A D E T A I L E D G U I D E T O H AV I N G F U N ( W I T H K I D S ! ) I N P H I L LY !

A city steeped in history, yet chock-full of modern fun and adventure as well. Just a short drive from many eastern seaboard cities; don’t miss all Philadelphia has to offer your family!

Philadelphia, PA



Aim small. Set one or two “todo” goals for each place you visit and be happy when you accomplish them. Anything extra you do is a bonus! Keep a good attitude. The kids won’t remember the details of the trip as much as they will you laughing and having fun together as a family. Enjoy your time together!

My Best Travel Advice:

1. Liberty Bell 2. National Constitution Center 3. Betsy Ross House & Elfreth’s Alley 4. Independence Seaport Museum


1. Franklin Institute 2. Please Touch Museum 3. Philadelphia Zoo 4. Smith Playground


1. Museum of Art 2. Academy of Natural Sciences

These sites are also lots of fun and although they didn’t make my top-10 list, they are certainly well worth checking out if you have the time!

Also See:

Reading Terminal Market: An amazing indoor farmers’ market/ eatery that kids love! Independence Hall: Rich in history, but not entirely kid-friendly. Use your judgement!

Fairmount Water Works: Within walking distance from the Museum of Art. Interactive exhibit about water and its many usages. U.S. Mint: Working mint is a great place to go with kids who are interested in coins or their history.

Before You Go:
There are many excellent websites that offer up to date information on the best sights and sounds Philly has to offer. Some I have found to be helpful include: Philadelphia’s official tourism website; good info on seasonal events and festivals. A great site for kid friendly events. Good ratings! Great way to get discount passes if you plan to visit several museums!

Travel Tips:

I have tried to make all of my information as applicable as possible to everyone who may be visiting Philly with kids: parents, grandparents, military families, families with physical disabilities, etc. When applicable, I have specially noted in the location summaries any special instructions for these groups! There are so many places to get good food around Philly. The city is especially known for its cheesesteaks so try to grab at least one while you’re in town! I have noted for each location where the closest cheap/kid friendly restaurants are... however we all know how quickly kids can “crash” so its always a good idea to have a water bottle and granola bar stash handy in case of such “crisis.” :)

Below is a graphic designed to help you streamline and simplify your planning process. Obviously this is not a one-size-fits-all plan, but if you are like me and travel guides overwhelm you and you just want someone to tell you what to do, this page is for you! Obviously if your child has been wanting to see the polar bears forever, then by all means, ditch this guide and head straight to the zoo! Similarly, history buffs may want to bypass the amazing Franklin Institute on a short trip in favor of seeing all the historical sites. Do what works best for your family; use this as helpful suggestions and not a drill sergeant!

What To Do!How To Plan?



1. Please Touch Museum 2. Smith Playhouse 3. Philadelphia Zoo 4. Museum of Art 5. Franklin Institute 6. Academy of Natural Sciences 7. Sister Cities Park 8. Franklin Square 9. National Constitution Center 10. Liberty Bell 11. Betsy Ross House 12. Elfreth’s Alley 13. Independence Seaport Museum

I’m The Map!
Here is a basic map of the downtown Philly area. Each one of my TOP 10 locations is marked with a pin and number in the legend. If you plan to visit several sites, this can help you visualize what sites are within walking distance of each other or decide where you might want to park for a longer day in the city.










The Liberty Bell
Admission: FREE! OVERVIEW: The Liberty Bell is the most famous and iconic symbol of American freedom and independence. Commissioned in London in 1772, it is engraved with a verse from Leviticus:

(Map #10)


"Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Its famous crack occurred when it was first rung upon its arrival in Philadelphia; it has represented freedom to Americans ever since.

The Bell! Free, no tickets required. But, if you visit over a weekend, holiday, summer vacation or other busy time, be prepared to wait in a very long line. Although National Park Service staff keep the line moving quickly, even on off-peak days, we waited ~15 minutes for entry. The building which houses the bell has a fascinating display of the bell’s history as you move towards the bell. Take time to peruse these exhibits; they are fascinating, even for kids! You can stay as long as you want inside, so don’t feel like you have to rush through. Appreciate a piece of American history that is, for once, free!

PARKING: For all of the historic area, try to find street parking. Near 4th and Arch, parking is $2.50 an hour, 2 hr. max. which is great as long as you don’t mind checking back to add more time to your meter if you’re out that long. (This honestly is not that inconvenient, as most of the historic sites are within close range of this street). GIFT SHOP: In the adjacent Visitor’s Center there is one... I have never seen it NOT packed with tourists. Unless your kids are diehard history fans, I would skip it. EATING: There are several cafes around the Independence Mall area, as well as a burger joint (Steven Starr’s SquareBurger) 2 blocks away in Franklin Square. BEWARE: School/tour groups can mob this place! If you have more than one adult, consider one being a placeholder in line while the other watches the kids romping on the lawn.

