The City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding suburbs offer a cornucopia of destinations and activities that are perfect for parents to enjoy with their toddlers. There are lazy summer afternoons at the beach or a nearby water park, hayrides and apple picking in the fall, and frosty, snow-packed adventures in and around town the wintertime. Philadelphia, which is rich in history, culture and heritage, is both a playground and classroom for those in-the-know. Whether exploring the world of animals at the zoo, making memories at a theme park, diving into arts and crafts or an afternoon at a museum, the possibilities for fun and learning with your little ones are endless.
The Expressive Hand
622 S. 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
It’s never too early to develop your child’s inner artist, and Philadelphia is home to many organizations, schools and shops that offer children the opportunity to create a masterpiece. Marcie Ziskind, of The Expressive Hand, runs a paint-your-own-pottery and American Sign Language studio in Philadelphia. Ziskind, a student of American Sign Language and deaf culture for a number of years before taking over The Expressive Hand, is passionate about helping both children and adults create hand-made artwork and gifts. When working with little ones to create their works of art, she advises parents to plan to arrive at a time when they know their child won’t be hungry or tired and to be flexible with them. She also recommends that parents be engaged the entire time with their children, and that while it’s OK to help, they should resist the urge to take over the project completely.
137 W. Knowlton Road
Media, PA 19063
Tucked away in the countryside just outside of Philadelphia is Linvilla Orchards, a pick-your-own farm and farm stand. The entire family will enjoy visiting this 300-acre farm, and it’s the ideal setting to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to healthy eating and learning about where our food comes from. They can also meet barnyard animals face to face, ride ponies and enjoy hayrides. In addition to being educational, Linnvilla is a working farm, and pick-your-own means exactly that — you’ll be carted out to the fields or orchards to pick an array of produce, with apples and pumpkins being the highlight each fall. In addition to the bounty you’ll gather from the fields, there is always an abundance of seasonal, freshly picked produce available for purchase from the shop at the entrance of the farm.
The Philadelphia Zoo
3400 W. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
What parent, looking for an activity that is as enriching for the adult as it is for the child, hasn’t turned to an afternoon at the zoo? Philadelphia’s iconic zoo, over 150 years old and famous for being the nation’s first zoo, is also a leader in the fields of environmental education, conservation and environmental sustainability. Many of the zoo’s displays include components that toddlers will love getting their hands on — literally. In addition to interactive displays of wildlife from all over the world, sections of the zoo are set up just for kids. KidsZooU is a year-round destination within the zoo that engages even its youngest visitors with indoor and outdoor activities including a barnyard where little ones can get up-close and personal with goats, chickens and ducks.
Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic
Philadelphia, PA 19131
As the name implies, this museum is the epitome of “kid-friendly.” Housed in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, Philly’s popular Please Touch Museum, where the theme is “learning through the power of play,” provides a fun, memorable and hands-on learning experience for children of all ages. There are six interactive learning exhibit zones, each with areas programmed specifically for toddlers, like the “Nature’s Pond” area in the Rivers Adventures zone. Additional programs include theater presentations, art projects, music and movement and more, as well as special events and attractions including a fully refurbished, century-old carousel.
100 Sesame Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
With free admission for children 23 months and younger, Sesame Place makes it easy for young families on a budget to enjoy a day at this specially-themed park, which is located just outside of Philadelphia in Langhorne, PA. Attractions range from rides like roller coasters, a carousel and other “Sesame Street”-themed rides to water park attractions and a parade. Families can interact with “Sesame Street” characters throughout the park or even have dinner with one of them at one of the park’s eateries. For parents who have more than one child who they need to accompany on a ride, the park offers a innovated service called “child swap” which allows the parent to ride first with one child while the second child waits at the front of the line for her turn, and then the children simply switch spots. The best part of the day at Sesame Place for many visitors is the Neighborhood Street Party, a parade followed by fireworks set to Sesame Street Tunes.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.