Top Ten Family Friendly Attractions
Where kids can learn, play and explore
Families love to visit Philadelphia and we love hosting them. Here are ten of our favorite family-friendly museums, parks and attractions that will keep the entire family engaged and happy throughout your entire trip.
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1. Philadelphia Zoo
America’s first zoo and one of the region’s foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. The zoo offers a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration train system—called Zoo360—that enables primates and big cats to move above and across the main visitor pathway. Award-winning exhibits include First Niagara Big Cat Falls, the McNeil Avian Center, the PECO Primate Reserve and the newest exhibit KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center.
2. Franklin Square
One of William Penn’s original five squares, Franklin Square is a modern and fun family park, with a Philly-themed miniature golf course, a restored marble fountain, playgrounds and an old-fashioned carousel featuring some famous Philly horses. When hunger strikes, SquareBurger delivers with burgers, fries and shakes from Starr Restaurants.
3. Independence National Historical Park
The Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Bishop White House are just some of the buildings that make up Independence National Historical Park in Historic Philadelphia. In the summer months, the park offers ranger-led walking tours, including Dr. Franklin’s Philadelphia, History Beneath Our Feet and Underground Railroad.
Bonus: Liberty 360 at the PECO Theater
Liberty 360 3D Show surrounds visitors as they take an immersive, 360° patriotic journey, led by none other than Benjamin Franklin, to discover our nation’s symbols of freedom—from the bald eagle to the Statue of Liberty. Inside the Historic Philadelphia Center’s customized, wraparound PECO Theater, the 15-minute indoor show uses the most modern technology of its kind to spotlight the most treasured American value—liberty. The Historic Philadelphia Center is where kids can participate in Colonial For a Day, a program that outfits them in traditional children’s clothing from 18th-century Philadelphia. Girls get dresses and colorful sashes, while boys wear shirts and haversacks for the day.
4. Betsy Ross House
America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop at the Betsy Ross House Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself. Summer brings a weeklong, annual Flag Fest celebration with free events every day. Also, every morning at 10 a.m. in the summer, kids can participate in a free flag-raising event with Betsy and a Colonial friend.
5. The National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center is America’s first and only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. Highlights include interactive exhibits; the powerful, multimedia Freedom Rising performance; Signers’ Hall, filled with life-sized statues of the signers of the U.S. Constitution; and nationally touring exhibitions. Special family-friendly programs take place throughout the year that celebrate civic holidays like Presidents’ Day, Veterans’ Day, Tax Day, Earth Day and more.
6. Please Touch Museum®
Housed in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall, the kid-centric Please Touch Museum® includes two full floors of interactive exhibit zones, plus a fully restored 100-year-old carousel. Youngsters can play and pretend amid Alice’s Wonderland, River Adventures and other hands-on fun. And on Target First Wednesdays, the museum stay opens 4-7 p.m. with $2 admission.
Bonus: Smith: The Kids’ Play Place in the Park
Featuring the iconic Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse —one of the oldest playgrounds in America dating back to 1899—offers children (ages 10 and under) a free, safe place to play, jump, swing and climb. For children five and under, Straz Land features more than 20 pieces of age-appropriate play equipment, and at the 16,000-square-foot Playhouse, kids run the show.
7. The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute, the region’s premier science museum, features a full city block of kid-friendly exhibitions, such as the walk-through Giant Heart, Space Command, Sports Challenge, Electricity and Changing Earth. In June 2014, the museum opened the doors to its 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. The centerpiece of the dazzling three-story addition is the 8,500-square-foot exhibit Your Brain, featuring an unprecedented collection of interactive, high-tech exhibitions. The expansion also features a rain garden and a larger, climate-controlled traveling exhibition space for limited engagements. The Franklin also houses the Tuttleman IMAX Theater, the Fels Planetarium and a 3-D theater.
8. The Independence Seaport Museum
After checking out the boat-building shop at the Independence Seaport Museum, kids can explore the Spanish-American War Cruiser Olympia and the World War II Submarine Becuna. Kids (and their parents) can also rent rowboats, built in the museum’s boat shop, or kayaks to explore the calm waters of the basin and get a close-up view of the historic ships. Every Saturday, kids can participate in Seafarin’ Saturdays with activities designed especially for them.
9. Adventure Aquarium
Featuring more than two million gallons of water and 8,500 animals, guests can count on hands-on activities, animals, exhibits and unforgettable moments at Adventure Aquarium, located on the Camden Waterfront. Visitors can walk through a suspended Shark Tunnel; explore KidZone, a virtual playground under the sea; and get nose-to-nose with underwater hippos in the all-new Hippo Haven experience. The 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm is home to sea turtles, stingrays, schooling fish and sharks, including the only great hammerhead on exhibit in the country. Adventurous types can roll up their sleeves to pet and feed stingrays, or touch shrimp, lobster, starfish, crabs and sharks.
Bonus: Camden Children’s Garden
Consisting of the Butterfly, Railroad, CityScapes, Picnic, Fitness, Dinosaur and Storybook Gardens, the four-acre Camden Children’s Garden provides horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play. The garden also includes three indoor attractions: the popular Philadelphia Eagles Four Seasons Butterfly House, the tropical exhibit Plaza de Aibonito and Ben Franklin’s Secret Workshop, as well as more outdoor attractions such as a Tree House, Garden Carousel, Arrow River Train and the Spring Butterfly Ride.
10. Sesame Place
Sesame Place® is the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street®. Located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, Sesame Place is where parents and children can share in the spirit of imagination together through whirling rides, water slides, colorful shows and furry friends. New in 2014, Cookie’s Monster Land is a colorful and imaginative new land features five exciting rides, a three-story net climb and a soft play area for toddlers.