pleasetouchThe old Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia was a small, crowded museum, near the Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Now, it is in a new home, in Fairmont Park.

Housed in a historic building, Memorial Hall from Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the new Please Touch also features the 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, with 52 hand-carved animals. Four rabbits, four cats, two pigs and two goats join 40 horses.

The carousel coast $3 a ride, on top of a steep $15 for everyone over age one, but just seeing the panorama from the Centennial Exhibition, of the city over a hundred years ago, is worth the price of admission. For adults, anyway.

Kids won’t know which way to turn first. The rotunda, with a discarded-toy recreation of the Statue of Liberty arm and torch, is where special events, like drumming circles, are held. NYC know that their city (and not Jersey, by the way) is home to the Statue, but what they may not know is that the arm and torch were at Philly’s centennial to drum up money for the completed statue’s pedestal.

To the right, a new Alice in Wonderland exhibit has a giant tree growing up from the ground level. Follow the winding path to the exhibit, where you can go through a house of mirrors, crawl through tree trunks and have tea with the Mad Hatter. There is also a pool of tears and a garden area for kids under age three.

To the left, Roadside Attractions is for the mechanically minded. Drive a SEPTA Bus, look under the hood at a garage and climb aboard a monorail. Further left, Flight Fantasy lets kids pedal a propeller, run in a giant hamster wheel and row a flying machine.

Now that my kids are old enough to say, pick up a quart of milk by themselves, they never want to set foot in a supermarket. But when they were younger, they loved the Please Touch supermarket, and it is here, too, even bigger than before. Kids can select realistic plastic fruits and vegetables, or help out by restocking items. Philadelphia’s own Tastycakes are in the supermarket.

If looking at all this food builds up an appetite, the museum has a nice café, with homemade pizzas cooked in a stone hearth pizza oven. Or bring a picnic and eat in the park.

Read Judy’s blog at Veggie Mom