Thursday, December 22, 2016

Center City Holiday Tour

Philadelphia Tour Hub and Philadelphia Urban Adventures are once again running their popular Center City Holiday Tour this season.  The tour is actually so popular that they added a second departure time this year. Guests can now choose from an afternoon 1pm excursion or see the city lit up in the night at 5pm.  The tours begin and end conveniently at the Christmas Village at City Hall and are set up to entertain both Philly natives and out of towners. This past weekend, we opted for the 1pm afternoon Center City Holiday Tour. We met up with our knowledgeable and friendly Tour Guide, Alex, and the rest of the group at Dilworth Park, and though it was rainy and windy, the weather did not put a damper on our good time.

We began by taking the short walk to Reading Terminal Market to do a little shopping and indulge in a snack. The extensive toy train display is the highlight of the market at this time of year with young and old gathered around the plexiglass to catch a glimpse of the toy village and miniature trains. Reading Terminal Market is home to many iconic Philly eateries, so it is a great place for a snack or a quick lunch. After about a half hour to tour the market independently, we met back up with our group for the walk to the Wanamaker Building, home of the present day Macy’s. Along the way we learned a few historical facts about Philadelphia and it’s holiday traditions. When we arrived at the Wanamaker Building we took in the famous window displays before heading indoors for the dazzling Light Show. Once inside we joined a huge crowd to stare in awe of the massive, four story, old fashioned light show set to music from the world famous Wanamaker Grand Organ. (We recommend going back on your own sometime to visit Macy's fun Dickens Village Display as well).

After the spectacle had ended, we made our way over to the Comcast Building for a new high tech, holiday show. Luckily, we got there a few minutes early so we could get a hot latte from the Starbucks conveniently located in the lobby of the building. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is projected on the lobby wall with the world’s highest resolution LED screen. This 15 minute show includes snippets from various well known Christmas Carols and the famous Nutcracker. It all ends with a sleigh ride that was so real looking we literally felt like we were on Santa’s Sleigh! The next stop on our tour was the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. This building, beautiful in it’s own right, is breathtaking all decorated for the Christmas Season. After a quick lesson on the history of the building, we took a walk around to take in the ambiance of the incredible Cathedral.

Afterwards, we strolled around the city, taking in the festive window displays and peeking into stores as shoppers searched for the perfect gifts. We also got a chance to pop in to Di Bruno Bros. and taste some samples of their wares from the heart of Philadelphia’s Italian Market. Our tour ended at the Christmas Village around City Hall. Alex left us there to watch the Rothman Rink ice skaters and wander around at our leisure. There were vendors selling food and gifts in little huts. This year in the center courtyard of City Hall there is an old fashioned Carousel as well as a place to meet Santa Clause with some great photo ops. We also loved the new Winter Garden in Dilworth Park.  We left with more than a little interesting information about our beloved city and our hearts filled with the holiday spirit.  We can see why this tour is so popular!

The Center City Holiday Tour runs daily through December 31st.


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