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When you think of Philadelphia, you may think of historical things like the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, but there’s a lot more to this city than meets the eye. While many activities certainly have a Constitutional/Revolutionary theme, it doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had for all ages. Here are some fun, kid-friendly things to do in Philly!
You said what? Yes!! They actually said to touch it! This is a fun museum that invites children of all ages to explore. This museum is great for younger kids who love to touch! It has 2 floors of interactive exhibits that include themes like role-playing, decision-making, motor skills, STEAM, and literacy while doing things like exploring a child-size city and a Philadelphia neighborhood.
Kids love going to the zoo. It’s a science lesson and a day of fun all rolled into one. The Philadelphia Zoo has an impressive 1300 animals including many rare and endangered species and more than 500 plant species as well. It’s comprehensive resident flora and fauna are enough to keep parents and kids alike busy. What’s even cooler is that it was America’s first zoo. Being the pioneers they’ve always been, they also boast a one-of-a-kind animal trail system called Zoo360. It’s a series of trails with mesh enclosure that allow visitors to explore and view animals as they roam between habitats of animals with similar needs.
3. Things to Do in Philly: The Franklin Institute
Have kids who love science? If so, they’ll be excited to visit the Franklin Institute! Ben Franklin will become more than a name for your little ones (and bigger ones). They’ll see him come to life through exhibits that touch on his life and discoveries. In addition to exhibits about Franklin, there are plenty of things to see, such as interactive collections on gaming, virtual reality, and our planet. Don’t worry about running out of material to explore. The building takes up a city block!
The Harbor Park is a fabulous attraction for older kids and their parents. You’ll find about 50 tree-slung hammocks to relax in throughout the park. There are also arcades built into cargo containers for gamers and bars for adults! Don’t miss the floating gardens and net lounge. Hungry? There are plenty of restaurants and concession stands for all ages. The Spruce Street Harbor Park truly has something for everyone.
Looking for an all-season place to have fun? The Blue Cross RiverRink is the only place to roller skate in Philadelphia. During the winter, the rink transforms into an ice skating rink with a view. All year long, you can enjoy concessions, a wrap-around porch, mini golf, rides, and more. During the winter, don’t worry about being cold. Pop-up fire pits and warm beverages will do the trick. Do note entrance to the park is free, but concessions, mini golf, the rides on the midway, etc., come with their own separate fees.
Looking for a creative way to tell history? Once Upon a Nation features interactive storytelling and historical reenactment that kids of all ages can enjoy. They offer benches throughout Philadelphia’s historic district where you can sit and hear a story about Philly’s (and our nation’s) history. They also give out stamps that can be collected. When you have all 13, you get a free ride on the carousel in Franklin Square.
To make things easier, they’ve marked all of the benches with “Once Upon a Nation.” Days and hours vary throughout the season; unfortunately, this superb opportunity isn’t available during the winter months. They are all marked with a sign that says Once Upon a Nation. See their website for a comprehensive map of all locations. If you’re visiting during the winter season, refer to some of our other things to do in Philly.
7. Smith Playground
Built as a memorial to Sarah and Richard Smith’s son, Stanfield, this beautiful and unique playground offers kids a cool backdrop for unprompted play. The grounds have both a playground and a playhouse. The playhouse is a 16,000 sq ft space designed by James H. Windrim, a 19th Century architect and famous Philadelphia. It was created just to allow children to play. The playground is 6 ½ acres of varied terrain, including slopes, fields, and wooded areas. Wondering about the play equipment? A century-old slide is one of the many fun pieces you’ll find here. It is closed on Mondays and most holidays, so be sure to check the schedule. The park is free, but they do accept donations.
8. Unique Things to Do in Philly: Fairmount Works
Without water, where would our towns and cities be? Kids can learn about the process of providing clean drinking water for a city and the engineering behind it. The mission of the Fairmont Water Works is to educate the public about the urban watershed.
The Water Works is much more than it sounds like. It’s a Civil Engineering Landmark, a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark, and a National Historic Landmark. It opened in 1815 and has the honor of being the first urban water supply system. Though it’s no longer in use (and hasn’t been since 1909), it’s a superb place to learn about civil engineering and supplying water to a city and is considered a national treasure. Admission is free, and Fairmount Water Works is open to the public every Tuesday through Sunday.
Bugs, butterflies, dinosaurs, and dioramas, oh my! The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel focuses on the study of biological and natural sciences. Kids (and parents) will learn about animal life cycles, biology, conservation, and more. You won’t have a dull moment while you study insects, reptiles, and other animals as well as their habitats.
The Independence Seaport Museum is more than just another museum to walk through. There are ships to explore and kayaks to paddle. Plus, there are exhibits do change with time but you can expect to see subjects like pirates, WWII vessels, and other various historical and informational exhibits. You can also investigate forms of navigation such as sextants, maps, and compasses. You might want to visit the Seaport on a Saturday since they’re family days with a full list of activities and adventures to entertain families for the day.
Looking for more information about Philly and things to do in Philly? Check out the Visit Philadelphia website for a wealth of information.