and get your fill of holiday cheer. Families love the Parade of Lights, which features a procession of boats that float down the Delaware, all draped in festive lights.
Come New Year’s Eve, Philly is ready to go out with bang as two fireworks shows light up the night sky. There’s an early showing at 6 p.m. for families and one at midnight. Tip: The Jersey side of the river also has a pretty great view. And no matter how late the night goes, Philadelphians are committed to the annual Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day, during which bands strut through the streets decked out in full regalia. The parade has been a Philadelphia tradition for more than 100 years. What is a Mummer, you ask? They are essentially entertainers in costume that welcome the New Year. Mummers date back to early Egypt, Rome, Greece, England, Germany, and France, proving Philly’s commitment to tradition — and a good time.
On top of these special events, Philadelphia is a city of amazing cultural institutions, from museums and galleries to cozy restaurants and tea houses, so even if the weather is, in fact, frightful (though this would be rare), you can find delight indoors. We recommend The Bourse Food Hall, which lives in the historic Bourse building in Philadelphia’s Historic District. The food hall brings together more than 30 of Philly’s best restaurants under one roof so you can get a comprehensive taste of the city in a single afternoon or evening.
For art, there is always the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but be sure to check out the Museum of the American Revolution, too. This attraction is great for families. It even showcases the original tent George Washington used as his headquarters from 1778 to 1783.
Philadelphia In The Spring
High: 64 Degrees
Low: 47 Degrees
Philadelphia feels made for spring. As the weather warms and the ground thaws, Philadelphians spill into the streets to welcome the fresh temperatures with outdoor celebrations. From food fetes to park parties and sporting events, springtime in Philly is full of good energy.
The streets and tables of Philadelphia are brimming with foodie favorites all throughout the spring season. Foodies toast Philly Wine Week every spring with a week of events centered around wine tasting throughout the city. Then there’s the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival, which brings dozens of food trucks serving everything from tacos and pizza to cupcakes. The festival is followed by Restaurant Week, during which many Philly restaurants offer prix-fixe menus from $15 to $35.
Spring is also the time when Philadelphia’s parks are in full bloom. Visit Longwood Gardens to see its gorgeous display of spring flowers during Spring Blooms, which showcases more than 1,000 acres of flowers. One of Philadelphia’s greatest spring traditions is the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, a week of film, traditional Japanese cultural demonstrations, and the iconic Sakura Sunday, a day-long outdoor event at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden.
Fandom is rampant in Philadelphia across all seasons, but opening day for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park is a beloved Philly event. If you’re a baseball fan, mark your calendar and try to get tickets early. It’s a time-honored tradition among Phillies fanatics.
Music fills the streets during the month of April during Philly Celebrates Jazz. This month-long celebration of (mostly free) events comes to venues across the city with live performances, workshops, and more. You can also catch the amazing music and colorful performances during Semana Mexicana, a week dedicated to Mexican culture, which includes parties across the city and a Mexican Restaurant Week.
Philadelphia In The Summer
High: 86 Degrees
Low: 69 Degrees
During Philly summers, it’s more than just the cheesesteaks that sizzle. Philadelphia is proverbially on fire during the summer months, when the city is atwitter with activities on the waterfront, plus festivals and plenty of excuses to enjoy the outdoors.
For starters, you’ll want to soak up all the family fun at the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest. Held all summer long from day to night, the park on the Delaware River features an outdoor roller rink, carnival-style food, rides, and games. It’s the perfect way for families to get away together for a little summerfest fun.
The city is also festooned with stunning murals that make for a wonderful summer walking tour. There are so many, in fact, that Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program. Mural Arts has been in existence for more than 30 years and brings together artists and communities through the creation of murals. Summer is the absolute best time to tour their outdoor gallery, which spans neighborhoods across the city. Tours are offered throughout the week, or download the Mural Mile routes for a self-guided tour.
Summer along the water is one of the best reasons to visit Philadelphia. Spruce Street Harbor Park becomes a pop-up hammock hideaway, perfect for a lazy picnic by the river. Speaking of pop-ups, one of the city’s favorites is Parks on Tap, a moving beer garden that shows up at a different park in the city each week. Get ready for barbecue, beer, wine, and cocktails. Also good to know: The gatherings are dog-friendly.
If wine is more your speed, Philadelphia is just across the river from the wineries of South Jersey. Yes, New Jersey has wineries, and they’re actually quite good. Cedar Rose Vineyards, for example, is a cozy space with wood trimmings and a beautiful outdoor garden area, less than an hour from Philadelphia. Summer is rose season, so why not try a bottle of their 2017 Cabernet Franc Rose while you’re there?
Philadelphia In The Fall
High: 67 Degrees
Low: 52 Degrees
There may not be a time in the city that’s as beautiful as autumn. The fiery fall color palettes complement Philadelphia’s Old City brick, while cafes and coffee shops provide cozy hideaways for a cup of coffee or a craft brew. The fall is time for Oktoberfest celebrations, cultural festivals, and lots (and lots) of football. The best part is that the warmer weather traditionally lingers longer in Philadelphia, affording the city a picture-perfect transition into fall — and plenty of extra time to enjoy the outdoors.
September kicks off Oktoberfest, which is celebrated with much excitement throughout the city. Down on South Street, Brauhaus Schmitz hosts a yearly Oktoberfest with several German beers on tap as well as lots of traditional German food, dancing, and music. But if you want something even more beer-centric, Xfinity Live!, the city’s sprawling dining and entertainment zone, hosts an Oktoberfest with more than 200 seasonal beers along with food, live music, games, and more.
Philly’s vibrant culture is highlighted in the fall during FringeArts’ Fringe Festival, which involves three weeks of programming including various live performances of comedy, drama, music, and more. You can also check out Chestnut Hill’s Fall for the Arts Festival, an annual event that brings more than 100 local artists to Chestnut Hill to display their original work. It’s a great family event with rides for kids and plenty of outdoor dining.
And then, there’s football. If there’s one thing Philadelphians are serious about, it’s football — specifically the Eagles. The end of summer means the streets go green as thousands of fans camp out in the parking lots around Lincoln Financial Field for tailgating feasts before heading into the game. Even if you’re not a football fan, the tailgating experience is a time-honored tradition, and it doesn’t get much more local Philadelphia than these raucous gatherings.
If you happen to be in town for Thanksgiving, Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a wonderful celebration that is beloved by the entire city, and something everyone should see at least once. Fun for the whole family, the parade brings people to the Parkway for a festive stream of music, floats, performance, and an annual visit from Santa.
Flying into Philly? Here’s where to get the best cheesesteak at the Philadelphia airport so you can start your visit off right!