Top Fall Activities in Philadelphia

September 27, 2022

Spooky cellblocks, new exhibits, fall fests, in-person performances, pop-up markets and more fill Philadelphia’s autumn calendar. For more fall inspiration, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

Explore the spooky cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary during Halloween Nights

Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary. Photo by E. Davis.

Eastern State Penitentiary – America’s most historic prison and the world’s first true penitentiary – is bringing back its Halloween Nights experience from the creators of the famed Terror Behind the Walls haunted attraction. The festival-style event features different attractions spread throughout the historic cellblocks, including haunted houses, themed bars and lounges, immersive walk-through environments, live performances, and an audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi and recorded just for Halloween Nights. Five haunted houses, including two new ones for 2022: Big Top Terror and Nightmares, are beckoning guests to stop by for a visit. Each haunted house has its own spine-chilling theme, so enter if you dare. The seasonal event runs on select evenings from September 23 through November 12, 2022. Click here to learn more and to purchase tickets to Halloween Nights.

Enjoy spook-tacular programs and events at Independence Seaport Museum

Cruiser Olympia. Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum.

The Independence Seaport Museum is celebrating the fall season with special programming and events offering guests exciting ways to learn more about Philadelphia’s river history. This October, the museum will launch Spooky Sundays at the Seaport, where visitors will join staff as they explore ghoulish themes. Discover what fish and other underwater creatures lurk beneath the surface in the Paddle Penn’s Landing Boat Basin during “River Invaders,” or learn more about how nautical legends came to be during “Mermaids and Monsters.”

On Fridays and Saturdays in October, guests will have the chance to dive even deeper into the dark side of historic ship Cruiser Olympia‘s and Submarine Becuna‘s history during the Hazardous Duty Tour. Please note: This new, hour-long guided experience is recommended for visitors 13 years or older due to the subject matter, as the tour focuses on how sailors became injured or lost their lives while at sea.

On October 23, 2022, dress your best for the Paddle Penn’s Landing Costume Contest. Visitors who arrive dressed in costume will receive $5 off their paddle reservation. The winner of the costume contest will also win complimentary tickets to visit the museum. To learn more and plan your visit, click here.

Stroll around the nation’s first zoo for Boo at the Zoo

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo.

The Philadelphia Zoo’s annual Boo at the Zoo event returns in October for three weekends of slightly spooky fun (October 15-16, October 22-23 and October 29-30). The family-friendly event allows costumed visitors of all ages to explore the zoo’s grounds to enjoy special treats, photo opportunities, a not-so-scary extinction graveyard and more, all while learning about the zoo’s animal inhabitants and admiring the seasonal décor and colorful fall foliage. Tickets for Boo at the Zoo are available now.

Trick-or-treat through one of the nation’s top science museums

Franklin Fright at The Franklin Institute. Photo by Darryl Moran Photography.

This October, The Franklin Institute invites visitors of all ages to trick-or-treat their way through the exhibits every weekend in October at of one of Philadelphia’s top science attractions, with costumed treat-givers hidden behind a series of spookily decorated doors as part of the Franklin Fright events, included at no extra cost with museum admission. Costumed performers will also entertain guests with several Halloween-inspired live science demonstrations; and classic live shows each weekend at the Pumpkin Lab, which features a 12-foot-tall structure made from pumpkins and robotic contraptions.

On Friday, October 28, 2022, adults ages 21 and up are invited to The Franklin Institute’s Science After Hours: Fright @ Night, where they can explore the museum’s exhibits after hours while enjoying live music, dancing, drag performances, a planetarium lounge with projections and music, specialty cocktails and more Halloween-themed fun from 7:30-11 p.m.

TIP: The Franklin Institute’s seasonal fun continues in the winter with Flannel & Frost on Friday, December 9, 2022, featuring festive science activities.

Head indoors and enjoy new exhibits at area museums

The Conversation, 1938, by Henri Matisse (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Bequest of Mr. James D. Zellerbach, 93.149) © 2022 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

New exhibits are debuting this season at many of Philadelphia’s museums, including Matisse in the 1930s at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the Musée Matisse Nice. Matisse in the 1930s is the first major exhibition devoted to the pivotal decade of the 1930s in the art of Henri Matisse. Opening October 20, 2022, the exhibit will present more than 100 works, ranging from both renowned and rarely seen paintings and sculptures, to drawings and prints, to illustrated books. It will also feature documentary photographs and films.

Opening October 16, 2022 at the Barnes Foundation, Modigliani Up Close will give visitors a closer look at how Amedeo Modigliani created his paintings and sculptures and explore the iconic artist’s working methods and materials, which contributed to his unique style.

