Family Friendly Attractions in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a place full of fond memories for me, childhood and otherwise. As a homeschooled kid, I took numerous field trips with my family to the City of Brotherly Love; those were the times when I fell in love with history and heritage and all things Philly. Philadelphia is such a historical city (the old brick buildings are simply bewitching) filled with plenty of family friendly activities and attractions. There are too many fun and interesting things to do to accomplish in one day... I do believe that I will never grow tired of visiting Philadelphia because there's always something new to do!
The great thing about Philadelphia is that many of the sites are within walking distance of each other. For our tour of family friendly attractions, I'll take you from Penn's Landing to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell to Franklin Square. You can make a day trip taking your time walking between these great places. Of course, a kid-friendly guide to Philadelphia wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute, and the Please Touch Museum. So pack your kids in the car, put your walking shoes on, and let's explore one of America's most beloved cities.
I recommend parking down at Penn's Landing if you want to take a walking tour of Philadelphia. Of course, there are more parking opportunities closer to the Historic Park, but Penn's Landing is a must-see site in itself. So called because of one of William Penn's historic landings in 1682, Penn's Landing is the waterfront along the Delaware River, with New Jersey glaring from the other side. Families may enjoy renting some paddle boats or taking the ferry ride to the Jersey side of the river. If you are visiting in the summertime, catch one of the concerts given at the river-view Great Plaza.
An assortment of seaworthy craft peacefully line the dock at Penn's Landing. The Moshulu is actually a restaurant open for lunch and dinner. Admission to the Independence Seaport Museum includes a visit to the Becuna and the Olympia (adults:$12, children: $7, children under 3: free).
This Scottish-built tall ship is a little over a hundred years old. She has undergone several name changes, but was given her present name by President Wilson's wife Edith during World War I. The Moshulu has traveled the world under a multitude of tasks. In 1970, she was bought by an American company and converted into a restaurant. The Moshulu had made several film appearances, including "Rocky" and "The Godfather Part II".
The USS Becuna
This is a World War II-era submarine that served the country in the Pacific from 1944 to 1945. She is said to have taken down two Japanese tankers and received four battle stars. The Becuna was decommissioned in 1969 and enrolled as a National Historic Landmark (landmark, really?) in 1986.
The USS Olympia
This cruiser served in the Navy from 1895 to 1922, seeing action in the Spanish-American War and taking part in World War I and the Russian Civil War. The Olympia was used as the transport for the Unknown Soldier from World War I, crossing the Atlantic from France to D.C. She is the oldest steel warship still alive and floating.
This beautiful tall ship was built in Portugal in 1901, designed for the fishing industry. The Gazela was given an engine in 1938. She was bought by Americans around 1970 and is still fit for sailing, traveling the coast to attend sailing events.
Visit the NPS website
Independence National Historic Park
What's a trip to Philadelphia without a stop at the seat of our nation's independence? The Independence National Historic Park can't be missed. Here you can visit:
This is the very building in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. Tours are given everyday, but to get your free tickets, you must go to the nearby Visitors Center to pick them up (first come first serve basis).
The Liberty Bell
A symbol of freedom and of Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell will stir up your liberty-loving heart with its tarnished sides and its hearty crack down the middle.
When William Penn came to his chartered land of Pennsylvania, he designed the city of Philadelphia with five different squares which remain today as historical parks in the middle of this modernized city. As legend goes, Franklin Square is supposedly the spot where Ben Franklin flew his kite and key experiment in a lightning storm. Over the years, Franklin Square has grown into a pleasure haven for children. A recent addition is the snack stand that sells hamburgers, hot dogs, and (at least when I was there) freshly squeezed lemonade.
The Liberty Carousel
The park's main feature is the Liberty Carousel. A hundred years ago, Philadelphia was considered the world's leading manufacturer of carousels, and the animals on the Liberty Carousel reflect the historic style. Children age 2 and under are free to ride the carousel (accompanied by an adult). Tickets for children age 3 to 12 cost $2, and adult tickets cost $3.
Philly Mini Golf
This 18-hole miniature golf course is like a tour through a miniature Philadelphia. Putt your way around Chinatown, Elfreth's Alley, the Liberty Bell, the LOVE statue, Independence Hall, and more famous destinations.
At the center of Franklin Square sits the expansive fountain, giving the square a beauitiful focal point. It was built in 1838, but was remodeled with modern technology in 2006.
Kids will love exploring the large playground which was designed with different age groups in mind. Older children will enjoy the climbing wall features, while younger ones will like the playground built just to their size. A giant seesaw might even get the parents involved.
The Franklin Institute
Visit the Franklin Institute's Website
The Franklin Institute was one of my favorite places when I was a child. A stop here makes a fun science field trip. The Institute itself has existed since 1824 and has been housed in its present location since 1934. Permanent Exhibits include a walk-through exhibit of the human heart, a space center, an airplane exhibit with a flight simulator, an observatory, and the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Kids and parents alike will enjoy all the hands-on exhibits that prove to be both educational and entertaining. The Institute also includes an IMAX theater and a planetarium. A basic museum admission costs $15.50 for adults and $12 for children.
The Philadelphia Zoo
The zoo is always a great place for a family outing, but the Philadelphia Zoo is even more so. This was the first zoo ever created in the United States, opening in 1874. Besides the more than a thousand animals, the zoo also includes a carousel, a camel safari, hot-air balloon rides, a children's train, and swan-shaped paddle boats. General admission to the zoo is $18 for adults, $15 for children, and free for children under the age of 2.
- Philadelphia Zoo - Home
The Philadelphia Zoo, Americas first zoo, is a 42-acre Victorian garden that is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and endangered.
The Please Touch Museum
Museums are great places to get education, but most have strict rules about touching the exhibits, making them difficult places to take young children. Not so with the Please Touch Museum. This attraction is entirely kid-friendly, encouraging touching and interaction with all the exhibits. Children can ride a gorgeous hundred-year-old carousel, explore a real version of the fictional Wonderland, and learn about science and more through the many touchable exhibits. A huge keyboard like the one in the movie Big is available for any aspiring foot pianists. Daily book readings can be enjoyed in the Story Castle, and the Playhouse Theater puts on performances most days of the week. The museum also contains a Please Taste Cafe on the first floor. Admission for both children and adults is $15 a ticket. Children under the age of one are free.
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