We've (maybe) always known we’re the greatest. It’s just that now the rest of the world does too.
In an article aptly titled “Philly (Is) Special”, the popular international men’s monthly magazine GQ just named Philly as their city of the year, citing the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, the increasing politicization of the community, and the rise of Philadelphia newsmakers from Meek Mill to Barbacoa's Cristina Martínez to Gritty.
And Visit Philly says they’re expecting a record number of visitors to the region this calendar year, making it the ninth year in a row that the city has broken previous records in outside attraction.
Cara Schneider, media relations director at Visit Philly, thinks part of the city’s appeal is its multifaceted charm: “There are so many sides of Philly, from sports to entertainment to activism… it’s a big enough place that you get flavor and culture, but not so big that you feel lost.”
We’d agree. Whether you’ve been here for years or are discovering the city for the first time this winter, here are five things to do in Philadelphia, our favorite City of the Year.
Make the most of winter in the city ice skating at the RiverRink Winterfest
With a skating rink, a lighted tree, cozy cabins and lodges offering food and activities, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest offers seasonal splendor for everyone. Plus, from Thursday to Sunday between 6 and 9 p.m., the Free Philly Holiday Shuttle (run by PHLASH) runs through Center City every half hour and stops at the RiverRink, so it’s easy to hop on and continue exploring the holiday attractions.
Visit Philadelphia’s most curious and compelling museums
From the Mütter Museum to the Eastern State Penitentiary to Independence Hall, Philadelphia features some of the most unique museums in America. This winter, exhibitions include Xtreme Bugs at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Fabulous Fashion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Cotton at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
See old Philly in a brand-new way at the Met Philadelphia
After a hiatus and renovation, the Metropolitan Opera House, once the largest theater of its kind in the world, opened again to the public early this December. The iconic venue played movie theater, church, ballroom, and basketball court in the past hundred years, but it’s been restored to all its former glory and more – you can see its impressive lineup of performances on the Met Philly website here.
Ring in the New Year with fireworks on the waterfront
The main New Year’s Eve attraction in Philadelphia, fireworks on the Delaware River bring crowds of revelers of all ages to the waterfront each year. With two free displays (one at 6 p.m., the other at midnight), the 15-minute show is a perfect place to celebrate new beginnings.
Witness an iconic part of Philly’s history at the Mummers Parade
One of Philadelphia’s longest-running traditions, the Mummers Parade is held every New Year’s Day and features hours of music, dances and masquerade. The parade starts at City Hall and ends on Washington Avenue, with four divisions (the Comics and Wench Brigades, the Fancies, the String Bands, and the Fancy Brigades) competing fiercely for local bragging rights.
Jeff Guaracino, CEO of Visit Philly, says that it’s been a “longtime goal for people to see how special our town is, and it’s important to us when publications like GQ acknowledge that for the rest of the world.”
Sure, Philly may be proud of the fact that “no one likes us, we don’t care,” but maybe that’s about to change too.
“Being City of the Year is a big deal,” Guaracino adds. “We’ll take it.”