Philadelphia with Kids

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

Historic Area

The National Constitution Center's interactive exhibits are way better than learning from a textbook. Nearby Franklin Square, however, is the perfect place to take a break from all the history. There’s a carousel, miniature-golf course, and an excellent burger stand that also serves up Cake Shakes (milk shakes 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 location in Fairmount Park’s 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 ever before. The nearby Philadelphia Zoo is another great spot, with a petting zoo, tree house, and “Big Cat Crossing,” a series of overhead passageways that allows lions, tigers, pumas, and other large cats to roam. 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 Miller's Twist 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 local charities). 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, Citizens Bank Park, home to Major League Baseball's Phillies, is one of the most kid-friendly major-league ball parks, with features like the Phanatic Phun Zone play area.

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