Visit Philadelphia with kids and they're guaranteed to have an exciting time, but not if you only take them to the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall in the Independence National Historical Park. Do that and you could have some long faces to deal with when the kids find out all the other amazing activities and fun things they've missed out on.
Philadelphia is a city that's invested a lot of time, effort, and dollars into making museums child-friendly places where they'll have so much fun, they won't even realize they're learning while playing. There are some incredible outdoor activities in Philadelphia too that will make you and them forget you're actually in the state of Pennsylvania's biggest city.
You, or the kids, can't clamber through tree canopies or whizz down slides if you have your hands full of bags. The majority of museums in Philadelphia don't have space to store large suitcases and don't allow you inside with them either. To prevent your baggage from being a day-out dampener, drop your belongings at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Philadelphia. They'll be secure in a luggage locker that's tagged and insured so you'll be worry-free while you go off to enjoy your family outing to the max.
The Franklin Institute
While the name, just like that of the Liberty Bell, on its own might not conjure squeals of excitement from the kids, once they're in The Franklin Institute that will all change in a flash.
The Franklin Institute on North 20th Street is a science and technology museum that will leave the young ones fascinated by the diverse exhibits that range from how clockwork machinery works to the technology used to create the special effects in the Harry Potter movies.
What the kids are bound to enjoy most will be discovering what flying like a bird is like by donning a huge pair of wings and standing in front of a massive fan, taking a virtual reality ride in a flight simulator, and getting to mount the magic broomsticks of the Potter world.
At Adventure Aquarium the kids will get a look at not just aquatic creatures that live in the sea, but some like hippos that inhabit lakes and rivers and be able to get close to one of the cutest birds ever, penguins.
One of the main attractions that will have the youngsters totally riveted to the glass is the incredible walk-through shark tunnel where there are several different types of sharks on the loose.
If that doesn't make their eyes boggle, some of the other fifteen thousand species on display will do, especially when they get to feel them in the touch tanks or feed the rays. The aquarium also has a KidsZone for ages six and under with fun things to do that will get them interested in marine life.
One Liberty Observation Deck
When you visit Philadelphia you can go from the depths of the ocean in the aquarium to the dizzying heights of the One Liberty Observation Deck. The glass-walled viewing deck is on the 57th floor of the One Liberty Place skyscraper on Market Street in downtown Philly and offers incredible panoramic views of the city that you can't see anywhere else.
The kids will love how seeing Philadelphia from so high up makes even some of the city's tallest buildings look like miniature small-scale models and you'll find out whether or not your child has a head for heights.
Battleship New Jersey
To give the kids a tour around the Battleship New Jersey you'll have to cross over the Delaware River, and the state border with New Jersey, via the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and head for Camden.
It's a short detour that's totally worth it especially if you have young boys in the family. They'll be completely awestruck by the nine-hundred-foot-long steel-plated ship that first set sail in 1942.
The best parts of the battleship tours are seeing how the guns are loaded, exploring the sailors' quarters, and sitting in the admiral's chair.
Please Touch Museum
The Please Touch Museum is one of the best museums in Philadelphia without a doubt and definitely one of the top things to do in Philadelphia with kids.
This specialist children's museum is housed in Memorial Hall on Avenue of the Republic and wows kids from the moment they walk through the doors.
The Please Touch Museum was created for children from seven years upwards and aims to spark ideas in curious minds with a wide array of innovative interactive exhibits spread over two floors.
As the youngsters make their way around the Please Touch Museum they'll be able to learn while playing on the interactive exhibits covering topics like food and family, money, inventions, and space. This museum is so much fun, you could well have trouble getting the kids to leave.
While a captive zoo environment might not be the best place for many of the animals, visit Philadelphia Zoo and you'll give the kids a chance to have a look at species from around the world they might not otherwise see.
One way to make your family visit to Philadelphia Zoo more informative is to get the young ones involved in the Nature Blazer Scavenger Hunt. Rather than being stunned by seeing big cats prowling through elevated mesh tunnels, they'll learn how to find their way around using a smart compass and be challenged to answer trivia questions on a phone app before they can move on to the next section.
When the kids are ready to monkey around, let them loose on the zoo's Wildworks Rope Course where they can swing through the trees or balance their way over rope bridges. If they're too young to be able to do that, take them for a ride on the zoo's Sky Rail instead.
Academy Of Natural Sciences
There's something about dinosaurs that intrigues young minds, so one must-do in Philadelphia with kids is the Academy Of Natural Sciences at Drexel University.
