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Philadelphia with Kids

Philadelphia has fantastic activities and sights for tots. Best of all, these stops appeal to adults as well.

Historic Area

The Betsy Ross House has an audio tour and scavenger hunt designed for kids, and the underground museum at Franklin Court is fun to explore. The National Constitution Center's interactive exhibits are way better than learning from a history book. Your kids might enjoy being "sworn in" as a Supreme Court Justice. If you prefer a sightseeing tour, the amphibious Duck Tour, which leaves opposite the Liberty Bell, does the historic-Philadelphia circuit. Nearby Franklin Square is the perfect place to take a break from all the learning. There's a carousel, miniature-golf course, and an excellent burger stand that also serves up Cake Shakes (milkshakes made with Butterscotch Krimpet Tastykakes). Kids love the 3-D Lights of Liberty show; for something spookier, check out one of the Ghost Tours offered around the Historic Area.

Fairmount Park

The Please Touch Museum is essentially a giant playground for kids. In its new location in majestic Memorial Hall—one of the few remnants from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition—the museum is bigger (38,000 square feet of exhibits) and better than before. Kids are encouraged to dress up for tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter; to drive a SEPTA bus; and to play a tune on the giant floor-piano that was featured in the Tom Hanks movie Big. Nearby Philadelphia Zoo is another great spot, with a petting zoo, tree house, and a ride in the Zooballoon (a hot-air balloon). The sprawling indoor–outdoor Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse nearby has a giant wooden slide and a mansion-like playhouse.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway

At the Franklin Institute, kids can't resist walking through the giant heart and seeing their hair stand up in the static-electricity exhibit. The nearby Academy of Natural Sciences has great, kid-friendly exhibits about dinosaurs and architectural digs. If you want to top off all the science adventures with a treat, stop in at the Four Seasons for a once-in-a-lifetime tea party.

Penn's Landing

At Penn's Landing kids can climb in the bunks used in steerage or hop in a scull and row along the Schuylkill at the Independence Seaport Museum. Next take the RiverLink Ferry across the river to the Camden Waterfront to explore the Adventure Aquarium. The Shark Realm, an enormous tank filled with sharks, stingrays, and sawfish, is the central attraction here. The Camden Children's Garden is an interactive horticultural garden with exhibits that allow you to taste, smell, and touch different elements.

Around Town

There are plenty of great snacks to pick up for days on-the-go at the Reading Terminal Market. Kids will like watching the workers at Fisher's Soft Pretzels wind the dough into pretzel shapes. They can also feed pennies to Philbert, the bronze pig at the market's center (the money goes to feed the hungry). For a sit-down meal option, the City Tavern is a great way into history, and it has a good kids' menu. If you're in the mood for a ball game, Citizen's Bank Park, home to the world-champion Phillies, is one of the most kid-friendly major-league ball parks. The Phanatic Fun Zone is a huge play area, and kids enjoy dollar dogs and sodas all game long.

Updated: 08-2013

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