Best Things to Do with Kids in Philadelphia

Fun-Filled Activities for Keeping the Kids Entertained in Philadelphia

Finding and setting up a day out in Philadelphia with kids can often be an exhausting endeavor. There are many venues to choose from, yet how do you find the best one for your crowd? 10 Best assembles the top winners as far as kids are concerned, and you make your selections based on the ages of your children, the area you're interested in seeing or exploring, and the activity that strikes your fancy. If you've got a science lover in your group, perhaps a stop at the Franklin Institute might suit you best. If your youngsters like rides, take a day trip to Sesame Place to spin, twirl and shimmy with the fun, furry friends that play there. Better still, if you're ready for some time outdoors, Catch a Phillies Game when they're in town, or stop by Franklin Square for fun and games. Philadelphia offers a variety of opportunities for families to play and learn and have fun together, so there's sure to be a place near you to enjoy. From the smallest tykes to the tallest teens, count on Philadelphia venues to be able to keep them interested and entertained while making memories at the same time. A great day for them is a great day for you, too!


Outside the city
Adventure Aquarium
Photo courtesy of C. Barrington for Visit Philadelphia

This aquatic wonderland, open 365-days-a-year, offers kids and grown-ups alike the opportunity to explore sea life of all shapes and sizes. Adventure Aquarium is located just across the river from Philadelphia (you can see it from the waterfront) and is a great side trip to entertain, educate and explore with kids. What kinds of life can you see here? They've got penguins, sharks, hippos, stingrays, birds, reptiles, turtles, crocodiles and a ton of fish ranging from the angelically beautiful to the hideously ugly, the harmless to the dangerous, and everything in between. If you've got a sealife lover, or if you just want a fun day out, take a trip to Adventure Aquarium.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Sealife is interesting and soothing to many people, kids included. This terrific aquarium brings them up close and personal in an educational and family-friendly way.

Sharon's expert tip: If you plan to visit more than a few times, check into their Annual Membership, as it may be worth it to purchase that.

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Indoor Children's Garden at Longwood Gardens

Let your kids discover nature at the Indoor Children's Garden at Longwood Gardens. This beautifully designed space is ideal for families. It features the captivating Central Cove, a Rain Pavilion with two water curtains and a Bamboo Maze for children to explore. Pick up an age-appropriate scavenger hunt card at the Children's Curiosity Cart in the Bamboo Maze and go exploring. There are also plenty of fountains, 17 to be exact, so be prepared for splashing. There are exotic plants from around the world, and you can even inspect some cool, insect-catching plants up close, enjoy dancing fountains that shoot water 130 feet in the air, or be wowed by the unsurpassed beauty of the many flowers, plants, vines, trees, shrubs and colorful indoor and outdoor displays every day of the year.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: If you think you've seen gardens, you need to see Longwood to be truly amazed. Kids can see and enjoy the blooms in every season.

Sharon's expert tip: Longwood Gardens is a great day trip from Philadelphia, so leave yourself some time to go and explore this spectacular site.

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Museum District & Fairmount Park

Offering more than a dozen interactive exhibits, the Franklin Institute Science Museum is a favorite for both the young and young at heart. Children especially love walking through the world's largest artificial heart and learning about energy transfer via the Giant Newton's Cradle and Ball Launcher. Guests also discover the nation's second-oldest planetarium, and on the top floor, an observatory where they can view the sun, moon and Jupiter. Have fun with electricity, wind, gravity, learn about medicine and health, sports and space. It's great for all ages and perfect for morning or afternoon exploration that'll keep kids talking about the place long after you've headed for home.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Science lovers and fun lovers will adore exploring this top-rated science museum. It's been voted one of the best museums for kids in the country.

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to check on and plan to visit the newest exhibits located here for a super educational and fun visit.

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Franklin Square
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco for Visit Philly

One of Philadelphia's five original squares, Franklin Square is certainly one of the best for kids. Children can take a ride on the Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel that's located here before heading to the playground for a more active adventure. The park's 18-hole mini golf course is Philadelphia-themed, and all will enjoy guiding their ball through traditional city landmarks like Elfreth's Alley, the LOVE statue and the crack in the Liberty Bell. Afterward, a bite to eat or a refreshing drink is the perfect way to regroup. Walk around, play a game, sit a bit, relax or just enjoy the sights - it's a pretty place to do what suits your crowd best.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Franklin Square is a great place to spread out and take advantage of the weather, the great outdoors, and the chance to play.

Sharon's expert tip: If you're here during the holidays, do not miss the lights show which is as entertaining as it is magical. Special events are also on deck for other times of the year, so keep an eye out for them.

