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This is a comprehensive list of things to do in Philadelphia with kids.
While the City of Brotherly Love is best known for its historical sites, baseball, and Philly cheesesteaks, there’s so much more to the city – especially when visiting with kids. When it comes to things to do in Philadelphia with kids, there are limitless possibilities.
Whether you’ll be there for a day, a weekend, or a week, and no matter the ages, Philly with kids is a vacation you – and they – will never forget.
- Things to Do in Philadelphia with Kids
- Best Family Attractions in Philadelphia
- Historical Things to Do In Philadelphia with Kids
- The Best Museums for Kids in Philadelphia
- Outdoor Activities for Kids in Philadelphia
- And one more thing you can’t skip…
Things to Do in Philadelphia with Kids
Best Family Attractions in Philadelphia
If you only have a day or two in the city, these are the first things to add to your Philadelphia with kids itinerary.
No trip to Philadelphia with kids is complete without a trip to America’s First Zoo. Highlights of the 42-acre zoo include Big Cat Falls with species from around the world; African Plains with giraffes, hippos, and zebras; and Bear Country with the world’s largest bear species. For those who learn best with hands-on experiences, don’t miss the KidZooU section.
The Franklin Institute is one of the best science museums for kids in the country. Popular exhibits include Your Brain, where kids can explore the 18-foot neural climb or fire a model neuron; Space Command, where they can touch a meteorite or design a rover, and SportsZone Exhibit where kids can race their favorite athletes in a virtual competition or ride a surf simulator for the first time. The latest exhibit to open in February 2022 is Harry Potter: The Exhibition. No matter the interests or age of your child, there is at least one exhibit to fascinate them at The Franklin Institute.
Though it’s technically located in New Jersey, the Adventure Aquarium is a must when visiting the Philadelphia area. With over 15,500 animals – not just fish and marine life but hippos, penguins, and more – it’s easy to see why it’s called the best aquarium in the northeast. Those fascinated with sharks will especially love this aquarium, between the Touch a Shark exhibit to the Shark Bridge, a suspension bridge that will lead you just inches over 20+ sharks!
Legoland Discovery Center in Philadelphia is a hit not only with the kids but also the adults who grew up playing with the original building blocks. Test your building skills on the Earthquake Table or Lego Racers: Build and Test, then head to the Arctic Adventure or Ninjago Training Camp. Little builders will fit right in at the Duplo Village and everyone can enjoy the Imagination Express!
If your kids are growing up with Elmo and Big Bird, a stop by Sesame Place in Philadelphia is a must. That said, even if they don’t know all of the characters by name, this theme park and waterpark combo is still worth a stop. The rides include your typical theme park rides, all named and designed with Sesame Street names, like Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, Big Birds Tour Bus, Flying Cookie Jars, and more. During the summer you can stop by the waterpark for more fun as well or catch a show and parade.
Historical Things to Do In Philadelphia with Kids
If you’re looking for free things to do in Philadelphia, look no further than many of the historical sites [besides, we’re all about heritage travel]. Many of the most popular sites, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, are completely free to visit and those that do charge are surprisingly cheap.
The Liberty Bell is one of the most recognized historical sites in Philadelphia – especially for kids. While the Liberty Bell Center itself likely won’t hold their attention long, it’s worth stopping by to see the bell and snap a photo.
If you’re really into history, check out this family-friendly walking history tour!
For a little more interactive history, head to the National Constitution Center, which often hosts family activities throughout the year. Exhibits range from the 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Right To Vote to American Treasures: Documenting the Nation’s Founding which walks visitors through various drafts of the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to their regular audio tours, the Betsy Ross House offers a tour specifically for youngsters between the ages of 4 and 8. As they listen to the audio recording, they help to solve “mysteries”, while learning about the famous flag maker, the origin of the American flag, and life in the 18th century.
Want the “cheat code” to see all these things in Philadelphia with kids? A Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour!
Tours of Independence Hall pass directly through the Assembly Room, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both signed.
