Hot Spots to Escape the Cold in Philly

Hot chocolate decadence, elecrifying displays and more warming trends

From spicy food and hot chocolate to electric displays and music by firelight, Philadelphia’s scene sizzles all winter long, if you know where to go—and we do.

Where to Have Fun

Thursday nights heat up at Philly’s signature Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, where "Fire Sessions" host top local bands in acoustic performances by fire-pit light. On any day, visitors thaw icy fingers in front of an outdoor fireplace at The Lodge or reserve a rustic winter cottage.

The city may be in the throes of winter, but it’s still possible to take a dip in Gill’s Grotto. Adventure Aquarium’s touch tank may not be iridescent like Capri’s Blue Grotto or trippy like Scotland’s Fingal’s Cave, but the man-made tropical environment nurtures neat warm-water invertebrates like coral-banded shrimp and strawberry crabs, all for the touching.

The social scene got hot and heavy in Fishtown when Philadelphia Distilling opened its new production facility and cocktail lounge about a year ago. Tours educate visitors on the local spirits maker’s craft gin, vodka and absinthe—with samples—while the bar opens Thursday to Sunday for the full experience. Either way equals liquid fire.

Philadelphia Distilling

Feel the Warmth

Locals savor a malty dunkel with a laugenbrezel (warm Bavarian soft pretzel) by the fire at Brauhaus Schmitz, Philly’s modern, casual German beer hall. At Marigold Kitchen, a historic Victorian home serves as the setting for Tim Lanza and Andrew Kochan’s sophisticated, New American BYOB, where the hearth fuzzies up the fancy tasting menu that may feature creations like ham bubbles and mushroom tea.

Philadelphia’s iconic room with a view, XIX Nineteen’s bar, located inside the Hyatt at The Bellevue, can be just as comfy as it is swanky. Don’t let the rich mahogany accents deter you from snuggling in as you gaze out at the city from 19 stories high. The view inside Twisted Tail’s Club Room is just as warming, with fireplaces, games and whiskey flights creating a lovely time in from the cold.

XIX Nineteen

Where to Eat

With three locations, including in Old City, Han Dynasty is a Philadelphian’s go-to restaurant when cravings call for Sichuan cuisine. Not only are most dishes here laced with a kick from the start, but diners choose the heat level from one to 10 (trust us, one order of the Dan Dan noodles will keep you toasty all week).

When No Libs residents can’t take the cold, they step into the fire at Sazon, a Latin restaurant known for pouring the city’s best cocoa in—no lie—seven decadent varieties, from the Clásico (a blend of five chocolates) to the La Cuaima Vegan (a water-based concoction of dark chocolate, chili peppers and cinnamon) to the zippy, rum-laced Orgasmo (with bananas, peanut butter and espresso). Bean-to-bar chocolate is made in micro batches on site by Sazon owner Robert Campbell, aka the “Chocolate Alchemist.”


Leigh Harrington
About the author

Leigh formerly served as the Boston editor for Where and was the br...