The 25 best things to do in Philadelphia with kids

Our guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia with kids includes visits to museums, zoos and tons of outdoor fun
Philadelphia Zoo
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Philadelphia/J. Fusco
By Robin Fradkin Matthews and Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee |
Advertising

There are more things to do in Philadelphia with kids than noshing on cheesesteaks the size of your face (though we wouldn’t mind that, either!). Whether your kids are dying to get their hands messy with the arts or eager to run, jump and play all day long, there’s something for curious and creative kiddos of all ages in The City of Brotherly Love.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in Philadelphia

From medical mystery museums and creature-packed zoos to magic gardens, water parks and old fashioned soda shops, here are some of the best places to explore on your next visit. Looking for more to do? Check out these indoor playgrounds and take a weekend trip to explore our favorite 101 things to do with kids in NYC.

Best things to do in Philadelphia with kids

1
Philadelphia Magic Garden
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/chriszak
Museums, Art and design

Philadelphia Magic Garden

icon-location-pin Bainbridge St Booksellers Row

Little ones will love wandering through this whimsical space, its winding walls filled with colorful glass and tiled mosaics. First, stop by the front desk to snag your scavenger hunt card then explore interactive corners where kids can touch tiles, tools and hear stories about the space. Drop in to free daily tours to learn all about the garden’s muralist, Isaiah Zagar, and be sure to check the website for monthly special events, like family-friendly crafternoons and live musical performances after-hours.

2
Smith Memorial Playground
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Katia Strieck
Kids

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse

icon-location-pin East Parkside

With rope mountains to climb and slides to zoom down galore, this 16,000 square foot playhouse is every child’s dream come true. Younger tots will love roaming and hiding in the three-storied playhouse while older kids eagerly explore nearly seven acres of jungle gym fantasies. But beware, adventurers of all ages will quickly become addicted to the famous 39-foot-long slide with a daring (but kid-friendly!) 13-foot wide slope. Prepare to hear one too many “Just 5 more minutes?”...

Advertising
3
Please Touch Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jim, the Photographer
Museums

Please Touch Museum

icon-location-pin East Parkside

Break the rules at this museum where curious minds of all ages are encouraged to poke, prod, and play with two fun-filled exhibit floors. Kids can navigate an indoor hedge maze, sail across a tabletop river, launch a rocket or stargaze while learning about creatures of the forest. On a sunny day, be sure to visit the urban garden before heading back inside to shop a play supermarket and cook in the bistro. Then, tumble through giant foam blocks in the Imagination Playground before taking a spin on the carousel ($3 per ride or $5 unlimited).

4
Little kid boy watching and feeding giraffe in zoo
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Philadelphia Zoo

icon-location-pin Belmont

Fly, swing and leap on over to America’s longest-standing zoo for an afternoon of animal adventures to remember. First, dive into the newest addition, KidZooU, for a few furry up-and-close encounters, interactive exhibits and climbing structures. Then, pay a visit to nearly 1,300 animals from the rare black and white ruffed lemur and the Chinese alligator to zoo favorites like the jaguars, hippos, bears, rhinos and more. Finally, unwind in a sail aboard a swan boat or choo-choo on the kiddie train express.

Advertising
5
Franklin Institute
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/PROjpellgen
Museums, Science and technology

Franklin Institute

icon-location-pin Logan Square

Escape rooms, VR and giant hearts—oh my! Inquisitive minds of all kinds will love spending the day at this science emporium. Find out how your body can help power a lightbulb or put Newton’s Laws of Motion to the test with a playground of pulleys and pendulums. Then, gear up to operate a massive crane before finding out who will crack the code first in a puzzle-packed escape room challenge. And don’t forget to get lost in the museum’s AR experience that you’ll just have to see to believe.

6
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Phgotograph: Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art/E. Leitzell
Museums, Art and design

Philadelphia Museum of Art

icon-location-pin Ben Franklin Parkway - Kelly Drive

The Museum of Art houses a stunning collection of over 240,000 pieces of original art, ranging from sculpture to furniture collections from historic Philadelphians’ homes. Kids will love the family art cart in the galleries, where they can sketch from the masterpieces as well as Sunday family tours, specifically geared toward the younger set. Guides center the tour on a specific theme (colors, shapes, etc.) and then lead children through the museum in search of examples in the collection.

Advertising
7
Eastern State Penitentiary
Photograph: Courtey CC/Flickr/Matthew Hester
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Eastern State Penitentiary

icon-location-pin Fairmount District

This one’s great for older kids! Actor Steve Buscemi narrates a self-guided tour that highlights the history, but also points out interesting tidbits about the prison culture of the time that kids will find fascinating. Complete a scavenger hunt as you walk through and take your completed sheet to the gift shop to receive a special prize at the end of your visit.

8
Mutter Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Danielle G.
Museums, Science and technology

Mutter Museum

icon-location-pin Center City West

Come one, come all and marvel at some of the world’s medical mysteries! From over 2,000 of the oddest objects ever ingested by the human body to the many intricacies of The Soap Lady, this museum, run by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, is also one of only two places worldwide where Albert Einstein’s brain resides—literally. Examine it up close, or peruse a collection of 139 human skulls and learn about the study they helped...er...head.

Advertising
9
Jkidphilly
Photograph: Courtesy Jewish Learning Venture
Things to do, Cultural centers

Jkidphilly at the Jewish Learning Venture

icon-location-pin Lamott

Part of the Jewish Learning Venture, this program seeks to connect kids and families within the vibrant community of Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs and offers different activities throughout the year to that end. Check out the calendar for an ever-changing selection of events and celebrations, including craft days, baking events and afternoon park playdates.

