We were provided complimentary tickets to the Philly PHLASH and local attractions to facilitate my review. The opinions in this post are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Christmas is almost here! In the midst of all the hustle and bustle some of my favorite things to do include driving around looking at lights with the kids and seeing some of the local holiday attractions in my neck of the woods. It’s always fun to have a family adventure, and I think even more so during this time of the year when the spirit of the season can tend to get lost in to-do lists, shopping carts, and wrapping paper. We’re about an hour and a half from Philadelphia so when the Philadelphia Visitor Center invited us to come check out the holiday attractions in the city using the Philly PHLASH we were really excited! And a little nervous, I’ll admit. I’m a total country girl and not familiar with Philly really at all. Turns out I had nothing to worry about it. It’s SO easy to get around the city and find all the great attractions. We had the absolute best day together!
The Philly PHLASH is a bus that runs through Center City Philadelphia with stops at all the key attractions. They have added on special holiday hours through December 31 and the Philly PHLASH now runs its regular course daily from 10am to 6pm and then from 6pm to 10pm it runs on a special Holiday Evening Loop. There’s a lot of overlap between the day loop and evening loop but a few different stops on each route. This is such an EASY and inexpensive way to get around the city. Get an all-day pass for $5 (or $2 per ride) and kids 4 and under and seniors are free!
With the exception of riding the Campus Loop when I was in college, I have never ridden on a city bus before. I know, sheltered life. But it’s just not where I live so I’ve never had the need to. That made me a little nervous about figuring this all out especially with my kids in tow. We parked at the garage at the Visitor Center. You can buy your Philly PHLASH tickets right inside and grab a map and tons of other info about the city’s best stops. The walk out the front door and hop on the bus! Each Philly PHLASH stop has a light post that looks like this with the map and cute little PHLASH sign. Really easy to spot and the map is super easy to read too. I do suggest grabbing a paper copy when you buy your ticket just to plan your day.
Here comes our bus! There are other buses in the city so just hang out at the PHLASH sign and look for the bus that actually says PHLASH on it. Lily spotted it right away and we hopped on board.
You guys, these are REALLY nice buses! Comfortable and clean and the drivers were awesome about telling us where we should get off to find certain attractions. The map really is easy to read but when I didn’t have my act totally together and the driver asked me what stop we wanted (they’re all numbered) I could just say, “We want to go to Reading Terminal Market” and he’d let me know that was stop 4 and get us there!
Lily and Leo headed right for the back seat like the cool kids do. 😉 They were so excited to ride the Philly PHLASH. An added perk: It’s a nice break from the cold!
Our first stop was Reading Terminal Market. I have friends who gush over this place but I’ve never been there. I was totally wowed. All the fresh produce, delicious food, and drool-worthy baked goods. It’s a must-see. Plan at least one meal there while you’re in town. We ate at this delicious stand that had Pakistani food. Soooo good!
Cookies for dessert and let me tell you, these were da bomb. The chocolate chips were still warm and melty. After we cleaned the crumbs off of our months we hopped back on the PHLASH and went to the Franklin Institute.
The Franklin Institute is so much fun and so educational for the whole family. My kids are 5 and 9 and there were interactive exhibits that engaged both of them at their level. If you’re hitting Philly with kids I highly recommend a stop here.
We ‘surfed’ and did some rock wall climbing in the sports exhibit. On the lower right is a picture of my daughter Lily climbing through a brain! The kids had the best time in here and really learned a lot about the way our brains work. I remember going on a field trip to the Franklin Institute when I was a kid and walking through a huge heart. It’s still there! We walked through once as a family and then the kids just had to do it again on their own.
After stretching our brains we left the Franklin Institute, hopped back on the Philly PHLASH and went to Macy’s. There’s a huge and gorgeous Macy’s in the city that has an awesome holiday light display and show. We got lucky and arrived just as the show was starting.
The tree is HUGE and all lit up with dancing lights. Walking into this store felt like going back in time. Nothing like the department stores in my area, that’s for sure! It was really fancy and special, all decked out for the holidays. We loved it.
Just across the street and down the block a bit from Macy’s is the Hard Rock Cafe where we stopped for dinner. There are tons of places to eat in the area but we don’t have a Hard Rock near us so this was a special treat. Excellent food and a fun atmosphere. My husband educated all of us on rock history using the pictures on the wall as prompts. See? Education everywhere. ha!
By the time we got done with dinner it was getting late. We hopped back on the Philly PHLASH and took some silly family pictures. Can you see how much fun we were having? Such a great day together! We rode the bus through some of the special Holiday Evening Loop stops like Rittenhouse Row but didn’t get off. I had two wiped out kids on my hands and we had a long drive home. In retrospect I wish we’d have planned to spend the night in the city and made a weekend out of it. There’s so much to do and see. We’ll just have to go back!
My tired girl was ready to get home after a fun day in Philly. If you’re local to the area, within driving distance, or just passing through, you definitely should plan a day exploring the holiday attractions in the city. It’s so much fun and the Philly PHLASH makes it so easy to get around. Take it from someone who is not city or bus savvy in the least. This was a breeze and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Get the complete Philly PHLASH daytime and new evening holiday route to plan your trip! Be sure to check out all the exciting holiday happenings in the city and their corresponding Philly PHLASH stops before you go. There’s so much to do and see and it’s so EASY to get out and enjoy it all!