Christmas Vacation in Philly: 37 Staycation Ideas for Things To Do With Kids

Wild Lights at the Elmwood Park Zoo is winter break fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy of the zoo
Wild Lights at the Elmwood Park Zoo is winter break fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy of the zoo
12/17/23 - By Cait Sumner

Winter break is almost here, and the kids are going to need full-time entertainment. After they've binged all the Christmas movies or have had their fill of Hanukkah happenings, it's time to get them up and off the couch for all the winter adventures they can handle. We've got everything you need to fill your winter break bucket list, from holiday lights to winter excursions and more. So plan an entire week's itinerary with our picks below.

If you're looking for more ways to keep the kids busy this winter break, check out our Winter Activity Guide and our Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events.


Holiday and Christmas Lights Over Winter Break

1. Longwood Gardens –– Kennett Square

See beautiful lights on display at this special and sparkling annual event.

RELATED: Over-the-Top Christmas Lights on Houses Around Philly

Macy's Holiday Traditions
Macy's Holiday Traditions are back with the iconic tree and Dickens Village. Photo by J. Fusco

2. Macy's Center City Holiday Traditions –– Philadelphia

The beloved Macy's Light Show is a perennial favorite, along with Dickens Village.

3. LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo –– Philadelphia

More than one million lights transform the zoo into a sparkling winter playground.

4.  Morris Arboretum –– Philadelphia

Stroll through the arboretum's garden railway at night to see the trains decked for the season.

5. Wild Lights at Elmwood Park Zoo –– Norristown

Grab some hot cocoa and explore the zoo lights at night.

6. Holidays in the Village –– New Hope

Admire the lights and peruse the candied confectioneries at the annual Gingerbread House Display and competition. Vote on your favorites while you enjoy local beverages and treats.

7. The Miracle on South 13th Street –– Philadephia

Visit the 1600 block of South 13th Street between Tasker and Morris to see this stunning annual neighborhood display.

8. Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular –– Philadelphia

The 2700 block of Smedley Street is festively decorated with blow-up decorations, beautifully lit trees, and sparkling string lights. 

9. West Chester Griswolds –– West Chester

This house models itself after Clark Griswold's home in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and it does not disappoint.

10. Shady Brook Farms –– Philadelphia

Enjoy Shady Brook's drive-thru light show while blasting holiday tunes.

11. Herr's Snack Factory –– Nottingham  

Load up the family vehicle and drive through this display of more than 600,000 dazzling bulbs.

RELATED: Winter Activities Guide for Philadelphia Families

Holiday Shows Over Winter Break

12. George Balanchine's The Nutcracker –– Philadelphia

Marvel at the dancers and delight in the costumes during the Philadelphia Ballet's performance at the Academy of Music.

13. The Little Prince: The Musical –– Philadelphia

Based on the classic children's novella, the musical tells the story of a stranded aviator and a young traveler from a tiny planet, performed by the Quintessence Theatre Group.

14. Disney's Beauty and the Beast –– Philadelphia

Head to the Walnut Street Theatre for this Broadway adaptation of the beloved film. 

15. Disney on Ice: Magic in the Stars –– Philadelphia

Frozen meets Encanto in an epic mash-up at the Wells Fargo Center where there will be no talk of Bruno.

16. Elf in Concert –– Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Orchestra performs the film score live, as the film is shown. Opt in for a pre-film smorgasbord inspired by the film.

17. Cirque Dreams Holidaze –– Philadelphia

A whimsical holiday spectacular where holiday storybook characters come to life, at the Miller Theater.

Celestial Village at the Franklin Institue
Franklin Frost at the Franklin Institute will delight families this holiday season. Photo by Liz Baill 

Indoor Activities Over Winter Break

18. Christmas Underwater with Scuba Santa –– Camden, NJ

Scuba Santa swims throughout Adventure Aquarium and gets everyone in the holiday spirit.

19. Franklin Frost –– Philadelphia

Visit the magical Celestial Village at the Franklin Institute, open just for the holiday season.

20. Art Kids Studio –– Philadelphia

Plan some creative family time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's drop-in studio programs.

21. Holiday Bricktacular –– Plymouth Meeting

Meet the Elves with seasonal building activities at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in the Plymouth Meeting Mall. 

22. Kwanzaa Celebration at Please Touch–– Philadelphia

Help light the kinara at the Please Touch Museum on December 29.

23. Brandywine Railroad Exhibition –– Chadds Ford

The whole family will be mesmerized by the train garden and holiday display.

24. Fairmount Park House Holiday Tours –– Philadelphia

Tour stately mansions all dressed up in their finest holiday attire.

25. Academy of Natural Sciences–– Philadelphia

Spend a day among the dinos and dig for fossils. 

26. Trampoline Park –– Multiple Locations

Bounce off some energy and burn those cookie calories. 

Philly Holiday Break: Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink
Skate with twinkling lights all around at the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink. Photo courtesy of Center City District

Outdoor Activities Over Winter Break

27. Outdoor Ice Skating –– Multiple Locations

Lace your skates and take a twirl outdoors at Blue Cross RiverRinkRothman Orthopaedics Ice RinkFlight on Ice, or Tinseltown. Beat the chill with a cup of hot chocolate from the vendors onsite.

28. Christmas Village –– Philadelphia

Ride the Ferris wheel, the kids' train, or the double-decker carousel, then browse the vendors and pick up a handmade gift or a yummy treat.

29. Winter in Franklin Square –– Philadelphia

Play a festive round of miniature golf at Franklin Square's winter-themed Chilly Philly Mini Golf and watch the Electrical Spectacle light up the night.

30. Carnival of Lights –– Pottstown

Play games and enjoy rides amidst Christmas vibes.

Hersheypark Holiday
Join Hersheypark for more than 5 million twinkling lights, ride on select coasters and family attractions, visits with Santa and his reindeer, and more!

Winter Break Day Trips

31. A Very Furry Christmas –– Langhorne

Wish happy holidays to the Sesame Street gang.

32. Crayola Experience –– Easton

Get creative with a visit to the Crayola Factory, which features festive holiday-themed activities.

33. Dutch Winter Wonderland –– Lancaster

Amish county welcomes Santa for the season at Dutch Wonderland, along with rides, entertainment, and a light show.

34. Koziar's Christmas Village –– Bernville

Walk through one of the most well-known Christmas lights displays in the country and take in all of the holiday magic.

35. Christmas Candylane –– Hershey

For the sweetest Christmas experience around, use winter break to check out over 5 million twinkling lights at Hersheypark.

36. Pocono Mountains –– Multiple Locations

Put on your snow pants and try tubing down a mountain or hit the slopes on your preferred skis or snowboards at mountain resorts across the Poconos.

37. Winter Hike––Multiple Locations

Hit the hills as a family and shake off that cabin fever with a hike.

Writer Alyce Wilson updated the article for 2023.

Places featured in this article:

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Brandywine River Museum