Liberty Bell 525 Market St  Philadelphia, PA 19106 OPEN: Daily, 9-5 WEB: CALL: (215) 965-2305

(Map #9)


The National Constitution Center
Admission: Adults: $14.50, Kids $13

multimedia museum dedicated to what living out democracy looks like for the rest of us, and an awe-inspiring “Signer’s Hall” featuring life-sized bronze statues of the founding fathers.

Having opened in 2007, the Constitution Center is the newest addition to Philly’s historical repertoire and is well worth a visit. It boasts a live theater show, an extensive interactive,

This museum consists of 3 focus areas:

PARKING: Lot on 6th between Arch and Market, $16, up to 4 hours, $18/day. If you’re an early riser and you park before 9am you can stay till 6pm for just $11! (Absolute best deal around.) Street parking can also be found in the area (as for the Bell, try 4th and Arch) for $2.50/hr., max 2 hrs. GIFT SHOP: The museum store offers a nice selection of memorabilia for the Center. EATING: The Delegates Cafe, located in the building offers food, snacks and plenty of seating. BEWARE: The “We The People” exhibit is extensive and detailed, and therefore time-consuming. Don’t try to rush through this! IF YOU HAVE TIME: Linger in the Signer’s Hall, and read the signers’ biographies on their plaques. These are truly fascinating men!

Freedom Rising, a multimedia theatrical exploration of the constitution. Kids really loved it! showcases democracy and the role we all play in it. A bit overwhelming, but thoroughly well done! museum. Seeing the real-life statues, poised as if they were caught midsentence-- deep in the weighty debates of our country’s infancy-- is thrilling and astonishing!

We The People, an interactive museum that

Signer’s Hall, absolutely the highlight of the

National Constitution Center 525 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA 19106 OPEN: M-F, 9:30-5, Sat: 9:30-6, Sun 12-5: WEB: CALL: (215) 965-2305


Betsy Ross House & Elfreth’s Alley

(Map #11 & 12)



Betsy Ross House 239 Arch Street. Reputed to be the house in which Philadelphia, PA 19106 General George Washington visited young OPEN: 10AM-5PM Betsy Ross and in which she first designed and sewed our famous stars and stripes. The WEB: betsy-ross-house self-guided tour leads you through Ross’ CALL: (215) 965-2305 home; I recommend the audio tour if your kids are at all interested! The details you will learn are fun and memorable. Admission: Adults: $5, Kids/Military/Seniors $4 (Audio Tours $2 extra)



PARKING: Street parking in the area is $2.50/hr., max 2 hrs. If you are not combining these 2 with the National Constitution Center, you will be fine with 2 hrs. of parking! If you are combining, I recommend utilizing the NCC’s lot on 6th between Arch and Market St. GIFT SHOP: The Betsy Ross house has a colonial-themed gift shop. The toys are good quality, old-style (think Colonial Williamsburg) things that actually have a function and are inexpensive. Recommend. EATING: There is a snack stand in the Betsy Ross House courtyard offering hot-dogs, snacks and drinks. Franklin Square’s SquareBurger is just a few blocks away as well. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Linger in the BRH courtyard to enjoy historical storytelling and meet Betsy Ross! (Ask her to show you her famous one-snip star trick.) Also if you are making this a longer day, head to Franklin Square to enjoy mini-golf or the shady playground!

Elfreth’s Alley is America’s oldest continually inhabited residential street. It is just about a 2 1/2 block walk away from the Betsy Ross house on 2nd St. between Race and Arch. You can pay for a guided tour (at the Museum, located in House 124. It’s $12/family, and you go in two houses), you can buy the selfguided tour book for $5 (you do not go inside the homes) or you can just walk along the street for free! It is truly fascinating to see these (small, by current standards) homes, alleys and courtyards. Look for the metal “fire insurance” pendants high on the outer walls, indicating that home’s residents had paid their fire dues!

