Philadelphia winters can be harsh, with bone-chilling winds and slippery slushy sidewalks, which makes us the experts on getting warm and staying cozy. Don’t let the cold deter you from exploring this historic city. The City of Brotherly Love will keep you warm.
Get your heart rate pumping with a race around the rink. The latest addition to City Hall’s Dilworth Park is the Rothman Institute Ice Rink (Broad & Market streets, Phila., PA, west side of City Hall, 215.440.5500), opening Nov. 14 through Feb. 21. Stay toasty in the rink’s warming tent and enjoy a light meal at Jose Garces’ onsite restaurant Rosa Blanca Café. With views of City Hall and a full bill of seasonal programming, Rothman Rink will be the destination for frosty fun this fall and winter. For prime views of the waterfront and winter fun, head to the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing (201 S. Columbus Blvd., Phila., PA, 215.925.7465), open Nov. 28 to March 1, an Olympic-sized public ice rink overlooking the Delaware River. After a cheery and chilly night of ice-skating at the RiverRink, gather around a fire pit with friends and family during the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. With a breathtaking view of the Philadelphia skyline and cheerful Christmas music playing overhead, the RiverRink is best enjoyed at night when the whole rink is basked in colorful lights hanging from the tall evergreens surrounding the grounds.
It’s easy to lose track of time while lounging in one of the snug leather chairs surrounding the fireplace at Growlers Bar (736 S. Eighth St., Phila., PA, 267.519.3242). The living-room-like space provides the comfort of home where you can enjoy a delicious meal and worry about doing the dishes afterwards. Belly up to the bar at South Philly’s gastropub Devil’s Den (1148 S. 11th St., Phila., PA, 215.339.0855) on a cold day for fireside-appropriate comfort food and a wide variety of ales and lagers. If you’re on a hunt for a room with a view, look no further than XIX at the Hyatt at the Bellevue (200 S. Broad St., Phila., PA, 215.790.1919) a bar and restaurant on the 19th floor of the luxurious hotel. The top floor of this historic landmark boasts stunning architecture, a 19-foot chandelier and floor to ceiling windows. Sit back and enjoy a drink and brasserie style cuisine at XIX in front of an inviting fireplace with views of the Philadelphia skyline.
Philadelphia provides a bevy of spas brimming with refreshing treatments for soothing the mind and body from strenuous days battling the winter’s cold. Devote a day at The Rittenhouse Spa & Club at the Rittenhouse Hotel (210 W. Rittenhouse Square, Phila., PA, 215.790.2500), where guests escape from a frosty day by dipping into the heated indoor pool, kicking back in one of the spa’s luxurious steam rooms, or indulging in a citrus drench body treatment. Lush Spa (1525 Walnut St., Phila., PA, 215.546.5874), has all the elements of a traditional English spa, with jars of wild flowers and bookshelf-lined walls adding to the homey ambiance. Choose from seven handmade treatments, including the signature custom treatment “Synaethesia” or indulge in “The Comforter,” featuring a hot chocolate scrub invented exclusively for the spa.
Want to skip the hot chocolate scrub and get straight to the edible kind? Hit up Rim Café (1172 S. Ninth St., Phila. PA, 215.465.3515) in South Philadelphia’s famous Italian Market for a one-of-a-kind hot chocolate tasting experience. Go for the “Volcano,” a hot chocolate drink that you need to see to believe, and listen to owner Rene play his bongo drums or catch him make his chocolate masterpieces. Enjoy creations by chocolate alchemist Robert F. Campbell, Jr. at Sazon (941 Spring Garden St., Phila., PA, 215.763.2500). This Venezuelan cuisine restaurant has an extensive menu of hot chocolate drinks with a twist. Stick with the classic, laden with five different cacao beans, or get experimental with the “Smurf,” made with dark chocolate and blueberry port wine, topped with fresh blueberry cream.
Find solace on a draining windy day at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in the Butterflies! Exhibit (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Phila, PA, 215.299.1000), an enclosed tropical garden, kept at a balmy 85 degrees, filled with plants and butterflies from all over the world. Up to 150 butterflies inhabit the space and can be found flittering around the room, resting on plants and at eating stations, or even museum guests that stand very still. A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA, 610.388.1000) provides a spectacular break from city life with their whimsical bird-inspired holiday festivities. Observe the topiary swans of the Exhibition Hall or the trees depicting tales such as “The Ugly Duckling.” Colorful fountains set to holiday music will be on display below a half-million lights, illuminating the grounds on chilly winter nights.
What better way to beat the cold than getting lost in the crowded bookshelf aisles of a local bookstore? Don’t be fooled by the size of Joseph Fox Books (1724 Sansom St., Phila., PA, 215.563. 4184),a shoebox-shaped store with a carefully curated book selection. Their well-stocked children’s section overflowing with classics is the perfect place to bring wily kids. Hidden away in a brownstone in University City is House of Our Own (3920 Spruce St., Phila., PA, 215.222.1576), with books tucked into every nook and cranny of the charming home, even the closets. Old City-bound bibliophiles flock to The Book Trader (7 N. Second St., Phila, PA, 215.925.2080), a used bookstore that is quite literally floor-to-ceiling covered in novels, DVDs, VHS tapes and any other book related paraphernalia you could think of.
Warm your fingers and your belly with a spicy hot toddy. At White Dog Café (3420 Sansom St., Phila., PA, 215.386.9224) patrons sip and savor a “Nana’s Private Stash,” concocted with rye whiskey, apple brandy, hot apple cider, and seasonal spices. London Grill (2301 Fairmount Ave., Phila., PA, 215.978.4545) features such delicious drinks as “Mum’s Apple Pie,” made with cinnamon infused rum, apple cider, and lemon juice, and their classic “Hot Apple Cider” with cinnamon infused rum, a cinnamon stick, and steamed cider. Both eateries feature non-spirited cider drinks for the younger, runny-nosed set.