PHILADELPHIA, May 23, 2023 – The unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend is when we put things in cruise control for a while, breaking out our sunglasses and white clothes in preparation for all the summer fun ahead.
Looking to jumpstart your Memorial Day planning? The long weekend is the perfect time to visit Philadelphia (and trust us, we know a thing or two about that).
Set aside some time to discover a new Philly restaurant or hidden attraction, check out can’t-miss exhibitions like Disney100: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute and explore the city’s green spaces and dual waterfronts.
Get into a summertime frame of mind and partake in some long-weekend action with our top picks for things to do over Memorial Day weekend in Greater Philadelphia.
Memorial Day Events
Memorial Day Weekend Concert, Dance Party & Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront
Saturday, May 27, 20223 | Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
Philly’s unofficial kickoff to summer calls for a massive party on the Delaware River waterfront. At 3 p.m. Cherry Street Pier transforms into a dance party led by vinyl DJs from Cosmic Rhythms. Down river, the Grand Plaza at Penn’s Landing hosts a 4 p.m. performance from kid-friendly group Alex and the Kaleidoscope before a free concert starring power vocalist Tara Hendricks and DJ ChillX. Over at Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, a silent disco features performances from three separate DJs that can only be heard through special headphones. Note: Tickets are required for the Silent Philly event. The night culminates in a spectacular free fireworks show over the Delaware River at 9:30 p.m. Boom!
Where: Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard; Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Free Admission at the National Constitution Center for Memorial Day Weekend
May 27-29, 2023
In addition to free admission all weekend long, the National Constitution Center marks the Memorial Day holiday with special programming, including daily shows exploring some of the most famous memorials in the U.S. and the history of the American flag. In the grand hall lobby, visitors can learn the history behind the poppy as a symbol of Memorial Day before creating their own poppy pin or wreath in honor of fallen service members.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Memorial Day Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution
May 27-29, 2023
In addition to the Museum of American Revolution’s permanent exhibits, special programming for Memorial Day includes pop-up discovery carts highlighting the daily lives of Revolutionary War soldiers, sailors and privateers. In addition, kiddos can participate in hands-on activities by making memorial-themed ribbons and creating revolutionary-themed thank you cards for members of the American Legion. Admission is free for all veterans, active military members and Blue Star Families all weekend long.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Memorial Day Ceremonies in Greater Philadelphia
May 28-29, 2023
Honor the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice at these Memorial Day events in Greater Philadelphia:
- Memorial Day Celebration at Laurel Hill Cemetery: The site of Philly’s first Memorial Day commemoration in 1868, Laurel Hill Cemetery continues the long tradition with a free afternoon program featuring wreath-laying ceremonies, patriotic music, honor guards and refreshments. The event runs from noon to 2 p.m. (Sunday).
- Memorial Day Ceremony at Battleship New Jersey: At 10 a.m., a free ceremony aboard the Battleship New Jersey features bugle performances of the National Anthem and TAPS, a wreath-casting onto the Delaware River and a keynote speech from Con. Donald Norcross (Monday).
- Memorial Day Ceremony on the Cruiser Olympia: On the Philly side of the river, climb aboard the Cruiser Olympia at 10 a.m. for this free memorial event featuring a color presentation, patriotic tunes and a speech from Naval Commander Chris Robinson (Monday).
Where: Laurel Hill East, 3822 Ridge Avenue; Battleship New Jersey, 100 Clinton Street, Camden, NJ; Cruiser Olympia, 211 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Ongoing Highlights: The best of Greater Philadelphia — during Memorial Day weekend and beyond …
Seasonal Bars & Restaurants in Philly
Springtime in Philly means good times with good friends, preferably with a breeze at your back and a cold drink in your hand. Many of Philly’s most popular outdoor venues are now open for the season, including waterfront destinations like Morgan’s Pier and Liberty Point, lush beer gardens like Independence Beer Garden in the Historic District, Uptown Beer Garden in Center City and PHS Pop Up Gardens on South Street and in Manayunk, and the ever-popular rooftop Bok Bar in South Philly. Cheers!
