Give the gift of an iconic Philadelphia experience this holiday season.
Better than bringing Philadelphia home for the holidays, this lineup of holiday gift ideas is designed to bring the recipient out and about in the City of Brotherly Love.
The best part of many of these experiences, though? In most cases, giving them as gifts requires just a few clicks. You’ve got two long weeks left until Christmas, so use them wisely. Take a cue from our ideas here, or head out to one of the many, many holiday markets popping up in town this season.
Read on for our picks for Philadelphia-only experiences to give this holiday season.
• Become A Museum Member: A truly impressive number of world-renowned museums call Philadelphia home. Whether you’re looking for a gift for a history buff, a science lover or an art aficionado, a museum membership to any one of our acclaimed museums will be happily received. Each comes with excellent perks, like gift-shop discounts, exclusive event access and more. Choose from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Penn Museum, National Museum of American Jewish History, National Constitution Center, The Franklin Institute, Eastern State Penitentiary, Academy of Natural Sciences and many more. Annual memberships range in price, of course, with most starting around $50 for an individual membership.
• Dine with a Philadelphia Restaurant Family Gift Card: Here in Philadelphia, the dining scene sees hot new restaurants open regularly. But for the holidays, give a taste of one of this city’s top restaurant families with a flexible company-wide gift card. Snag one of these options — most available online — and your giftee gets to a say in where they dine. A few quintessential Philadelphia group gift cards to give: Stephen Starr Restaurants, Garces Group (Bonus! Get $20 for every $75), Cook + Solo Restaurants; 13th Street Restaurants; Vetri Family Restaurants.
• Tour Local Breweries: Philadelphia is a beer town — through and through. So for all those brew-loving folks, give a private brewery tour at Yards Brewing Company. Yards offers free weekend tours, but private tours are available for groups up to 30. You’ll get a guided tasting and insider access to where the malted magic happens. Tours start at just $15 per person for the grain-to-glass journey.
• Learn at COOK: Few encounters offer such up-close-and-personal time with Philadelphia culinary luminaries as the intimate classes at COOK. Philadelphia’s top chefs — from Michael Solomonov of Zahav to Jonathan Cichon of Lacroix — teach a group of just 16 in an open kitchen classroom, and classes vary from evenings of decadent dining to cocktail making and more. Classes range in price from around $70 per person to upwards of $200. Also, note that classes do book up quickly!
• Be A Part of The Kimmel Center: The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts debuted the Academy Gold subscriber membership designed with theater lovers in mind. The $500 Academy Gold Broadway Subscriber Membership includes all Kimmel Center Gold Membership perks plus more exclusive benefits: access to the Academy Ballroom an hour before curtain and during intermission, private Academy of Music entrance, concessions for food and beverages, early access to free coat check, four free drink coupons, four guest passes and access to private restrooms.
• See The Philadelphia Orchestra: The Philadelphia Orchestra and PECO have partnered up to offer $10 tickets in advance to more than 30 concerts as part of the PECO Power Week running through Sunday, December 15 at noon. More than two dozen concerts are included in the sale, and tickets for these performances regularly sell for $20 to $156, so those who act quickly (and snag the best seats) could enjoy discounts of up to 90 percent. Whoa!
• Join the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society: For those who appreciate gardening, greenery and the natural environment — or just love tickets to the Philadelphia Flower Show — the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society offers up a number of gift packages for the holidays. Through December 18, give year-round PHS membership, a tree planted in honor of a friend or loved one and two tickets to the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show for $165.
• Visit Historic Philadelphia: Few destinations exhibit iconic Philadelphia better than those in Historic Philadelphia. Send folks on your list on a trip back in time on a Tippler’s Tour or with admission to the Betsy Ross House. Or give a gift that lasts a lifetime by having your (or a loved one’s) name engraved on a brick in the Betsy Ross House courtyard or Franklin Square.
• Cheer On The Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and Union: Philadelphia sports fans are a devoted bunch, and going to any major league sports game offers up a true Philly experience. This year, give the sports fans on your list the chance to see the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, Eagles and Union.
• Eat Your Way Through Reading Terminal Market: Buying gifts for the true food lover can be a challenge. Gadgets and gourmet ingredients are expected, but a gift certificate to dozens and dozens of merchants at the Reading Terminal Market will be cherished. Available in any denomination, the market bucks are good at all but about a dozen of the merchants.
• Local Food and Drink Monthly Subscriptions: Some of our favorite Philadelphia places allow customers to pre-order their yummy food and drinks for a year’s worth of tasty treats. Give your friends and family a gift that keeps on giving like a coffee subscription from Rival Bros Coffee; six pints of gelati or sorbetti from Capogiro; or pints upon pints of Little Baby’s ice cream, which offers a “community-support ice cream subscription service” that’s available for sign-up until December 24.
• Ice Skate at the Blue Cross RiverRink: This winter, Penn’s Landing’s Blue Cross RiverRink celebrates 20 years of ice skating on the Delaware River by transforming the annual waterfront rink into a veritable winter wonderland. Waterfront Winterfest runs daily through January 5 with an indoor beer garden, pop-up garden-style landscaping, a light and video show, and a retail shopping experience. Tickets for public skating sessions can be purchased in advance online, so skaters can simply show up and glide.
• Adopt an Animal at The Philadelphia Zoo: Sure, an annual membership to the world-class Philadelphia Zoo is a wonderful gift, but the zoo also offers an animal adoption program with such benefits as personal meet-and-greets with animals and their keepers. You can purchase an adopt packet for as little as $50, but for just $150 per person, you can go behind the scenes with a zookeeper.
• Tour the Town: Make a present out of touring Philadelphia by foot or by motor on a city tour. A slew of tour companies offer amazing Philadelphia adventures, but the hop-on and hop-off pace of the Big Bus Tours makes taking in key city sights a relaxing, personal experience. Tickets are available online, and are $27 for a flexible adult pass, which is valid on any day.
• The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package: Philly is more fun when you sleep over, so treat anyone on your Christmas list to a two-night stay at a discounted rate in our wonderful city. The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes free hotel parking so you can drive into town and not have to worry about finding and paying for parking. And you can use it to book any two consecutive nights of the week: Friday and Saturday, Saturday and Sunday, Sunday and Monday, etc. So the weekend is whenever you or your giftee wants it to be.
Bonus: If you prefer the experience of picking out a highly wrappable gift to give, take to the multiple shopping districts of Philadelphia for your holiday shopping. Neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Row, Midtown Village, East Passyunk and Old City and beyond offer up local and diverse shopping experiences.