Beyond must-see historical icons like Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia offers a ton of attractions geared toward those of every age.
There’s Sesame Place (a Sesame Street-based theme park for the little ones), Smith Memorial Playground (featuring a 44-foot-long wooden slide), the Philadelphia Zoo (offering an endless abundance of fun, animal-centric learning opportunities) and so much more.
No matter where you venture, the destinations below are designed to offer an interactive and engaging experience for the entire family.
Read on for the top things to do with kids in the Philadelphia area.
Housed in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall, this major kids’ attraction includes two full floors of interactive exhibit zones, plus a fully restored century-old carousel. Kids can play and pretend amid Alice’s Wonderland, River Adventures and other hands-on fun. On First Wednesdays, the museum charges just $2 admission from 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic
America’s first zoo and a foremost conservation organization is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. The zoo has a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration train system, Zoo360, enabling primates and big cats to move above and across the main visitor pathway. Exhibits include Big Cat Falls, the McNeil Avian Center, the PECO Primate Reserve and KidZooU, an interactive wildlife academy of dynamic displays, rare breeds and indoor-outdoor learning.
Where: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue
One of William Penn’s five original squares is a modern, fun park, with a Philly-themed miniature golf course, restored marble fountain, large playground and a carousel. When hunger sets in, seasonal SquareBurger delivers with burgers, fries and Cake Shakes.
Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
Two million gallons of water and 8,500 animals can’t help but impress. The aquarium has a Shark Bridge to cross; hippos and penguins to meet (and smell); stingrays to feed; and horseshoe crabs, starfish and sharks to touch. The big wow exhibit: a 760,000-gallon tank of sea turtles, stingrays, schooling fish and sharks, including the only Great Hammerhead on exhibit in the country.
Where: Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, Camden, NJ
The region’s most popular science museum has a full city block of kid-friendly exhibitions, such as the walk-through Giant Heart, Space Command, SportsZone, Sir Isaac’s Loft, Amazing Machine, Electricity, Train Factory, The Franklin Air Show, Changing Earth and the outdoor, rooftop Joel N. Bloom Observatory. The museum’s 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion features 8,500-square-foot exhibit Your Brain, along with rotating special exhibitions. The Franklin Institute also houses the Tuttleman IMAX® Theater and the Fels Planetarium.
Where: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street
Lauded as one of the best urban beaches in America, Spruce Street Harbor Park is an outdoor oasis on the Delaware River waterfront. With tree-slung hammocks, cargo container arcades and concessions, misting palm trees and planted barges (with bars for Mom and Dad), the park has become a summertime must-do.
Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Blue Cross RiverRink brings ice skating in the winter (Winterfest) and roller skating in the summer (Summerfest) to the Delaware River waterfront alongside special pop-up fire pits, indoor games, cozy couches and hot drinks in winter. Summer brings air conditioning, rocking chairs on a wrap-around porch, cool drinks and The Midway with carnival rides (including a 60-foot Ferris wheel!) and games for the whole family.
Where: 101 S. Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19106
Big Bird, Elmo, Abby, Julia and more stars of Sesame Street come and play at the only theme park in the nation based entirely on the long-running children’s television show. A water park (open Memorial Day through Labor Day), rides, interactive activities, parades, fireworks and shows add to the fun.
Where: Sesame Place, 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne
New to West Fairmount Park in summer 2018, this 20-zip-line obstacle attraction is designed for ages 4 and up. Open May through November, the self-guided, two-and-a-half-hour course includes 70 obstacles—swings, jumps, tightropes—of varying degrees of difficulty. The “chick’pea” course caters to ages 4 to 6.
Where: TreeTop Quest Philly, 51 Chamounix Drive
This 33,000-square-foot plastic-brick heaven features a LEGO-themed ride, 4D cinema and 10 play areas, including a DUPLO Park for the toddler set. An onsite cafe and store ensure everybody walks away satisfied.
Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Center, 500 West Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting
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One of the oldest playgrounds in America is best known for the circa 1899 Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide and offers children (ages 10 and under) a free, safe place to play, jump, swing, climb and learn about nature. For children five and under, Tot Lot features more than 20 pieces of age-appropriate play equipment, and at the 16,000-square-foot Playhouse, kids run the show.
Where: Smith Memorial Playground, 3500 Reservoir Drive
Opened in 1924, the 16-acre Elmwood Park Zoo showcases an animal collection of more than 100 species indigenous to the Americas, as well as African fruit bats and Asian red pandas. Many of the animals — the American bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, timber wolf and American alligator — represent significant wildlife conservation success stories. The zoo also includes a spacious playground featuring interactive animal sculptures. In the summer months, guests can feed the world’s tallest mammal at the Independence Blue Cross Giraffe Exhibit.
Where: Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown
Kids can play their way through seven explore-able exhibits, many of which offer insight into Bucks County’s history. Play area themes include: The Hospital, Town Square, Factory Works, Big Dig, Bucks County Country, Airways to Waterways and Hot Air Balloon Ride.
Where: The Bucks County Children's Museum, 500 Union Square Drive, New Hope
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The four-acre Camden Children’s Garden is filled with horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play. April through December, visitors can head outdoors to explore the Butterfly, CityScapes, Dinosaur and Storybook Gardens. The garden also includes three indoor attractions: the popular Butterfly House, the tropical Plaza de Aibonito and Ben Franklin’s Workshop, as well as more outdoor attractions in a Tree House, Garden Carousel, Arrow River Train and Spring Butterfly Ride.
Where: Camden Children's Garden, 3 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ
Spread throughout the Historic District, 13 benches beckon with free, five-minute tales of Philadelphia’s history — even some forgotten secrets — told by professional storytellers. Children who collect star stamps at all of the benches earn a free carousel ride at Franklin Square.
Where: Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches, N. 6th Street & Race Street
The Americas’ oldest natural history museum keeps it fresh with Dinosaur Hall, complete with a fossil preparation lab and dig site; live butterflies; a children’s interactive nature center with live animals; historic dioramas and visiting exhibits.
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
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 attractions that make up America’s most historic square mile. Memorial Day through Labor Day, the park offers ranger-led walking tours, which have in recent years included Dr. Franklin’s Philadelphia, History Beneath Our Feet and Underground Railroad.
Where: Independence National Historical Park, 1 N. 6th Street
City Hall’s fantastic front yard has tree-lined fountains (splashing encouraged) in warm weather and an ice skating rink in winter. Year-round movies, festivals, a cozy cafe and great access to public transit have revived the very center of Center City.
Where: Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street
Spread out across 92 acres, the Victorian-styled Morris Arboretum holds plenty to explore and enjoy for adults and kids alike. Pick up the Tree Adventure Passport and go on a “Conservation Quest” throughout the gardens, or create your own walking tour. Youngsters love the larger-than-life A Bird’s Nest exhibition, the canopy walk leading to a climbable rope net high up in the trees and above the arboretum’s pond.
Where: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life, work and legend from the upholsterer herself. An audio tour caters to 4- to-8-year-olds, offering lessons in Colonial life and the opportunity to solve “history mysteries.”
Where: The Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street
Water babies and their fams visit this warm-day paradise for its pebble-bottom wading pool sheltered by a landscaped hill, along with spouting fountains. The park boasts a lifeguard, cafe and a kiosk selling plastic boats, swim diapers, sunscreen and other essentials.
Where: Sister Cities Park, 210 N. 18th Street
On the edge of the Delaware River, little landlubbers can explore the Spanish-American War Cruiser Olympia and World War II Submarine Becuna docked outside the museum. Indoors, kids climb through a full-size reconstruction of the 1707 schooner Diligence. Families can also rent kayaks or museum-built rowboats to explore the calm waters of the basin. Every Saturday is Seafarin’ Saturday, featuring activities designed especially for children.
