When planning a family vacation or exploring the city if you are lucky enough to live in any of our apartments in Philadelphia, the rich historical sites immediately beckon. While those attractions are incredible and on every must-see list, there are also numerous places to take the kids to burn off some energy and even learn a thing or two in a family-friendly environment. Here are the top 10 places families must be sure to visit in Philadelphia.
1. You can touch this. Museums with kids — especially young ones — can be nerve-wracking for parents. How many times have parents said ‘don’t touch!!’ in a museum? That phrase, however, is banned at the Please Touch Museum, located at 4231 Avenue of the Republic. The Please Touch Museum features numerous exhibits that cater directly to exploring a child’s curiosity. Some of the most talked about exhibits include the 100-year old carousel (rides are $3 for one ride, or $5 for unlimited rides during your visit), Alice’s Wonderland, and River Adventures. The museum encourages creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking … but don’t tell the kids they’ll actually be learning while they play. Please Touch Museum is open seven days a week until 5 p.m. (opening times vary).
2. Super Science. Families with an interest in science must head to The Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street, for an incredible discovery experience. Each exhibit is billed as kid-friendly, but kids of all ages will definitely enjoy learning about fascinating subjects. Visitors can learn about the human body by walking through an enormous replica of a heart, construct a space rover at Space Command, and learn about the history of aeronautics at The Franklin Air Show. Take a break with an IMAX® movie and also take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Fels Planetarium, also housed within The Franklin Institute. The Franklin Institute is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3. Zoodelphia. For a truly unique animal experience, head to America’s first zoo: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue. Over 1,000 animals call the Philadelphia Zoo home, and the zoo boasts an extraordinary Zoo360 exhibit, which allows its primates and big cats to roam the zoo via a series of trails. This unique experience gives visitors the opportunity to be on the lookout for various animals in different zones, plus gives the animals the freedom to explore. The Philadelphia Zoo is open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (March through October) or 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (November through February).
4. Open Sesame. Experience sunny days at the Sesame Place theme park, 100 Sesame Road in nearby Langhorne. This is the only theme park in the country dedicated to the characters of Sesame Street, and children of all ages will find fun and thrills there. Aside from rides and a water park suitable for all ages, Sesame Place is the first theme park in the world to be recognized as a Certified Autism Center, providing parents with detailed information on which attractions would be best suited for children with autism.
5. Tree-mendous! The newest kid-friendly attraction in Philadelphia is TreeTop Quest Philly, 51 Chamounix Drive. Twenty zip line obstacle courses, geared toward children ages four and older, provides numerous challenges over the course of the 2.5 hour experience. Open May through November, this is a must-visit place for kids who need to burn some serious energy.
6. Barnes storming. Art culture is integral to building creativity and curiosity in children. That’s why the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, initiated numerous programs to bring their vast collection of Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses, and Picassos — and many more beautiful works of art — to children. Stroller tours and toddler times are available, which encourages families with kids of all ages to view the magnificent art collection.
7. Sea to shining Seaport. One of the coolest museums in Philadelphia is the Independence Seaport Museum, 211 South Columbus Boulevard. Featuring a War Cruiser from the Spanish-American War and a World War II Submarine, families are encouraged to explore the big boats and think about what it was like to live and work on them. Other exhibits include a full-size reconstruction of a schooner dating to 1707, which kids are encouraged to play on. The museum also offers the opportunity for kayak and rowboat rentals so families can actually take a turn at being the captain of their own boat as they tour the basin. Saturdays are the best family days, as the museum offers programs specifically geared to children. The Independence Seaport Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
8. Free parking. Let your little ones (ages 10 and under) roam without the fear of being knocked over by the bigger kids at Smith Memorial Playground, 3500 Reservoir Drive. The playground has historical value as one of the oldest playgrounds in the country, complete with a giant wooden slide dating back to 1899. There’s even an area strictly for children ages five and under. Best of all, the park is free. The playground is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., October through March. The Playhouse (area for children five and under) is open year-round.
9. Ring the Bell. No visit to Philadelphia is complete without heading to Independence National Historical Park, 1 North 6th Street. Home to the Liberty Bell Center, Congress Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, Independence Hall, and more, there is a lot to see and learn about the beginnings of our country. Bask in the place where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created!
10. Heavens to Betsy. Learn about Colonial life with a visit to The Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street. Walk through Betsy’s upholstery shop and learn about the true story behind this American legend. There’s even an interactive history mystery to solve and visitors have the chance to “meet” Betsy herself. The Betsy Ross House is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days, but check their website for seasonal closings.