City of Lights II: Philadelphia

The month of December conjures up images of religious holidays and the secular traditions that have developed around them. Baby Jesus laying in the manger...the menorah...Santa Claus... Christmas trees. These images are synonymous with the holiday season and invoke a broad array of memories and emotions. The backdrop for many of these images is darkness. December days are filled with darkness. It greets us as we wake. It lingers as we prepare for our day. The sun arrives fashionably late and its light remains outside the direct sight lines for many who labor indoors. By the time our labor concludes for the day, darkness greets us again at the door. Darkness cloaks our days and we yearn for sunlight. The more we yearn, the stingier it feels like nature becomes.

Fortunately, the holidays also emphasize light. As the days become darker, we showcase light. Candles...Exterior lights for the house...string lights for the trees. Artificial lights surround us. Joyfully and thankfully, it surrounds us. There is no better source of artificial light than a city and we are fortunate to be within a short driving distance of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is always a great place to visit but it is especially magical in December. The glow of Reading TerminalMarket...the splendor of Macy's light show...the Old World feel of the Christmas Village...the bright lights of Boathouse row. The bright lights of the big city are a welcome contrast to the darkness of December. Children are rarely at a loss for words during the holidays but a trip to the city can leave them humbled and speechless.

We started our visit by parking under Love Park and the Christmas Village. After a short stroll through the village, we encountered a plaza directly across from City Hall that had large board game art and amazing views of City Hall.  From there, we made the short walk over to Reading Terminal Market for dinner and people watching. 

Reading TerminalMarket is a Gunning It favorite and is the physical embodiment of our philosophy. There is so much culture and variety and it offers a unique experience with each and every visit. After dinner and playtime with their cousins, we meandered towards Market street and made our way to Macy's to walk through Dickens village and see thelight show. After the light show, we mailed our letters to the North Pole and walked through City Hall back to Christmas Village. We were greeted at each and every turn by light. It wasn't sunlight but it had a similar energizing effect. If Paris is the City of Lights then Philadelphia is the City of Lights II. Thank you Benjamin Franklin!!

Gunning It Tips include:
  • Reading Terminal Market closes at 6pm and some vendors stop serving certain foods at 5pm so get there by 430 if you want a full menu of options! (Closed New Year's Day)
  • Many of the garages offer a discounted parking rate if you get your ticket validated by a Reading Terminal Market vendor
  • By George Pizza, Pasta and Cheese steaks makes an awesome cheese steak!
  • Stroll through City Hall and admire the architecture.

Nick and Anna's Picks:
  • The “Board Game” plaza
  • Playing tag with their cousins as they walked through City Hall

If you have not made it into the city to experience the Macy's Light Show and Dickens Village, there is still time.  Both are open today and tomorrow with light shows on the hour every hour.  For details, click here.

What are your favorite Holiday tradition in the city?

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