Family friendly Philadelphia helps bring history to life. Spend a weekend here and you’ll see why. And since most popular attractions are free, you’ll really love it!


Get the family moving: Smith Playhouse is a good starting point with unique playground structures to climb. Walk the Mural Mile Tour (self-guided). Check out the Fireman’s Hall Museum and learn how to run hoses. There are also seven walking tours.


Feel patriotic: Visit the U.S. Mint, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, all free. See Betsy Ross House where you’ll find a scavenger hunt just for kids. Go to Liberty 360 at the Historic Philadelphia Center to see the 15 minute 3D adventure narrated by Ben Franklin.


Get in touch with nature: Visit the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo, with 1,300 animals on 42 acres. Check out the Insectarium, the largest insect museum in America.


For food lovers: Go to Reading Terminal Market for scrapple, shoefly pie and pretzels. Or try Phialdelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market, the oldest outdoor food market in the U.S., now also including Asian and Mexican food.


Take in a museum: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a great armor gallery. At the Franklin, walk through a human heart or play pilot in a jet trainer.


Take a tour: Take a Grim Philly Twilight Tour (murder, ghosts and pirates) or a Ghost Tour. Or visit the QVC Studio for a behind the scenes look. The Chew Philly Tour will have you feasting on tomato pie, cheese steaks and pretzels. Take the Movie Sites Tour and see where 50 films and 30 tv shows were filmed.


Save time for shopping: With the Gallery at Market East (over 130 stores and eateries), Philadelphia Premium Outlets (upscale designers), and The Encampment Store (gifts with a Revolutionary theme), you can find something for everyone.


  • Your suggestions are terrific. We have followed your advice in Europe as well as here. Please do more cities!

  • Don’t miss the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Pork ones are good also and the fresh mozzarella. Molly Malloy’s in the only vendor with beer on tap (24, mostly local, to-go cups available). Wine shop has good selection. Lines at lunchtime are really long at the delis. Instead, buy some cold cuts, fresh rolls, pickles, etc. and make a picnic lunch. Only negative: market closes at 6 pm weekdays so go early to have time to browse. The big bronze pig in the middle of the market is Philbert, a piggy bank with all money going to local charities.

  • Charlie and Greta

    Took your advice and went to Reading Terminal Market, an indoor farmers’ market open every day with 100 + vendors. (Arch St. and 12th St.) In addition to great food, they have housewares, books, flowers and clothing. Great deli sandwiches and grilled cheese, a nice stop with the kids. Very interesting and historic place. On Sundays, a few of the stalls are closed. Free to get in and walk around for a unique experience.

    • Throw a cooler in your trunk and make this your last stop so you can bring home great scrapple, sausages and artisanal cheese. Pies are good, too, with many Pennsylvania Dutch specialties. (Try the shoefly pie!) Go for breakfast, bring home dinner.

  • Franklin Square is a nice stop for a carousel ride ($3 pp), mini-golf (adults $9), a burger. Since 1976 there is a memorial there also. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. After several hours of museum visits, our kids needed some time outdoors to run around and get some fresh air and this was a good spot.

  • The Betsy Ross House, near the US Mint, is a small museum with a modest entrance fee that takes only 20 – 30 minutes to go through and shows America’s humble beginnings. Be aware that this is not handicap accessible and the stairs are very steep.

  • Don’t miss the zoo, America’s first, open daily year round and set on 42 acres of Victorian gardens. The new Zoo360 is an award winning walkway above for big cats. “KidZooU” programs are interactive and teach about the environment, endangered species, etc. Children can pet and brush sheep and mini horses or play on slides and equipment. Allow a full day here because there is so much to do and the grounds are beautiful.

  • Thom and Barbara

    Thanks for your suggestion about the Fireman’s Hall Museum (in the historic old city district). Our family LOVED it! We learned about rescues, “ran the hoses” and the kids got to dress up. The building dates back to 1902 plus a new wing. This totally restored building is filled with apparatus, uniforms, photos and a gift shop with many kids’ books about EMTs, firemen, etc. You can even arrange birthday parties here. So much fun. Your blog is fantastic!

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