The kids are off from school for holiday break … now what? If you’re looking for fun things to do the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of places to go and things to see in Bucks County, Philadelphia and nearby. Because the weather can play a huge part in what you’re willing to do this time of year, I’ve broken the list up into indoor and outdoor spots. So if you’re okay with bundling up for the sake of festive fun, there’s a list for that. And if you’re more interested in heated activities, check those out.
Hip Hip Hooray for Christmas Vacation!
Walking in a Winter Wonderland (Outdoor Things)
Stroll through millions of lights, watch a holiday-themed show with music and dancing, and soar and spin on rides – all with a Sesame Street twist. A Very Furry Christmas runs through January 8. Sesame Place is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. December 25 through December 30, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on December 31 and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on January 1. Reservations aren’t required to visit the park or eat quick service, but you’ll need to book in advance if you want to go to one of sit-down dining experiences with characters. On New Year’s Eve, there will be fireworks at 7 p.m. that can be viewed from the Oxford Valley Mall and other nearby parking lots even if you’re not in the park.
Peddler’s Village is always a popular holiday destination if you’re in the Bucks County area with more than one million lights strung around the trees, restaurants, and more than 65 locally owned shops and boutiques. While you’re shopping and eating, stop by the annual gingerbread display to check out this year’s competition entries. If it’s too cold to walk around much, you can spend a few hours at Giggleberry Fair where there’s an indoor obstacle course, carousel, arcade games, and a toddler zone.
There’s a new pop-up ice skating rink at Neshaminy Mall! The 60 x 100 outdoor “real” ice skating rink is located in the parking lot connnected to the former Sears Automotive Center and right outside the movie theater. Skating hours December 26 through January 1 are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are even two special skate events on New Year’s Eve. Skating sessions are 90 minutes and tickets are $15.08 (with tax) and skate rental is $12.02.
Shady Brook Farm’s Light Show is famous! And it runs through January 28. I hesitated knowing where to put this activity since you CAN do it if it’s cold or rainy, but to get the full experience, try to go on a nicer night. That way you can also get out of your car and walk around Santa’s Village where you can toast marshmallows for s’mores by the bonfire and walk through the Candy Cane Lane lights. Drive through the lights in your own vehicle, or take a wagon. Buy your tickets online to guarantee admission and save money.
My kids can spend 1/2 the day at Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway! For my kids, the model trains are the main highlight, but even if you’re not that into trains, the display and the miniature buildings really are incredible. Everything is made out of natural materials – leaves, twigs, moss, stones, etc. to create miniature versions of Philadelphia-area landmarks. It’s all outside, and you can also take a brisk walk around the rest of the grounds while you’re there. There are so many beautiful things to see! Other highlights for my kids are the fairy garden and the log cabin with Lincoln Logs inside. Morris Arboretum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is located at the Fairgrounds at Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Tinseltown is an outdoor holiday experience with 1.2 million lights, a 8000-square foot ice rink, a 162-foot ice slide, food and drinks, and more. Tickets start at $19.99 for adults and $14.99 for children under 13, kids 4 and under are free.
See the Philadelphia Zoo in a whole new way during LumiNature. The zoo is lit by over a million lights with highlights including a 40-foot-tall penguin that glows with different designs, a 25-foot-tall pink flamingo tree, a 100-foot aquarium tunnel with enormous jellyfish and more. LumiNature is open nightly December 26 through January 1 and then for two final nights January 6 and January 7. Buy your reserved time tickets online.
Now in its 10th year, the Electrical Spectacle Light Show at Franklin Square is a show with music and more than 200,000 lights. The show is centered around the Franklin Square Fountain and runs every 30 minutes starting at 5 p.m. Play a round of Chilly Philly Mini Golf, take a spin on the carousel, and grab a bite to eat and sit by the fire pits.
Christmas is the most magical time of year to visit Longwood Gardens with 500,000 twinkling lights, spectacular fountain shows, more than 100 Christmas trees, and much more. Kids will especially love the outdoor miniature Garden Railway where Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends rumble along nearly 500 feet of track while surrounded by foliage and lights. As a headsup, tickets are already sold out for most of the best times, but you MIGHT be able to find something if you check NOW! Christmas decorations will be up through January 8, and we were able to get tickets for January 7.