Elfreth’s Alley 126 Elfreths Alley Philadelphia, PA 19106 Museum/tours open: Wed-Sat 10AM-5PM, Sun 12-5PM WEB: CALL: (215) 574-0560

(Map #13)

Independence Seaport Museum
Admission: $13.50 Adults. $10 Kids/Military/Seniors. Parking: $10 HALF DAY

and a highly unique walking tour. History comes alive as you tour the ex-military submarine Becuna, first lauched in 1944, and the oldest steel warship still floating in the world, the Olympia: first launched in 1892! FULL DAY

The Independence Seapor t Museum is one of Philly’s best kept secrets! Tucked away from the historical district by the Delaware River, this is not only a fascinating maritime museum but also an active boat-building shop,

The Museum The kids were particularly fascinated with the part of the museum that described the significant role Philadelphia had played in early trading. Interactive and kid-friendly, this is a great place to learn local history! The Boat Shop At the back of the museum is the shop where woodworkers are hard at work creating real boats from real plans that are hundreds of years old! There is a viewing balcony and the workers are happy to answer questions kids have about the process. The Ships By far the most exciting part of this excursion will be the time spent on the boats. It is a self-guided tour, so take your time and don’t rush through! It is an amazing look into a piece of history. Note the little things-- iron kettles, the tiny telegraph operator’s room, etc.

GIFT SHOP: Not too bad! I have a resident “pirate” in my family, so we scored some pirate-y things. They have unique items as well some that make nice gifts! EATING: Nothing here at the museum (gift shop has minor snacks and water) but if you bring a snack or picnic lunch, there are lots of concrete “benches” out by the river that make for a nice view while you eat! BEWARE: Traffic. This museum is all the way down by the river, making it a long haul out of there at rush hour. It is right by an entrance to I-95 though, so if your hotel is accessible from that, you should be ok. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Ask at the front desk for a free coloring book if your kids are interested! Also, if you visit on a weekend, there are volunteer present-day military on hand to answer questions about the ships-- a real bonus if your kids are curious!

Independence Seaport Museum ~ Penn's Landing on the Delaware River 211 S. Columbus Blvd & Walnut Street. Philadelphia, PA, 19106 OPEN: Daily, 10-5. WEB: CALL: 215.413.8655

(Map #5)

OVERVIEW: The Franklin Institute contains three floors of hands-on exhibits of every kind of science imaginable – from biology to outer space, from trains to Newton’s laws of motion, from sports to the science behind the miracle of flight. The Institute was founded in 1824 as “The Franklin Institute of the State of

The Franklin Institute
Admission: $16.50 adults, $12.50 kids


Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts” – as a tribute to Benjamin Franklin and to “advance the usefulness of his inventions.” Today, 189 year s later, the Franklin Institute is as in-demand as ever – a fantastic organization that offers so much to the public, especially children.

The Franklin Institute is one of Philly’s best attractions. When you arrive and buy your tickets, be sure to ask when the live science and planetarium shows are. These are both exciting and kids love them! This place is huge (a full city block and 3 stories high) so here is a list of the kid-approved, mustsee exhibits within the museum: Giant Heart (2nd fl.) Franklin’s Air Show (2nd fl.) Sir Isaac’s Loft (3rd fl.) Live Science Show (main lobby) Planetarium Show (1st fl.) You will not be disappointed by anything this museum has to offer, but if you run out of time and miss any of these exhibits, you will have missed out on the best the FI has to offer. Start here, then cover what you can of what’s left without making your kids feel like they’re being dragged about!

PARKING: Street parking on N. 20th St. (along the west side of the building) is $2/hr., with a 3 hr. max. (Which you can extend by simply putting more change in the meter.) The garage (south side of the bldg) is $15 for 1-5 hrs and $20 for 5-10 hrs. GIFT SHOP: Worth popping in; lots of cool science toys. The dried “astronaut’s” ice cream is amazingly delish and a relatively inexpensive “souvenir.” EATING: FI has decent (typically overpriced) museum food... or bring a picnic lunch and you can stash the cooler till lunch for $5. BEWARE: The one-way streets around the museum and adjacent parkway can be tricky. Map your route ahead of time. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Check out one of the two theaters offering unique movies (from “Space Junk” to “Marmots!” throughout the day.

Franklin Institute: 222 North 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103 OPEN: Daily, 9:30-5 WEB: CALL: 215.448.1200

(Map #1)

Please Touch Museum
Admission: $15/person Parking: $8/car



The Please Touch children’s museum is found in historic Fairmount Park, due east of center city Philadelphia. Founded in 1976, it is now one of the top children’s museums in the nation. Aimed at children up to age seven, this museum is chock full of things that cater to a child’s delight. The museum

resides at Memorial Hall and contains 126,000 sq. ft. of space. Attractions like a 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm, and a large fully restored wooden carousel as well as hands-on exhibits like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The SuperMarket and Kids Construct make this one of Philly’s perennial kid favorites.

