Inclement weather is always a travel concern no matter where you’re headed. And in winter especially, bad weather can literally and figuratively rain on your parade in a very frustrating manner. This is exactly what happened to us when we visited Philadelphia in December. We were all set for a full weekend of touring a city that we had never really visited except for countless business trips. The forecast was projecting an entire weekend of rain, sleet and slush and that’s exactly what we got. But amidst all that, we were pleasantly surprised at how relaxing and even romantic the weekend turned out. So here are my tips and guide on visiting Philadelphia during winter…
WHERE TO STAY
As with any big city, there are plenty of hotel options for the visitor. We chose Hyatt at The Bellevue, a beautiful hotel with historical charm and located in the perfect, most central part of the city. A and I are convinced that staying at Hyatt at The Bellevue is what turned a disappointing weekend into one that was super nostalgic and relaxing. We were given a tour of the hotel one morning and it was fascinating to see how every room served a purpose (Hyatt at The Bellevue hosts many special events: weddings, business conferences, etc…) and discover its historical surprises of Tiffany Glass and the Thomas Edison electrical unit. Hyatt at The Bellevue comes with all the amenities, sizable rooms with sweeping views of the city and the bottom floor is an array of various shops.
WHAT TO DO
This one is tough because our weekend was full of constant rain, ice, sleet and it was FREEZING, but we still managed to get around and see various landmarks in the city. Philly isn’t huge so you can see much of it in a weekend, preferable two. If you hate the cold and really don’t want to get wet, I would recommend visiting the iconic spots: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market, Eastern State Penitentiary, and Philadelphia Museum of Art, all indoor sights. Since these are all scattered across the city, you will have to drive across town or take public transport. We ventured out on foot to see Elfreth’s Alley, a gorgeous little alley full of historic charm because it was on my bucket list. Originally our intent was to visit Elfreth’s on the way to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, where I had visions of capturing the perfect shot amidst fog and mist. That idea was an epic fail. The pier was CLOSED for winter and I couldn’t capture the bridge as I wanted. I do not recommend going all the way out to that side of the city during winter either, it was quite a bit of walking and even though Elfreth’s Alley is adorable all decked out for Christmas, it wastes quite a bit of time if your plans also include the art museum, the market, etc. If you’re set on seeing it, though, drive to it, pull over and snap a few photos before returning to the more central part of Philly.
WHERE TO EAT
XIX – We were spoiled. This was the first time we stayed at a hotel that had a fantastic restaurant attached to it. Hyatt at The Bellevue has an on-site restaurant called XIX. This restaurant has all the bells and whistles: ambience, quality and convenience. Located on the 19th floor (now the name makes sense, eh?), XIX is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, depending on the day of the week. There’s also a bar area where you can hang with friends and sip on wine. We enjoyed a 3 course dinner one evening and lazily dined in for breakfast the next morning.
Elixr Coffee – Obviously a cold weekend needs a hot drink (and a croissant) so Elixr Coffee was our go to for hot cocoa and steaming coffee. We actually came here twice because the drinks were so good. Be prepared to share a table, though. The place is small and cozy.
JJ Thai Cuisine – Falling in line with our “cozy winter weekend” theme, A and I decided to order in. Our bones were still thawing from our long walk to the bridge (I’m not even kidding) and we both decided that an evening in would be perfect. JJ’s has delicious Thai food and they deliver straight to the hotel. The Pad See Ew and Red Curry were both fantastic.
Thank you to Hyatt at The Bellevue for providing us with a complimentary weekend stay!
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