Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. But with due respect to the Beatles, that’s all about to change. A preview of spring fun will start for visitors to Philadelphia on March 1, with the reopening of Franklin Square.
Never heard of Franklin Square? Well, that’s no surprise really. It doesn’t usually make the list of “must-do” Philly sites, like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center. But that’s good news for those in the know.
Franklin Square is a great stop for those visiting Philly, especially with children, because it’s a playground-like respite in the middle of our historic areas. Junior need to blow off a bit of steam after sitting (somewhat) quietly for the tour of Independence Hall? Reward him with some time at Franklin Square!
Located at 6th and Race Street (or between the Betsy Ross House and the Liberty Bell), Franklin Square is one of the five original squares William Penn included when he laid out the city. Originally called “North East Publick Square,” it was renamed for old Ben in 1825 and dedicated as a public park in 1837.
But don’t think of just another conventional city park. Franklin Square is a Philly-themed playground and one of the best ways to introduce young visitors to the wonders of the city. For within its 7.5 acre confines, Franklin Square offers such fun activities as:
- Philly Mini Golf – at $7-9 a round, this game really lives up to its name. Play 18 holes around mini replicas such as Elfreth’s Alley, Boathouse Row and the Ben Franklin Bridge. Just try to stop your kids from getting all Rocky-like and running up the (mini) Art Museum steps.
- Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel – the beautiful merry-go-round in the far end of the park is a tribute to Phillly’s long heritage of carousel making, as well as some of the creatures that played a part in the city’s pop culture. The ride is $2.50 per person for all those over 2, and you can choose to ride on such horses as Afleet Alex, recent winner of the Belmont and Preakness, or hometown favorite Smarty Jones, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. But don’t be surprised if your little one wants to wait to catch a ride on the bald eagle – it’s the most popular seat on the ride.
- Playgrounds – there are two traditional (and free!) playgrounds on the site as well, with plenty of benches for the “older folks” to rest their feet while the kids run, jump and climb.
And if you get hungry, there’s Squareburger, restaurateur Stephen Starr’s version of a burger shack, where you can pick up hot dogs, fries and, of course, burgers at a surprisingly reasonable price. And if you really want a taste of Philly, try the CakeShake – a vanilla milkshake studded with TaskyKake Butterscotch Krimpets.