While it’s not holiday themed (it actually runs until early April!), Night Forms at Grounds for Sculpture is a mesmerizing light show that both adults and can enjoy. These aren’t your typical “Christmas lights.” Instead, it’s a multi-sensory light and sound experience with video projection, colorful lights, and music. My family went to this last year and as long-time Grounds for Sculpture Members, it was really cool to see the gardens in a whole new way. Night Forms is open daily December 26 through January 1 with timed tickets available starting at 5 p.m.
Now through December 30, you can walk through the zoo while surrounded by dazzling lights, illuminated animals and live entertainment. Wild Lights is nightly from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $15.95 for kids aged 3-12. (Member tickets are $5 cheaper.)
If you don’t mind the drive, Storybook Land is such a cute destination with little kids with nursery rhyme and fairytale themed rides and beautiful lights and decorations. (HERE‘s a link to when we visited Storybook Land in the summer.) Storybook Land is open nightly from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. December 26 through December 30.
But Baby It’s Cold Outside (Indoor Things)
Every year, Fonthill Castle is decorated with beautiful themed Christmas trees. There are different tours available – both during the day or at night.
160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia
Christmas House is a fully immersive, indoor walk-through of all things Christmas. The sights, sounds and smells all come to life in more than 12 different themed rooms such as Harry Potter, Buddy the Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas, and a throwback to Blockbuster. Spend as long as you want (45 minutes is the average) and take tons of pics. You can even have a snowball fight in the first ever Snow Room. (Word is it’s actually snowing in there.) Tickets can be bought online at $27.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids ages 3 to 10.
Colorful Christmas at Crayola Experience runs through January 3 with exclusive holiday activities including helping Santa save Christmas as you go on a themed adventure, meeting a singing snowman and tree friends, and taking a photo with a life-size snow globe. You can also enjoy the usual hands-on activities such as naming and wrapping your very own crayon, climbing through a Crayola themed playground, making wax molds, and much more. Crayola Experience is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from December 25 through January 1.
A LEGO fan’s paradise located inside Plymouth Meeting Mall, LEGOLAND Discovery Center has their Holiday Bricktacular celebration through New Year’s Day. There are giant holiday-themed LEGO builds that are cute for taking pics, holiday themed workshops with Master Builders, a gingerbread scavenger hunt in MiniLand, and more. Buying tickets online first guarantees admission and also saves a few dollars. LEGOLand is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the week after Christmas, except for New Year’s Eve when they close at 4 p.m. and New Year’s Day when they close at 5 p.m.
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, Adventure Aquarium is home to over 15,000 aquatic animals. Spend the day learning about hippos, sharks, turtles, penguins, sea stars, jellyfish and more. A few of the most popular attractions include the shark tunnel, shark bridge, stingray “beach club” where you can touch and feed the stingray, and the kids’ zone with interactive activities. Note that Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Underwater festivities end December 24, but there’s still plenty to do and see!
Through January 2, you can experience Franklin Frost, the Franklin Institute Holiday Celebration featuring a 26-foot-tall celestial-themed tree, three train sets and multiple photo opportunities. Franklin Frost is included with general admission, so you’ll get to see all the Franklin Institute favorites like the Giant Heart and Fels Planetarium too.
Now through December 31 (closed Christmas Day), you can go see the free Christmas Light Show at Macy’s. The show features songs and stories like The Nutcracker and Frosty the Snowman illuminated by 100,000 lights and backed by sounds of the famous Wanamaker Organ. The Light Show runs at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. You don’t need reservations to see the light show, but you will need to make reservations to walk through Dickens Village – an animatronic retelling of A Christmas Carol. Reservations are free and open up 5 days in advance.
The Museum of Illusions features more than 60 unique installments from 2D artistic illusions to fully immersive exhibits where you become the illusion. (It’s an incredible spot for fun pics.) Now through New Year’s Eve, there’s also a Kids Holiday Scavenger Hunt where kids can choose between two age-based scavenger hunts in the museum and receive a special prize at the end. Purchase timed tickets online. Admission is $23 for adults, $18 for children ages 5-12. Kids 4 and under are free.
Be sure to check the calendars of the libraries closest to you for events this upcoming week! There are drop in & play sessions, snowflake crafts, family storytime, and more.
And if the kids just need to get out some energy …
We Rock the Spectrum Northeast