For most kids, fall means homework. But for kids in Philly, the new season also means fun. From September through November, families in Philadelphia and the Countryside® can revel in epic exhibitions (Jurassic World, Longwood Gardens’ Nightscapes), essential art displays (Creative Africa, Get the Picture!) and exciting outdoor adventures (Dragon Boat Races, Philly Free Streets).
To maximize the fall fun, families can book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, featuring free hotel parking, at visitphilly.com. Here are autumn’s must-dos for the school-age-and-under set:
Exhibitions That Excite:
- Creative Africa – This lauded five-part, all-ages showcase of African art and design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Ruth and the Raymond G. Perelman Building enthralls kids into winter. There are dozens of pieces from the Penn Museum’s 400-year-old Africa collection, two displays of vibrant textiles—one from Western and Central Africa, another from Dutch design house Vlisco. African photography and architecture exhibits close September 25, 2016; the rest stay open through January 2017. (Sundays are fun days in the Main Building, with family tours, art carts and monthly festivals.) 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
- Get the Picture! – Superstars of contemporary children’s book illustration grace this exhibition, inspiring oohs and aahs from avid young readers. Drawings, paintings and dioramas by Sophie Blackall, Mo Willems, Raúl Colón, Melissa Sweet and Marla Frazee are often humorous, sometimes cartoonish, frequently ethereal—and always engaging. The assemblage is a natural fit for the Wyeth-rich Brandywine River Museum of Art, home to N.C. Wyeth’s Treasure Island paintings. Through October 9, 2016. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, (610) 388-2700, brandywine.org
- Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience – It’s worth missing bedtime to treat toddlers on up to Longwood Gardens’ epic after-dark, indoor-outdoor show. Philadelphia-based Klip Collective utterly transforms Pierre S. du Pont’s elegant grounds, topiaries, conservatory and more into a psychedelic adventure space via wild projections and modern music. Through October 29, 2016. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
- Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution – This retrospective of a preeminent concert promoter touches down in the real School of Rock’s hometown. Scrapbooks, Fillmore concert posters, Pete Townshend’s guitar, Joan Baez’s dress—the dream bedroom decor of teens worldwide—are part of a 400-piece collection that traces Graham’s transformation from war orphan to hippie to rock legend. September 16, 2016-January 16, 2017. National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
- i found god in myself – Original works of art inspired by Ntozake Shange’s Broadway choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf offer windows into emotive, positive messages that, 40 years later, still resonate—especially the play’s inspiration, teen girls of color. Commissioned pieces by Renée Cox, Danny Simmons, Alexandria Smith and Pamela Council respond to Shange’s iconic work of prose. Works by Deborah Willis and Carrie Mae Williams deal with the poet’s salient, often mature, themes. October 1, 2016-January 2, 2017. African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
- Spooky Mini Golf and more – Historic Philadelphia’s Franklin Square adds fog, lights and haunted music to its 18-hole mini golf course Friday through Sunday evenings (6 p.m.-9 p.m.) October 1-31. Things get even more fall-like October 22, when the family-friendly park sets up its annual afternoon Pumpkin Patch, letting kids choose, decorate and take home a free pumpkin (recommended for children 10 and under, one pumpkin per child). The next Saturday, October 29, the whole venue turns into a giant trick-or-treat trail, offering little kids a safe spot wear costumes and collect goodies. October 1-31, 2016. 6th & Race Streets, historicphiladelphia.org
- Robot Revolution – ’Bots that play soccer, 21 or tic-tac-toe, humanoids who’ve learned cooperation and a furry electronic “pet” named PARO are among the futuristic easons to visit the Franklin Institute’s new fall exhibit. October 8, 2016-April 2, 2017. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
- The Adventures of MR. POTATO HEAD – Hasbro’s most popular spud arrives at the Please Touch Museum® to teach kids ages three through 10 about outer space, jungle safaris, archaeological digs and ocean life—through hands-on play, naturally. Also not to miss: The museum’s 40th birthday bash, featuring live music, theater performances, cake and 40% off admission on October 2. October 8, 2016-January 16, 2017. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
- Jurassic World – The Franklin Institute offers up yet another blockbuster North American premiere when its visitors explore the wild wonders of Isla Nublar in a massive exhibition based on one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever science fiction films. This behind-the-scenes glimpse into the magic of moviemaking and dinosaur animation stars whopping versions of big, loud, in-your-face animatronic Brachiosaurus, T. Rex, Stegosaurus and more beasts sure to inspire squeals of delight amid amateur paleontologists and future Spielbergs. November 23, 2016-September 3, 2017. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
- River Regattas – Core Creek Park sets the family-filled scene for the second annual Bucks County Dragon Boat Race. The banks of the Schuylkill River unite spectators to the beat of the drum for the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival. Both races offer rare opportunities to cheer on paddlers partaking in an ancient Chinese tradition. The Head of the Schuylkill Regatta offers the year’s last major hurrah for contestants and onlookers of all ages, from juniors to grandmas, newbies to Olympians, in Philadelphia’s popular crew contest. All three races are free, with fair-like games and food. Bucks County, September 22, 2016, 262 Toll Gate Road, Langhorne, buckscountydragonboatfestival.com; Philadelphia International, October 2, 2016, Kelly Drive, (610) 642-2333, philadragonboatfestival.com; Head of the Schuylkill, October 29-30, 2016, Kelly Drive, (215) 280-0483, hosr.org
- Philly Free Streets – Inspired by the car-less security zone during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia a year ago, the city will stop traffic for seven miles on one Saturday morning in September. Wandering kids of all ages can join in block parties, witness impromptu performances and revel in the chance to wheel and walk along tranquil city streets. September 24, 2016. Front & South Streets to West Fairmount Park. phillyfreestreets.com
- Harry Potter Festival – Historic Chestnut Hill feels even older than its age when it turns into Hogsmeade during a weekend of Potterhead fun. This year’s fest promises to close off Germantown Avenue to car traffic, allowing visitors who arrive via SEPTA’s Hogwarts Express free rein to enjoy a parade, Dumbledore’s Powers Maze, Chestnut Hill College’s Quidditch Tournament and loads of selfies with character lookalikes. October 21-22, 2016. 8000-9601 Germantown Avenue, chestnuthillpa.com
- Wild Wizarding Weekend – Pottermania continues when costumed kids receive discounted admission to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Activities include magic wand crafting and meet-and-greets with real, live shape-shifters and Hedwig, inspirations for Harry’s friends and foes. November 25-27, 2016. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.