For a full list of can’t-miss exhibitions this fall, click here.

TIP: Don’t miss the final days of popular exhibits including The River Feeds Back and Watershed Moment at the Academy of Natural Sciences – both ending October 30, 2022.

Take a picturesque stroll through Philadelphia’s leafy neighborhoods

Philadelphia is consistently heralded as one of the nation’s most walkable cities and the fall season offers even more reasons to explore the city by foot. Embrace the cooler temperatures and walk through the city’s tree-filled neighborhoods, such as Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square West, and Old City, shopping from local boutiques or farmers markets and snapping plenty of fall photos along your journey.

TIP: Consult our Instagram guide for more of the city’s top photo ops.

Hit the trails of Fairmount Park

Pavilion in the Trees in West Fairmount Park. Photo credit A. Yee.

Covering over 2,000 acres to the east and west of the Schuylkill River, Fairmount Park is home to miles and miles of recreational trails perfect for hiking, running, or biking on autumn afternoons. Don’t miss the 18th and 19th century historic houses scattered throughout the park, three of which – Laurel Hill Mansion, Woodford Mansion, and Strawberry Mansion – are open to tour. Be sure to visit the historic Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and neighboring Horticulture Center in West Fairmount Park to admire the fall foliage surrounding these charming settings. For more things to see and explore throughout Fairmount Park, click here.

Journey to the Countryside for flowers, foliage, and fountains at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens' Large Lake in autumn. Photo credit L. Albee.

A botanical garden spanning over 1,000 acres in nearby Kennett Square, Longwood Gardens offers numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors during the fall season, including fountain shows, a sprawling meadow, cozy treehouses, a Pumpkin Playground, and plenty of colorful fall leaves.

TIP: Visit in the evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy live music in the Beer Garden and spectacular illuminated fountain shows.

Experience Light: Installations by Bruce Munro at Longwood Gardens

Field of Light, Sensorio, USA. Copyright © 2019 Bruce Munro. All rights reserved. Photo by S. Munro.

While at Longwood Gardens, don’t miss Light: Installations by Bruce Munro — a garden-wide exhibition featuring eight installations both indoors and outdoors – on view through October 30, 2022. Among the installations are Field of Light, which consists of 18,000 illuminated stemmed orbs along Longwood’s Large Lake, as well as an installation inside the East Conservatory where 1,820 recyclable bottles form a massive geodesic sphere that radiates light. To buy timed tickets for Light, click here.

Admire the foliage at Morris Arboretum’s nearly 100-acre property

Seven Arches during fall at Morris Arboretum. Photo credit B. Schultz.

Home to some of the city’s oldest and rarest trees (and one of the best locations in the region for bird watching), Morris Arboretum in northwest Philadelphia also features sculptures and themed gardens lining its winding pathways. Visit during the fall to marvel at the fall colors of maples, dogwoods, oaks, and other species.

The Arboretum’s Scarecrow Walk returns for its 15th year from October 1-31, 2022, featuring dozens of custom scarecrows designed by local Philadelphia residents. This year’s scarecrow theme is Heroes, with potential designs ranging from essential workers to superheroes, or even best friends. Visitors are invited to vote for their favorite scarecrow designs to help determine the winners of the contest.

Venture to Bucks County and explore the grounds of a historic riverfront estate

Photo courtesy of Andalusia Historic House, Gardens, and Arboretum.

Found just a short drive north from Philadelphia in nearby Bucks County, the Andalusia Historic House, Gardens, and Arboretum is the ancestral home of the Biddle family, a National Historic Landmark, and a picturesque destination in the fall months as autumn leaves fill the over 800 trees on the 100-acre property. 50 acres of gardens and the elegant “Big House” — a historic mansion that is considered one of the finest and earliest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the nation — are open for tours on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays through October. The estate will also be offering three “Open Saturdays” in the fall (September 17, October 29, and November 5, 2022), allowing the public to enjoy self-guided tours of the grounds on the weekends. To learn more about Andalusia and to plan a visit, click here.

Savor the fall flavors of Philadelphia’s local restaurant scene

PHS Pop-Up Garden in Manayunk. Photo courtesy of PHS. Photo by Rachel Wisniewski.

Philadelphia’s acclaimed culinary community, which includes many brand-new restaurants, is ready to serve you. Dozens of restaurants will participate in Center City’s Restaurant Week from September 12-24, 2022, presenting special prix fixe menus that can be enjoyed on-site or taken to-go. From September 19-23, 2022, participating Latinx-owned independent restaurants will be offering a free appetizer or dessert for every two dinner entrees purchased during Dine Latino Restaurant Week.