Upstairs: River Adventures located to the right of the main lobby. Take advantage of the rubber aprons for keeping littles dry! Art Room located to the left of the main lobby, behind the car and space exhibits.

GIFT SHOP: Lots of quality/educational kids toys and games plus a whole wall of smaller less-expensive items. EATING: Surprisingly, this museum’s fare is relatively inexpensive and bonus: they have kid-friendly healthy options! BEWARE: The museum is outside the city so traveling during non rush-hour times is best. The museum is not near any other attractions. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Go outside when you’re done for a walk around beautiful Fairmount Park!

Downstairs: Super Market. Kids love shopping and staffing this miniature grocery store that has everything a regular store has, just on a smaller scale! Kids Construct. Kids adore being part of the construction team and helping to build something “big”!

Please Touch Museum: 4231 Avenue of the Republic Philadelphia, PA 19131 OPEN: Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 11-5. WEB: CALL: 215.581.3181

(Map #3)

The Philadelphia Zoo
Admission: $20 adults, $18 kids (ages 2-18) OVERVIEW: One of Philly’s premier family-friendly attractions, the Zoo not only offers views of exotic animals but visitors can also take a ride in the giant Zooballoon, pet domestic animals in the petting


zoo, and climb like a monkey in the kids’ play-fort activity area. The Zoo is a fun and exciting place to take your kids for a morning or afternoon excursion!

The Zoo truly has so much to offer. What “not to miss” really depends on what your child/ children most wants to see! When you get tickets, ask about the seal feeding times and the “Ask A Keeper” sessions that are held daily throughout the zoo. These are highly informative and enjoyable and the kids learn so much by asking questions of the keepers who know the animals best! Also be sure to ask if the Zooballoon is flying, and if so, what times its flights are. The zoo offers everything from the traditional lions, tigers, and zebras to bald eagles and polar bears.

PARKING: Several lots surround the zoo, and parking is $15. Note: For my family of 5, zoo tickets plus parking added up to more than the cost of a yearly membership (which includes free parking) so if there is a chance you may visit again within the year, it is worth it to buy the membership! GIFT SHOP: ...try gift shops plural! Scattered throughout the zoo, in my opinion these are dangerous: overpriced stuffed animals and t-shirts is the name of the game! (Get a sno-cone instead; the kids are just as happy!) EATING: Normal fare for a Zoo...overpriced and mass-produced. But keep your eyes out for the zoo’s “Healthy Eating” shack as you exit down the hill from the big cat area! BEWARE: School groups can turn the Zoo into chaos. Be prepared to leave an exhibit and return after the mob has gone by! IF YOU HAVE TIME: One word: Zooballoon!

Philadelphia Zoo: 3400 Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104 OPEN: Mar.-Oct.: 9:30-5; Nov.-Feb. 9:30-4. WEB: CALL: 215.243.1100

(Map #2)


Smith Playground
Free! (Suggested Donation $5/family)


(with enough burlap bags to go around!) Smith is a kids wonderland. From modern merry-go-rounds to climbing structures to the indoor reading room and basement ride-on toy room, your kids will love it here!

Smith is a 24,000 sq. foot mansion that is just for kids! Built in 1899, this is one place that has always been kid-centric. Later, the 6-acre outdoor play area was added, and the 40-foot wooden slide

If the weather is nice, definitely head to the big wooden slide. The outdoor play arena is so extensive that you may never venture indoors! If inclement weather is your lot, don’t

PARKING: Free parking (what?!) GIFT SHOP: Not here! EATING: Snacks are allowed, and bottled water is sold at the entrance to the outdoor play area for $1 a bottle. BEWARE: Sometimes school trips can inundate this park (as with any great kid-friendly Philly location!) but the park is spacious enough that it was never an actual problem. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Go down the 40-foot slide as a family, in a row all together holding hands! Hands down my kids’ favorite way to go, we slid down a half dozen consecutive times this way!

despair. Smith’s play house is equally fantastic! This is a mansion filled with books, toys, ride-on cars, building blocks and more! This is the perfect post-museum, pre-

dinner place to visit to allow your kids to burn some energy! Ten to fifteen minutes from the museum district, it is conveniently located and very rarely overly crowded.

Smith Playground ~ 3500 Reservoir Dr.. in East Fairmount Park. Philadelphia, PA OPEN: Indoors: 10-4 Outdoors: 10-6 WEB: CALL: (215) 763-8100

(Map #4)



The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Admission: Adults: $20. Kids 12-18: $14. Kids under 12: Free.

