What's Fun for Kids in Philadelphia
You can't go wrong with our complete guide to Philly's must-see sites.
1. BEN'S PLACE Within the sprawling Independence National Historical Park (215-965-2305), home of the Liberty Bell, Franklin Court is a great hideout for families. You follow a dark cobblestone passageway (at 318 Market St.) into a courtyard where Benjamin Franklin's house once stood. Kids can play in a steel skeleton of the house and examine archeological finds including Franklin's privy pit. In addition to ye olde potty, Franklin Court offers summer storytelling by a Franklin impersonator and houses the Underground Museum, a funky period piece built for the 1976 bicentennial. Don't miss the mirrored disco room!
2. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ROMP An indoor playground themed around Maurice Sendak's books is the star attraction at the Please Touch Museum (210 N. 21st St.; 215-963-0667). But this lovingly worn children's museum also stages gentle exhibits for babies gated off from the wild rumpus.
3. YO, ADRIAN! It's clichéd but fun: Re-create Rocky's jog to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps for a breathtaking city view. Inside, Sunday mornings are family time, with activities like Early Bird Read and Look for 3- to 5-year-olds. (The full schedule is at www.philamuseum.org.) Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 26th Street; 215-763-8100
4. ART PARTY On the first Friday of each month, dozens of galleries in Philly's hip Old City neighborhood host an open house from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to unveil new exhibits. The vibe is friendly, and kids are part of the scene. 215-625-9200
5. STREET FOOD Reading Terminal Market is your one-stop source for Philly's three trademark foods: soft pretzels at Fisher's, hand-twisted by Amish bakers; hoagies at Salumeria; and cheese steaks at Rick's Philly Steaks. Kids enjoy feeding pennies to the market's bronze-pig mascot, Philbert; proceeds feed the hungry.12th and Arch Streets; 215-922-2317
6. SHOPPING MECCA From Mitchell & Ness (267-765-0663), home of vintage-look jerseys, to Blue Mercury (215-569-3100), with its luxe cosmetics, Walnut Street is Philadelphia's thoroughfare for serious shopping. Reward kids for their patience with a custom-blended ice cream treat from Scoop DeVille (107 S. 18th St.; 215-988-9992) and let them climb the goat statue in Rittenhouse Square (18th and Walnut Sts.).
7. ON THE ROUNDABOUT Logan Circle has two first-rate family attractions: the Franklin Institute (215-448-1200), a sprawling science museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences (215-299-1000), a grand repository of dinosaur skeletons. Afternoon tea at the Four Seasons (215-963-1500), overlooking Swann Memorial Fountain, completes the outing.
8. UPDATED CLASSICS Two institutions, the Philadelphia Zoo (215-243-1100) and the Philadelphia Phillies (215-463-1000), have upgraded their amenities for kids. The zoo's refurbished petting zoo features a walk-through bunny village and a climb-on tractor. The Phillies' new Citizens Bank Park has free arcade games, a playground, and $3.50 kids' meals.
9. CURTAIN CALL Best bets for a low-fuss, high-caliber kids' show: the Philadelphia Orchestra Family Concert Series (on select Saturdays, October through April; 215-893-1999), the Arden Theatre Company's kids' productions (winter and spring; 215-922-1122), and the Philadelphia International Children's Festival (April, 215-898-3900).
10. TUNE IN, DIAL UP At 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, Philadelphia's National Public Radio affiliate (FM-88.5) airs "Kids Corner," a live interactive show. While visiting Philly, listen and encourage kids to call in (800-543-7976), vote for a song, and hear their name on the air!
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Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the September 2004 issue of Child magazine.