Philadelphia Attractions for Families
Best known for its many historical sights and attractions, the historic city of Philadelphia is also packed with fun things to do for kids, so we’ve picked 10 must-do’s for your family vacation in Philadelphia. Once you’ve seen the musts like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, go beyond and discover the museums, parks, and places to eat that will keep the whole family happy!
Here are our must-see Philadelphia attractions that are perfect for a fun and cultural vacation you and your kids will love.
Independence National Historical Park
Philadelphia has organized all its major sites into one easy-to-navigate and visit area dubbed the Independence National Historical Park. This includes the famous cracked Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, and Congress Hall, as well as the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Bishop White House. Don’t miss the outdoor fun at the park too where park rangers offer tours about the environment, as well as the obvious history.
In addition to offering visitors a look at important sites from the nation’s past, Independence National Historical Park also provides a number of fun activities for children. Kids can explore the park’s scavenger hunt challenge or try their hand at crafting paper replicas of the Liberty Bell. Families can also take advantage of a variety of guided activities, such as educational tours and living history reenactments. Every activity encourages visitors to explore the park’s rich heritage while having a great time with their loved ones.
Families will find plenty of beauty throughout Independence National Historical Park. The park boasts numerous manicured landscape gardens and trails that are perfect for leisurely strolls or educational nature walks. Visitors can admire exotic plants and wildlife around every corner, and they can even take part in gardening activities if they choose. There’s truly something for everyone, making this park a fantastic destination for all ages.
A Philly Cheesesteak In Reading Terminal Market
You can’t take a trip to Philadelphia without sampling a Philly Cheese Steak: a roll stuffed with steak, onions, and plenty of cheese – it’s a real treat! Head to the kid-friendly Reading Terminal Market with its many stalls with all manner of interesting foods and don’t miss the Amish pies or the cornbread either – delicious!
In addition to the delectable food, families will find plenty of other fascinating things to do at Reading Terminal Market. With over eighty unique shops and services including clothing boutiques, bookstores, jewelry stores, and toy vendors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Kids will especially love perusing the sweet stands for sugary treats!
There are about 1300 animals at Philly’s brilliant zoo, many rare and endangered. The kids will love the very kid-friendly “travel and exploration” train, also known as Zoo360, which allows the monkeys and big cats to circulate above and over pathways! Don’t miss the First Niagara Big Cat Falls, the McNeil Avian Center, the PECO Primate Reserve, and the newest exhibit KidZooU Education Center.
In addition to checking out the various animals and exhibits, there are plenty of activities to keep your family entertained. From rides on the carousel and camel caravan to interactive wildlife encounters and Planet conservation stations, there’s something for everyone at the Philadelphia Zoo. You can even take part in unique nighttime experiences such as Sleepovers Under the Stars!
A cool family-friendly park and one of William Penn’s original squares, Franklin Square is the place to try out a game of Philly miniature golf, take a ride on the vintage-style carousel or enjoy the marble fountain. Family-friendly meals are also available at the very cool SquareBurger food truck!
From its Mini Golf Course to its carousel and swan boats, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Franklin Square. The park also hosts many special events throughout the year, from outdoor concerts and movie nights to holiday celebrations. Additionally, there are several dining options within the park, ranging from casual snack stands to full-service restaurants. If you’re looking for an activity that the whole family can enjoy, Franklin Square is sure to deliver!
Please Touch Museum
With a name like that, it’s bound to be kid-friendly! In Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall, you’ll find full floors of interactive exhibits aimed at children seven years old and younger and the beautiful 100-year-old Woodside carousel, the kids will be in awe of. At the Please Touch Museum, touching is positively encouraged! So get up close to Alice’s Wonderland, discover the Space Station, with over three decades of Star Wars toys or even the walking piano that you probably remember from the movie Big!
The Please Touch Museum features eight captivating galleries filled with interactive and imaginative displays that will spark creativity in visitors of all ages. From a two-story carousel to a simulated grocery store, kids can explore their favorite interests while gaining valuable insight into various careers and life skills. Little ones can enjoy educational programming at the Baby Place or hop aboard the Freedom Express Train to learn about Philadelphia’s renowned history.
The Please Touch Museum goes to great lengths to make its attractions accessible to all types of families. Whether you’re looking for a sensory-friendly experience or are interested in attending an ASL-interpreted performance, the museum’s dedicated staff can assist you in finding exactly what you need. The museum also offers discounted admission days for certain groups, as well as special discounts for members of select partners.
The Franklin Institute
When planning a family trip to Philadelphia, one of the must-see attractions is The Franklin Institute. Established in 1824, this historic museum has delighted generations of visitors with its engaging and educational exhibits. From interactive displays on science topics to thrilling 3D films, The Franklin Institute is truly a top destination for families looking to explore the city together.
