There is plenty to do in Philly before the leaves start to fall, but summertime isn’t the only season for fun activities in Philadelphia. Crisp, cool days and splashes of color from the parks and tree-lined streets entice visitors to explore the City of Brotherly Love in the fall. From the historical backdrop of Old City to the picturesque towns that dot the nearby countryside, the reasons to visit Philly in the fall are as plentiful as the falling leaves. Whether taking in the sights in Center City, running a marathon, soaking up history in a museum or battlefield of days gone by, tailgating at a pro or college sporting event or staking out the perfect vantage point to see a parade, autumn is a season for everyone in Philadelphia.
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
This historic landmark, a former prison that once housed Al “Scarface” Capone, has been noted by the Travel Channel as “One of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions” and is ranked continuously as one of the top 10 haunted attractions in the U.S. Late fall, however, is peak season for visitors at this popular Philly spot, with the annual “Terror Behind the Walls” haunted house event slated to begin Friday, September 19, 2014 and continue through November 8. The attraction draws scores of thrill-seekers from far and wide, and all proceeds go to support the preservation efforts of this National Historic Landmark.
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Longwood Gardens, nestled in Kennett Square just outside of Philadelphia, includes an arboretum and botanical garden comprised of over 1,000 acres. Of the 11,000 different types of plants on the grounds, it’s the foliage – a canopy of brilliant color and swirling, falling leaves – that beckons new and returning visitors each fall. Guests can hike three miles of trails through woods and meadows, taking in the sweeping vistas of color, visiting one of the four learning pavilions or delving into history with a visit to the Webb Farmhouse and Galleries. Visit the website before you go to note the Garden Highlights for that week so you don’t miss a thing.
22nd St. & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Philadelphia is home to one of the nation’s top marathons each fall. This year’s race weekend, November 21-23, will attract over 27,000 runners and 60,000 fans. An Expo kicks off the event with seminars, vendor booths and plenty of free samples as well as discounts to visit local venues, shops, restaurants and museums. The main event, the 26.2-mile race that follows a flat but very scenic course, begins at the iconic stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and then winds along the Schuylkill River and past numerous historic monuments and museums, and through numerous historic neighborhoods.
Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade
20th and JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Visitors come from far and wide to snag a seat at Philadelphia’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The iconic event – it’s the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country – is the traditional swan song for fall as it officially marks the start of the holiday season. The parade route, which stretches for 1.4 miles, starts at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard and ends at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you want a seat though, come early, as this parade – and its massive floats, giant balloons, entertainers and marching bands from across the country – is a beloved and popular tradition for many each year.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 N. Outer Line Drive
Valley Forge, PA 19406
Valley Forge National History Park can be found in the King of Prussia area in suburban Philadelphia. The park is a national treasure, a virtual “living museum” of history that can be taken in actively via tours and exploration, or passively enjoyed while hiking, biking or horseback riding its winding trails. The park’s 3,500 acres of woods, wetlands and meadows are home – either permanent or temporary – to over 227 species of birds, making Valley Forge a bird lover’s paradise. The best views for taking in the foliage, according to Philly-area hiking expert Shane O’Donnell, are the Mount Joy and Mount Misery trails, which can both be accessed from Washington’s Headquarters, where guests will also find easy access to parking and restrooms.