On the to-do list this week: Tell some ghost stories and go explore some of the supposedly haunted spots in the Philly region yourself. That is, if you dare. 👻
On my personal to-do list: I’m celebrating the Halloween season and going to Nightmare Before Tinsel for drinks.
We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.
Fall weekend planner
Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:
Harvest Weekend at Dilworth Park 🍁 (Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / outdoors / free) Dilworth Park’s multiday fall celebration combines a traditional Oktoberfest party with the Made in Philadelphia Fall Market. Look for seasonal food, beer, and bourbon cocktails from Maker’s Mark, as well as live music, circus performers, DJ sets, and more. There will also be family-friendly activities like the Hay Maze on Greenfield Lawn, pumpkin painting, and a professional pumpkin carving demonstration. (Free, Oct. 8-10, 1 S. 15th St., centercityphila.org)
Philly’s an old city, so, if you believe in ghosts or paranormal activity, it’s plausible that our historic area has at least some kind of ghostly presence. There are some spots in the region that are supposedly known to be haunted and we have a guide to those spots and the history behind the hauntings. There are 12 places in our guide, but here’s a peek at some of the haunted places I plan to visit (during the daytime!) this October.
Laurel Hill Cemetery. Since he first started investigating here nearly a decade ago with his Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators (FSPI) outfit, Frank Cassidy says he has seen enough unexplained occurrences to call it “very active.” Shadow play, moans, groans, whispering, shapes, and figures walking through the cemetery — FSPI has reportedly seen it all during their public and private investigations at Laurel Hill. But given that the cemetery is home to about 77,000 graves, and has been interring the dead since 1836, that should come as no surprise to believers.📍3822 Ridge Ave., 🌐 thelaurelhillcemetery.org, 📷 @laurelhillcemetery
Ryerss Museum and Library. Set in beautiful Burholme Park in Northeast Philly, this Italianate-style mansion from 1859 today is home to a wonderful free library and museum with artifacts from around the world, thanks to original owner Joseph Ryerss, a railroad tycoon and merchant, and his son, Robert. But there may also be some supernatural inhabitants. As Levy says, the only time he ever captured what he calls video evidence of the paranormal — in the form of a shadow figure in Robert’s former bedroom area — was right here in 2009.📍7370 Central Ave., 🌐 facebook.com/ryerssmuseumlibrary, 📷 @ryerssmuseumlibrary
Absecon Lighthouse. At 171 feet, this spot is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey — but it could also be one of the most haunted. Among the first paranormal stories about the lighthouse is one from 1909, in which a keeper reportedly saw the Jersey Devil himself perched at the top of the structure, and even fired a shotgun at the figure. In the years since, others have reported spirit sightings and phantom footsteps, among other alleged occurrences.📍31 S. Rhode Island Ave., Atlantic City, N.J., 🌐 abseconlighthouse.org, 📷 @absecon_lighthouse
» READ MORE: A guide to haunted places in the Philadelphia region
Do the following things sound good to you?
A pumpkin s’mores popsicle finished with graham cracker crumbs
A four-layer pumpkin and mini chocolate chip cake iced with a Turkish coffee and caramel buttercream frosting
A ghost-shaped pumpkin ice cream bar dipped in white chocolate
Roasted pumpkin and date challah danishes topped with a citrusy glaze
First, how could they not sound good? Second, if these strike your fancy, you need to read our guide to pumpkin-spiced desserts in Philly (it goes way beyond lattes). Pumpkin is the star of many cakes, ice creams, baked goods, and beverages this season, and we’ll tell you where to go for the best pumpkin-y treats this fall.
» READ MORE: Where to get pumpkin-spiced treats in Philadelphia
Fall and wineries go together well. The weather’s just right for hanging outdoors with friends — it’s not too hot and not too cold — and the foliage that often surrounds wineries isn’t half bad either. Here are some nearby wineries, within 100 miles of Center City, to visit on an upcoming fall day. Check out a few of my favorites, below:
Karamoor Estate: One of Craig LaBan’s favorite suburban Philadelphia wineries in 2017, this spot captures the “Forth Washing terroir” with its wines — a favorite of which is their chardonnay. To check them out, book an upcoming tour and wine tasting with an al fresco dining experience featuring a menu by nearby restaurant From the Boot. 📍 40 E. Skippack Pike, Fort Washington, ↔️ 21 miles from Center City, 📞 215-643-5800, ✉️ email@example.com, 🌐 karamoorwines.com, 📷 @karamoorestate, 🕑 Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
New Hope Winery: Enjoy a socially distanced, outdoor wine experience at the Pour House, New Hope Winery’s on-site restaurant, where you can get everything from shrimp cocktail to a New York strip steak. Or, you can keep it simple and order ahead online for some takeaway. Additionally, New Hope Winery hosts plenty of live music events, so be sure to grab your tickets and enjoy a show. 📍 6123 Lower York Rd., New Hope, ↔️ 37 miles from Center City, 🌐 newhopewinery.com, 📷 @newhopewinery, 🕑 Fri.-Sat. noon-8 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Folino Estate Vineyard & Winery: Flying to Tuscany may be a challenge right now, but you can come close by heading to Folino Estate, which is modeled after an Italian villa and features Italian fare like wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas. Reservations for the tasting room are required, but outdoor seating in the piazza and terrace are first-come, first served. Curbside pickup and online shopping are also available. 📍 340 Old Route 22, Kutztown, ↔️ 67 miles from Center City, 🌐 folinoestate.com, 📷 @folinoestate, 🕑 Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m-6 p.m.
» READ MORE: Wineries near Philly worth a visit
I think one of South Philly’s greatest hidden gems is FDR Park — I know, I know, it’s not that hidden (it’s gigantic and you can literally see it from the highway), but it’s oft-overlooked, especially when compared to Fairmount Park.
I predict that foot traffic to FDR Park will increase in the coming years. Why? Fairmount Park Conservancy just released renderings of the coming-soon improvements. In 2023, it’ll debut an all-new welcome center and play space, which promise an open-air courtyard, playground, area for food and drink vendors, and bathrooms. Woohoo! See you at the park.