Philly-animalmuralPhiladelphia is on the dutiful school trip list, when middle and high schoolers troop through the city to learn about the Constitution. So when you suggest a trip to Philly to your teen, she might not be as enthusiastic as you would like.

But once she gets there, she will have such a good time that she will forget her prior reluctance.

The National Constitution Center, where kids (and adults) learn about the Constitution, has a special exhibit through September 3, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen. Though that was the carrot we used to entice my 14 year old, Nora, to the museum, the stick turned out to be the interactive voting kiosk, where you fill in your feelings on health care, education and the environment, and find out which presidential candidate most closely matches your views.

Philly-foundingfathersNora had seen this before, but now she actually knew who the candidates were, and had an opinion about the issues.


Philadelphia offers a wealth of other interesting teen activities, whether you are looking to celebrate the 4th of July , or just looking for a city weekend getaway.

The Independence After Hours tour is ideal for teens who can stay up later than younger kids. And the high level of discussion by the costumed interpreters is perfect for people who have recently studied American history. The walking tour includes dinner at City Tavern, where “Thomas Jefferson” makes an appearance; you walk over to Independence Hall, open only to tour participants, and meet other Founding Fathers.

Nora will often roll her eyes at cheesy attempts to engage her, but she was actively participating on the tour, asking questions and listening to the Founding Fathers debate. The tour was both educational and fun.

The After Hours tour ends at 8pm or so (I still remember when my kids went to sleep at 7:30) but even if your young kids are night owls, they will not get much of our the talks about democracy and freedom.

Philly-muralIf you have walked around the city on a previous family vacation, you have probably noticed the murals that decorate many buildings. The Mural Arts Mural Mile Walking Tour is great for young artists. You get to see many different examples of the city’s murals, and parts of Philly you might otherwise not visit.

Our guide discussed different mural techniques, and artists’ styles. After the hour and a half tour, Nora was able to identify the artist when we passed other murals later that day.

If you rent a bike, or travel with your own, you can take a two hour mural bike tour.

We stayed at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel, which has one of the most important amenities for kids of any age: a pool. This one, on the roof under an atrium, lets you feel like you are swimming outside, no matter the weather.