charming and some might say, the birthplace of the USA as the Declaration of
Independence was conceived, drafted and signed at Independence Hall, the
beautiful city of Philadelphia is packed full of child friendly things to see
and do. My daughter and I visited Philadelphia last summer and totally fell in
love with the city, we only had 3 days to explore but managed to cram plenty
in, even if it left us exhausted by the end of it! These are our top tips on where
to go, eat and stay.
planning our USA adventure I knew I had to include Philadelphia on our visit
simply because I had heard so many great things about this child friendly
museum. As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to teaching
children through play and totally follows through on this promise. There’s so
much to see and do, you could easily spend a full day here, we only had a
morning but managed to visit most of the exhibits, even if I did find myself
hurrying Piper along a few times.
Being big fans of the book, we loved the Alice in Wonderland
themed “Wonderland” area, where you
can take tea with the mad hatter, get lost in the hedge maze and even paint
some roses red! Pipers favourite part of her visit was the Woodside Park
Dentzel carousel which is $3
extra but well worth the charge.
Other best bits
include the River Adventures water area where kids can learn all about
water flow, City Capers, where they can really indulge their
imaginations and try out various grown up jobs in venues such as a hospital, restaurant
and shopping centre and Roadside Attractions which allows them to
explore a real car, play at being mechanics and drive a trolley.
The museum is definitely
geared towards younger kids and preschoolers but Piper is 7 and still loved
getting stuck in. Some exhibits are starting to show a little wear and tear but
the kids don’t seem to mind so it didn’t really impact our enjoyment.
The Rocky Steps and
Statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
This is good fun to
visit even if your kids haven’t seen the movies and makes for a fab photo
opportunity. The steps aren’t too much of a challenge to run up, even in the
heat of summer and if you have time to visit the Art Gallery whilst you’re
there, even better!
Sister Cities Park
We loved this cute
little park which was located just a few minutes from out hotel. When we
visited the famous “LOVE” sculpture was closed for maintenance and this park is
where you’ll find it’s replacement “AMOR”. Make sure you get a quick pic with
the sign and take a breather in the park, there’s a lovely little café, a children’s
discovery garden and a 10 geyser splash fountain in the summer, perfect for
cooling down after a hot day of exploring.
Built in honour of
one of Americas most famous scientists – Benjamin Franklin, the Institute is
one of the oldest and best centers for science education and development in the
and is my absolutely
favourite place to visit in Philly. It’s a hands on and totally interactive
science museum with plenty to learn for both the kids and grown-ups.
Institute is home to the famous heart exhibit where kids can explore the
workings of a heart by walking through it, following the journey a blood cell
would take. But the fun doesn’t end there, the newest exhibit dedicated to the
workings of the human brain includes the 18 ft tall climbing structure called
the neural climb, which kids can safely climb all the way to the top. Active
kids will love the Sportszone where they can test their reactions
against the ping pong wall, perfect their baseball throw, see how far they can
jump from a running or standing start and race virtual athletes along a 40ft
There’s also the Franklin
Air Show which introduces you to the history and technology of flight, Sir
Isaac’s Loft which brings Newton’s theories to life and Changing Earth which
is guaranteed to get little brains thinking about the impact we all have on the
Some exhibits dedicated
to the physiology of the human body are a bit gory, my seven year old loved it
all but you can easily bypass these areas if you have more sensitive little
The Liberty Bell
You can’t visit
Philadelphia without taking a trip to see the iconic bell itself. It’s a great
opportunity to teach kids a little American history. It’s best to visit out of
season or later in the day to avoid the queues. We arrived at about 4pm on a hot
July day and had to wait around 30mins to get through security and struggled to
get a clear picture with the bell itself. Once in, you walk through a small
section of informational exhibits, which are all interesting but probably wont
hold the littles ones attention for too long, the bell is right at the end as
you would expect, in front of a huge glass wall overlooking Independence Hall
and the bell tower where the bell was originally housed. It’s free to visit and
you don’t need a timed ticket.
Unlike the Liberty bell,
you will need timed tickets to enter Independence Hall, these can be found at
the NPS desk in the Independence Visitor centre on the day you want to visit
and are free but you may need to be flexible about your time slot. Tours last
between 30 to 40 minutes. This is also the place to view original printed
versions of the Constitution, Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of
Independence. We found all the rangers to be extremely knowledgeable and happy
to answer any questions, from the simple to the complex and another great
opportunity to learn all about the work of the founding fathers.
Top Tip: I highly recommend using the Phlash Bus
to navigate around the city. It runs every 5 minutes to most places
mentioned above and is just $5 for a full days pass. Make sure you have cash to
purchase your pass on the bus, it will save you a $1.50 online fee.
What to eat
without saying that when in Philly, you need to try a Philly cheese steak.
These are soft (or sometimes crusty) bread rolls stuffed with shredded beef and
stringy cheese. I wasn’t a massive fan but you know, when in Philly…….
If you can
squeeze it in, I highly recommend a visit to Reading Terminal Market, one of
the oldest indoor farmers markets in the Country. It’s like a huge food court,
full of gorgeous treats and places to buy a meal, guaranteed to have something
to please everyone in the family. It does get quite busy so be sure to keep the
little ones close so they don’t get too overwhelmed.
We chose to
stay in the lovely Windsor Suites which is within walking distance to most of
the attractions of Philadelphia, plenty of restaurants and grocery stores but
far enough away from the nightlife to be peaceful enough for kids.
blown away by the apartment style rooms after a very cramped stay in Boston. We
had a small but perfectly fitted kitchen, heaps of storage space and a huge
cosy bed. The hotel has a rooftop pool which is open during the summer months,
a laundry room and some of the friendliest hotel staff we have come across.
an onsite pub/restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, it had a
friendly atmosphere and tasty food but we mainly ate in the room, taking full
advantage of the superbly equipped kitchen.
was just 3 day’s worth of adventuring, Philadelphia has so many more family
friendly activities, we would love to return and see more. What are your
favourite place to visit in the City of Brotherly Love?