Philadelphia with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

Philadelphia with Kids: A Family Vacation


While visiting Philadelphia with kids in tow, you might be unsure of how to fill your day. Not to worry: There's enough to do in the City of Brotherly Love to keep youngsters and adults happily occupied. Though I have no children of my own, my niece and nephew visit me in Philly every summer. Ages 5 and 7, these kids have given me a run for my money when it comes to keeping them entertained. From them, I've learned which activities really appeal to young children.

So, here is my suggested one-day itinerary for out-of-town visitors to enjoy the perfect family vacation day in Philadelphia with kids. You might be tuckered by the end of it all -- but, as the Pennsylvania slogan attests, you'll have memories to last a lifetime.


For breakfast, grab a seat at Delicatessen (703 Chestnut St.; 215-923 4560), a casual Jewish deli that offers basics like scrambled eggs with toast and not-so basics like the Monty Cristoberg, two eggs served atop corned beef, turkey, Swiss and challah French toast. If you'd rather not take time to sit down and eat, you can always place an order at the counter and take your food to go. Price: $6 to $12.

While young kids don't necessarily understand history as well as adults, they can easily appreciate a tour of the Betsy Ross House (239 Arch Street; 215-686-1252). This historical home is filled with people bedecked in period garb. You can even meet Betsy Ross herself! Either walk through the house or take the audio tour to learn more about this woman responsible for designing our country's first flag. It's a great way to sample some of the rich history of Philadelphia with kids. Price: $2 to $3 depending on age, and $5 for the audio tour.

There are many great places to grab lunch during your family vacation day, but the ultimate venue is Reading Terminal (12th and Arch streets; 215 922 2317). This indoor farmers market is home to over 80 merchants peddling fresh produce, regional delicacies and everything in between. Roam the aisles and peruse the culinary options. From fresh roasted turkey carved when you order to Delilah Winder's award-winning macaroni and cheese, you're sure to find something for everyone. Some booths offer counter seating; tables are also open to the public in the center of the terminal.


For the afternoon hours, after you've digested your lunch and perhaps taken a catnap back at the hotel, there are some fantastic activities just beyond Center City. Worthwhile kid-friendly options include:

  • Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne; 215-752-7070): As the name hints, this summertime water park located 30 minutes north of downtown on I-95 is host to a bevy of 'Sesame Street' characters. From Splash Castle to the roller coaster, this park offers a range of rides to keep you and your children busy for hours on end. It's especially fun since Ernie and Bert might wave as they go strolling by. If it's steamy outside, this is just the place to cool down. Price: $0 to $50 depending on age.
  • Philadelphia Zoo (3400 W. Girard Ave.; 215-243-1100): Home to penguins and polar bears, hippos and giraffes, the zoo showcases animals from around the world. In addition to providing views of animals from a distance, there are various activities and shows that give kids the opportunity to interact with the critters. There's also the Zooballoon ride that rises 400 feet off the ground, providing beautiful panoramic views of the city. Tickets can be purchased at the park entrance or in advance online. Also, be sure to visit the zoo's site to see if there are any hotels offering packages. Price: $0 to $18 depending on age and activity.
  • Please Touch Museum (4231 Avenue of the Republic -- formerly North Concourse Drive; 215-581-3181): Just 10 minutes from Center City, located in the heart of Fairmount Park, is this interactive museum for young children. Watch clouds rain, droplets of water falling into an indoor stream. Wander through Alice in Wonderland's hedge maze. Explore the Flights of Fancy exhibit where you use your body to make things go. The museum provides hours of hands-on fun for curious children of all ages. Price: $0 to $15 depending on age.
  • Morris Arboretum (100 E. Northwestern Ave.; 215-247-5777 ): Situated in historic Chestnut Hill and managed by the University of Pennsylvania, this 92-acre property is listed on the National Register of Historic Properties. And once you stroll around the grounds, you'll understand why. From the beautifully manicured gardens to the swans gliding across the placid pond, Morris Arboretum makes nature accessible to Philadelphia's masses. But better than the flora and fauna is the tree house, a structure where kids can climb and explore. Price: $0 to $14 depending on age.


After a long day, the thought of even chewing food might seem daunting. One whiff of the pizza at Pietro's (1714 Walnut St.; 215-735-8090) and you'll forget your fatigue. This family-friendly restaurant located just off Rittenhouse Square in Center City offers gourmet pizza in addition to a variety of traditional Italian pasta dishes. Prices are reasonable even though the quality of the food is above par.

No family vacation day is complete without a sweet treat. After dinner, wander over to Capogiro (3925 Walnut St.; 215-222-0252) -- one of the three locations of this artisanal gelato shop that sells creamy flavors like Caribbean Sunrise Papaya and Thai Coconut Milk. Sample a few options before placing your order. It's the perfect finish to the perfect day in Philadelphia with kids.

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