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Smith: The Kids' Play Place in the Park
Photo courtesy of R. Kennedy for Visit Philly

Located inside East Fairmount Park, Smith Playground is a playful wonderland designed especially for children 10 and under. The roughly six-acre fun zone is best known for its century-old giant wooden slide and 24,000-square-foot Playhouse, but you'll also find more than 50 unique, age-appropriate pieces of play equipment. Inside the mansion-like Playhouse children five and under can experience everything from driving a train and cooking in the kitchen to riding a tricycle. Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse has been a treasured destination in the city of Philadelphia for over 100 years and continues to be a source of good, clean fun for kids of all sizes and shapes.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids love a good playground, and Smith certainly doesn't disappoint as a great place to run, climb, swing, slide and ride.

Sharon's expert tip: Watch for special events that take place here throughout the year in addition to the fun of creative, unstructured run-around time.

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Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti for Visit Philly

Spruce Street Harbor Park is a pop-up park on Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. Offering fun amenities such as hammocks, lawn games, chairs by the water, food and drink options, music and good times to locals, visitors, friends, family and even strangers. There's so much fun to be had at this venue that all can leave friends when the night is over. Spruce Street Harbor Park is free to enter, and features sponsored Happy Hours periodically throughout the summer, along with music and special events for all ages. It's a great way to start or finish off a weekend in the city with people you care about or just by yourself.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Open during warmer months by the river, this park offers kiddos plenty of places to play and enjoy the great outdoors.

Sharon's expert tip: Visit here during the evening when it's pretty to view the lights on the water and the view of the bridge.

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Museum District & Fairmount Park

America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and much more make the Zoo Philadelphia's leading family destination, welcoming over 1.2 million visitors a year. Philadelphia Zoo offers a revolutionary, first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration system, called Zoo360, which promises the most majestic of creatures more room to roam utilizing a campus-wide network of see-through trails. Monkeys, orangutans and big cats, like lions and tigers, are on the move â€" traveling overhead through the treetops in the first three pathways of Zoo360, Treetop Trail, Great Ape Trail and Big Cat Crossing. Award-winning exhibits like First Niagara Big Cat Falls, PECO Primate Reserve, McNeil Avian Center and KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children's Zoo & Faris Family Education Center make Philadelphia Zoo an obvious choice for those visiting Philadelphia with kids.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Animals speak to children in many ways, and this iconic zoo is a great place to visit to see them in action.

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to check out Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trails for a truly unique and interactive animal experience.

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Sesame Place
Photo courtesy of Sharon Rigney

Dry fun, wet fun, shows and parades, food, drink, and furry friends . . . sound like things your kids love? Then you're probably a fan of Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. Part of the SeaWorld family, Sesame Place playfully features Bert & Ernie, Big Bird and Elmo at every turn. Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, the Count and even Rosita show up to join in the fun and give your child a day to remember. Be sure to fit a show into your schedule here, as they are often quite entertaining. In hotter months, take advantage of the wet rides to cool off. This park is also the first theme park in the country to be a certified autism center.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: What's a vacation without a visit to an amusement park? Fortunately, Sesame Place is ideal for little ones and filled with age-appropriate shows, rides and fun.

Sharon's expert tip: For guests visiting more than twice, purchase a ticket package or look into a seasonal pass, which also gets you discounts to other parks in the US.

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Catch a Phillies Game
Photo courtesy of Sharon Rigney

It may be difficult for some kids to sit through an entire baseball game, but at Citizens Bank Park, there is more than enough to keep little ones entertained. One of the most kid-friendly ballparks in the country, the Phillies' home turf has a Phanatic Fun Zone, where children can build their own Phanatic and even rock climb. Older kids especially enjoy Ashburn Alley, which features batting and throwing games. If your young one likes baseball and knows the players by name, he or she will love rooting for them in the stands, sampling some of the traditional ballpark food and laughing at the silly antics of the Philly Phanatic.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Nothing is as classically American as a baseball game with the family, and in this lovely stadium, it's both entertaining and enjoyable.

Sharon's expert tip: The sports stadiums are not far from Center City by public transportation, so don't be afraid to venture down for a match-up.

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Museum District & Fairmount Park
Please Touch Museum
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco/Visit Philly

In this wonderfully kid-friendly museum, there are no "Do Not Touch" signs â€" a dream come true in a kid's museum setting! Designed to promote the arts, sciences, and humanities, exhibits here promise educational entertainment for the young and the young-at-heart. There is an incredible collection of toys and a 3D interactive playground based upon popular children's books. Art exhibits feature work from children in the Philadelphia area. On the bottom floor is a pretend grocery store where kids can "shop" and "pay", and a maze to explore. There are ample opportunities for role-playing and dress-up, as well as to try out all kinds of machines and tools and grown-up devices!

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: This museum truly caters to kids and gives them a great opportunity to be "hands-on" with the many things to do here.

Sharon's expert tip: Parking is free on the street out front, and there are discount admission nights as well as special exhibits. Check their calendar.

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Meet Sharon Nolan

Sharon is a native to the Philadelphia area, but loves to wander from its familiar borders. She has traveled to more than 30 countries, trekked five continents, ventured out with family,...  More About Sharon