Lots of people flock to New York City around the holidays to see "the tree" at Rockefeller Center or skate at Bryant Park. I've always loved and dreaded the trip with my family just about every year. Finally I convinced them that Philadelphia was a lot closer and a lot easier to get in and out of, and Philly finally stepped up it's Christmas game. There is a great Christmas village around and across from City Hall, along with an ice rink. An observation deck on the 57th floor of Liberty Place offers an awesome view of the city and New Jersey beyond.

Rittenhouse Square is a must see any time of the year and especially around Christmas. The park is lined with restaurants and shops and is a lot less crowded than anywhere in Manhattan. Head east down Chestnut Street and take a carriage ride around historic Independence Hall and check out the Liberty Bell. Head across the street to The Bourse Building (just reopened in November) for some amazing unique eats. In typical Philly fashion, inside the Bourse you can sit on The Grinch's lap, instead of boring old Santa. A more historic and authentic food stop is the Reading Terminal Market. There is almost nothing you can't find here, and it's all delicious.

The city is steeped in history and culture and is all decked out for the holidays. New Year's Eve on the Delaware River features fireworks early and late in the evening. The highlight of the season and something you can't get anywhere else around the holidays is The Mummers Parade on New Year's Day. I'm still amazed at the amount of people here in New Jersey that have never been to it or even heard of it. It's one big 6 1/2 hour two mile long street party complete with music, merriment and lots of friendly, crazy people. Take a look...

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