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Top Things to Do with Kids in Philadelphia

The best spots for kids and families to learn, play, explore and more

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Please Touch Museum Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
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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.

01

Please Touch Museum

Where kids ages 1 – 7 are boss

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Housed in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall, Please Touch Museum 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: 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131

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02

Philadelphia Zoo

America's first zoo!

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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 KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center.

Where: 3400 W. Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19104

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03

Franklin Square

Carousel rides, mini-golf, burgers and more

— Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

One of William Penn’s original five squares, Franklin Square is a modern and fun family park, with a Philly-themed miniature golf course, restored marble fountain, two playgrounds and an old-fashioned carousel featuring some famous Philly horses. When hunger strikes, SquareBurger (open seasonally) delivers with burgers, fries and Cake Shakes.

Where: 200 N. 6th Street Philadelphia, PA 19103

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04

Adventure Aquarium

The ocean’s secrets revealed at Camden’s riverfront aquarium

People looking at sharks at Adventure Aquarium People looking at sharks at Adventure Aquarium
— Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

With two million gallons of water and 8,500 animals, Adventure Aquarium on the Camden Waterfront guarantees a day’s worth of activities, animals, exhibits—and unforgettable moments. Visitors can walk over a Shark Bridge, explore a virtual playground under the sea aimed at ages six and under and meet a pair of underwater hippos in Hippo Haven. 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 sleeves to pet and feed stingrays or touch horseshoe crabs, starfish and sharks.

Where: 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103

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05

The Franklin Institute

Where science comes to life

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Phliladelphia

The region’s premier science museum features 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 the 8,500-square-foot exhibit Your Brain, along with 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.

Where: 222 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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06

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Hammock-lounging, game-playing and more

Spruce Street Harbor Park Spruce Street Harbor Park
— Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC

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: 301 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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07

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and Winterfest

Outdoor skating, year-round

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest aerial view Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest aerial view
— Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC

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 and air conditioning, rocking chairs on a wrap-around porch and cool drinks in summer. New for 2017, The Midway offered carnival rides (including a 60-foot Ferris wheel!) and games for the whole family.

Where: 101 S. Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19106

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08

Sesame Place

Nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning television show, Sesame Street®

Sesame Street mascot and kids at Sesame Place Sesame Street mascot and kids at Sesame Place
— Photo courtesy of Sesame Place

Big Bird, Elmo, Abby, Julia and the more stars of Sesame Street come out to play at the only theme park in the nation dedicated to the PBS icon. A water park (open in summer), rides, interactive activities, parades, fireworks and shows add to the fun.

Where: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA 19047

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09

Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches

History that speaks to you

Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches outside Carpenters' Hall Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches outside Carpenters' Hall
Carpenters' Hall — Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Spread throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District — including just outside the new Museum of the American Revolution — 13 benches beckon with free, five-minute tales of Philadelphia’s history and even some forgotten secrets, told by professional storytellers. Story benches are marked with Once Upon a Nation signs. Children who collect star stamps at all 13 benches earn a free carousel ride at Franklin Square.

Where: 6th and Race streets, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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10

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

One of the world’s foremost natural history museums

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Highlights of the oldest natural history museum in the Americas include Dinosaur Hall, with a fossil preparation lab and hands-on fossil dig site; live butterflies in a tropical garden; a children’s nature center with live animals; and historic dioramas with animals from around the world. Changing exhibits are mounted throughout the year as well.

Where: 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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11

Independence National Historical Park

A ton of interactive history to explore

— Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia

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. In the summer months, 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: 1 N. Independence Mall W., Philadelphia, PA 19106

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12

Morris Arboretum

Where to walk out on a limb or perch upon a bird's nest

The Tree Adventure at Morris Arboretum The Tree Adventure at Morris Arboretum
— Photo courtesy Morris Arboretum

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 bird’s nest exhibition, the canopy walk leading to a climbable rope net high up in the trees and the arboretum’s pond named.

Where: 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118

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13

Benjamin Franklin Museum

A museum dedicated to the life and legacy of America’s favorite Renaissance man

Benjamin Franklin Museum Benjamin Franklin Museum
— Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Dedicated to celebrating the legacy of one of America’s most storied forefathers, the Benjamin Franklin Museum features artifacts, computer animations and interactive displays that explore Franklin’s life and character and bring kids’ history books to life. The exhibitions are geared toward visitors of all ages, with displays that are educational, fun and definitely hands-on.

Where: 317 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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14

The Betsy Ross House

The birthplace of the American flag

Visitors gathered inside the Betsy Ross House with flag Visitors gathered inside the Betsy Ross House with flag
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.

America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself and Phillis, an African-American colonial who explains and shows what life was like for a freed black woman in the 18th century. An audio tour caters to four-to-eight-year-olds, offering lessons in Colonial life and the opportunity to solve “history mysteries.”

Where: 239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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15

Sister Cities Park

Summertime splishing and splashing in spouting fountains

— Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Water babies and their families visit this summertime Center City paradise for its pebble-bottom wading pool sheltered by a landscaped hill, along with randomly spouting fountains. A lifeguard, cafe and a kiosk that sells plastic boats, swim diapers, sunscreen and other essentials, keep families coming back.

