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A stone bridge over a body of water surrounded by trees with multicolored autumn leaves in Philadelphia. Flickr user Louis Dallara

26 best things to do in Philly right now

Places to visit in the City of Brotherly Love

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Fall is coming to Philly this month and next, bringing gorgeous colors, crisp weather, and (of course) Halloween.

Philly is one of the best cities to spend fall. Not only is it beautiful and not too cold, but there are tons of activities and things to do that celebrate the spooky, cozy feeling of the season.

Head out to an orchard or pumpkin patch, stay in and see a museum, or really scare yourself with a haunted tour of Eastern State Penitentiary. No matter what you’re eager to do this season, the city has you covered.

To start you off, we’ve put together a list of the 26 best things to see and do in and around Philly this fall. Did we miss one? Hit our tipline.

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Linvilla Orchards

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For the classic fall experience, Linvilla has you covered. It’s just a quick drive or train ride away in Media, and it offers apple and flower picking all season. Once you’re done apple picking, head over to the playground, do a hayride, or visit Pumpkinland. The farm offers nearly all of the quintessential family fall activities, and then some.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

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Right by the Philadelphia International Airport is John Heinz, the country’s first urban refuge that was established in 1972 when local residents fought to protect the land from being built up by I-95. Today, the refuge is made up of nearly 1,000 acres of woods, pond, marsh, and meadows dedicated to wildlife conservation and the environment. Got a canoe or kayak? There’s a docking area to push off when the tide is high.

Bartram's Garden

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This 45-acre historic landmark is tucked away on the southwest banks of the Schuylkill River and features gorgeous gardens and paths to walk along, as well as a chance to learn about plant and tree life in the area. Plus you can head down to the banks and rent out a kayak for a few hours, just to take in the scenery.

Philadelphia Zoo

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Fall in the city means it’s prime time to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, which was established in 1874 as the first true zoo in the country. Today, it’s home to some 1,300 animals, as well as some architectural gems like a Frank Furness-designed gateway and the “Treehouse” by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Plus, the zoo’s annual “Boo in the Zoo” event returns for a few weekends next month with spooky, family-friendly activities. Take a picture in front of some pumpkins, run through a corn maze, or just go check out the animals while it’s still relatively warm.

Penn Museum

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Penn Museum is the largest university museum of its kind in the country, and you could easily spend a whole day here gaping over the treasure trove of this museum’s roughly 1 million archeological artifacts. Or enjoy the crisp fall weather by hanging out in Stoner Courtyard out front.

In the foreground is a still pool with various floating plant life. In the distance is the Penn Museum which has a red door and grand staircase. There are trees on both sides of the pool. Photo by Melissa Romero

Woodford Mansion

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Of the many historic mansions that still reside in Fairmount Park, Woodford Mansion is one of the few that remains open year-round. Built between 1756-58 by William Coleman, a Philadelphia merchant and close friend of Benjamin Franklin, this served as another summer home along the Schuylkill. There have only been five owners in the property’s history, including the Wharton family. Now it displays 18th- and 19th-century antiques owned by prominent collector Noami Wood.

Boathouse Row

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You can get up close and personal to the iconic and historic boathouses along the Schulkill River by heading over to Kelly Drive. Before the Lemon Hill Estate became part of the Fairmount Park system in 1855, the leaseholder allowed rowers to build what’s been described as “ramshackle” boathouses along the Schuylkill River. These were later condemned by the City of Philadelphia, and later replaced in the 1870s by more sturdy stone boathouses built in various styles, from Victorian Gothic to Mediterranean to Colonial Revival. They light up when the sun goes down, so it’s always a treat to catch them at night.

Laurel Hill Cemetery

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Silent and beautiful, this nearly 200-year-old cemetery sits at the edge of the city, looking out of the Schuylkill River. It’s a popular spot to visit come fall, when the falling leaves and crisp air enhance its mystical quality. Plus, the cemetery offers a roundup of fascinating and fun events like yoga classes, history tours (that touch on spiritualists, rituals, hauntings and more), and of course, a Halloween-themed family day in the cemetery.

