The city of Philadelphia serves as the backyard for many of its families with children and it most certainly doesn’t disappoint. With many opportunities to get outside, experience culture, and dine on the best foods, Philadelphia is a family-friendly spot ready for you to explore.
Parking and walking is a great way to see the most of the city. But you can also give little ones’ feet a bit of a rest by navigating the city bus system. The SEPTA app is helpful (and so is @SEPTA_SOCIAL – their customer service Twitter account if you have any questions or issues) and kids 4 and under ride free.
Over the past few years, the city of Philadelphia has created even more public spaces with an array of parks and water features. Our favorites include Sister Cities which features a café, a wading pool and discovery park, and some of the best grass for a picnic under the tall trees that shade the park. The café offers food for kids and parents alike, indoor and outdoor seating, as well as two bathrooms which makes this the perfect spot for spending a long afternoon. On hot days, it can get pretty crowded though so don’t hesitate to trek down to Dilworth Plaza to play in the water features. There’s more space for cooling off there. Grab a table close to the wall of City Hall. You’ll be thankful you’ve got a shady spot to cool off after playing in the hot sun. And finally, if you want to see one of the most innovative parks in the city, check out Spruce Street Harbor Park. This happens to be a good spot for coaxing kids to take an outdoor nap in one of the highly coveted hammocks (if you’re lucky enough to snag one). The bathrooms here are a bit of a hike from the center of the park so keep that in mind.
Some other awesome outdoor activities to check out are Smith Memorial Playground complete with a 100+ year old wooden slide, Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches, surrey rentals for the whole family on Schuylkill River trail, and Franklin Square – complete with mini golf and a carousel.
Take In A Little Culture
Need a break from being outside? Or want to see some of the famous museums while you’re here? While most all of the museums and historical attractions in the city are accustomed to welcoming and catering to families – even those with young children – here are a few of our favorites. The Franklin Institute has something for everyone. The ever-changing feature exhibits and IMAX movies add something special to the always awesome permanent exhibits. Let the kids burn off some energy racing through the heart or scaling through the web of neurons of the human brain. Have pre-schoolers? They’ll particularly want to try their hand at some of the SportsZone activities on the 3rd floor as well as the KidSciene area on the bottom level.
Just across the parkway is the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With a large children’s department on the lower level, kids can go in and read stories on a pile of bean bag chairs for a nice break. You might even get to catch a show in the auditorium just around the corner from the children’s department.
And you can always hop in your car to check out the Please Touch Museum which occupies Memorial Hall – a beautiful piece of architecture from the nation’s centennial World’s Fair celebration.
Feed Your Hunger
There’s no doubt you’ll work up an appetite while wandering the city. Keep cash on hand for street vendors or duck in to one of the many restaurants you’ll encounter along the way. Most restaurants in the city treat even their youngest guests to a top notch experience. But some of the ones where kids and grownups alike will feel most comfortable are:
- Shake Shack – Burgers, dogs, milkshakes. Need we say more?
- Honey Grow – Healthy options and the kids will love tapping the screens to order their food, customized to their liking.
- Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat – perfect spot for breakfast, especially if you have early risers. Slightly off the beaten path and a favorite of locals, this cash only spot has two locations to pick from. Keep your eyes peeled for their $4.95 weekday special offered from 7-9am only.
- Pizzeria Stella – an atmosphere sophisticated enough for parents yet casual enough for kids, this neighborhood favorite for families with young ones offers a variety of pies, entrees, and some killer gelato.
- Jones – A mid-century vibe with home-cooked favorites where everyone is sure to find something to enjoy. Snag a reservation if you can as it can get pretty crowded on the weekends.
- Frankford Hall – This German beer garden is worth the trek. Kids will love the ping pong and foosball tables as much as they dig the root beer and sausage sandwiches. Grown ups will find a wide selection of adult beverages and tasty treats to nosh too. The laid back atmosphere almost definitely means you won’t be the only family there.
There are plenty more options throughout the city and we know that every member of your family – young and old – will find something they love about Philadelphia!
Aileen Dreibelbis lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their 5-year-old daughter. Together, they love using Philadelphia’s many parks as their backyard and exploring awesome food spots that are great for both sophisticated palettes and families. Aileen is a social media strategist by trade and fills the rest of her time cooking, taking random classes, and seeking out great Instagram shots.