Where: Various locations including Liberty Point, 211 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink at Dilworth Park
Through Sunday, July 16, 2023
Lace up! This spring, the Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink at Dilworth Park paints the town rainbow with colorful springtime skate sessions. Vibrant overhead art and the checkerboard rink floor bring good times and retro vibes. For more fun, chow down at the Dilworth Park Café, fuel up at the Air Grille pop-up beer garden or hop your way through the Dilworth Park dancing fountain. Advance reservations for hour-long skating sessions are strongly recommended, and discounted Matinee Skate sessions are offered Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where: Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street
Mid-Century to Manga: The Modern Japanese Print in America at the James A. Michener Art Museum
Through Sunday, July 30, 2023
This new exhibition spotlights Japanese printmaking in the post-war period and celebrates the continued local interest in, and contributions to, contemporary Japanese and Japanese-American print-making and illustration.
Where: James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown
Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
Through Sunday, September 24, 2023
When the ice melts and the shades come out, it’s time for Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest. The annual Penn’s Landing extravaganza boasts boardwalk games, carnival rides, mini golf, an arcade, the city’s largest outdoor roller skating rink and much, much more. The fest has plenty of food and drink options on deck, including faves like the funnel cake at Skelly’s, the creative cocktails at The Lodge Bar or the Crabfries at Chickie’s & Pete’s. General admission to the fest is free (everything else is pay-as-you-go).
Where: Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Through Sunday, September 24, 2023
Enthusiasts of riverside chilling enjoy hammocks, patio and arcade games, musical performances and tasty treats from local purveyors while strolling the boardwalk at this warm-weather attraction. Spruce Street Harbor Park is the perfect escape for visitors looking to relax and locals hoping to unwind.
Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Disney100: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute
Through Sunday, August 27, 2023
The House of Mouse celebrates a century of dazzling audiences with a brand-new exhibition, making its world premiere in Philadelphia. Disney100: The Exhibition opens the vaults for behind-the-scenes glimpses into the creation of the company’s most popular characters, films, shows and attractions, offering 10 themed galleries with interactive installations covering everything from Snow White to Star Wars.
Pro tip: Score complimentary tix to the exhibition when you book the Visit Philly Overnight Package for stays through August 20, 2023.
Where: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street
Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
Through Sunday, October 8, 2023
“Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?” Nearly two dozen artists interpret that question in new artworks that appear in this collaborative exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and The African American Museum in Philadelphia. This landmark exhibit invites visitors to consider complex issues from multiple viewpoints.
Where: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street; The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia at the Museum of the American Revolution
Through Sunday, November 26, 2023
This new exhibition charts the life of James Forten, a free man of African descent who fought in the war for American independence in 1781, then returned to Philadelphia to become a successful businessman, philanthropist and stalwart abolitionist. Chronicle Forten’s life and follow his family’s 100-year story from the American Revolution through the lead up to the Civil War and women’s suffrage movement.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Illuminating Birds at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
May 20 – October 15, 2023
As it turns out, Philadelphians aren’t the only ones obsessed with the Birds. Long studied by artists and scientists alike, our flighted friends take center stage in this new exhibition, which features avian artwork from the academy’s collection and a number of early birding field guides. Inside a pop-up art studio, visitors are invited to try their hand at drawing or writing about birds while surrounded by feathers, field notes and other forms of inspiration. All exhibits and activities are included in regular museum admission.
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Night Tours: Summer Twilight at Eastern State Penitentiary
May 24 – September 4, 2023
Summer Twilight takes the historic tours, exhibits and art installations that the Eastern State Penitentiary is known for, and mixes in hands-on activities, monthly themes and new events. Cool off with drinks at the Fair Chance Beer Garden on the penitentiary’s baseball diamond, offering craft brews from Triple Bottom Brewing Co.