FDR Park

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The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park is a nearly century-old Philly staple. Since it opened in 1921, the park has seen a number of changes, including the addition of a golf course and skate park. Now, it’s undergoing a revamping project which will bring all kinds of gorgeous new amenities to the space. Take this spring to check out the beloved—and historic—South Philly spot.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

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There are plenty of reasons to visit the PMA throughout the year for the art and history, but it’s lovely now, especially. There’s the recently completed Frank Gehry-designed restaurant, Stir, inside and every Friday night the museum has live music and tapas-style dishes. 

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (Mutter Museum)

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This one-of-a-kind medical museum houses thousands of “human specimens” and odd medical instruments and objects. It’s cool, in a creepy and historical way. Learn about medical oddities and human anatomy while getting into the creepy spirit of fall. Hope you have a strong stomach!

Eastern State Penitentiary

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This 19th century behemoth in Fairmount is a Philly gem, especially around fall. The National Historical Landmark once housed the likes of Al Capone and notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. It’s open to the public for museum tours each week. But easily its most popular event is “Terror Behind the Walls”, when the whole prison is turned into a haunted house for the Halloween season. 

The Met Philadelphia

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Music lovers rejoice — The Met opened its doors again last year after two years of renovations. The new space aims to highlight the beauty of the original, with art deco elements, a restored main stage, and more. Need a good date night idea? The Met has tons of shows from music to comedy.

Outfest

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This popular yearly event celebrates National Coming Out Day with parades, performances, drinks and food, all in the heart of the Gayborhood. It also happens to be the largest event of its kind in the country. The October 13 festival features events throughout the day, all supporting local businesses and the LGBTQ community. 

The Rail Park

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The first stretch of the long-awaited Rail Park opened last year, giving everyone the perfect hangout spot for a lunch, catching up with friends, or even just lounging in the middle of the city. Bring a book and some snacks: even though it’s small, you could spend the whole afternoon here.

Reading Terminal Market

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When you need to recharge, take a foodie break at Reading Terminal Market, a top food hall in the U.S. The market first started out as the Reading Railroad Company train terminal in the 1890s. Today, it features more than 75 food vendors offering all sorts of delectable and Philly-proud meals. Be sure to check out the soaring train shed above the market.

Italian Market

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If you’ve lived in Philly for any amount of time (especially South Philly), you likely already know about the greatness that is the Italian Market. But how often do you get a chance to visit? The market has everything: open air stalls with (very well priced) veggies and fruits; great shops that sell spices, meats, and bread; and just a general charm and character that’s essential to the city. It’s definitely a must-visit this fall.

Spring Arts District

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Philly is home to thousands of murals, but if you want to see a bunch of them in one go head to Callowhill, where you’ll find the Spring Arts District. It’s the city’s first rotating outdoor art gallery, complete with a dozen or so murals plastered against the neighborhood’s old warehouses and buildings. Want to see more? Here are a bunch of other new murals to check out throughout the city.

Franklin Square

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Franklin Square is a popular place for visitors and locals alike, and it’s especially nice in the fall. Enjoy a game of mini-golf, ride the Parx Liberty Carousel—a treat that’s perfect for parents with young children—or stop by the Living Flame statue, a memorial to fallen police officers and firefighters.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

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Another beloved - but not as well known - part of Philly is Edgar Allen Poe’s house in Old City. The prolific (and often creepy) poet spent six productive years living in Philadelphia at N. 7th Street. You can tour the home he rented for what he’s called some of the happiest years of his life. Just note: The house is only open Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.

Independence Hall

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This is a must-see for history buffs. The historic building is listed as a World Heritage Site and played a big role in Philly’s designation as a World Heritage City. You have to get a ticket from the Visitor's Center across the street go inside. While you're at it, check out the Liberty Bell across the street and National Constitution Center across the Mall and 15 other hidden gems in the national park.

