For parents or grandparents looking for a great place to travel with children, Philadelphia is one of the best family-friendly tourist destinations in the country! Philadelphia offers a variety of different things to do: for kids who like science, there are two excellent science museums. Philadelphia is also home to America’s first zoo. You can even play mini-golf or ride the carousel in Franklin Square, conveniently located just a short walk from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. If your family loves the outdoors, check out this listing of the best outdoor spaces in Philly. Best of all, since Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, your family trip will be educational as well as fun!
If you are planning a visit to Philadelphia and would like additional information, let us plan your trip for you! Our local experts will create a fully customized travel itinerary based on your family’s unique interests. Get your itinerary here!
If you find yourself famished from all the fun activities, check out our list of the top family-friendly eateries in Philadelphia. Without further ado, here’s our list of the top family-friendly attractions in Philadelphia:
- Academy of Natural Sciences
Photo credit: ansp.org
Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest natural science museum in the New World dedicated to research and education in biodiversity and environmental science. Dig for fossils and interact with scientists in the fossil lab, get up-close with life-like dinosaurs, meet live animals and explore a tropical butterfly garden. Check the schedule for special exhibits.
Photo credit: Matt Stanley, http://www.delawarewaterfront.com
Located at Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River, Blue Cross RiverRink is an all-season family destination. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, you can enjoy Summerfest with Philadelphia’s only outdoor roller skating rink, amusement park rides, mini-golf, a play area, arcade and boardwalk-style games. If you get hungry, there are great options for food and beverages for children as well as adults. In the winter months, the roller skating rink becomes an ice skating rink, with skate rentals, a ski chalet-style lodge and fire pits to keep warm.
Photo credit: Matt Stanley, http://www.delawarewaterfront.com
Just a short walk away along the riverfront, is Spruce Street Harbor Park, an urban beach area, open seasonally. Relax in a hammock or grab a table and chairs and watch as the boats flow down the Delaware River. Hung from trees, the thousands of LED colored lights turn the park magical. When you get hungry or thirsty, there are numerous trucks offering options for food and beverages. If you have time, visit the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, directly across the river from Penn’s Landing. There is easy access during the summer using the RiverLink ferry.
4. Comcast CenterPhoto credit: http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/comcast-center/
Located in the main lobby of the Comcast Center, the Comcast Experience video wall is the largest four millimeter LED screen in the world. Combining creativity with technology, the images offer 10 million pixels of clarity. The displays change regularly and include spectacular nature footage, urban landscapes as well as seasonal programming.
5. Franklin InstitutePhoto credit: fi.edu
This is one of the world’s top science and technology museums! Founded in 1824, the Franklin Institute has been in its current home on scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway since 1934. The museum was established to educate visitors through interactive exhibits and showcase the science involved in every aspect of life, from sports to space and beyond. There are eleven permanent galleries including The Giant Heart, a favorite of local children since 1954, Sports Zone, Your Brain, and Electricity. The onsite Imax theater has domed seating with over 50 speakers. Check the schedule for special exhibits.
Photo credit: historicphiladelphia.org
One of William Penn’s original five squares, Franklin Square is a perfect spot for families to relax and play after touring the nearby historic sites. Take a spin on the carousel or try out your putting skills at the Philly-themed mini golf course. Then treat everyone to a burger, hot dog or fries at Square Burger. End your meal with their signature cake shake, made with TastyKake butterscotch krimpets, a Philadelphia favorite.
7. Kimmel CenterPhoto credit: kimmelcenter.org
Home of the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, the Kimmel Center also offers free concerts, classes, festivals and other cultural events throughout the year. Children will especially enjoy the hands-on demonstrations.
8. Old City/Independence National Historic ParkPhoto credit: nps.gov
Old City is our nation’s birthplace and the historic heart of Philadelphia. Walk the cobblestone streets where the Independence Visitor Center, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the Museum of the American Revolution, Christ Church and numerous other cultural and historic institutions are located. Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in the country and one of the houses serves as a museum. In locations throughout the historic district, storytellers recount lively tales at the seasonal Once Upon a Nation story benches.
Photo credit: blog.phillytour.com
For first-time visitors, a guided sightseeing tour provides the best overview of the city’s highlights. Philadelphia Trolley Work/Big Bus Company has been serving tourists for over 30 years. Take a walking tour with Franklin Footsteps, a fully-guided tour on a double-decker bus where you can hop-on and hop-off at over 20 stops, or step into a carriage and let the horses lead the way around the historic area while your guide narrates the sights. From April-October, tours to the Amish country are available Monday-Saturday and require reservations a day in advance.
10. Philadelphia Zoo
Photo credit: philadelphiazoo.com
Established in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo is open year-round and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. It is one of the premier zoos in the world for breeding animals found difficult to breed in captivity. Highlights include Zoo 360, a network of see-through mesh trails where you can watch the animals roam above zoo grounds. And the Children’s Zoo has been replaced by KidZooU, an engaging experience for children and families promoting conservation through interactive learning activities.
One of the top children’s museums in the country, Please Touch Museum offers children interactive learning through play. Located in Fairmount Park’s National Historic Landmark Memorial Hall, the museum covers more than 60,000 square feet. Check out the schedule for daily programming and special exhibits. The museum is best for children 7 and under.
12. Sisters Cities ParkPhoto credit: centercityphiladelphia.org
Located on the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, midway between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sister Cities Park is a green oasis in the heart of the cultural district. Enjoy the panoramic views of the city skyscrapers, historic cathedrals and museums. Children enjoy running through the Sister Cities fountain, a unique representation of the world with Philadelphia as its center. The fountain’s 10 spouts mark the 10 sister cities of Philadelphia. When hunger strikes, there is on site café, offering food and beverages.
Photo credit: usmint.gov
Located one block from the Liberty Bell, this is one of four US mints that produce coins (tens of millions are made in Philadelphia each day!) Self-guided tours are offered Monday-Friday. Weekend tours may be available in late spring and summer as well as certain holidays.
If you are planning a visit to Philadelphia and would like additional information, let us plan your trip for you! Our local experts will create a fully customized travel itinerary based on your family’s unique interests. Visit wheninroam.com for more information!
This article was written by Fran Nachman, a Philadelphia ROAM concierge and hotel concierge. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Area Concierge Association as President, Treasurer and Philanthropic Director, and is currently the Director of Business & Social Events. In 2012 Fran was awarded Where Magazine’s Key to the City. Having traveled the world, she loves coming back to her hometown where there are always new restaurants, bars and venues to discover and share with visitors.