When parenting in the city, it’s easy to feel your options are limited. Unless you have a car and ample time to explore, the city feels like a maze of buildings, subways, and narrow sidewalks that don’t leave much scope for venturing far from home. Fortunately, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Although Philadelphia is known as a concrete jungle (for a good reason), there are plenty of hidden gems tucked away among the skyscrapers. If you live in this dynamic city with children, exploring its wonderful green spaces is just one more perk of raising kids in Philly. From family-friendly bars to sprawling botanical gardens, and a cheesesteak shop; these five kid-friendly places are begging to be explored with your little ones.
The Franklin Institute
As the first and only science museum in the country to be named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the Franklin is a must-see for any curious kid. Its interactive exhibitions include a planetarium and a robotics lab, making it a great place to connect parents with their kids’ interests, sparking conversations about the future of space travel, the natural world, and more. The Franklin is also the only children’s museum in the world with a full-scale reproduction of a real-life research lab. But that’s not all! The museum also boasts an IMAX theatre and a giant aquarium filled with hundreds of fish and sea creatures. The Franklin Institute is located at 222 N 21st St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Philadelphia Zoo
If your children are animal lovers, there’s no place better to visit than the Philadelphia Zoo, the oldest zoo in the country. It’s home to more than 4,000 animals representing nearly 300 species, many of which are endangered, making the zoo a great place to educate your kids about wildlife conservation. Your kids will love getting up close and personal with the animals at the Children’s Zoo, which is open 365 days a year. There’s also an indoor Tropical Rainforest home to hundreds of exotic plants and animals. The Philadelphia Zoo is located at 3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Fairmount Park and the Art Museum
There’s no better place than Fairmount Park to get your kids outside and explore nature. The largest park in Philadelphia, it’s home to several attractions, including the Franklin Fountain ice cream parlour, which has been around since the late 19th century. And then there’s the Barnes Foundation, which hosts a rotating exhibition of artwork, including masterpieces by Picasso and Van Gogh. The Art Museum is also close by, which is home to the famous “Rocky” steps. These steps have been featured in countless photos and films, making them a must-see for kids who love superheroes and adventure. What better way to get them excited about history than by letting them know they’re standing in the same place as the fictional hero Rocky Balboa? Fairmount Park is located at 21 North 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you’re looking for a family outing that’s both delicious and educational, a trip to the Sugar Bowl is a must. This iconic Philadelphia restaurant has been around since 1922, serving traditional American food and ice cream desserts. It’s also home to an interactive museum, which tells the story of the American food industry through a visual timeline. Kids will love exploring the museum’s hands-on exhibits, which include a working soda fountain and a 100-year-old gumball machine. And, of course, no trip to Sugar Bowl would be complete without tasting one of their iconic ice creams. They have dozens of nostalgic flavours, like butter pecan, peanut butter, and chocolate chip served in traditional sundae dishes. The Sugar Bowl is located at 53 South 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Philadelphia is known for its lively nightlife and many kid-friendly places to explore after dark. Visit one of the city’s many bars and restaurants, like the Standard Tap and the Continental, which are decorated with toys and games, making them kid-friendly. Or take your kids to one of the many indoor playgrounds in the city, like the Grid, where they can run off some energy while you take a break. If you’re looking for a more educational experience, visit the Franklin Institute’s Nightlight, which happens on select Friday nights. This program offers families the chance to explore the museum after hours. You can even participate in a unique hands-on activity to create a one-of-a-kind souvenir for your kids. The Franklin also offers daytime programs for kids, including themed birthday parties and field trips. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also hosts a family program on select Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Kids can create art projects, listen to live music and meet museum curators while parents enjoy a quiet afternoon.
As you can see, Philly has no shortage of family-friendly attractions. Whether you’re looking for an indoor activity or a more outdoor-oriented outing, you’re sure to find something that appeals to your family. And best of all, most of these activities are accessible or affordable, making them a great way to spend time as a family without breaking the bank. So the next time you find yourself in a city with kids, don’t let the limited space keep you indoors. These city activities will keep you and your kids exploring and having fun together.