Philadelphia, PA, the city of brotherly love, is a wonderful place to explore with kids. In addition to the famous historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, there are many sites to see, neighborhoods to explore, and foods to eat in areas less traveled by the tourist crowds.
Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia with Kids
A trip to Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, can seem overwhelming. There are so many activities to choose from. If you are visiting with kids, another challenge is picking activities that they will enjoy. Here are some kid-friendly places we explored on our last trip.
The “Rocky” Steps
Whether you are a fan of the famous Rocky movies or not, the steps in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum are worth a trip to the top. After all, visiting the Rocky statue and running up the steps are pretty much a rite of passage for first time visitors to the city. As the Fitness TMOM, I challenged the girls to see how fast they could run to the top.
Since this is one of the top tourist attractions in the city, it’s a good idea to visit late in the day. We stopped in just before sunset. The views from the top step are spectacular. Turning around and taking in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and city skyline is especially breathtaking.
Local artist Isaiah Zagar created this truly magical place. The main space took 14 years to complete, but the artist still stops by to add to the museum. Filling over half a block on South Street, the museum space was created by thousands of hand made tiles and glittering mirrors. Other non-traditional found objects, like bicycle wheels, glass bottles and garden statues are abundant throughout the museum. The buildings surrounding the site including the side and back alley are covered with more of Zarag’s beautiful and unique tile work.
Admission is $10 adults, $8 students, $5 for kids 6-12. Kids under 5 are free.
TravelingMOM Tip: Ask for a Scavenger Hunt Postcard at the front desk. Kids can find the picture on the front (it’s harder than you think). Take the postcard home as a souvenir of your visit.
Top of City Hall
Not many people know that you can go up into the tower below the William Penn statue in Philadephia’s City Hall. In fact, It has the only publicly accessible observation deck in the city. And, by far, the best view. A tiny elevator that only holds only 4 people at a time people carries visitors to the top. The glass elevator climbs slowly up through the tower.
You can see the old wood framing and back side of the huge clocks. The 500-foot observation deck has glass walls. My daughter and her friend (ages 10-11) were a little nervous about approaching the edge. The 360-degree view at the top is stunning. Visitors are assigned a 15 minute visit. We happened to be of the last visitors for the day so we were able to stay a bit longer.
Timed tickets required. Monday-Friday. 9:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Admission is $6 Adults, $4 kids, under 3 is free.
Mural Arts Trolley Tour
Philadelphia is the mural capital of the world. Explore the world’s largest outdoor gallery with an expert guide and enjoy the comfort of an air conditioned vehicle. The city’s stunning mural collection truly impressed me and my daughter. We happened to take our tour on the annual Public Gardens Day, so we had the opportunity to visit some of Philadelphia’s lovely public gardens as well. We traveled through diverse neighborhoods to view a wide variety of public art.
Admission $38 Adults, $28 children ages 3-12 for a 2 hour tour.
TravelingMOM Tip: If you want to save money and don’t mind walking, check out the “Mural Mile.” Actually a 2.5 mile route, the Mural Mile passes 17 of the city center’s most iconic murals. Here is a great map.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Opened in 1829, this massive castle-like building stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding city streets. When you arrive, you are given an mp3 player and headset to guide you through the complex and explain the prison’s history. We were with 3 girls ages 9-12. I thought they might get bored, but they were captivated by the audio tour. You can tour at your own pace or listen at stops along the way. We followed the entire tour, which took about 40 minutes and then explored on our own. There are plenty of spooky rooms and hallways to explore including the cell where famed mafia boss Al Capone spent his time at the prison.
TravelingMOM Tip: This site is recommended for kids aged 7 and up, but might frighten children that are easily spooked below age 10-12.
Admission Adults $14, Kids $10
East Passyunk Avenue
Take some time to explore shops and cafes off the beaten path to help support local businesses. We checked out East Passyunk Avenue, which is known for more eclectic shopping and dining. The kids loved exploring a funky urban garden store and this unique boutique where they each found a work of art to take home. We found an adorable bakery to enjoy sit in the sun and enjoy some delicious baked good.
TravelingMOM Tip: Let the kids take the lead. See what storefronts catch their eye and go inside to check them out.
Philadelphia has so much to offer. It’s a great city to enjoy with your kids. Make sure to pencil in time to explore more than just the famous historical sites. You’ll be glad you did. Looking for more to do in Philadelphia? Check out these posts from fellow TMOMs.