Where: 210 N. 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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16

Independence Seaport Museum

An interactive museum exploring Philadelphia’s maritime heritage

— Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC

At the Independence Seaport Museum on the edge of the Delaware River, little landlubbers can check out a boat-building shop and explore the Spanish-American War Cruiser Olympia and the World War II Submarine Becuna docked outside. Indoors, kids climb through a new, full-size reconstruction of the 1707 schooner Diligence, created onsite using traditional boat-building techniques. Families can also rent kayaks or museum-built rowboats to explore the calm waters of the basin and get a close-up view of the historic ships. Every Saturday brings Seafarin’ Saturdays, featuring activities designed especially for children.

Where: 211 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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17

One Liberty Observation Deck

A top notch spot for sky-high views of Philadelphia and the surrounding region

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

For the photo-taking fans in the family, head to One Liberty Observation Deck for the 57-floors-above-the-ground picture-perfect skyline view it offers at the tallest standing attraction in Philadelphia. Visitors can also find interactive experiences and installations, including a towering Benjamin Franklin sculpture, Philadelphia-focused listening stations and six multi-lingual touch screens that allow visitors to zoom in on a single point hundreds of feet below and/or miles away.

Where: 1650 Market Street, 57th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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18

National Constitution Center

The world’s only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution

The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall
— Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia

As America’s first and only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, the National Constitution Center 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 on civic holidays, including Presidents’ Day, Veterans’ Day, Tax Day, Earth Day and more.

Where: 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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19

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Third largest art museum in the country with family-oriented Sundays

— Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

Sunday is indeed fun day for families at the crown jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, for kid-friendly tours, and drawing and craft activities. The museum also offers themed written guides for kids every day and special family programming throughout the year. Pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of every month and every Wednesday after 5 p.m. provides opportunities for families to enjoy the museum at a lesser cost. Admission is always free for kids 12 and under.

Where: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130

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20

The African American Museum

Storytelling and children-based perspectives of African-American history

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

This groundbreaking museum takes a fresh and bold look at the stories of African-Americans and their role in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Children’s Corner, an interactive installment for ages three through eight, 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: 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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21

National Museum of American Jewish History

Interpreting the American Jewish experience through hands-on means

— Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

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) through exhibitions young visitors understand. The second Sunday of each month means kid-friendly story time, crafting and holiday celebrations, always free with admission.

Where: 101 S. Independence Mall E., Philadelphia, PA 19106

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22

Museum of the American Revolution

An expansive collection of art and artifacts from the nation’s Revolutionary Period

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Offering free admission to children under age five and discounts to older kids, the Historic District’s newest attraction, delving into the citizens’ conflict that created the United States of America, invites all ages to join the Sons of Liberty, board the deck of a privateer ship and play soldier throughout.

Where: 101 S. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

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23

Smith Memorial Playground

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: 3500 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121

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24

Elmwood Park Zoo

A chance to feed a giraffe and view over 100 indigenous species

Boy feeding a giraffe at Elmwood Park Zoo Boy feeding a giraffe at Elmwood Park Zoo
— Photo courtesy Elmwood Park Zoo

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 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. And, in the summer months, guests can feed the world’s tallest mammal at the Independence Blue Cross Giraffe Exhibit.

Where: 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, PA 19401

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25

Battleship New Jersey

For the young sailors at heart

Battleship New Jersey Battleship New Jersey
— Photo courtesy Battleship New Jersey

Nautically and militarily inclined kids visit the nation’s most decorated battleship for tours, rides in the 4-D flight simulator, a look inside the onboard helicopter and sleepovers in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program.

Where: 100 Clinton Street, Camden, NJ 08103

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26

Camden Children's Garden

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: 3 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103

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27

Linvilla Orchards

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: 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, PA 19063

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28

Longwood Gardens

A horticultural experience that keeps kids in mind

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Pierre S. Du Pont’s famed horticultural destination lets child visitors hide in a Bamboo Maze, scamper into the Secret Room and dodge the Drooling Dragon, 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: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

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29

Tyler Arboretum

Nature exploration via painting, puzzle-solving and pancakes

Communing with nature is second nature at Tyler Arboretum, one of the region’s oldest and largest public gardens. Young adventurers here enjoy solving the puzzle of the seven-ringed Meadow Maze labyrinth and learning about nature at Discovery Stations, and history-lovers can tour several sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Family programming throughout the year includes game nights, painting with nature, a pancake breakfast and a maple sugaring celebration.

Where: 515 Painter Road, Media, PA 19063

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Please Touch Museum
Philadelphia Zoo
Franklin Square
Adventure Aquarium
The Franklin Institute
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and Winterfest
Sesame Place
Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Independence National Historical Park
Morris Arboretum
Benjamin Franklin Museum
The Betsy Ross House
Sister Cities Park
Independence Seaport Museum
One Liberty Observation Deck
National Constitution Center
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The African American Museum
National Museum of American Jewish History
Museum of the American Revolution
Smith Memorial Playground
Elmwood Park Zoo
Battleship New Jersey
Camden Children's Garden
Linvilla Orchards
Longwood Gardens
Tyler Arboretum
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