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Philadelphia for Families

Your first stop should be Elfreth’s Alley, the country’s oldest continuously occupied residential street...



 By Sue Manuel, AFAR



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Kid-Friendly Museums

Located in West Fairmount Park, the Please Touch Museum is an award-winning facility for kids up to seven years old, offering hands-on play experiences and a restored 1908 carousel in a glass pavilion. The Academy of Natural Sciences features dinosaurs, animal exhibits, and a butterfly garden. Its neighbor on Logan Circle, the Franklin Institute (named after Benjamin Franklin), has fun and interactive exhibits about electricity, sports, machines, motion, and technology.
© Photo courtesy of M. Edlow/Visit Philadelphia




Family Fun around the City

Parents looking for great family-fun itineraries can begin at Penn's Landing on the Delaware riverfront, at one of the frequent outdoor festivals or concerts, or on the river where swan boats (in the summer) or ice skates (in the winter) provide entertainment. At the Independence Seaport Museum, kids can explore a docked World War II submarine, the USS Becuna, and then head across the river to Camden on the Riverlink Ferry, a short and exciting ride. In Camden, the fun continues at the Adventure Aquarium or with a visit to the retired battleship, USS New Jersey, which is now a floating museum.
© Photo by Sue Manuel


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Where History Class Comes to Life

Everything the kids learned in American history class can come to life with stops at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Carpenters Hall, Franklin Court, and the Betsy Ross House. Those with more time to explore can take the kids to the Museum of the American Revolution at Third and Chestnut Streets, where George Washington's original tent is displayed, along with exhibits of Revolutionary-era weapons, manuscripts, and personal items.
© Photo by Sue Manuel




Historical Public Spaces

Families with younger kids may enjoy Sister Cities Park, adjacent to Logan Square (one of the city’s five original public spaces planned by William Penn) and close to both the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute. The plaza in the park features a fountain, a playground, and a children’s discovery garden. There's a visitor center in the Logan Square Café. Another of the city's original public squares, Franklin Square, offers several family-friendly attractions, including a miniature golf course with kid-sized replicas of iconic Philly landmarks. Centered around a lovely fountain, the park is also the site of a vintage carousel, picnic area, and a restaurant.
© Photo by Sue Manuel




Trips to the Dark Side

Parents with older kids might enjoy a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary historic site, a former prison in the Fairmount section built in 1829 and used until 1971. Its cells were occupied by the famous and infamous, including gangster Al Capone and even a beagle. The prison offers a self-guided audio tour, hands-on history exhibits, and artist installations. It's not recommended for children under the age of seven. Alternatively, adventurous families can try the after-dark guided ghost tour of old Philadelphia, offered by several local companies.
© Photo by Sue Manuel


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Travel Back in Time

Visitors seeking an immersive history experience can get the sensation of traveling back in time to experience the homes, stories, and lives of early Americans, from everyday citizens to the city’s more well-known past inhabitants. Your first stop should be Elfreth’s Alley, the country’s oldest continuously occupied residential street. Most of the houses on the block are private homes, but houses 124 and 126 are open to the public. Guided tours begin in the Museum Shop, at number 124. Another chance to step into the past can be found at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site on North 7th Street. Their tours are free.
© Photo by Sue Manuel




Sweet Treats from A to Z

From artisanal doughnuts to whoopie pies, Philly offers sweet treats for visitors of every age. Families visiting the historic sites in Old City should take the kids to Shane Confectionery, a historic candy shop that makes chocolate and other candies onsite. Visiting the store is worthwhile even if you only view the gorgeous Victorian interior and peek into the vintage display cabinets. Ice cream lovers should visit Franklin Fountain, a charming retro ice cream shop that makes its own premium ice cream and is also located on Market Street, just a few doors away from Shane Confectionery. Though the lines can be long, especially in the summer, the treats are worth the wait.
© Photo by Sue Manuel

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Travel Magazine: Philadelphia for Families
Philadelphia for Families
Your first stop should be Elfreth’s Alley, the country’s oldest continuously occupied residential street...
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