Philadelphia with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

Philadelphia with Teens: A Family Vacation


If you're like me when you go on a vacation with kids, you want to find activities for your teenagers that are both educational and fun. Philadelphia, Pa., can provide the opportunity for teens and adults to have fun while providing an excellent education about America's history. Of course, teenagers can be demanding and difficult to please so finding a nice mix between education and fun will keep you, the parent, happy while at the same time keeping your teenager interested and having fun.


Start your day in Philadelphia by getting your teens a good breakfast. Try the Melrose Diner located at 1501 Snyder Ave. in South Philadelphia. At this 1930s diner, the food is delicious and served in large portions. The fresh baked goods will fill hungry teens while leaving options open for those picky eaters. They have some of the best pancakes in the city, and nothing beats the apple pie with vanilla icing, not exactly a breakfast item, but it is vacation, after all. Last, but definitely not least, service is very good. The wait staff is always pleasant and eager to please.

After breakfast, the Old City is the next hop for fun and education. A Philadelphia favorite and perennial hit is the Liberty Bell in Old City. Learning about the Liberty Bell and the symbolism of American freedom can start the day off right by setting the tone for a day of historical fun and education. The Liberty Bell building will allow your teenager to investigate deeper into the fledgling nation and the fight for freedom from the British. There are historical videos from the History Channel, unique exhibits on the bell and where the bell was made, and even an x-ray of the crack. The Liberty Bell can keep your teen happy and occupied until mid morning.

After the Liberty Bell, if your ever-hungry teen is looking for a snack, there are assorted shops in the area that provide a wide variety of choices. One of my favorite indulgences are the gelato shops located in the nearby blocks around the Liberty Bell and on Chestnut Street. The shops provide many flavors of creamy Italian ice cream that are sure to please and refresh before moving on to the next hop, which is Independence Hall.

Independence Hall will fascinate adults while keep the kids immersed and intrigued in history, all while having a great time. Some of the fun things to do include listening to the stories of how the Americans and British used the facilities during the War of Independence; what happened during the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and some of the 18th Century tools used during the birth of our nation. Showpieces such as George Washington's armchair, coal foot warmers, and the table and quill signing pen are all interesting relics that hold great significance for our nation. When finished with one of the early-morning tours, the family will be hungry.


When in Philadelphia, you and your teen must try a cheesesteak. First, a word of warning, in Philadelphia, a cheesesteak is a cheesesteak, not a "Philly cheesesteak." Secondly, if you ask a Philadelphian who makes the best cheesesteak, everyone will have a decidedly different answer. Finally, know what you want to order before you get in line. Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurants are notorious for sending you to the back of the line if you are too slow. To simplify your task and keep you close to Old City, I recommend a stop at the corner of 9th St. and Passayunk, to try two of the best. Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks sit across from each other and both believe that they are the better cheesesteak; Philadelphia natives are split down the middle. My recommendation is to go to both, order both and decide for yourself. Being geographically located across the street from one another, your family has the luxury of choosing which cheesesteak is the best. You can even start your own family rivalry as to who has the best cheesesteak! I have tried both and I could tell you which one is better (in my opinion) but that would be no fun at all.

For the remainder of the afternoon, the National Constitution Center is a great option. The center is located two blocks north of the Liberty Bell and keeps travel time to a minimum, so the family has maximum vacation time. The National Constitution Center is dedicated to providing a greater understanding of the constitution and show visitors how the the constitution is relevant today. As the National Constitution Center states on, "it is the only museum devoted to the U.S. Constitution and the story of 'We, the People.'" There are numerous exhibits, educational opportunities, events and daily activities that will allow teens and adults to explore the constitution in their own way.


Walking into the City Tavern, you immediately feel that you are in for a unique experience and perhaps the most tasteful experience of 18th-century America. With the wait staff dressed in traditional 18th-century outfits and offering superior food choices, your teens will have numerous choices for food and you will have sophisticated dining in a beautiful restaurant.

When finished with dinner, your family could call it a night, but there are more options for enjoyment, especially for your energetic teens. Second Street in Philadelphia is an eclectic group of shops and stores that allow you to find virtually anything. There are over 300 stores and restaurants there, and most are open until midnight, which means you will have plenty of time to enjoy them after dinner. Along with the eclectic shops, there is also an eclectic group of people ranging from teens to adults, Goths to yuppies, and rockers to artists. South Street truly has all types. The bulk of the shops are located between Washington Square West and Society Hill, so there is a very small travel time from the City Tavern to South Street, and tons of fun to be had there.

Great food with fun and educational locations make Philadelphia, Pa., an action-packed vacation for a family with teens. There is something to do for everyone and one of the greatest benefits of all is that everyone receives an education about our nation's history, while having fun at the same time.

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