The exterior of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The base of the building is red and there is a white tower.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Fabric Row

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If you want to avoid the shopping crowds on Chestnut and Walnut streets in Center City, take your visitors to Queen Village’s Fabric Row, where, as our friends at Racked put it, “you can find some of best vintage shopping on the East Coast.” There are indie shops and boutiques, cute cafes, and it’s a short walk to the always bustling South Street.

A row of colorful houses in Philadelphia known as Fabric Row. There are various fabric stores and shops on the ground floors of the buildings. Courtesy of Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock.com

The Bourse Food Court Philadelphia

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The Bourse Marketplace opened last fall after a long restoration process, which brought it back to its 19th century glory. The new space offers a ton of different food options, as well as renovations that enhance its classical and Art Deco, turn-of-the-century details. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a bite while you’re on a walk around Old City.

Elfreth's Alley

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No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a walk down Elfreth's Alley, especially in the fall. The country's oldest continuously inhabited residential street is what Curbed readers consider one of the most beautiful in the city. Snap a selfie among the 32 idyllic rowhomes, built from 1728 to 1836, then head back indoors.

Want to see more beautiful streets? Here are Curbed readers’ top five picks. And here are some quiet and beautiful alleys.

An alley in Philadelphia. The alley is narrow and there are red brick attached houses on both sides.
Photo by Melissa Romero

SS United States

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At 992 feet long, the ocean liner SS United States is 100 feet longer than the Titanic. It’s seen many celebrities come aboard since it debuted in the 1950’s, and it was once the fastest ship of its kind in the world. 

Now the SS United States is docked in the Delaware River, across from the IKEA, and it’s certainly worth a trip. You can’t climb aboard anymore, but take a moment to check out the size and maybe snap a picture. After all, it might not be there for much longer

The exterior of the ship SS United States. The ship is parked at a dock. It has two large smoke stacks on it. Wikimedia Commons

Tacony Creek Park

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Take a day trip out of Center City and visit Tacony Creek Park, which brings some nature-heavy beauty right to the middle of northeast Philly. You can walk, take photos, or bring a picnic, but we recommend biking along the 3.2-mile paved Tacony Creek Trail that runs through the woods. It’s the perfect way to spend a fall day among the trees. Need more biking options? We have you covered here.

Linvilla Orchards

For the classic fall experience, Linvilla has you covered. It’s just a quick drive or train ride away in Media, and it offers apple and flower picking all season. Once you’re done apple picking, head over to the playground, do a hayride, or visit Pumpkinland. The farm offers nearly all of the quintessential family fall activities, and then some.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

Right by the Philadelphia International Airport is John Heinz, the country’s first urban refuge that was established in 1972 when local residents fought to protect the land from being built up by I-95. Today, the refuge is made up of nearly 1,000 acres of woods, pond, marsh, and meadows dedicated to wildlife conservation and the environment. Got a canoe or kayak? There’s a docking area to push off when the tide is high.

Bartram's Garden

This 45-acre historic landmark is tucked away on the southwest banks of the Schuylkill River and features gorgeous gardens and paths to walk along, as well as a chance to learn about plant and tree life in the area. Plus you can head down to the banks and rent out a kayak for a few hours, just to take in the scenery.

Philadelphia Zoo

Fall in the city means it’s prime time to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, which was established in 1874 as the first true zoo in the country. Today, it’s home to some 1,300 animals, as well as some architectural gems like a Frank Furness-designed gateway and the “Treehouse” by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Plus, the zoo’s annual “Boo in the Zoo” event returns for a few weekends next month with spooky, family-friendly activities. Take a picture in front of some pumpkins, run through a corn maze, or just go check out the animals while it’s still relatively warm.

Penn Museum

In the foreground is a still pool with various floating plant life. In the distance is the Penn Museum which has a red door and grand staircase. There are trees on both sides of the pool. Photo by Melissa Romero

Penn Museum is the largest university museum of its kind in the country, and you could easily spend a whole day here gaping over the treasure trove of this museum’s roughly 1 million archeological artifacts. Or enjoy the crisp fall weather by hanging out in Stoner Courtyard out front.

