This weekend I had a ton of fun celebrating my boyfriend’s 25th birthday with him in Philadelphia. While Saturday was reserved for all manner of birthday surprises (a center city hotel room! red velvet cupcakes! a funky monkey!), Sunday was our day to celebrate all the holiday season has to offer in one of our favorite cities. Philadelphia is a rather quiet city compared to my other home city, New York City, but it’s got a great funky urban chic flavor and an accessibility that can’t be beat. I will be travelling into NYC next week for my annual window gazing, tree visiting and holiday shopping but this past weekend was all about great new Christmas season experiences in the city of brotherly love.
Our first task this weekend was to locate all of our favorite trees in Philadelphia. This was something we did last year and will probably make it a Christmas tradition. One of my favorites is located in Love Park. If you haven’t been to Philadelphia, when you do go, you must visit the park with the iconic LOVE sculpture. During the holidays there is, of course, a giant tree right in the middle. If you go at night, you can see the love park tree lined up perfectly with a well-lit City Hall. So beautiful. The second tree we visited was in the Wanamaker building, home to Macy’s. It’s not exactly a traditional tree; it’s actually a huge holiday light show that goes on throughout the day. Please check the timing online because we’ve never actually been at Macy’s for the beginning of the show. The tree is a string of lights and all the old favorite holiday songs are set up with a corresponding light display. It’s great for little kids but us big kids love it too. And finally, my last must-see tree would have to be the gorgeous red and white decorated tree in Liberty One mall. It is huge and sits right under the glass dome and you can gaze up at the beautiful blue sky and city skyscrapers. The best part: a surprise orchestra concert! How amazing to see a professional orchestra perform beautiful classical music and well-known holiday tunes. These are only three of the many, many trees throughout the city but they’re three of my favorites.
From tree chasing, we traveled to the Old City section for more unique and very Philadelphia pursuits. Philadelphia’s Old City area is where you are likely to see photo-snapping tourists and Ben Franklin lookalikes but, on a chilly Sunday, it’s fairly quiet. This is most likely because Old City also moonlights as a hopping bar scene but that is for a whole other post. As I mentioned, it was quite chilly this Sunday so to escape the cold, we popped into our favorite ice cream parlor, Franklin Fountain. The ice cream parlor still serves the sweet treat in the winter months but it also amps it up with amazing chocolate drinks. My favorite is their European drinking chocolate, basically melted chocolate so rich it coats your spoon, with a homemade marshmallow on the side: divine! The boy tried their hot chocolate float: your choice of ice cream and American hot chocolate. He described it as cold on top then rich, warm chocolatey-ness as you dig down. My favorite part of Franklin Fountain is that it is modeled after a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor with costumed soda jerks, an old-fashioned register and a stamped tin ceiling. It’s a tiny space but we never have any trouble finding somewhere to sit.
Warmed up, the boy and I headed to an even warmer spot, Hudson Glass Company. This little outpost off of Market Street sells unique hand-blown glass objects, everything from pint glasses to rings. It also offers sessions to blow your own glass craft dependent on the season and we were at Hudson Glass to blow a unique ornament for our first Christmas tree. We went back to the studio where they have two huge furnaces, a table with the glass particles to color the clear glass and all sorts of glass blowing equipment I can’t even begin to identify. Even though I was strictly the photographer for this trip, it was still an amazing process to be a part of. You think that glass blowing is this extremely difficult activity that you could never attempt yourself. Not true when you’re in the capable hands of the Hudson Glass people. My boyfriend turned and blew a beautiful blue-green glass bubble that will look gorgeous on our tree. I’m not sure if they’re all booked but if you have the opportunity, GO! This is one amazing Christmas experience you cannot pass up!
Anybody have any other suggestions for Philadelphia holiday fun?