’Tis the season to start checking names off holiday shopping lists, folks.
Fortunately, Philadelphia is packed with excellent shopping opportunities and this time of year is ripe with sales and deals. We’re looking forward to making a list (and checking it twice) and heading out to embrace the holiday shopping spirit.
The best time to begin? Thanksgiving weekend, of course. Not only do tons of stores offer once-a-year sales, but many Philadelphia holiday attractions also start the season the weekend following Turkey Day.
It’s the perfect time to make a weekend out of a visit to Philadelphia, or a mini staycation, so be sure to check out deals on hotel rooms, too.
Read on for our top 10 reasons to kick off your holiday shopping in Philadelphia this Thanksgiving weekend, and beyond.
1. Tax-Free Shopping
In case you needed a reminder: In Philadelphia (and all of Pennsylvania!), there is no sales tax on necessities like clothing and shoes. During the holiday season, that can translate to major savings on gifts, too. There are a few exemptions (like formal apparel, fur and some sporting goods), but generally shoppers will find most wearable goods are sold tax-free. MORE INFO
2. Seasonal Holiday Villages and Pop-Ups
Sure, retail stalwarts make go-to destinations for holiday gift purchases, but holiday shoppers looking to purchase creative and sure-to-be-coveted gifts should think about reporting to the tons of special markets, bazaars and pop-up shops now open in Philadelphia. Gift givers can shop ’til they drop at such holiday-only destinations as Christmas Village at Love Park, Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park, Franklin Flea Holiday Market, the Franklin Square Holiday Market and more. MORE INFO
3. New Philadelphia Retail on Black Friday
Every fall seems to bring a new swell of retail activity to Philadelphia, and 2015 delivered stores like Skirt, Shop Sixty Five and Kit and Ace to town. Come Black Friday, November 27, these shops and their neighbors will throw open their doors and welcome crowds of holiday shoppers. We’re betting on major deals. MORE INFO
4. Support Independent Shops on Small Business Saturday
The City of Brotherly Love is home to a wealth of local and independent retailers, too, so we advise embracing Small Business Saturday, a national initiative spearheaded by American Express that devotes the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day to supporting the local small businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Every year, more than 100 million people across the country come together to “Shop Small.” This year, do so right here in Philadelphia on business corridors in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods like Queen Village, Midtown Village, East Passyunk, Old City and Northern Liberties. MORE INFO
5. Free Meter Parking on Saturdays (and Wednesday evenings, too)
Philadelphia, one of the country’s most walkable cities, is incredibly easy to navigate either by foot or by public transportation. That just leaves the question: Where to park the car? During the holiday season, no meter parking limits will be enforced on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. Plus, meter parking is free every Saturday after 11 a.m. from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. And remember, meter parking is also free in Center City after 5 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, except for rush-hour zones, which are free after 6:30 p.m. Check here for the rush hour zones and free parking boundaries. MORE INFO
More reasons to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Philly, below.
6. PHLASH Winter Service and Holiday Loop Launch
The Philly PHLASH, a key seasonal transportation amenity for visitors and locals, makes travel throughout the city super-quick by way of purple bus. Instead of shutting down service for the chilly months, the PHLASH continues with daily rides from November 27 through January 3. The shuttle will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., leaving every 15 minutes and making 20 stops throughout city. MORE INFO
7. One Liberty Observation Deck Opening Weekend
The grand opening of the hotly anticipated One Liberty Observation Deck hits this Saturday, November 28 marking the public debut of Philadelphia’s first highly accessible observation deck. Operated by Montparnasse 56 (or M56) — a Paris-based company that manages observation decks in the John Hancock Tower in Chicago and the Montparnasse 56 Tower in Paris — the observatory on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia will supply the chance to score panoramic views of the cityscape, interact with innovative technology and check out Philly-centric art installations. Plus, the entrance is adjacent to The Shops at Liberty Place, making for an easy shopping and sightseeing combination. MORE INFO
8. RiverRink Winterfest Opening Weekend
This winter, Penn’s Landing’s longstanding Blue Cross RiverRink amps up the ice skating experience on the Delaware River waterfront once again. Opening to the public on Friday, November 27, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest transforms Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park for the entire season with a winter beer garden, ice rink and more. Consider a turn on the ice a reward for a successful shopping day. MORE INFO
9. Holiday Light Shows Opening Weekend
Philadelphia lights up around the holidays, and Thanksgiving weekend brings the chance to check out two major holiday light shows, both of which are free to see and make a perfect accompaniment to a day of shopping. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. all weekend with a 15-minute show screened on the Comcast Center’s Comcast Experience video wall. The Macy’s Christmas Light Show returns for the merry season on Friday, November 27, and continues through December 31 with its show of more than 100,000 bright LED lights on the wall of the Grand Court atrium. MORE INFO
10. First Chance to Visit with Santa
For those waiting to hear what’s on a wee one’s wish list before hitting the shops, a visit with Santa Claus is in order. Thanksgiving weekend presents a great chance to leave a wish list with Old Saint Nick in person, and multiple Philadelphia sites welcome the jolly old elf. On Friday, November 27, join in the annual SEPTA Santa Express to see Santa on ice at the Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park or head to Macy’s Center City to visit with Santa at Macy’s Dickens Village after seeing the Christmas Light Show. Saturday afternoon, the grand opening celebrations at Christmas Village at Love Park make a great occasion to visit Old Saint Nick. On Saturday evening, Santa arrives to the Franklin Square Holiday Festival to pose for photos, collect wish lists and send kids along to ohh and ahh over the Electrical Spectacle Light Show. MORE INFO
BONUS! The Enormous King of Prussia Mall
Just a 20-minute drive from Philadelphia, the King of Prussia Mall is the largest shopping mall in the United States of America in terms of leasable retail space. And around the holidays, the mall is packed with festivities, deals and thousands of shoppers. Boasting seven world class department stores and more than 400 stores, boutiques, and restaurants, King of Prussia has more pure retail shopping space than any other attraction in America and it features stores that cannot be found elsewhere in the region. Just be sure you allot enough time in your schedule — once you get started at King of Prussia, it’s hard to stop. MORE INFO