The best time to book a trip to Philadelphia

The Eagles in the fall, the South 9th Street Italian Market Festival in the spring, ice skating at Dilworth Plaza in the winter or strolling Independence National Historical Park in the spring – Philadelphia is a city graced with all four seasons. 

Yes, it’s hot and humid in the summer. Sure, it’s bitterly cold in the winter. But that doesn’t mean an end to the party. In fact, the best things to do in Philadelphia are there all year round.

Philly is the kind of city that you can enjoy with or without crowds, with money to burn or a tight purse; whenever you’re ready to visit, the City of Brotherly Love is always waiting – with a cheesesteak in hand.

People walk or sit around in Rittenhouse Square on an autumn day in Philadelphia. The leaves were changing on the trees. Avoid the large crowds by visiting Philadelphia during the low season, when the temperatures dip © Jon Lovette / Getty Images

October through February is the best time for budget travelers

The early half of the low season sees comfortable temperatures during the day (ranging from 79°F to 85°F), perfect for a bit of sightseeing, shopping or dining outdoors. October brings plenty of frightful events to enjoy, from Boo at the Zoo to Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary. If visiting around December, the Christmas Village at Love Park or Winter in Franklin Square can offer some holiday cheer.   

Heading into the actual winter months, expect fewer tourists (locals aren’t going anywhere) and a dip in hotels and airfares (not including the holiday seasons). 

A pair of geese stand on the green grass alongside Schuylkill River. Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom in the background. You can see the Philadelphia skyline on the hazy day. There’s nothing quite like seeing the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom along the Schuykill River © Dervin Witmer / Shutterstock

March through May is the best time to go sightseeing

Though the weather is cold, it’s not freezing like in January. You definitely will want to check the forecast before arriving – March is the last month of snowstorm season – but don’t let a few snowflakes stop you. Pack a  coat, sweatshirt, some layers and a thick pair of socks to explore the historic landmarks in downtown Philadelphia. For the sports lover, head to South Philly to check out the 76ers or Flyers in action.

June through September is the best time to enjoy outdoor festivals

During summer, the temperatures begin to rise to hot and steamy, and crowds descend on popular parts of town. Expect to pay more for hotels and flights and possibly elbow a few people at some of the city’s most famous landmarks. 

Head to Spruce Street Harbor, an outdoor park situated under a canopy of trees next to the Delaware River, to keep cool. Spruce Street Harbor offers everything from stand-up paddleboard yoga to Taco Tuesday, live musical performances to roller- and ice-skating.

January maintains a festive vibe

In the winter months, Dilworth Plaza, located at the doorsteps of City Hall, is transformed into a festive holiday park offering ice-skating and mini cabins to grab a bite to eat and a warm beverage. Illuminated by twinkle lights, Dilworth’s Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn also provides a lovely space for a stroll.
Key events: Mummers Parade, Chinese New Year, Philadelphia Auto Show

Black History Events abound in February 

The coldest month of the year, it’s a great time for exploring indoor attractions, like the African-American Museum. You can also check out Black-owned businesses around the city via Sisterhood Sit-In Rebel Rides, which start back up every February.
Key events: Black History Month events, Philly Home and Garden Show

Find a low-season deal in March

The Philadelphia Flower Show always draws large crowds, despite the threat of snowstorms. If you’re willing to brave the genuinely frigid temps, you’ll be rewarded with low-season deals for hotels and flights.
Key events: Women’s History Month events, Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon

April is for cherry blossoms and gardens

Cherry blossoms usher in the arrival of spring as the city shakes off the final traces of winter. It’s an excellent time to visit Longwood Gardens or the Morris Arboretum & Gardens of the University of Pennsylvania.
Key events: Penn Relays, Philadelphia Black Pride, Philadelphia Science Festival, Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival

May is a great time to get outside

With warm weather underway and baseball season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park or to find one of many outdoor festivals, like South Street Fest. Memorial Day Weekend is a particularly busy time for tourists, with plenty of parties and fireworks to be found all around town.
Key events: South 9th Street Italian Market Festival, Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival

June sees the crowds come rolling in

June is the start of peak travel to the city, with larger crowds and higher hotel rates. Book ahead as much as possible. The Odunde Festival is a one-day festival catered to Black American interests and the African diaspora. It’s derived from the tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria in celebration of the new year. Another growing Philly tradition is the annual Roots Picnic, a one-day music festival hosted by Philly’s own, the Roots. Catch performances from a slew of new artists and established headliners.
Key events: Philly Pride, Philly Beer Week, Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, Juneteenth events

Fireworks exploded over a body of water with the Philadelphia skyline in the background. Philadelphia is the perfect place to celebrate America’s independence © Tongshan / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Celebrate the nation’s birthday in July

The days are sweltering and humid, and you can expect huge crowds in the city for Independence Day celebrations. To cool down, head for shadier sections of Fairmount Park. One of the biggest events of the month is Welcome America Philadelphia. The festival begins the third week of June and lasts until July 4. Enjoy Ice Cream Day, Build a Hoagie Day or attend movie screenings and free concerts.
Key event: Independence Day, Bastille Day

August is hot and crowded

It’s still pretty hot, but the crowds haven’t let up yet. Check out the Black Star Film Festival – an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and global communities of color.
Key events: Philadelphia Folk Festival, Citadel County Spirit USA

See top tourist attractions in September

Warmer weather finally begins to give way to cooler mornings and evenings. Kids go back to school, and the semester begins at the city’s many colleges and universities, making this a busy season for locals. It’s a great time to visit tourist attractions, like the Liberty Bell and the Mütter Museum; however, save on-campus museums, like the Penn Museum, for summertime or winter break.
Key events: Made in America Music Festival, Fringe Festival, Labor Day

Eerie view of the old and abandoned cell block in Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Head to Eastern State Penitentiary during Halloween for a truly eerie experience © windsketch / Shutterstock

October is for spooky-season activities

The spooky season is in full swing, making it the perfect time to visit haunted attractions. Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the more notable ones – a historic prison where a few noteworthy mobsters like Al Capone and “Slick Willie Sutton” have had extended stays. You have several options to tour the prison, which is now in ruin.
Key events: Revolutionary Germantown Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, Audi Feastival 

In November, visit ahead of Thanksgiving to avoid crowds

It’s getting darker and colder now – the average low is 40°F  – though the appearance of holiday decorations and lights brightens up Center City and Rittenhouse Square. If possible, visit at the start of the month to avoid the heavy tourist traffic around Thanksgiving.
Key events: Philadelphia Marathon, Thanksgiving parade

Take advantage of indoor attractions in December 

Christmas lights sparkle, but bundle up – temperatures are low at around 31°F, with ice and snow almost guaranteed. This is an excellent time to enjoy Philly’s many galleries and museums, as well as the whimsical holiday displays and events around town.
Key events: Army-Navy game, winter holiday events around Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa


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