It might sound dull, but this science museum is a must-see with its IMAX theater, a Planetarium, and plenty of kid-friendly exhibits! Our favorites? Space Command, the walk-through Giant Heart the Electricity and Changing Earth exhibit. Don’t miss Your Brain exhibit for a good look into what makes us tick. Need a break? The rain garden and atrium’s “Shimmer Wall” is just the place to relax.
In addition to its exhibits and films, The Franklin Institute also features two charming gift shops filled with souvenirs, along with a full-service cafe that serves up delicious meals and snacks. Plus, there’s even an observation deck where visitors can get a stunning view of Philadelphia’s skyline.
Meet the 8,500 animals in this fantastic aquarium on Camden Waterfront! Don’t miss the suspended Shark Tunnel, the fabulous new Hippo Haven where you can get up close and personal with the giant Hippos, and the virtual underwater kid-friendly playground that is KidZone. Kids will also love the Ocean Realm where sea turtles, stingrays, and sharks can be seen. Even better, you can get hands-on, petting and feeding stingrays, or just getting to know starfish, shrimp, lobster, crabs, and even sharks! Mind your fingers.
From the aquatic Touch Tank where guests can get up close and personal with some of its fascinating sea creatures to the Giant Ocean Tank where they can observe sharks and other marine life in their natural habitat, there’s something for everyone. And be sure not to miss Shark Bridge, a suspended ropes course just above the spectacular tank allowing visitors to get even closer!
When families need a break from the exhibits, they can take advantage of Adventure Aquarium’s on-site activities. These include an arcade, a cafe featuring a variety of snacks and drinks, and a gift shop with souvenirs. There are also plenty of outdoor picnic areas where visitors can relax amid stunning views of the Delaware River.
Located in the Philadelphia suburbs, Sesame Place is a wonderful theme park based on the family favorite: Sesame Street®. Set just 30 minutes away from Philadelphia, Sesame Place is packed with rides, water slides, shows, and furry friends that the kids will love. Don’t miss Cookie’s Monster Land and its great new rides and the super-soft play area for toddlers.
Sesame Place is a delightful place full of lovable characters, bright colors, and exciting rides. Kids will love being transported to the world of Sesame Street as they explore the indoor/outdoor fun zone with popular themed attractions like Big Bird’s Rambling River, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, and the Cookie Mountain play structure.
The main draw of Sesame Place is its thrilling rides, including an array of roller coasters and other kid-friendly options. In addition to signature attractions like the Rockin’ Tug and the Cat in the Hat Carousel, there are plenty of interactive experiences designed to entertain everyone in the family. With stage shows, character meet and greets, and interactive games, boredom is not an option at Sesame Place.
You won’t want to miss the daily live entertainment at Sesame Place. The park features multiple shows featuring everyone’s favorite Sesame Street characters, from Count von Count to Grover. There’s also a nightly Lights on the Boardwalk show that brings exciting music, beautiful lights, and dazzling special effects to the park.
Camden Children’s Garden
Budding archaeologists and wannabee Indiana Jones’ will love this amazing collection of fossils and fauna in Drexel University’s collection. Check out the old bones in Dinosaur Hall or visit the sandbox or even the animal petting area. Visiting in August? Don’t miss the bug fest with its cockroach races, painting worms, and tasty crickets!
The Camden Children’s Garden has many educational and interactive features that make it an enjoyable experience for both adults and children alike. There are over 20 richly detailed themed gardens with interactive music displays, water features, educational programming, and more. You can explore the world of plants through interactive activities like making a nature collage or trying some hands-on experiments. Plus, the Butterfly House provides kids with the chance to learn about the life cycle of butterflies up close!
Camden Children’s Garden is home to a variety of exotic wildlife that will surely fascinate your family. The Garden contains numerous species from all around the world including butterflies, tropical birds, lizards, and even koi fish. In addition, there are farm animals such as pigs, goats, chickens, and rabbits that will amaze young visitors. Plus, there are plenty of interactive hands-on activities like animal feedings, arts & crafts stations, and interactive tours that will keep everyone engaged!
Where to stay?
Looking for luxury? Check into the historic Rittenhouse Hotel, which is centrally located and has kid-friendly amenities including babysitting, a kid’s menu in the restaurant, and even baby bathtubs on hand! Another classy address is the Four Seasons Philadelphia where families will appreciate the in-room video game system for older kids and the cribs on request. In downtown, why not go for the pet-friendly Loews Hotel, which also has rollaway for families