One of Philadelphia's world-class museums. the Academy Of Natural Sciences on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway houses a fantastic dinosaur hall. The hall contains life-size models and real skeletons of over thirty different species including a terrifying tyrannosaurus rex. More thrilling still is the green screen room where the kids can project themselves into a digital dinosaur world.
The academy isn’t just about dinosaurs. There are dioramas exhibiting wildlife from around the world, a stunningly beautiful butterfly garden, aquariums, interactive exhibit zones, and a petting zoo.
An arboretum might not be the first place that springs to mind when you're trying to decide what to do in Philadelphia with kids but skip going to the Morris Arboretum and as a family, you'll be missing out big time.
It doesn't matter what age your kids are, from toddlers in strollers to teenagers, as there are fun things that they can get involved in.
For the smallest in the family, the Arboretum Adventure is ideal. It's a short nature walk, suitable for short legs and strollers, following clues left by animals.
You'll have trouble keeping older kids out of the canopy-high Bird's Nest or the Squirrel Scramble in the Tree Adventure Park and you just might want to climb up there and keep them company too.
Legoland Discovery Center
No one's childhood was complete without at least one set of those colorful plastic bricks known as Lego. The Legoland Discovery Center is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia with kids as it's about a lot more than building bricks so be prepared for a big surprise.
At the Legoland Discovery Center, you and the kids can take a train ride through a virtual Lego world, let them loose in the ninja training center while you have a rest, sail the seven seas in a boat made of Lego in the Pirate Adventure Land or just chill out watching a Lego movie in the 4D cinema.
Treetop Quest Philly
If your older kids can't get enough of clambering over adventure courses then you won't want to miss taking them to Treetop Quest Philly in West Fairmount Park.
Once they've been equipped with a harness, gloves, and safety helmet, you won't catch sight of them again for another two and a half hours as they can go around the courses as many times as they like during that time frame.
At Treetop Quest they'll be zooming along zip lines and negotiating more than sixty aerial obstacles. Smaller children don't have to miss out either as there's a special course for four to six-year-olds that's age-related but will still challenge them.
Free Things To Do In Philadelphia With Kids
Constantly dishing out dollars for admission fees can put a serious strain on your vacation budget when you have a family to pay for. There are some amazing free things to do in Philadelphia that will take the weight of your wallet and leave you cash for spending on something else.
Here are a few of the best free things to do in Philadelphia with kids that will keep them happy and leave you with money in your pocket.
Franklin Square, in the Center City district, is a popular spot for families to head for both during the day and in the early evening.
The square is one of the city's historic sites and has been in constant use since the early 19th century. The square is within walking distance of the Independence Visitor Center, the Betsy Ross House, and the landmarks of the Historic Square Mile, so perfect for dropping by when you want a break from sightseeing.
In Franklin Square, you can chill by the fountain, take a ride on the Liberty Carousel and play a round on the Philly-themed mini-golf course. Thursday through to Sunday there's a spectacular light show at the fountain every thirty minutes from five in the afternoon until seven in the evening.
It's important to note that the entrance to Franklin Square is free as is the fountain light show. There are fees for the Philly-themed miniature golf course and the carousel.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
When you and your tribe are tired of pounding the sidewalks taking in one historic landmark after another, one of the most popular things to do in Philadelphia with kids is to head for Spruce Street Harbor Park.
The summertime park is right by the Delaware River and has one of the best urban beaches in the country. It will have the kids literally jumping for joy when they see it.
Take a stroll along the boardwalk, build sandcastles on the beach, go rollerskating in the Bluecross RiverRink or spoil the little ones with some rides at The Midway, one of Philadelphia's amusement parks.
There are thirteen storytelling benches in the city's historic district where you can take a seat and listen to a tale or two about historic Philadelphia.
To make it more interesting for the young ones, pick up a story flag from any of the benches and as you visit each one, they'll get a sticker to add to their collection. Collect thirteen stickers and they’ll be rewarded with a certificate plus a free ride on the Liberty Carousel in Franklin Square.
The one thing you won't be doing when you visit Philadelphia with the kids is having a boring time. There are so many child-oriented activities in this city that trying to fit them all in is practically impossible. No matter what age your kids are, whether they prefer indoor or outdoor activities, zoos, aquariums, battleships, or just can't stay away from dinosaurs, you'll find something to do that will create lasting memories of their visit to Philadelphia that they'll be talking about for a long time. It'll be a trip that will stick in your memory too and may well encourage you to visit again to experience even more of what Philadelphia offers.