Things to Do With Kids in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
At the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, children are encouraged to interact with the exhibits | © Randy Duchaine / Alamy Stock Photo
Families with children won’t lack ideas for fun activities in Philadelphia, with many options that parents can enjoy too.
A city steeped in American history, Philadelphia has plenty for kids to delight in. If your youngster is a little more on the energetic side, there is a variety of outdoor parks and squares with structures for them to run and climb on – from jungle gyms and a giant slide to water fountains and carousels. For the more animal-minded, there are a bunch of choices for interactions with fauna and sea creatures at the zoo or Adventure Aquarium. On the other hand, little bookworms will enjoy nursery rhymes and stories in the Fairytale Garden Toddler Area at the Please Touch Museum.
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse
Located in Fairmount Park, amid a 6.5-acre (2.5ha) playground, lies a 39ft-long (12m-long) wooden slide. Kids can grasp their cloth sack and whizz down the wide slope screaming with glee. The Smith Memorial Playhouse is three stories tall, and youngsters five and under will adore exploring the recreation areas, playing with building toys and craft projects. Older kids can enjoy clambering on rope mountains and jungle gyms. Smith is for children 12 and younger, and while entry is free, donations are accepted. To get there, drive 12 minutes from the city center or take public transport.
This zoo may be the oldest in the country, opened in 1874, but it has the first zoo exploration system, Zoo360. A network of mesh tunnels and trails allows tigers, lemurs and orangutans to meander above your head as you spot some of the 1,300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered. There is also KidZooU, where children can pet sheep, mini-horses, goats, chickens and ducks in the barnyard. It’s open daily, year-round, and tickets are available online or at the gate. There is plenty of parking, or you can reach the zoo by bus.
Families will relish all the options for fun in one of Philadelphia’s five original squares. Get competitive playing a round of Philly-themed mini-golf, indulge your inner child and ride the carousel or let the kids dash about in the sizeable playground. When hunger strikes, there’s SquareBurger, serving delicious fries, burgers and shakes. In the center of the park is the marble fountain, which has a daily show with music and lights. It runs every 30 minutes from noon to 2pm and again from 6pm until closing. The season ends on October 31.
Please Touch Museum
The most uttered phrase to your children? “Don’t touch!” But touching is encouraged at this interactive two-story children’s museum inside Memorial Hall in Fairmont Park. There are six exhibit zones, four specifically for under threes. Kids can “drive” a real bus, enjoy the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Wonderland, go shopping in the Market or play doctor in the Children’s Hospital. To slow things down, ride the carousel or take a load off in the Storytime Cabin. Tickets are available for purchase from Please Touch Museum’s website. The least busy time to visit is in the afternoon.
Two things make this aquarium unique. First, it has the largest shark collection on the East Coast, including the only great hammerhead in the country. See these predators by strolling across the Shark Bridge, suspended directly above the tank. Second, it is the only aquarium in the world to house two hippos, Button and Genny. Other highlights include exploring the Sea Turtle Cove, watching the penguins, feeding the stingrays and touching a starfish – or a shark! Adventure Aquarium is just across the Delaware River from downtown Philadelphia in Camden, New Jersey – a 15-minute drive. Buy tickets online, which will get you access to all the exhibits, live shows and a 3D movie.
One Liberty Observation Deck
Escape from the bustling city 57 floors up on Philly’s tallest attraction, located in the city center. Appreciate the 360-degree views from within the enclosed viewing deck. Once the kids have exhausted themselves from snapping pics of the panoramas or the Ben Franklin Statue, they can use the interactive installations. A firm favorite is the touchscreens that zoom in on a single point hundreds of feet down below. Tickets are available online or in-person, and the hours vary by season. It’s open 365 days a year.
These recommendations were updated on June 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.