Philly is a museum town, and we’ve got lots of kid-friendly hotspots that prove it. There’s something for everyone–from culture junkies to daytrippers–to enjoy.
Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum, now housed in venerable Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, is the ultimate hands-on experience for kids of all ages. Here, they’re encouraged to touch, romp and explore the museum’s six interactive exhibit zones spread over 38,000 square feet. This is THE place for families on rainy and sunny days alike. Kids will never want to leave the interactive water exhibit, River Adventures (waterproof smocks and hand dryers are available), which is complete with rain clouds and waterwheels. But drag them out of the water, because there is so much else to see and do that you don’t want to miss the rest of the museum! And make sure to end your visit with a carousel ride on the museum’s famous Woodside Park carousel; it’s fully-refurbished and a century-old! Museum hours are Mon – Sat, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sun, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are $16 for children and adults and FREE for kids under 1.
The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you’re from the Philly area, you surely visited the Franklin Institute as a kid and took a walk through the beloved Giant Heart. Now, you can take your own kids through (if they aren’t scared of it, like my 2 year old was, of course!). But there are 12 other permanent exhibits–including the “Train Factory,” the “Air Show” and “Kid Science: The Island of the Elements,” which is designed for younger children (ages 5-8). And don’t forget the traveling exhibits and the awesome Planetarium and IMAX theaters! Open daily, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Hours vary for the Tuttleman IMAX and Franklin Theater shows. General admission museum tickets are $16.50/adults and $12/children. Additional rates apply for Tuttleman IMAX and Franklin Theater.
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
19th St. & Ben Franklin Parkway
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia’s natural history museum, hosts everything from dinosaurs to butterflies. For the younger kids (aged 3-8), there’s “Outside In: The Academy’s Children’s Museum,” which lets children explore the wonders of the natural world through interactive hands-on discovery. Your little naturalist will also love to meet live animals that are housed right in the museum, including a cuddly rabbit, hissing cockroaches and even a legless lizard. Hours are from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekends. Tickets are $15 for ages 13+ and up, $13 for children ages 3-12, and free for kids under 3. Tickets to the live butterfly exhibit are an additional $2 per person.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The highly-respected Philadelphia Museum of Art is no slouch when it comes to family & children’s programs either. Sunday family programs are tailored for children ages 3-10 and offer interactive activities including gallery tours and art projects for the whole family. In addition to self-guided family tours and Children’s Audio Tours, the Museum offers art classes Mondays through Saturdays for kids ages 3-12. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, and open until 8:45 p.m. on Fridays. Adult tickets are $20, children ages 13-18 are $14 and ages 12 and under are free. The whole family can get in free for the day (donations welcome!) on the first Sunday of every month, too.
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, NJ 08103
Just across the river on the Camden Waterfront, families can enjoy nearly 200,000 square feet of sea life, birds and other water creatures–including awesome underwater exhibits like the new 40-foot shark tunnel–at the Adventure Aquarium. Kids can see and touch sea stars, sharks and rays and will love the 4D Theater. Open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $24.95 per person, children 2-12 are $17.95, and kids 2 yrs and under are free.
Independence Seaport Museum
Here’s a museum you might not have considered yet: Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum. It has both permanent and new exhibits on all things nautical. Families can also tour the Cruiser Olympia, Admiral Dewey’s flagship from the Spanish-American War, and the World War II Submarine, Becuna. It’s a perfect outing for aspiring sea captains of all ages! Open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $13.50 for adults, $10 for children and free for children under 3.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
In the heart of Historic Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to teaching museum-goers about the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution Center’s core and featured exhibits use multimedia and interactive aspects to make our nation’s history come alive. The NCC is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 Noon – 5 p.m. Tickets are $14.50 for adults, $8 for children ages 4-12, free for kids under 4 yrs.
Jennifer Oxenford blogs at phillyfun4kids (www.phillyfun4kids.com), your place to find free and most free things to do in this great city of motherly love.