When to Visit Philadelphia

by SmarterTravel Staff

Philadelphia, the birthplace of America, receives visitors throughout the year, but the most popular time to visit is during the summer when kids are on break from school and events are scheduled all over the city.

Many of the child-friendly attractions such as the science, art, and history museums; the amphibious vehicle tours; and the nation's first zoo tend to be crowded with families and children in the warmer months. Fewer people visit during the winter when the weather cools down and some of the tours close for the season. Spring and fall, when the weather is cooler and prices are typically lower, can be nice alternatives to summer and its crowds.

  • high season: June to August
  • low season: December to February
  • shoulder season: March to May, September to November

Weather Information

Philadelphia has a temperate climate with four seasons. The winter can be moderately cold with some snow. Temperatures in January average 39 degrees. Spring is usually cool with scattered showers, while temperatures average 51 degrees in March and 62 degrees in April. The summers are much warmer, with higher humidity and occasional rain. July's average falls in the mid-80s. Autumn starts to cool down a bit, with an average high of 66 degrees and sporadic showers.

Crowd Information

Summer is the most popular time for visitors, especially those with children. The Fourth of July celebration (usually the end of June through July 4) is a major event and can get quite crowded. Many school groups visit in April, May, September, and October. The first weekend in December is also a popular time when the city hosts the Army/Navy Game. The Mummers Day Parade on New Year's Day, the Philadelphia Flower Show in March, and the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival in March also attract crowds.

Closure Information

Some tours, such as Lights of Liberty and Ride the Ducks, close during the winter months.

When to Save

In general, winter is a cheaper time to visit due to fewer visitors and conventions, and a lower demand for rooms. Conversely, the summer is more expensive since there is a higher demand for rooms to accommodate the surge in visitors and conventions. The best rates are most often available during the week, instead of on the weekend. Hotels, however, that cater almost exclusively to business travelers are typically less expensive in August, and on Friday and Sunday nights throughout the rest of the year. Package deals can sometimes help reduce the cost as they include many additional perks such as breakfast, parking, coupons, and tickets to events or exhibitions.

By taking advantage of the many free activities all over the city, summer can be an inexpensive time to visit. On the First Friday of every month, from 5 to 9 p.m., many of the art galleries and theaters in Old City offer special entertainment, receptions, and free on-street parking. Free concerts and fireworks are available around July 4. The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers "pay what you wish" pricing on Sundays. Once Upon a Nation has free outdoor storytelling benches in the heart of the Historic District, and many of the historic attractions offer free admission with advance-timed tickets.

When to Book

Visitors with flexible travel plans can take advantage of low last-minute airfares. However, those with a set schedule should book at least three weeks in advance to obtain lower prices and ensure availability, especially for travel during the high season. Although hotel reservations aren't always necessary, getting a room during large citywide events, like the Army-Navy game and the Philadelphia Flower Show, will be next to impossible unless you plan in advance.

Information provided by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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