Where: Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard
At 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 house-curated exhibitions. Special family-friendly programs take place throughout the year on civic holidays, including Constitution Day, Presidents Day, Veterans’ Day, Tax Day, Earth Day and more.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Sunday is fun day for children at the crown jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, when tours, drawing and crafts cater to kids. The museum offers themed guides for kids, family programming throughout the year, pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of every month and every Wednesday after 5 p.m. In summer, a program called Art Splash activates a main exhibit for younger audiences. Admission is always free for kids 12 and under.
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Family programming — stroller tours, toddler times, free first Sundays — give kids access to this most spectacular collection of 181 Renoirs; 69 Cézannes; 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos; works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat and Modigliani; French metalwork; regional decorative arts; African sculpture and Native American textiles; jewelry; ceramics and more.
Where: Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Now in its 41st year, this groundbreaking museum tells stories of notable early African-Americans through the core video exhibit, Audacious Freedom. Children’s Corner, an interactive installment for ages 3 through 8, lets kids explore the daily lives of youth in Philadelphia from 1776-1876. Other exhibits examine contemporary issues through art and historic artifacts. Weekend family workshops and special events take place throughout the year.
Where: African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Independence Mall’s modern, four-floor tribute to Jewish-American history and traditions showcases the lives of history-makers (Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, Jonas Salk) and industry giants (Estée Lauder, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg), with each floor featuring interactive exhibits — a covered wagon, Purim masks, an antique assembly line — aimed at young visitors.
Where: National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Ml East
Offering free admission to children under age 5 and discounts to older kids, the Historic District’s newest attraction delves into the citizens’ conflict that created the United States of America. All ages can join the Sons of Liberty, board the deck of a privateer ship, play soldier throughout and visit interactive Revolution Place, a discovery center made especially for ages 5 to 12 that recreates 18th-century Old City via a military encampment, a tavern, a home and a meetinghouse.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Future emergency responders get a head start at this restored 1902 firehouse, home to some of the nation’s earliest firefighting equipment, including hand, steam and motor fire engines and an interactive kiosk that teaches kids about 9-1-1 services. Visitors can try on fire coats and boots, and learn about fire prevention.
Where: Fireman's Hall Museum, 147 N. 2nd Street
Nautically and militarily inclined kids can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship for tours, rides in the 4D flight simulator, a look inside the onboard helicopter and sleepovers in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program.
Where: Battleship New Jersey, 100 Clinton Street, Camden, NJ
Bucks County’s all-in-one destination treats kids to Giggleberry Fair, with a restored 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company Grand Carousel; Giggleberry Mountain, the area’s largest indoor obstacle course; Giggles Discovers, an interactive exploration environment; and the Game Room.
Where: Peddler's Village, 2400 Street Road, New Hope
Just south of the city, this 300-acre family farm is dedicated to agriculture, education and entertainment. Families can explore the Garden Center, pick their own seasonal fruit, hop on a hayride and buy freshly baked pies to take home.
Where: Linvilla Orchards, 137 Knowlton Road, Media
Pierre S. du Pont’s famed horticultural destination inspires kids with an imaginative, child-size space filled with hands-on water features, handcrafted sculptures and secret stairways — all part of the Indoor Children’s Garden in the Conservatory. Outside, a Children’s Corner offers a Flower Fountain for splashing and plenty of seating for the adults. In October, Longwood makes room for a Pumpkin Playground.
Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
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More than 35 helicopters, autogiros and convertiplanes—eight of which are fully accessible—fill this suburban destination. Kids’ learning and toddler areas give children under 6 the chance to play with puzzles, games and other toys. Several times a year, guests of all ages have a chance to ride in a helicopter.
Where: American Helicopter Museum & Education Center, 1220 American Boulevard, West Chester
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.
A guide to the most visited sites in the area