Philadelphia in autumn is delightful. Yes, the days are all shorter, cooler, wetter, and often cloudier. But crowds decline in the offseason and with locals home from summer vacations “down the Shore” (or elsewhere), festivals and events go into full swing. There are so many fun fall things to do in Philadelphia. A visit during autumn can be a great way to experience the City of Brotherly Love and get a feel for what the city (and the region) is all about!
Philly Fall Weather
When it comes to weather in Philadelphia, it is best to come prepared. At the end of September, fall usually starts warm, wet, and humid. By the end of fall in December, it can be quite cold. Snowfall isn’t out of the question although serious accumulation isn’t common. (There, of course, are exceptions. Such as the more than three inches of snow in November 2018 that threw everyone for a loop.)
There are, of course, ups and downs of visiting this time of the year. The days can be warm but cool down quickly when the evening arrives. Your best bet is to keep an umbrella or raincoat at hand and to wear layers. Once into November, a winter coat is typically a necessity. A warm hat might not be a bad idea, either, if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.
During the fall, there’s still a good amount of daylight if you plan accordingly. The season starts with just over twelve hours of daylight and finishes with roughly nine-and-a-half. Start your day early and be rewarded with a lovely sunrise. Personally, I’d pair it with hot tea and there’s certainly a lot of great coffee shops and cafes to duck into for a break.
Fall Foliage in Philadelphia
Enjoying fall foliage is an age-old tradition. And there are plenty of great places to see the colorful fall foliage in Philadelphia. The small parks that dot the city landscape, like Rittenhouse Square, will offer teases of color. For larger swathes of reds, oranges, and yellows head to Fairmount Park where only months before the cherry blossoms were being celebrated. Bundle up if the weather requires it and go for a stroll through the park or along the Schuylkill River Trail to soak in the crisp fall atmosphere.
Just outside of the city limits you will find further colorful leaves. My favorite is the sprawling acres of Valley Forge National Historic Park where you can soak of history while enjoying the miles of hiking and cycling paths.
Knowing exactly when the leaves will reach peak color is always challenging. Your best bet is to check local listings or national maps, like Smoky Mountain’s fall foliage map, for up-to-date predictions. Then keep your fingers crossed!
Fall Festivals in Philadelphia
Philly feels festive come fall. Just outside of the city you’ll find dozens of orchards with apple picking, hayrides, and more. Around October, there is a definite Halloween focus with spooky and haunted activities. When I was growing up, a visit to nearby Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards in Media was an annual tradition. The scarecrow festival at Peddler’s Village in Bucks County is also quite popular.
In the city, there are a lot of options. For Halloween celebrations, try Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary. There are countless Oktoberfest celebrations, including Brauhaus Schmitz.
Across the city, individual neighborhoods and communities regularly hold annual festivals. It’s a great way to enjoy the last few weeks of warm weather and longer days. In addition to the street parties and festivals, there’s Philly fashion week and restaurant week. There’s quite simply something for everyone!
More Fall Things to do in Philadelphia
If pumpkins, apples, and colorful leaves aren’t really your thing, there’s no need to worry. There are, of course, other options. Fall is football season and the region is very loyal (outspoken?) Philadelphia Eagles fans. Even if you can’t get your hands on tickets to a game that doesn’t mean you can’t tailgate with hundreds of others before and during the games outside of Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly. Just make sure you know how to spell “eagles” for the chant.
During the fall season, pumpkins, gourds, and wreathes pop up on front stoops and front doors across the city. This is especially charming in the city’s historic neighborhoods like Old City. Explore the festively decorated homes lining the cobblestone streets covered in leaves.
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All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own.