On the to-do list this week: Get ready for peak fall foliage season and plan out where you’ll go to see autumn hues in the coming weeks. We have a guide to the best leaf-peeping spots. Oh, and I want to know. What’s your favorite type of Halloween activity? Answer our quick poll here and check back next week for the most popular and most interesting answers.
On my personal to-do list: I’m going to Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary and I cannot wait.
We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.
What to do, eat, and see in New Hope by Regan Stephens
The best places to see fall foliage in the Philly region by Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme
These 6 Philadelphia restaurants and bars also have great murals by Kae Lani Palmisano
Where to get pumpkin-spiced treats in Philadelphia by Grace Dickinson
» Ask us a question through Curious Philly: Inquirer.com/askus
Fall weekend planner
Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:
Witch Please! Halloween Drag Brunch 🧙 (Music / in-person / dance) Celebrate spooky season with some of your favorite queens at this drag brunch hosted by Ariel Versace. Fill up on food and cocktails while enjoying the entertainment, music, games, and prizes. ($15, Oct. 17, 2:30-4:30 p.m., 2310 Marlton Pike W., Cherry Hill, eventbrite.com)
Go leaf-peeping 🍁 🍂
We’re creeping up on peak leaf-peeping season, which is expected to hit in mid- to late October, depending on whether you’re in the city (where it will be later) or out toward the mountains (where it will be earlier). Either way, you know what leaf-peeping season means — it’s time to go out and take some Instagrams! Just kidding. Kind of. Whether you’re going just for the ‘gram or going to take in the autumn colors sans phone, here’s our guide to going leaf-peeping in the region this fall, and here are a few of my local picks below.
Laurel Hill Cemetery and West Laurel Hill Cemetery. Most people think of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill as historic cemeteries, but they are also an accredited arboretum, with many native and non-native trees. While both have fall foliage, arboretum manager Aaron Greenberg says the best colors are at West Laurel Hill, where visitors can enjoy long alleyways flanked by sugar maples, which are known for their bright red leaves, and by ginkgo trees, which have leaves that turn a distinctive yellow color then drop. Don’t worry, even if you miss the color, Greenberg says the carpet of leaves remains a seasonal wonder. For more professional guidance, join Greenberg on one of his annual foliage tours, scheduled this year for Oct. 24 and Nov. 7. Peak foliage is typically the end of October through the beginning of November, but follow their social media for updates.📍3822 Ridge Ave., and 225 Belmont Ave. in Bala Cynwyd, 🌐 thelaurelhillcemetery.org and westlaurelhill.com
Tyler Arboretum. The Tyler Arboretum has a diverse collection of curated trees, much like the one at the Scott Arboretum, ideal for comparing and contrasting native and non-native foliage, says Grossman. The difference is that Tyler also has 17 miles of hiking trails that go through 550 acres of wooded area, so you can take in both curated gardens and a natural forest. If you’re interested in more fall colors than just those on trees, check out the arboretum’s collection of late-season flowers, which bloom annually in the barn garden.📍515 Painter Rd., Media, 🌐 tylerarboretum.org, 📷 @tylerarboretum
Nockamixon State Park. In upper Bucks County, Nockamixon State Park offers more than 5,200 acres of protected land surrounding the lake — the largest in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Trees like maples, white oaks, and staghorn sumacs begin changing color in early October, and visitors can spend a day hiking, biking, kayaking or even horseback riding, while those needing a bit more nature can rent a (heated) cabin or reserve a campsite for an overnight stay.📍1542 Mountain View Dr., Quakertown, 🌐 dcnr.state.pa.us
Let’s be completely honest. Parking in Philly is ... well, a nightmare. Constant tickets, surprise towing (courtesy tow is such a misleading phrase!), and made-up parking spots in the middle of Broad Street all combine to make parking here chaotic at best and car-damaging at worst. If you do choose to drive and park in this city, we have a new guide that will help you understand the rules of the Philly road (double parking and all) and help you figure out how to find free and cheap parking throughout the city. There are parking apps that compare garage pricing, days when parking limits are not enforced, and permits that keep you from getting ticketed — all of which are covered in our guide. And, if you get towed, we have some helpful information about that, too.
» READ MORE: How to park for cheap or free in Philadelphia
We’re somehow halfway through October, which means your time to celebrate Halloween will soon meet its end. So, let’s get to it. Here’s a guide to 11 Halloween events and attractions in Philly that are on our to-do lists this season (we have a guide for stuff to do across the region, if you want to get out of town). Here’s a peek at what I’m most excited about:
Nightmare Before Tinsel. This annual pop-up bar from Teddy Sourias and Craft Concepts Group is back for 2021′s spooky season. Check it out for plenty of Halloween-themed drinks, plus a creepy ambiance thanks to a haunted house-like, asylum-themed vibe, as well as food from the recently opened Sueño next door.📍116 S. 12th St., 🌐 nightmarebeforetinsel.com, 📷 @tinselphilly, 🕑 Daily, 4 p.m-2 a.m. through Oct. 31.
Spooky Twilight Tours at the Betsy Ross House. Face masks are required for this hour-long tour, which probably hits closer to home this year than any other. The topic: Philadelphia’s ghastly history of infection, inoculation, bloodletting, yellow fever, and smallpox during the 18th century. Plus, you’ll head inside the historic house for a few more frights. Tours are held rain or shine, so don’t forget to bring rain gear for the outdoor portion of the tour.📍239 Arch St., 🌐 historicphiladelphia.org, 📷 @thebetsyrosshouse, 🕑 Fridays Oct. 8-29, 6-9 p.m.
Candlelight Ghost Tours of Fort Mifflin. Some say that Fort Mifflin is among the most haunted places in the country, but you can find out yourself on its Candlelight Ghost Tour — if you dare. At three-fourths of a mile, the tour will lead you through the fort, which dates back to 1771, for what is bound to be a particularly paranormal evening.📍 6400 Hog Island Rd., 🌐 fortmifflin.us 📷 @thefortmifflin, 🕑 Oct. 8, 15, 16, 22, 29, 30, 31, tours depart every 20 minutes from 7-10 p.m.
One of my favorite stuck-at-home-during-the-pandemic watches was definitely Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. It’s light, happy, and reminded me that the world is bigger than the four walls of my apartment. To my extreme pleasure, I just saw on Instagram that Phil Rosenthal of Somebody Feed Phil seems to be filming a Philly episode for his food-and-travel show, which has highlighted cities like Copenhagen, Montreal, Bangkok, and New York City. I can’t wait to watch the Philly episode once it’s released and may celebrate with some Kalaya this weekend. And side note: Kalaya just also made our food critic Craig LaBan’s top ten restaurants in 2021.