The refreshing fall weather is also perfect for spending time at a pop-up park or beer garden, such as Parks on Tap, Independence Beer Garden near Independence Hall, or at one of two PHS Pop-Up Gardens; one along South Street and another in Manayunk.

Embrace your inner witch or wizard at The Cauldron Philadelphia

Two people during the Potions Experience at The Cauldron Philadelphia.
Potion Making at The Cauldron Philadelphia is an immersive experience. Photo courtesy of The Cauldron Philadelphia.

The Cauldron Philadelphia is welcoming witches and wizards in the City of Wizardly Love to immerse themselves in a world of magic inspired by the imagined worlds from their childhood. This fantasy-inspired bar and restaurant is open at 1305 Locust Street in Washington Square West. Guests are invited to participate in an interactive Potion Making Experience complete with robes and working magic wands to show off their skills as they concoct their very own magical potions (i.e., cocktails and mocktails). from a fantasy-themed British pub-style menu, all food and drinks served at the magical pub have elements that appear to be straight out of a mystical fairytale.

NOTE: Tickets for the immersive potion making experience at The Cauldron Philadelphia must be booked ahead of time, click here to book.

Face your fears and sip spooky cocktails at a Halloween-themed pop-up

Nightmare Before Tinsel will be open September 15 through October 31, 2022. Photo by Society Hill Films.

Each fall, a 100+ year old former jewelry shop along 12th Street in Midtown Village is transformed into a creepy pop-up bar decorated wall to wall, floor to ceiling with gory, scary, and sometimes funny decorations for the Halloween season. Re-opening on September 15, 2022 — earlier than ever before — Nightmare Before Tinsel invites imbibers to enjoy the bar’s spook-tacular collection of creative cocktails and seasonal fall beers while facing their fears as they explore the bar’s devilish décor. Decorations include creepy dolls, retro horror designs, scary photo ops and original artwork featuring real and imaginary horror icons, such as Ash from Evil Dead, Pennywise the clown from IT!, and influential author and former Philadelphia resident, Edgar Allan Poe. Nightmare Before Tinsel will be open through October 31, 2022.

TIP: Return in the winter to enjoy Tinsel’s less-scary, Christmas-themed pop-up bar.

Watch teams compete in a World Cup-style soccer tournament throughout Philadelphia

PHL Unity Cup 2019 Championship. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

One of Philadelphia’s signature annual sporting events, the Philadelphia International Unity Cup is a World Cup-style tournament that unites and celebrates Philadelphia’s multicultural communities through the game of soccer. Beginning in August, 52 teams representing different nations from around the globe compete in a months-long elimination tournament at playing fields throughout Philadelphia, culminating in a championship match on October 8, 2022 hosted at the home of the Philadelphia Union, Subaru Park. To learn more about the Unity Cup and to view the full schedule of matches, click here.

TIP: For more soccer fun, learn more about how Philadelphia Soccer 2026 won its bid to host matches at Lincoln Financial Field in Summer 2026 becoming one of 16 Host Cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

Cheer on your favorite team at stadiums or at sports bars throughout the city

Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Photo by J. Geliebter/Philadelphia Eagles.

Immerse yourself in Philadelphia’s renowned sports culture by attending a live sporting event this season. The Phillies will chase a pennant during their final few games this year at Citizens Bank Park, while the Philadelphia Eagles begin their quest for another Lombardi Trophy at Lincoln Financial Field, beginning with a home opener on Monday night, September 19, 2022 against the Minnesota Vikings. Towards the end of October, the Wells Fargo Center will come alive as passionate fans return to the stands to cheer on the Flyers and the Sixers.

If you’re unable to score tickets to a game, don’t worry – there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and beer gardens throughout Philadelphia that present exciting gameday experiences, such as Xfinity Live! and Chickie’s & Pete’s in South Philadelphia, McGillin’s and Tradesman’s in Center City, and Yards Brewing Company in Northern Liberties. For more sports bars in Philadelphia, click here.

Attend the Inaugural Philadelphia Polo Classic

Philadelphia Polo Championship Press Conference. Photo by J. Ryan for the PHLCVB.

The first-annual Philadelphia Polo Classic is set to take place in Fairmount Park on September 24, 2022. This large scale event will be the first polo championship held within Philadelphia and expects to draw over 3,000 guests for a day filled with family friendly activities and other exciting activations. The Polo Classic will benefit Work to Ride, a nonprofit community-based prevention program that has been empowering under-sourced urban youth through horsemanship, equine sports and education since 1994. To learn more about the event, click here.

