It seems that no sooner does the last school bell ring and the pencils and books are put away than that old summer refrain begins: “There’s nothing to do. I’m bored.” Well, there’s a frenzy of fun and fantastic things to do in Philadelphia in the summertime before school gets back in session. Here are the best of the best.
8046 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19136
Price: $7 adults and children older than age 2
The Insectarium is guaranteed to gross out and intrigue boys, girls and grown ups alike. The all-bug museum is the largest of its kind in the United States. Thousands of live and mounted insects, including ladybugs, butterflies, beetles and bumblebees, are on display. Kids may hold a tarantula, test their insectelligence on quiz boards, view a working beehive and get up close and personal with hundreds of live roaches in Cockroach Kitchen.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
1020-22 S. St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Price: $5 adults/$2 children ages 6 to 12
In 1994, award-winning mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar started revamping a rubbish-strewn vacant lot into a kaleidoscopic canvas of tiled tunnels, grottoes and murals. Today, visitors may take a self-guided tour of the mosaicked art gallery with its indoor space and outdoor sculpture garden. Thousands of colorful tiles, bicycle wheels, shimmering mirrors, and shards of glass and pottery cover the space for kids and adults to explore and enjoy. The gardens are open daily with hands-on activities for the kids, and hold special family programs every second Sunday of the month.
Herron Park Sprayground
250 Reed St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Summer just isn’t summer without a little wet entertainment. Cool off on a sizzling summer afternoon at South Philly’s Herron Park Sprayground, the Mad Hatter of sprinkler parks. Kids can dash and splash through five paved pad areas adorned with a variety of water mechanisms. Geysers erupt from the pavement, deluges of H2O pour down poles, squirters squirt and sprayers spray. When the kids get tired of getting drenched, they can tangle on the basketball courts or adventure-style playground, then head over to the picnic area for refreshments.
Philadelphia Duck Tours
6th and Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Price: $27 ages 18 to 61/$25 seniors/$23 ages 13 to 17/$17 ages 3 to 12/free ages 0 to 2
While it’s the first attraction tourists head for, Philadelphia natives rarely ride the wacky-quacky Duck Tours amphibious vehicle. But it’s a must-do. The open-air vehicle offers a unique way to see the city as the combo cruiser transforms from a bus on wheels to a boat. The WWII duck boat waddles through the streets of Philadelphia and splashes into the Delaware River while the captain relays the history of the City of Brotherly Love and guests blow their quacking whistles.
4231 N. Concourse Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19131
From dawn to dusk, something fun happens daily at fabulous Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the world. The park covers more than 4,400 acres with hiking, biking and jogging trails. It’s also home to gardens, historic sights and the Philadelphia Zoo. Kids younger than age 10 will adore Smith Memorial Playhouse and Playground, open during the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. The playground is as big as six football fields and is filled with a giant wooden slide and 50 pieces of engaging playground equipment.
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Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.