Travel: Deck the Alley 

Celebrate the holidays in Philadelphia

The narrow, cobblestoned passage holds 300 years’ worth of memories — yet it’s only steps away from modern art galleries, coffeehouses and great restaurants. Many of the 33 row houses were built before America was born and are prime examples of the Georgian and Federal buildings so popular in colonial and revolutionary Philadelphia.

This year’s Deck the Alley Open House is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. Along with tours of the houses, carolers will stroll the alley and warm cider will be available to ward off the chill of a wintry day. Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 at the door.

Another yuletide treat: Portraits in the Park, presented by the Park House guides of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The tour features seven historic houses built in the late 1700s in Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped urban park in the world. Self-driven tours are available along with trolley tours from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10. Candlelight evening tours are available Dec. 6 and 7 and include an Artist’s Table buffet dinner at the museum restaurant.

The highlight of the holidays in Philly is the New Year’s Day Mummers’ Parade – a kind of Mardi Gras for the City of Brotherly Love. Mummers in the Comic, Fancy and String Band divisions strut down Broad Street all day long. Buy a ticket in the judging stand or watch from the street.

If you decide to drive to Philly for a short getaway, take advantage of the Philly Overnight promotion. From November through March, Philadelphia offers the package by which visitors can check in either Fridays or Saturdays at participating hotels and get a second night free. Hotel parking is also a freebie in this package.

Since it is a special time of year, why not make it extra special and book a room at the Four Seasons on Logan Square in Philadelphia’s Center City? The luxurious hotel is always decked out in the beauty of the season — dazzling trees with hundreds of twinkling lights and red poinsettias and holiday decorations fill the lobby, bar and restaurant. Pampering is always part of the package — the hotel staff makes you feel like family.

To experience Mid-Atlantic Modernism at its finest – and to go toe-to-toe with William Penn – book a corner room on an upper floor of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. The former Philadelphia Saving Fund Society building has been renovated in sync with its art deco origins. It’s dramatic yet comfortable, and from the upper floors you can almost reach out and touch Penn on his perch above City Hall.

For a taste of futurism, check out Morimoto Restaurant, the creation of one of TV’s Iron Chefs, Masaharu Morimoto, and designer Karim Rashid. The glass booths in the dining room at 723 Chestnut St. are lit from beneath, in an ever-changing series of colors. It’s one of the HS




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