In the foreground is a still pool with various floating plant life. In the distance is the Penn Museum which has a red door and grand staircase. There are trees on both sides of the pool. Photo by Melissa Romero

Woodford Mansion

Of the many historic mansions that still reside in Fairmount Park, Woodford Mansion is one of the few that remains open year-round. Built between 1756-58 by William Coleman, a Philadelphia merchant and close friend of Benjamin Franklin, this served as another summer home along the Schuylkill. There have only been five owners in the property’s history, including the Wharton family. Now it displays 18th- and 19th-century antiques owned by prominent collector Noami Wood.

Boathouse Row

You can get up close and personal to the iconic and historic boathouses along the Schulkill River by heading over to Kelly Drive. Before the Lemon Hill Estate became part of the Fairmount Park system in 1855, the leaseholder allowed rowers to build what’s been described as “ramshackle” boathouses along the Schuylkill River. These were later condemned by the City of Philadelphia, and later replaced in the 1870s by more sturdy stone boathouses built in various styles, from Victorian Gothic to Mediterranean to Colonial Revival. They light up when the sun goes down, so it’s always a treat to catch them at night.

Laurel Hill Cemetery

Silent and beautiful, this nearly 200-year-old cemetery sits at the edge of the city, looking out of the Schuylkill River. It’s a popular spot to visit come fall, when the falling leaves and crisp air enhance its mystical quality. Plus, the cemetery offers a roundup of fascinating and fun events like yoga classes, history tours (that touch on spiritualists, rituals, hauntings and more), and of course, a Halloween-themed family day in the cemetery.

FDR Park

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park is a nearly century-old Philly staple. Since it opened in 1921, the park has seen a number of changes, including the addition of a golf course and skate park. Now, it’s undergoing a revamping project which will bring all kinds of gorgeous new amenities to the space. Take this spring to check out the beloved—and historic—South Philly spot.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

There are plenty of reasons to visit the PMA throughout the year for the art and history, but it’s lovely now, especially. There’s the recently completed Frank Gehry-designed restaurant, Stir, inside and every Friday night the museum has live music and tapas-style dishes. 

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (Mutter Museum)

This one-of-a-kind medical museum houses thousands of “human specimens” and odd medical instruments and objects. It’s cool, in a creepy and historical way. Learn about medical oddities and human anatomy while getting into the creepy spirit of fall. Hope you have a strong stomach!

Eastern State Penitentiary

This 19th century behemoth in Fairmount is a Philly gem, especially around fall. The National Historical Landmark once housed the likes of Al Capone and notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. It’s open to the public for museum tours each week. But easily its most popular event is “Terror Behind the Walls”, when the whole prison is turned into a haunted house for the Halloween season. 

The Met Philadelphia

Music lovers rejoice — The Met opened its doors again last year after two years of renovations. The new space aims to highlight the beauty of the original, with art deco elements, a restored main stage, and more. Need a good date night idea? The Met has tons of shows from music to comedy.

Outfest

This popular yearly event celebrates National Coming Out Day with parades, performances, drinks and food, all in the heart of the Gayborhood. It also happens to be the largest event of its kind in the country. The October 13 festival features events throughout the day, all supporting local businesses and the LGBTQ community. 

The Rail Park

The first stretch of the long-awaited Rail Park opened last year, giving everyone the perfect hangout spot for a lunch, catching up with friends, or even just lounging in the middle of the city. Bring a book and some snacks: even though it’s small, you could spend the whole afternoon here.

Reading Terminal Market

When you need to recharge, take a foodie break at Reading Terminal Market, a top food hall in the U.S. The market first started out as the Reading Railroad Company train terminal in the 1890s. Today, it features more than 75 food vendors offering all sorts of delectable and Philly-proud meals. Be sure to check out the soaring train shed above the market.

Italian Market

If you’ve lived in Philly for any amount of time (especially South Philly), you likely already know about the greatness that is the Italian Market. But how often do you get a chance to visit? The market has everything: open air stalls with (very well priced) veggies and fruits; great shops that sell spices, meats, and bread; and just a general charm and character that’s essential to the city. It’s definitely a must-visit this fall.

