Looking for a great family vacation destination in the US? Thanks to its variety of museums and fun activities for young visitors, Philadelphia is definitely an excellent choice.
Here is a list of 9 Philadelphia’s children-friendly attractions that are sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike.
1. The Wagner Free Institute of Science
The Wagner’s nineteenth century exhibit hall boasts an astounding collection of natural specimens. Kids will marvel at the rows of cases which house all imaginable varieties of life. Don’t forget to check out the mounted bird collection, the skeleton displays and the large collection of shells and starfish. The collection, which was amassed during the 1800’s, provides a glimpse into the eerie and intriguing world of Victorian science. The museum is located in the north section of Philadelphia, close to Temple University off of Broad Street.
2. Please Touch Museum
It’s an obvious, but the Please Touch Museum is practically the official kid’s museum of Philadelphia. Designed specifically with children in mind. Visitors are encouraged to touch, play and have fun in the numerous exhibits within the museum including “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Barnyard Babies,” and “The Story Garden.” In “The Supermarket,” pint-sized shoppers can pretend to peruse store isles, while in the “Move It!” exhibit kids get to “test-drive” some major transportation like a Philadelphia SEPTA bus and sailboat. In the fall of 2008 the Please Touch Museum moves to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park as part of an expansion of the museum.
3. Independence Seaport Museum
Outdoors docked at Penn’s Landing, you will find the USS Olympia and the submarine Becuna, both available for tours. Inside the Seaport Museum, learn about the science and history of boats. You can use a miniature crane to unload cargo, attend a boat building workshop and view the gallery exhibitions.
4. Adventure Aquarium
Just across the Delaware River and a ferry’s ride away is the new and improved Adventure Aquarium. Highlights of the aquarium include the Jules Verne Gallery, full of strange looking aquatic life, the West African River Experience (which includes a pair of humongous hippos!) and the hands-on creature feature where visitors can touch some interesting sea life. The up close meetings don’t stop there- on the second floor take advantage of the rare chance to touch a shark or for an additional cost, swim with sharks or Scuba-dive with a school of fish!
5. Philadelphia Zoo
America’s first zoo has a history of entertaining and educating families. The zoo has come a long way from being just a spectator experience. Today, the Philadelphia Zoo is all about getting families into the wildlife action. Take for instance the “Birds of Australia” where visitors get to feed colorful lorikeets. The “Channel 6 Zoo Balloon” has been a main attraction since its inception a few years back. The balloon takes visitors on a 400-foot high journey to witness some views of the city skylines. Other attractions include Big Cat Falls and the “Swan Boats of Bird Lake.”
6. The Franklin Institute
Named after one of Philadelphia’s favorite founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, this museum combines Ben’s love of science and invention with cutting edge technology. A stroll through the Giant Heart is must for any visit to Philadelphia. Other fun things to do at the museum include a hands-on sports room filled with physical activities, the Space Command exhibit which features actual space artifacts like a moon rock and the Train Factory where guests can climb aboard an actual train.
7. Morris Arboretum
Maybe your family is looking for some quiet time to enjoy the outdoors. One of the prettiest spots in the city to enjoy nature is the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum. The Arboretum, Pennsylvania’s official state arboretum, features sculpture gardens, wondrous landscapes and meticulous garden displays. The Garden Railway exhibit is one attraction that is sure to please the kids. Numerous miniature trains run through garden displays that are decorated for the season. Kids will love exploring the mystical Mercury Loggia Grotto, an artificial cave and underground passageway, while families can enjoy a relaxing stroll along the Oak Allee.
Okay so what kid doesn’t enjoy being grossed out by some icky bugs? The Insectarium is designed especially for kids to explore the world of bugs. Parents be forewarned- you do get the chance to touch some roaches, Giant African Hissing Cockroaches no less. But they are actually quite nice once you get to know them. Enjoy a look at a model kitchen where the bugs run the house. View hundreds of mounted exotic bugs on display and get the chance to watch spiders spin webs, ants collect food and other insects be downright creepy crawly. At the end of the visit recharge with a snack or two. Cheese-flavored meal worms anyone?
9. Peanut Butter & Jam’s at World Café Live
After all your museum hoping and outdoor exploring, chill out with some cool jams at World Café Live’s Peanut Butter & Jams concert series. Each week the venue host a family friendly act that geared towards making kids get up and dance. The stage is set-up to be child-friendly with a pint-sized “mosh pit” for kids to safely groove in. Some past acts have included Ernie & Neal and Dan Zanes. There’s also a kid-friendly buffet lunch that adults will find appealing as well. Concerts are usually scheduled for Saturdays at 11 a.m.
Photo of the Philadelphia Zoo posted by Jacqueline Rupp