The Best Museums for Kids in Philadelphia
There are many, many museums in Philadelphia and while many of them may be boring for kids, there are a few that are perfect for [and even created for] kids.
If your child is in the stage where they need to touch everything, this is the museum for them! [And even if they’re a little older, they’ll still have a BLAST.] At the Please Touch Museum, kids are encouraged to get hands-on with exhibits ranging from Rocket Room to Nature’s Pond. There’s even a Storybook cabin and a carousel to ride on. This museum is 2 floors of fun and creativity for kids of all ages.
At Independence Seaport Museum, you can sail into history and learn about everything from the importance of the Delaware River to tales of fighting pirates. You can even climb aboard the Cruiser Olympia, the oldest remaining steel ship.
With the story of early African Americans told through video and many contemporary exhibits, the African American Museum in Philadelphia is an important stop for the whole family. The Children’s Corner is built for kids 3 to 8, while other exhibits are suitable for kids of all ages. Check the calendar before visiting as they often host special family activities throughout the year.
Located just outside of Philly in West Chester, Pennsylvania the American Helicopter Museum is just the place to go if your kids have expressed interest in aircraft. At certain points throughout the year, helicopter rides are available. At all other times, there are over 8 helicopters to climb on and explore, plus kid and toddler areas.
Another museum located just outside of Philly, the Bucks County Children’s Museum is the perfect place for kids to learn and explore. Exhibits include The Hospital, where kids can drive an ambulance and watch their heartbeat; Town Square where they can learn about money, weights, and measures; and Big Dig where kids search for hidden artifacts and fossils.
Outdoor Activities for Kids in Philadelphia
For low-cost things to do in Philadelphia with kids, look outdoors. During the spring and summer, the city is bursting with outdoor activities, parks, and splash pads – most of which come without a price tag.
Though today it’s a popular hang-out for families, Franklin Square is one of the original squares of Philadelphia outlined by William Penn, located in Center City. If you’re looking for fun, low-cost activities for kids in Philadelphia, Franklin Square should be at the top of your list. In addition to the playground and fountain show, they also have a mini-golf course and carousel, plus the famous SquareBurger for grabbing lunch on the go.
At the top of the list for summer activities for kids in Philadelphia, Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River waterfront is at the top of the list. This is the perfect place to chill out and enjoy the sand, relax in a hammock, and even enjoy lunch.
For some wholesome fun on the farm, head to Linvilla Orchards just outside the city. Activities vary based on the season. During the summer and fall, you can pick your own apples, berries, peaches, and more while the winter months are perfect for indoor mini-golf. There’s also fishing at Orchard Lake, a wooden playground, and a barnyard with sheep, goats, horses, and more. This is one of the more fun things to do in Philadelphia with kids!
Another summertime favorite, Sister Cities Park is the perfect place to pass the afternoon with toddlers and older kids alike. The wading pool is ideal for those who love splashing around but may not be quite ready for a bigger pool and the Discovery Garden has a tunnel log for some hands-on exploring. There are also many family events held here, especially throughout the summer.
Smaller and less crowded than the Philadephia Zoo but still showcasing over 100 species of animals, the Elwood Park Zoo is worth the trip to Norristown – especially if you aren’t hitting up the Philadelphia Zoo. If the kids still have some extra energy at the end, they can burn it off in the playground with the interactive animal sculptures.
For older, more adventurous kids, this aerial park of obstacles and zip lines may be the highlight of their trip. The Treetop Quest course includes 20 ziplines, swings, jumps, and tightropes. Age requirements do apply – participants must be 7 years old for the beginner course, though they do have a smaller course for those 4 to 6 years old.
And one more thing you can’t skip…
Get A Philly Cheesesteak
No matter your reason for being in Philadelphia, it’s all but a rule that at least one meal must be a Philly cheesesteak. There is much debate over where to get the best one, from local favorite Jim’s Steaks to the popular John’s Pork Roast to any number of small restaurants, but it’s hard to make a wrong choice! So when in Philly, do yourself and the kids a favor and enjoy a Philly cheesesteak for lunch.