Spring Arts District

Philly is home to thousands of murals, but if you want to see a bunch of them in one go head to Callowhill, where you’ll find the Spring Arts District. It’s the city’s first rotating outdoor art gallery, complete with a dozen or so murals plastered against the neighborhood’s old warehouses and buildings. Want to see more? Here are a bunch of other new murals to check out throughout the city.

Franklin Square

Franklin Square is a popular place for visitors and locals alike, and it’s especially nice in the fall. Enjoy a game of mini-golf, ride the Parx Liberty Carousel—a treat that’s perfect for parents with young children—or stop by the Living Flame statue, a memorial to fallen police officers and firefighters.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Another beloved - but not as well known - part of Philly is Edgar Allen Poe’s house in Old City. The prolific (and often creepy) poet spent six productive years living in Philadelphia at N. 7th Street. You can tour the home he rented for what he’s called some of the happiest years of his life. Just note: The house is only open Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.

Independence Hall

The exterior of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The base of the building is red and there is a white tower.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

This is a must-see for history buffs. The historic building is listed as a World Heritage Site and played a big role in Philly’s designation as a World Heritage City. You have to get a ticket from the Visitor's Center across the street go inside. While you're at it, check out the Liberty Bell across the street and National Constitution Center across the Mall and 15 other hidden gems in the national park.

The exterior of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The base of the building is red and there is a white tower.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Fabric Row

A row of colorful houses in Philadelphia known as Fabric Row. There are various fabric stores and shops on the ground floors of the buildings. Courtesy of Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock.com

If you want to avoid the shopping crowds on Chestnut and Walnut streets in Center City, take your visitors to Queen Village’s Fabric Row, where, as our friends at Racked put it, “you can find some of best vintage shopping on the East Coast.” There are indie shops and boutiques, cute cafes, and it’s a short walk to the always bustling South Street.

A row of colorful houses in Philadelphia known as Fabric Row. There are various fabric stores and shops on the ground floors of the buildings. Courtesy of Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock.com

The Bourse Food Court Philadelphia

The Bourse Marketplace opened last fall after a long restoration process, which brought it back to its 19th century glory. The new space offers a ton of different food options, as well as renovations that enhance its classical and Art Deco, turn-of-the-century details. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a bite while you’re on a walk around Old City.

Elfreth's Alley

An alley in Philadelphia. The alley is narrow and there are red brick attached houses on both sides.
Photo by Melissa Romero

No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a walk down Elfreth's Alley, especially in the fall. The country's oldest continuously inhabited residential street is what Curbed readers consider one of the most beautiful in the city. Snap a selfie among the 32 idyllic rowhomes, built from 1728 to 1836, then head back indoors.

Want to see more beautiful streets? Here are Curbed readers’ top five picks. And here are some quiet and beautiful alleys.

An alley in Philadelphia. The alley is narrow and there are red brick attached houses on both sides.
Photo by Melissa Romero

SS United States

The exterior of the ship SS United States. The ship is parked at a dock. It has two large smoke stacks on it. Wikimedia Commons

At 992 feet long, the ocean liner SS United States is 100 feet longer than the Titanic. It’s seen many celebrities come aboard since it debuted in the 1950’s, and it was once the fastest ship of its kind in the world. 

Now the SS United States is docked in the Delaware River, across from the IKEA, and it’s certainly worth a trip. You can’t climb aboard anymore, but take a moment to check out the size and maybe snap a picture. After all, it might not be there for much longer

The exterior of the ship SS United States. The ship is parked at a dock. It has two large smoke stacks on it. Wikimedia Commons

Tacony Creek Park

Take a day trip out of Center City and visit Tacony Creek Park, which brings some nature-heavy beauty right to the middle of northeast Philly. You can walk, take photos, or bring a picnic, but we recommend biking along the 3.2-mile paved Tacony Creek Trail that runs through the woods. It’s the perfect way to spend a fall day among the trees. Need more biking options? We have you covered here.