Whether you know Philadelphia as the home of the Liberty Bell, the place with the best cheese steaks, or the city too rough and tumble for the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Philly is home to many lively activities that are engaging for both younger and older kids. And it isn’t that far in terms of proximity to New York City–it’s about a two hour drive, give or take a few minutes. While there are some obvious historical attractions that families absolutely must visit when spending time in Philly, like Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, and the National Constitution Center, we wanted to highlight some of the city’s underrated family attractions for families looking to have a more unique experience in the city of brotherly love.
Every kid loves to cool off, splash around, and have boatloads of fun at a water park! Camelbeach Water Park, located in the famous Pocono Mountains, is open year-round, and includes slides, water attractions, and 37 rides! It also doubles as a resort, so you’re more than welcome to spend the night or a weekend. Access to all rides is granted with the purchase of an all-day ticket, and you even have the option to purchase cabana service. Lounge in the wave pool, float on the blue Nile river, or dive into the Olympic Pool, but either way–do make it a priority to visit this oasis of water.
If landmark museums are your thing, then make it top priority to explore the wonderful riches of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It first began as a tribute to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, making it full of history. The museum has many renown artists on display, featuring Degas, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, and many other respected names. World class art can be found in all four corners of this timeless museum, and that definitely makes it the place to take a bunch of awesome pics. Also available are family programs, which are absolutely free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. By the way: this is also the home of the famous steps Sylvester Stallone ran up, in the “Rocky” films.
Designed especially for ages 7 and under, this museum is truly one-of-a-kind. Here, the power of learning by playing is embraced, which helps children to learn in a more dynamic way. It was founded by a Montessori educator in 1976, the museum since then has grown in popularity, attendance, and exhibits. Take a fun spin on the carousel, enjoy over 25,000 toys on display, journey through a rainbow tunnel, play, learn, and discover–the options are almost endless! Best of all is that your child’s brain and body gets exercise all at once. On the first Wednesday night of each month, from 4-7 pm, admission is only $2!
As long as the weather permits, head down to Franklin Square. The square is one of the five original squares laid out by William Penn in his original blueprint for Philadelphia, and houses a carousel, mini-golf course, gorgeous water fountain, and the yummy SquareBurger. You cannot visit Philadelphia without making the rounds through this place. Children, ages 2 and under, can ride the carousel and play mini-golf for free.
This should be everyone’s favorite– it’s like a mashup of great food, people, and cool locations. The Night Market in Philadelphia brings pop-up food fun to several neighborhoods on different nights. It opens on May 11 in Burholme and runs throughout the summer in Spruce Hill and Roxborough, as well as into October in the Italian Market. So whether you’re all about tacos, or can’t live without pasta, from 6-10pm–this is where you should spend an evening. And of course it’s family friendly! Exact dates and location vary, see website for details.
Experience the rich diversity of African-American culture at this museum. The exhibits date from pre-colonial times to current day journeys and exist for the benefit of anyone who wishes to gain more cultural knowledge. Check out the permanent display, “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia from 1776-1876” to learn the story of those who helped build Philadelphia and what their lives were like during that period. The museum welcomes children and adults of all ages and is located in the Historic District.
Visit America’s oldest theater (dating back to 1809)! This national landmark is also the official state theater, and it has the most season ticket holders of any theater in the world. Originally it began as a circus, but evolved into a theater known for its live productions and has had the privilege of housing some famous names, such as The Marx brothers, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford. The theater is open year-round, and tickets are available for purchase online. Shows and dates vary, see website for details.