Where: Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue
More Things to Do: Additional goings-on over Memorial Day weekend…
5th Annual Festival of the Peony at Styer’s Peonies
May 18-28, 2023
Ah, the humble peony. This symbol of happiness, prosperity and fortune has decorated weddings, parties and gardens for centuries. But did you know that there are over 30 species and hundreds of varieties of this fragrant flower? For more floral fun than you can shake a stem at, head to the 5th Annual Festival of the Peony and frolic through peony fields of deep maroon, pastel pink, cloud white and more. (Cameras welcome, dogs not so much.)
Where: Styers Peonies, 4313 Creek Road, Chadds Ford
Devon Horse Show & Country Fair at the Devon Show Grounds
May 25 – June 4, 2023
Giddy up! The country’s oldest and largest event of its kind features equestrian disciplines, exhibitions and an old-fashioned country fair at the Devon Show Grounds.
Where: Devon Horse Show Grounds, 23 Dorset Road, Devon
Twilight in the Gardens at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Friday, May 26, 2023 | 7-10 p.m.
This art-after-dark event — set inside the mosaic maze of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens — features performances from instrumental rock band I Think I Like Midnight and craft activities led by artist Dyymond Whipper-Young. After rocking out, hit the crafting tables to make your masterpiece out of upcycled CDs and records. Tickets are required. Bring your own blanket, snacks and drinks.
Where: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street
Beyond the Bell Philly Gayborhood and LGBTQ History Walking Tour
Saturday, May 27, 2023 | 3-4:30 p.m.
Put on your most comfortable and glamorous walking shoes. This 90-minute walking tour (covering about one mile through Philly’s Gayborhood) focuses on local LGBTQ icons, the evolution of Pride in Philadelphia and modern issues facing the community. Tickets are required.
Where: Tour departs from 1300 Locust Street
Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches Return to Old City
May 27-29, 2023
Award-winning storytellers return this weekend to offer secrets about the history of Philadelphia and our nation through three-to-five minute stories told at special benches near several historic sites in Old City. Uniformed storytellers are on hand from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday this holiday weekend. The program runs Tuesdays through Saturdays from June 15 through September 4, 2023, with expanded hours around the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. The free Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches can be found at the following locations:
- Independence Visitor Center
- Independence Square, behind Independence Hall
- Signer’s Garden
- Franklin Court
- Betsy Ross House
- Franklin Square
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street; Signer’s Garden, 434-498 Chestnut Street; Fragments of Franklin Court, 322 Market Street; Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street; Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
The Philadelphia Renaissance Faire at Fort Mifflin
May 27-29, 2023
Huzzah! Fort Mifflin hosts three days of medieval merriment with performers from the Philadelphia Renaissance Faire. Expect a weekend of interactive shows, a central marketplace, and hands-on activities like archery and knife- and ax-throwing. Tickets are required, and costumes are encouraged.
Where: Fort Mifflin, 6400 Hog Island Road
Paddle Penn’s Landing
May 27 – September 4, 2023
Every year, Paddle Penn’s Landing makes a splash with boat rentals and aquatic fun for the whole family. If you’re not floating on the Delaware in an animal-themed paddle boat, what are you doing?
Where: Penn’s Landing Basin
DJ Deejay: ’90s VS ’00s Moshulu Boat Party aboard the Moshulu
Sunday, May 28, 2023 | 10 p.m.
Boat dance party? Boat dance party! This DJ mash-up on the Moshulu — a historic sailing ship permanently docked at Penn’s Landing — pits throwback hits from the ’90s against more modern Top 40 tracks. Tickets are required for the 21-plus-party, which lasts until 2 a.m.
Where: Moshulu, 401 S, Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia Latino Film Festival
May 28 – July 9, 2023
Film fans can find works by established and emerging Latino filmmakers at the annual Philadelphia Latino Film Festival. The lineup typically includes feature films, shorts, animations, web series and documentaries, along with workshops and discussions. Stay tuned to the festival website for scheduling details.
