The Philadelphia area abounds with family-friendly venues when it’s time to get the kids out of the house this summer. Options such as the Franklin Institute, Please Touch Museum and Academy of Natural Sciences offer educational experiences for kids of all ages and deserve a place on everyone’s to-visit list, but on sunshine-y summer days when temperatures skyrocket and the great outdoors beckon, these are the best bets.
The Philadelphia Zoo
3400 West Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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America’s First Zoo opened its doors to the public back in 1874 and nowadays, enjoys some one million visitors every year. Along with its more than 1,300 animals, the zoo boasts such attractions as a carousel, outdoor aviary and camel, horse and pony rides. There’s even a balloon that takes passengers 400 feet up for a bird’s-eye view of the zoo. Through Oct. 31, enjoy the three-dimensional, interactive Trail of the Lorax, based on the Seuss story and film. Indoor and outdoor concessions are on-hand for lunch, or feel free to pack your own picnic fare.
Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia
Independence Visitor Center
6th and Market streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Philadelphia is home to much of America’s rich history and is replete with historic sites well worth a family outing. Start your self-guided tour at the Visitor Center, pick up a map or download one beforehand, and go from there at your family’s own pace. The list of destinations includes everything from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell to such less-frequented sites as the Bishop White House and the First Bank of the United States. To experience 18th-century American cuisine and keep with the day’s theme, take a break and dine at the City Tavern.
100 Sesame Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
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Fun for all ages awaits at Sesame Place, where children can meet and be photographed with their favorite Sesame Street characters and even enjoy a meal in their company. There are rides galore, too, including a roller coaster, carousel and Big Bird’s Balloon Basket for kids to explore the park from above. Water is aplenty as well for swimming, rafting, sliding and even getting dumped on when the Count’s 8-foot, 1,000-gallon water bucket tips over. Eateries are available, too, or simply picnic on your own.
137 W. Knowlton Road
Media, PA 19063
Price: free/$8 hayrides
Only about 30 minutes from Philly, this 300-acre, family-friendly farm caters to all ages. Kids can enjoy face painting, pony rides, feeding the animals and running around inside the Playland Playground. Even fishing is an option here. Afterward, it’s off to the fields to pick your own seasonal fruits and vegetables, paying only for what you gather. Fresh produce is also available for purchase, as are flowers, plants and shrubs, along with homemade goodies and toys. Special occasion hayrides, such as to the Witches’ House and Bunnyland, make for an even more eventful visit around the holidays.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 N. Outer Line Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Valley Forge Park is only about a half hour outside of Philadelphia and opens up a view into history unlike any other as visitors explore the 1777 to 1778 winter encampment of George Washington and his men during the Revolution. To get started, head to the Visitor Center for an 18-minute orientation film, maps, and more, and then consider driving the 10-mile tour loop, called the Encampment Tour. A paved trail for walkers, joggers and bikers is also available, as is the Revolutionary Shuttle that takes a nine-stop, 40-minute tour, leaving every 20 minutes. There’s also a 90-minute guided trolley tour for added excitement.
Related: Plan a Staycation to Remember
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