Philly’s greatest cultural offerings. With over 227,000 works of art in 200 galleries, this is a treasure trove of everything artistic! And if you have any Rocky fans, be sure to snap their pic with the statue out front. :)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is situated on a hill overlooking downtown Philadelphia. Notable for its famous architecture (as well as the infamous “Rocky” steps) this is one of

This museum is so enormous; it is important that you scope out your plan of attack before arrival. The museum offers family guides to several of the galleries (ask at the front desk!) which, although fantastic, are highly detailed. You will likely only get through one during your visit! Decide what era, continent or medium you or your children most want to see. The Knights in Armor, Japanese Tea Room, and European art wing were most popular with my gang, but of course this varies by child! Depending on your child’s age, be prepared to leave before you have seen everything you’d planned on. Kids can only be on “art museum behavior” for so many hours! :)

PARKING: The parking garage is located on the west side of the main Museum building, accessed either via Art Museum Drive or Waterworks Drive. Garage Parking: $12 first 4 hrs.; $2 each add’l hour. Or there is free street parking just across Kelly Drive on the west side of the building! GIFT SHOP: The museum store offers a gorgeous collection of art-themed gifts and souvenirs. Pricey but beautiful; it is worth at least walking by the windows to get a peek! EATING: On the lower floor the Museum offers a really nice cafe. (Naturally) pricey, but they do offer a fantastic selection of fresh, healthy snacks, sandwiches, soups and salads! BEWARE: Due to the enormity of the building and the vast amount of art on display, it is easy to lose focus. If there is anything you really want to see, see it first, then wander. IF YOU HAVE TIME: The admission tickets you purchase are good for a return trip on the following day (only.) If you enjoyed the experience, pop back over the next day to catch what you missed the day before!

Philadelphia Museum of Art ~ 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.  Philadelphia, PA 19130 OPEN: Tues.-Sun. 10-5 WEB: CALL: (215) 763-8100

(Map #6)


The Academy of Natural Sciences
Admission: Adults 13 & up: $15. Kids 3-12: $13

known for their much-loved, awe-inspiring life-sized replicas of dinosaur skeletons! Dedicated to all forms of natural science study, this museum is a must of all nature and animal lovers.

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences is a natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science. They are most well-

Dinosaur Hall! Home to a 42-foot replica of T-rex and 30 other dinosaurs, their eggs, footprints, and much more. Fascinating! Butterflies! This is a large, climate-

PARKING: Of all the Philly sites, parking here is the most complicated! Look first for street parking, and in the event there is none, circle a few nearby blocks as there are several parking garages in the area. The least expensive one is the open lot at 19th and Callowhill Streets (behind the Free Library, directly across the parkway from this museum): $8.50 for 2 hours or $14 for up to 12 hours. Saturdays are $6.50. GIFT SHOP: Amazing. Every science/ nature/animal loving kid’s dream come true! Look for the less-expensive items, they are there. :) EATING: Excellent museum fare! Healthy, fresh offerings and nothing fried. (Finally.) BEWARE: This museum takes more time than you might think! Even if your kids are into this stuff, you will be surprised at how much they love it. IF YOU HAVE TIME: Stop in the live animal center!

controlled tropical room for butterflies of all kinds. walking through this room is an experience like none other! Dioramas! There are 37 dioramas in the

museum, each featuring an amazingly life-like painting of the background, with the real animal incorporated into the scene. There is even one with the now-extinct passenger pigeon!

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia, PA 19103 OPEN: Weekdays: 10-4:30 Weekends: 10-5 WEB: CALL: (215) 299-1000

Energy Outlets!
Everyone knows kids can only last so long in a museum before they are about ready to explode with good old-fashioned pent-up kid energy! I am all for exposing kids to history and culture but at some point during every day, you gotta just let kids be kids and run around and blow off some steam. Below are two parks that are adjacent to the sites I have written about; hopefully, the kids “calm and well-behaved” quotient has been reached, you can pop over to one of these kid-friendly sites and let your kids (or yourself !) let loose a little.

FRANKLIN SQUARE: (Map # 8.) (within a few blocks’ walking distance of the historical district: The National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley and Liberty Bell,) at Race & 6th. Franklin Square has a 18 hole mini-golf, working carousel, SquareBurger snack shack and best of all, a giant shaded playground!

SISTER CITIES PARK (Map # 7.) (less than 2 blocks from the Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences. One mile from the Museum of Art.) Sister Cities park is a great place for kids to burn off energy-- they can even buy a ($7) boat kit to build and sail in the pond. Situated in the middle of a busy part of the city, in the warm months it is a children’s water-play park and in the off-months, a place to climb and explore.