Enjoy performances from Philadelphia’s performing arts companies

Led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Philadelphia Orchestra will hold live, in-person performances this fall. Photo by J. Fusco.

This fall, Philadelphia’s renowned performing arts companies will return to stages throughout the city. Highlights include performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra, beginning with an Opening Night Celebration on September 28, 2022 featuring world-famous pianist Lang Lang.

Not to be missed is Broadway musical Annie performed inside Miller Theater (formerly Merriam Theater) from October 11-16, 2022. America’s oldest theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, will open its 2022-2023 season of live entertainment on October 4, 2022 with ROCKY, The Musical, with more family-friendly productions scheduled throughout the fall. Continuing its multi-year 50th anniversary celebration, Penn Live Arts will host performances and productions at various venues and attractions throughout Philadelphia. As a collaboration with its artist-in-residence, the Negro Ensemble Company will present Our Voices, Our Time: One-Act Play Festival (October 8, 2022) to amplify and celebrate Black voices, stories, and perspectives. To learn more about Philadelphia’s performing arts community and for a list of upcoming shows and seasons, click here.

TIP: Enjoy the arts from the comfort of your home. Opera Philadelphia streams performances on their Opera Philadelphia Channel, the Philadelphia Orchestra presents works via their Digital Stage, and the Curtis Institute of Music presents digital performances online via its Facebook and YouTube pages.

Embrace the spookier side of the Historic District at Franklin Square and the Betsy Ross House

Spooky Mini Golf at Franklin Square will run October 1-31, 2022. Photo by J. Fusco.

Beginning in October (and running through Halloween), the usually charming miniature golf course at Franklin Square — which features smaller versions of iconic city landmarks — will receive an eerie makeover, decked out in spider webs, large spiders, creepy lighting, and other seasonal decorations, inviting those brave enough to putt their way through the 18-hole course each evening 6 to 9 p.m. There’s more fall-themed fun for the family in Franklin Square with a Pumpkin Patch 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Then, enjoy a Trick-or-Treat Trail 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, 2022 where children ages 10 and under will be invited to pick their favorite pumpkin from the Franklin Square patch and use the craft supplies provided to express their creativity. Guests will be invited to return the next week in costume to collect yummy treats at stops throughout Franklin Square. Both events are free, but space is limited. Pre-registration is required so click here to register.

Nearby, the Betsy Ross House is also joining in on the ghostly good times by offering Spooky Twilight Tours on Friday and Saturday evenings from October 1-29, 2022. Visitors can navigate the 18th-century former home of the patriotic seamstress while also learning more about Philadelphia’s macabre past and history of infection and inoculation with tales of bloodletting, small pox, yellow fever and more. Tours run every half hour from 6 to 9 p.m. The Betsy Ross House’s courtyard will be alive with activity as part of Old City Fest, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2022. The annual event celebrates the art and design, fashion and food, creativity and culture on the streets of America’s most historic square mile. Stop at the Betsy Ross House for chocolate making, storytelling, and more.

TIP: Purchase a “Spooky Twosome” package from Historic Philadelphia to enjoy both Spooky Mini Golf at Franklin Square and a Spooky Twilight Tour at the Betsy Ross House at a discounted rate.

Discover the eerie past of Philadelphia’s most historic sites

Photo courtesy of Ghost Tour of Philadelphia.

Spend the cool autumn evenings learning more about Philadelphia’s haunted history on one of Ghost Tour of Philadelphia’s candlelit walking tours. A costumed guide will lead you through historic streets at night as they chronicle true ghost stories, real haunted houses, and other macabre tales from Philadelphia’s past. Stops along the tour include Independence Hall, the Powel House and Washington Square, among others. For a list of reportedly haunted sites to explore in Philadelphia, including the Hill-Physick House and Edgar Allan Poe House, click here.

Take a magical history tour of Old City and share some laughs along the way

The Great Philadelphia Comedy Magic Walk. Photo courtesy of Robert Malissa, Walking Magician.

Join award-winning magician and Philadelphia native Robert Malissa for a magical history tour of Old City during The Great Philadelphia Comedy Magic Walk. Explore historic and offbeat locations, while enjoying and participating in theatrical presentations (including a card trick sung to a tune from Les Misérables), comedy, and mind-bending magic tricks. During a stop near Ben Franklin’s house, Malissa seemingly makes a coin penetrate a glass bottle in reference to the adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” While visiting eight locations during the tour, Malissa adapts to the city’s ever-changing panorama resulting in a unique experience every time. To book a tour, click here.

TIP: During the month of October 2022, come dressed in costume (historic preferred) and be entered into a raffle for a pair of free tickets to a future tour.

