A Beginner’s Guide to the Philadelphia Auto Show

According to Philadelphia Auto Show Director, Michael Gempp, 20% of the attendees each year are new to the show. | Provided

The 2018 Philadelphia Auto Show is fast approaching and if you’ve never been before, you’re not alone.

“Every year, 20% of the attendees are first time attendees,” says Philadelphia Auto Show Director, Michael Gempp. “Considering we’re getting a quarter of a million people each year to the Auto Show, that amounts to 50,000 newcomers each year.”

While you can prepare yourself online, sometimes having a few insider tips can help make your first visit one without any “bumps in the road.” Fasten your seatbelts — here is our beginner’s guide to the Philadelphia Auto Show.

1. Wear comfortable shoes.

The Philadelphia Auto Show takes up a space that’s almost the size of 11 football fields, covering almost a million square feet when you factor in the lobby spaces and hallways at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. “Definitely wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be doing a lot of walking,” says Gempp. “If the amount of space is daunting to you, we do rent scooters, too.”

2. Don’t expect to buy a car at The Auto Show.

If you’ve never been to the Philadelphia Auto Show, you might think that you can buy a car there, but that’s not the case. “The Auto Show is there to deliver a shopping experience that can’t be delivered anywhere else,” says Gempp. “Attendees can look for their next vehicle in a relaxed, no sales atmosphere. They won’t be talked to about pricing or anything  like that.”

3. Consider using SEPTA.

Being stuck in traffic isn’t fun for anyone, so if you want to skip the hassle of driving to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, considering using SEPTA. “Once you get to Jefferson Station, you don’t have to go outside. You take two escalators and you’re in The Auto Show,” Gempp says.

4. Don’t miss out on the free parking.

SugarHouse Casino (1001 N. Delaware Ave.) has partnered with the Philadelphia Auto Show this year to offer free parking in their lot for attendees as well as a free shuttle service over to the Convention Center. Passengers must be at least 21 years old to ride the shuttle, however. Gempp also advises attendees to use the newer entrance to the Auto Show on Broad Street (near Race and Arch), because it’s not only less busy, the parking lots tend to be cheaper on that side of Broad.

5. Kids six and under go to the show for FREE.

If you’re worried about the cost of bringing the whole family to the show, fear not, because kids six and under go to the show for free. With kids 7 through 12 only paying $7 to go and adults 13 and up paying $14 — it’s a really affordable family outing. “We realize a lot of our attendees are families,” Gempp says. “The second biggest purchase outside of your home is your vehicle, and you want to see how your family fits inside of it. We try to make it very reasonable to come to the show as a family.”

6. Save time by buying your ticket online.

A lot of people attend the Auto Show each year and lines to purchase tickets can be long, especially on the weekends. “You can buy your tickets online and print them from home, says Gempp. “You can bypass the ticket booth and go straight to the ticket taker. You can even have them scanned from your cell phone.”

7. You can leave the show and come back.

Your ticket to the show is good for the day and you can leave the Convention Center to grab food and come back, as long as you get your hand stamped. “There are so many things within walking distance of the Convention Center, like Reading Terminal Market,” says Gempp. With Beiler’s Donuts, Bassetts Ice Cream and Termini Bros. Bakery, you’ll want to take advantage of all that walking and indulge in some tasty treats.

8. Plan your trip before you go.

“Our website has all the information you could need,”says Gempp. There you can download floor plans and figure out all the things you want to see. You may also want to familiarize yourself with what you can and can’t bring to the show. Cameras and video recorders are allowed — hoverboards are not. You can leave to grab food, but can’t bring outside food or drink back into the Convention Center.

If you go:
The 2018 Philadelphia Auto Show
Jan. 27 to Feb. 4, 2018
The Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
$14 (Adults 13+)
$7 (Children 7-12)

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