Summer’s here, and the time is ripe for families to break up that vacation time with one-of-a-kind playdates. And oh, the places you’ll go, as Philadelphia is home to countless kid-friendly venues. On rainy days, nothing beats the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park and the Franklin Institute, but when the sun is shining, choices abound, too. Pack up those kids and hit the road for a day of fun, no matter the weather, at Philadelphia’s best spots for summer playdates.
200 N. 6th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Click here for prices
Of the five original Philadelphia squares, this one is just for kids and was named one of the best play places in Philly by Philadelphia magazine. Along with typical playground fare, Franklin Square also offers the Liberty Carousel and a miniature golf course like no other, with kids putting their way through miniaturized Philly landmarks like Independence Hall and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Book an event at Franklin Square’s year-round pavilion and make the play date one for everyone.
Free Play on the Parkway
2100 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Located right in the center of town and across from the Rodin, Free Play was created just for kids but keeps parents in mind, too, with bistro-style seating that’s perfect for a chat while the kids play. Little ones love the soft Imagination Playground blocks for building all sorts of things, as well as an oversized eight-sided sandbox — the only one of its kind in Philly — and a cast-concrete ping pong table. It all combines to teach children cooperation and problem-solving as they play and enjoy endless fun together.
Herron Playground and Sprayground
210-211 Reed St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Environmentally-friendly Herron is a twofer: a water park and playground all in one. The unique equipment invites bouncing, climbing, sliding and spinning — even interactive game playing — all in one location. Then there’s the cooling water spraying up from the pavement and down from poles. Shaded tables, a rain garden and basketball court round out the offerings, making Herron a must-visit location that’s perfect for playdates.
100 E. Northwestern Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Price: $7 kids ages 3 to 17/$16 adults/$14 seniors
Visitors to Morris Arboretum are greeted by 92 acres of gardens, sculptures, buildings, towering trees, and countless plants and bushes. Of special interest for children are three sites: Swan Pond, the Tree Adventure — a 450-foot-long walkway 50 feet above the ground — and the suspension bridge to the Bird’s Nest, where three bright-blue robin’s eggs offer a resting place. There’s even a Squirrel Scramble — a network of ropes suspended between two trees — and the not-to-be-missed Garden Railway. This season’s theme is “Storytime.”
Smith Memorial Playgrounds
East Fairmount Park
Reservoir Drive near 33rd and Oxford streets
Philadelphia, PA 19125
This destination has been delighting children since it opened on July 23, 1899; it simply doesn’t get any better than this. Smith’s mission is to give the 10 and younger set a unique play experience with a 24,000-square-foot playhouse designed specifically for them. The 6.5-acre grounds also feature a playground like no other. One trip down the famous Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide alone — 39 feet long and 13 feet wide — will have your kids begging to come back again and again.
Related: Top Playgrounds In Philadelphia
Carol Josel, a Blue Bell, PA resident, is a learning specialist, author of three books, and examiner.com contributor. Her work can be found here