Enjoy dining, shopping, and plenty of scarecrows at Peddler’s Village

Scarecrow Making Workshop in Peddler's Village. Photo by C. Burrow.

Found in Bucks County, Peddler’s Village is home to a collection of local vendors and restaurants and is a beautiful destination to visit in the fall — partially for admiring the beautiful foliage as you travel from one shop or restaurant to another outdoors, and also for its annual Scarecrows in the Village event (September 5 – October 31, 2022). A 43-year fall tradition, the Village displays a collection of over 100 creatively designed scarecrows assembled by local residents, with new categories and themes each year. Visitors can vote on their favorite designs, or even take part in Scarecrow Making Workshops on select days in September (September 10, 11, 17, 24, 2022).

TIP: Don’t miss OctoberFeast at Peddler’s Village on October 15 and 16, 2022, featuring a weekend’s worth of German-themed food, drinks, live performances, and more.

Eat, drink, and shop at Northern Liberties Night Market

For a fun night out, head to the second annual fall Northern Liberties Night Market (presented by 2nd Street Festival) from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2022. The outdoor food festival will take over N. 2nd Street between Fairmount and Poplar streets and feature dozens of food trucks, food vendors and sidewalk cafes, as well as music, games, and street performers. The festival is free to attend, with food and drink pay-as-you-go. For more information, click here.

Sip on cider, carve pumpkins and more along the Delaware River for Morgan’s Pier Fall Fest

Carve pumpkins at Morgan's Pier Fall Fest. Photo by Morgan's Pier, FCM Hospitality.

Fall Fest at Morgan’s Pier returns in 2022 for its 8th season, running seven days a week from September 22 through October 29, 2022. The riverside restaurant, bar and event space, which rests atop a deck overlooking the Delaware River with unbeatable views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as it soars overhead, will be festively decorated and will be offering a new lineup of fall menu items, seasonal beers from local breweries, and a collection of autumnal activities for guests to enjoy. Pumpkin carving (with pumpkins sourced from the convenient Morgan’s Pier Pumpkin Patch) is available Monday to Friday, from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Every Monday 4-8 p.m. in October, Morgan’s Pier is partnering with Tito’s Handmade Vodka for a Yappy Hour fundraiser to raise funds and awareness of the Pennsylvania SPCA. A portion of proceeds from Yappy Hour specials will also be donated. Look for acoustic performances, a DJ and other live entertainment Thursday to Sunday each week. Fall fest hours are Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. and Friday to Sunday, noon until 2 a.m., weather permitting.

TIP: As part of Fall Fest, don’t miss Morgan’s Pier Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 8, 2022, featuring live music, German-inspired food specials, custom Morgan’s Pier steins for the first 200 attendees and plenty of soft pretzels.

Be a part of the first annual Fall for Ardmore Festival

The first annual Fall for Ardmore Festival will transform Schauffele Plaza from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, 2022. Downtown Ardmore will come alive with shopping, food, music, family-friendly activities, and a beer garden. Enjoy Oktoberfest-inspired favorites like bratwurst, sauerkraut, pierogies, and Bavarian pretzels, as well as a hot dog station featuring specialty mustards, brisket sandwiches, pork belly, ribs, and more. The event is free to attend, with food and drink pay-as-you-go. Tickets are also available for entrance into the VIP Beer Garden, which includes reserved seating and drink tickets for a fixed price.

Get some fresh air at South Street Fest 2022

Brauhaus Schmitz will host their 14th Annual South Street Oktoberfest on October 15, 2022 (Postponed from October 1 due to weather). Photo courtesy of Brauhaus Schmitz.

On Saturday, October 15, 2022, head to South Street for unique eats, live music, local shopping and seasonal fall fun during South Street Headhouse District’s South Street Fest. The family-friendly festival will span from 2nd to 8th Streets from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Festivalgoers can enjoy international food and drinks while shopping handmade crafts from iconic eclectic vendors. At the west end of the festival on the 700 Block of South Street, Brauhaus Schmitz, will host their 14th Annual South Street Oktoberfest. Down 5th Street, Philly AIDS Thrift will host their 17th Anniversary Block Party. Plenty of experiences and fall festivities are in store.

Celebrate cinema with a film festival and special screenings throughout autumn

From October 19-30, 2022, the Philadelphia Film Society will host the 31st annual Philadelphia Film Festival, featuring special screenings at theaters throughout the city, alongside other events and VIP experiences with filmmakers, actors, and industry guests. During the festival, critically acclaimed and captivating works will be shown at the Philadelphia Film Center and the PFS Bourse Theater.


Cover photo: Quince Street, Fall 2020. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

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