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What To Do Over Thanksgiving Break: Philly Edition

Most of us are craving a home-cooked meal and the comfort of our own beds by now. Luckily, Thanksgiving is approaching fast. Once you’ve enjoyed your fill of downtime and watched a few re-runs of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” you might start to seek a little more excitement for your holiday break.

Thankfully (heh), there’s a whole city full of possibilities waiting for you right in your backyard — or just outside of your backyard. If you’re one of those “right outside of Philly folk,” this post is for you. We present to you a list of the best activities, eats, and concerts for you to check out this Thanksgiving break:

Things To Do

The most obvious and most festive choice for entertainment on Turkey Day is the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade that runs along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Although it may not be as grand as the Macy’s event in New York, it is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the the country, so Philly must be doing something right. Special guests include Drew Lachey from 98 Degrees, America’s Got Talent singer and Broadway actor Brian Justin Crum, Ginger Zee from Good Morning America, and R&B singer Estelle. Along with the floats, there will be visits from Santa Claus and a few Disney characters, so it’s a great place to bring younger siblings for the day.

If you’re looking to catch a show at one of Philadelphia’s historic theaters, you can see classic musicals like Mary Poppins at The Grand Theatre or The Wizard of Oz at The Walnut Street Theater, both of which run through the holiday season. After dinner and a show, you can embrace the chilly weather with a trip to the ice rink. The BlueCross RiverRink is Philadelphia’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, and it sits right on the Delaware River waterfront. With the Ben Franklin Bridge to the north and the river to the east, the RiverRink is a perfect, scenic date night spot or a great place to go with the whole family.

Another great ice skating spot is at Dilworth Park. The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is open until February, but the best part is its proximity to some other local hot spots. The park runs along the west side of City Hall — right across the street from Philly’s famous LOVE Park. Its annual Christmas Village opens on November 25, so it’s a great place to get a little Christmas shopping done before heading back to school. If you don’t feel like walking over, you should try out the brand new America’s Garden Capital Maze in Dilworth. The garden will showcase decor from all of the city’s public gardens and historic landscapes (which is why it’s called America’s Garden Capital).

Other popular attractions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Independence Hall, and the Franklin Institute, which will house Jurassic World: The Exhibition starting on November 25, are always awesome choices for a day in the city.

Places To Eat

When most people first think of food in Philadelphia, they usually think of the Reading Terminal Market. The massive indoor farmer’s market houses tons of vendors selling anything from seafood to cheese to fudge. You can enjoy its “Taste of Philadelphia” market tours on Saturdays, and starting on Thanksgiving, you can see its Holiday Railroad. It runs on almost a third of a mile of track.

One restaurant I always recommend to anyone visiting Philadelphia is El Vez. The vibrant Mexican restaurant is a place for everyone, with large round booths for bigger parties and small tables by the window for a more intimate setting. The guacamole sampler and desserts are especially to die for, and the restaurant even has a photo booth to help you remember your time in the city.

A few more simple, low-key Philadelphia restaurants include Garces Trading, Co., run by Iron Chef Jose Garces, La Calaca Feliz, a small Mexican restaurant a short distance away from the Museum of Art and the Eastern State Penitentiary, and Barbuzzo, a Mediterranean-style restaurant with a great selection of pizza.

Concerts To Enjoy

After a day out taking in the sights of Philadelphia, why not take in the sounds at night? Here’s a list of all of the concerts at four of the most popular venues in the city:

Union Transfer

  • Johnnyswim with Jonny P — November 19, 8:30 p.m.
  • Hands Like Houses and Our Last Night with The Color Morale and Out Came The Wolves — November 20 at 6:30 p.m.
  • WXPN 88.5 Welcomes Dinosaur Jr. with Easy Action — November 26 at 8:30 p.m.

The Fillmore Philadelphia

  • Kiiara with Lil Aaron — November 19 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Radio 104.5 Presents Two Door Cinema Club — November 19 at 8:30 p.m.
  • PartyNextDoor and Jeremih: Summer’s Over Tour — November 20 at 8 p.m.
  • K.FLAY with Nightly — November 22 at 8 p.m.
  • The Wonder Years and Real Friends — November 23 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Sweater Beats — November 25 at 10 p.m.
  • The Japanese House — November 26 at 7 p.m.
  • Joe Russo’s Almost Dead — November 26 at 9 p.m.

The Theatre of Living Arts

  • Twiddle — November 19 at 9 p.m.
  • Crown The Empire: The Retrograde Tour — November 23 at 6:30 p.m.
  • A$AP FERG with Playboi Carti and Rob $tone — November 26 at 8:30 p.m.

The Electric Factory

  • Porter Robinson and Madeon with Danger and Robotaki — November 19 at 8:30 p.m.
  • Jon Bellion with Travis Mendes, Blaque Keyz, and Clark Beckham –November 22 at 8 p.m.
  • Bret Michaels with Octane and MACH22 — November 25 at 8:30 p.m.


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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys Broadway musicals, neck pillows, and eating cereal at night. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.


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