When it comes to Christmas decorations, Philadelphia has plenty of houses that go above and beyond, from South Philly's infamous light shows to inflatable Santa lawn infestations in the Northeast. And while no Philly decor tour would be complete without a two-story animatronic Grinch, nestled in Fairmount Park are some lower-key gems that are just as much a part of the city's festive fabric.
Running through this weekend, the Charms of Fairmount Park Holiday Tours invite visitors into five of the park's historic houses, which are decked out for the holidays.
"People forget that these historic sites were once lively with children and families and celebrations," says Bill Gehrman, marketing director for The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park. "These are what we call park houses -- they were built in the 18th century by some of the most prominent Philadelphians as summer escapes."
This year's tour circuit includes Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Ormiston and Woodford mansions. Hosts will be on hand to talk about the history and architecture of each house, and family-friendly activities include colonial re-enactors, music and even a holiday tea service at Woodford.
Go green this year
Skipping the LED reindeer? Stop by Strawberry Mansion Sat.-Mon. (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) for a fresh greens sale. Decor and gifts include Juniper and Magnolia wreaths.
If you go
The Charms of Fairmount Park Holiday Tours will take place Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to each house is $5 (children under 12 are free) and free parking is available at each site. Guided trolley tours ($40) will depart from the Art Museum on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more info, visit www.parkcharms.com.