Where: Various locations around Philadelphia
Discover Something New in Philly: New and new-to-you experiences in the City of Brotherly Love …
Find a Favorite New Restaurant
New restaurants are popping up in Philly all the time, adding to the city’s already-stellar reputation as a can’t-miss dining destination (see: Philly’s recent James Beard Award nominees). Stay ahead of the culinary curve with our list of new restaurants in Philadelphia, which includes the plant‐based Italian BYOB Pietramala, conveyor‐belt sushi spot Kura Sushi and more.
Where: Various locations including Kura Sushi, 1721 Chestnut Street
Uncover a Hidden Gem
A high-rise rooftop park (Cira Green), the 150-year-old headquarters of the Pennsylvania Freemasons (The Masonic Temple), a full-scale model of a 17th-century Japanese temple guest house (Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center). No, these aren’t scenes from Everything Everywhere All at Once. They’re all spots you can visit right here in the City of Brotherly Love. Get familiar with another side of Philly with our list of the city’s hidden gems, featuring 21 places you (probably) don’t know about.
Where: Various locations including The Masonic Temple, 1 N. Broad Street
Shhh! Discover a Secret Philly Bar or Restaurant
Can you keep a secret? Yeah, neither can we. Just be cool because Philly is full of low-key backroom bars such as Backroom at Blind Barber, sensual speakeasies like Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown and even an underground bowling alley at Harp & Crown. Feel like the ultimate insider on your visit with our guide to hidden bars and restaurants in Greater Philadelphia.
Where: Various locations including Stevens’ Prophecy at W Philadelphia, 1439 Chestnut Street
Essential Philly Experiences: The absolute have-to-dos in Greater Philadelphia …
Enjoy a Classic Philly Treat (Or Two Or Three …)
We knew you’d ask about the cheesesteaks. And you’re absolutely right to — Philly’s most famous sandwich is famous for a reason. Check out our picks for the best places to find a cheesesteak in Philly, including the tourist-y spots you’ve likely heard about and more than a few places you may not have. While you’re in town, be sure to grab other iconic Philly treats like a delectable, doughy soft pretzel and water ice, a spring and summer staple.
Where: Various locations including Campo’s Philly Cheesesteaks, 214 Market Street
Check Off the Essential Philly Must-Dos
First time in town? With all the history, art and culture, it’s hard to know where to start. We get it. Why not begin with the basics? Get a jump on your Memorial Day weekend itinerary with this list of the 10 most essential things to do on your (first) visit to Philadelphia, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and, yes, the Rocky Steps.
Where: Various locations including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Explore Philly’s Parks and Green Spaces
Late spring is arguably one of the best times to visit Philadelphia. Philly’s green spaces spring to life this time of year, with residents and visitors picnicking in Center City squares, sunbathing on the waterfront, and exploring miles and miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Check out our list of Philly parks for warm-weather fun.
Where: Various locations including Wissahickon Valley Park, Valley Green Road
Hit the Greater Philadelphia Craft Beer Trail
You’re bound to be thirsty after all that exploring. Cool off with a round or two at one of the more than 115 (yep, we counted) craft breweries located in Greater Philadelphia. Looking to hit more than one brewery? Do the responsible (and convenient) thing by taking the train. Check out our guide to craft breweries within a 10-minute walk of Philly subway stations or spots within a five-minute walk of regional rail lines.
Where: Various locations including Dock Street Brewery South, 2118 Washington Avenue
Bonus: Keep Cool with a Hotel Pool: Plan ahead and keep cool …
Unwind and Take a Dip!
There’s nothing better after a summer-like day of exploring the city than cooling off in a pool — preferably one with a view. Before you book your stay, check out our complete guide to hotel pools in Philadelphia.
Where: Various locations including Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center, 1 N. 19th Street
About Visit Philadelphia:
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy. On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website, visitphilly.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.
Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the site an effective trip-planning tool. Visitors can also find loads of inspiration on Visit Philly’s social media channels.
Note to Editors: For high-resolution photos and high-definition B-roll of Greater Philadelphia, visit the Photos & Video section of visitphilly.com/mediacenter.