10
Fireman’s Hall Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Peter Miller
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Fireman’s Hall Museum

icon-location-pin Elfreth's Alley

If you’ve got a kid who loves firetrucks, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Just outside of Old City, this restored firehouse offers close-up looks at antique firetrucks as well as artifacts rescued from some well-known fire-related events. Upstairs, kids can try on firefighter gear, sit and read books, and make 9-1-1 calls on a pretend phone. The tiny gift counter offers fun take-home items such as stickers, patches and a model firetrucks.

Advertising
11
Philadelphia City Hall
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Christopher Muhs
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

City Hall Observation Deck

icon-location-pin Center City

Once the tallest habitable building in the world, City Hall sits right in the middle of Broad Street and until 1987 was the highest structure in the city. Kids will love the winding walk through the building and the thrill of standing right at the feet of the giant statue of William Penn is unmatched. Call ahead to get tickets for the elevator ride up as only four people are allowed on it at once.

12
Diggerland
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Scott Sherrill-Mix
Attractions

Diggerland USA

Just across the bridge from Philadelphia proper in West Berlin, New Jersey, you’ll find an amusement park populated with authentic digging machines. Kids can drive tractors across wide swaths of dirt and climb up into the cab of an excavator and maneuver the gears to dig a deep hole. Smaller kids can ride on parents’ laps or choose the smaller machines to try out. Hard hats not required!

Advertising
13
Philadelphia Orchestra
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sybille P.
Things to do, Concerts

Philadelphia Orchestra

icon-location-pin Center City

Mini maestros and petite pianists alike will enjoy the city orchestra’s family-friendly concerts which hosts events like Morning at the Movies (featuring soundtrack hits from Fantasia to The Force Awakens) and seasonal favorites including a haunting Halloween show and a Christmas spectacular. Arrive early and take part in free pre-concert festivities like instrument introductions, behind-the-scenes tidbits and more. For even more tot-sized fun, check out the Sound All Around concerts—45 minutes of music-accompanied storytelling—and all-inclusive weekly performances for children with sensory sensitivities.

14
Linvilla Orchards
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jim, the Photographer
Attractions, Farms

Linvilla Orchards

Come for scenic hayrides, stay for legendary apple cider donuts! Whatever you pick (did we mention you can pick your own produce?), this 300-acre family-owned farm is worth visiting. Just a half-hour drive south of Philadelphia, the farm also features a giant wooden playland with tractors to board, a furry friend-filled barnyard, and a market stocked with freshly baked pies, canned jams and homemade fudge. If you’re visiting from early spring to late fall, you can fish in Orchard Lake, or sign up for a variety of seasonal classes from terrarium-building to cooking with peaches.

Advertising
15
Betsy Ross House
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/VeeVee N.
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Betsy Ross House

icon-location-pin Elfreth's Alley

There are lots of history-related things to do in Philly, but the Betsy Ross House is one of the ones that really makes an impression. Kids can tour through the house, looking at all the rooms, and chat with “Betsy” as she explains her role as a flag seamstress. Be sure to stop and take a peek at her final resting place, which is right on the property.

16
Franklin Fountain
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Mim
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Franklin Fountain

icon-location-pin Greater Philadelphia

Delighting dessert connoisseurs since 2004, this local ice cream shop is so much more than a simple, old fashioned scoopery. Sink your spoons into epic sundaes like a rocky-road ridden Stock Market Crunch, slurp up a creamy milkshake (named one of the best in America!) or sip on a classic hand-drawn soda. Kids will quickly begin drooling over two dozen house-made ice cream flavors, from chocolate and cotton candy to teaberry gum and caramelized banana—and don’t even get us started on the topping list.

Advertising
17
Adventure Aquarium
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Alexander L.
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Adventure Aquarium

icon-location-pin Cooper Grant

Ever heard of a Chocolate Chip Sea Star? Come sea what they’re all about in this medley of marine life. Home to 14 interactive exhibits, over 45 different sea creatures and just a 15 minute drive from the city, the aquarium invites little ones to pet a friendly stingray, chat with shark experts and awe at the panoramic view of sea turtles. They’ll also love watching daily feeding with penguins and hippos, deep-diving into a show at the 3-D theater and sailing away to the KidZone where plenty of hands-on activities await.

18
US Mint
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Lucas Pettinati
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

US Mint

icon-location-pin Olde City

Philadelphia’s Mint does not print paper money, but it does stamp coins by the tens of millions per day. This self-guided tour explains what the process entails from start to finish and explores the history of making money. Along the way, kids will get to design their own virtual coins, try to lift a sack of nickels and see what happens to all the money that falls off the conveyor belts.

Advertising
19
Cheesesteaks
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Lucas Richarz

Cheesesteaks

Take your kids down to South Philly to take a cheesesteak challenge and pick which one of the two offerings should be considered the best cheesesteak in town. Pack a notebook and pencil and have the children jot down the key characteristics of each sandwich before making a decision. Whichever they end up choosing, make sure they know the lingo before they hop on line: Wiz wit or witout?

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Lucas Richarz

20
Independence Seaport Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Patsy Wooters
Things to do

Independence Seaport Museum

icon-location-pin Penn's Landing

This museum along the Delaware River gives a comprehensive maritime history of the Delaware Valley. Kids can spend time learning about the Delaware River and some of the catastrophes that have happened over the years through an interactive exhibit or take a peek at tattoo artwork that has been a staple among sailors and pirates. Be sure to check out the boat workshop, where kids can watch actual boats being built from scratch.

Show more

Sightseeing on a budget?

Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photograph: Courtesy Delaware Valley Waterfront Corporation/Matt Stanley
Things to do

Discover free things to do in Philly

Follow our list of the top free things to do in Philadelphia to experience the best aspects of the city on the cheap

Advertising