Top Things to Do with Kids in Philadelphia
The best spots for kids and families to learn, play, explore and more...
Kids live for fun — and Philadelphia offers a ton of fun things to do geared toward those of every age.
Start at Philly’s most iconic institutions for kiddos, which include The Franklin Institute (the region’s most popular science museum with a large number of kid-friendly exhibitions), the Philadelphia Zoo (offering fun, animal-centric learning opportunities) and Sesame Place (a Sesame Street -based theme park for the little ones).
Then, explore Greater Philadelphia’s abundance of museums and historical attractions, play in the city’s vast parks and playgrounds, find opportunities for fun and learning, and reconnect with animals and nature.
No matter where you venture, the destinations below are designed to offer an interactive and engaging experience for the entire family.
Read on for the top things to do with kids in Greater Philadelphia.
Housed in Fairmount Park ’s Memorial Hall, this heaven-on-earth-for-kids attraction includes two full floors of interactive exhibit zones (including a revamped-in-2021 shopping-market exhibit), plus a fully restored century-old carousel. Kids can play and pretend amid Alice’s Wonderland , River Adventures and other hands-on fun.
The region’s most popular science museum has a full city block of kid-friendly exhibitions, such as the iconic walk-through Giant Heart , Space Command , SportsZone, Sir Isaac’s Loft , Amazing Machine , Electricity , Train Factory and Changing Earth . The museum’s 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion features the 8,500-square-foot exhibit Your Brain , along with rotating special exhibitions. The attraction also houses the Fels Planetarium.
America’s first zoo and a foremost conservation organization is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. The zoo has a first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration train system, Zoo360, enabling primates and big cats to move above and across the main visitor pathway. Exhibits include Big Cat Falls, the McNeil Avian Center, the PECO Primate Reserve and KidZooU, an interactive wildlife academy of dynamic displays, rare breeds and indoor-outdoor learning.
One of William Penn’s five original squares, Franklin Square is a modern, fun park, with a Philly-themed miniature golf course, playground, carousel and restored marble fountain. When hunger sets in, seasonal SquareBurger delivers with burgers, fries and Cake Shakes (trust us). Summer brings the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival , while the holidays feature Winter in Franklin Square programming and its Electrical Spectacle Light Show.
Two million gallons of water and 15,000 aquatic animals can’t help but impress. Just across the river in Camden, New Jersey, the aquarium has a Shark Bridge to cross; hippos and penguins to meet (and smell); stingrays to feed; and horseshoe crabs, starfish and sharks to touch. The biggest wow here: a 760,000-gallon tank of sea turtles, stingrays, schooling fish and sharks, including an impressive seven-foot Great Hammerhead.
The Americas’ oldest natural history museum keeps it fresh with Dinosaur Hall , complete with a fossil preparation lab and dig site; a children’s interactive nature center with live animals; historic dioramas and visiting exhibits.
Big Bird, Elmo, Abby, Julia and more stars of Sesame Street come and play at Sesame Place — one of only two parks in the nation based entirely on the long-running children’s television show. A water park (open Memorial Day through Labor Day), rides, interactive activities, parades, fireworks and shows add to the sunny day fun.
This 33,000-square-foot plastic-brick heaven features a LEGO-themed ride, 4D cinema and 10 play areas, including a DUPLO Park for the toddler set. An onsite cafe and store ensure everybody walks away satisfied.
Kids can play their way through seven explore-able exhibits , many of which offer insight into Bucks County’s history. Play area themes include: The Hospital , Town Square , Factory Works , Big Dig , Bucks County Country and Airways to Waterways .
Animals & Nature
Opened in 1924, the 16-acre Elmwood Park Zoo showcases an animal collection of more than 100 species indigenous to the Americas, as well as African fruit bats and Asian red pandas. Many of the animals — the American bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, timber wolf and American alligator — represent significant wildlife conservation success stories. The zoo also includes a spacious playground featuring interactive animal sculptures.
Just south of the city, this 300-acre family farm is dedicated to agriculture, education and entertainment. Families can explore the Garden Center, pick their own seasonal fruit, hop on a hayride and buy freshly baked pies to take home.
Pierre S. du Pont’s famed horticultural destination inspires kids with an imaginative, child-size space filled with hands-on water features, handcrafted sculptures and secret stairways — all part of the Indoor Children’s Garden in the Conservatory. Outside, a Children’s Corner offers a Flower Fountain for warm-season splashing and plenty of seating for the adults.
Across 92 acres of sprawling gardens and natural areas, Morris Arboretum & Gardens uses education and imagination to reveal a collaborative relationship with nature through lively exhibits for the whole family. The Garden Railway (running on select dates throughout the year) features a miniature world of trains, bridges and small-scale buildings made of natural materials on a quarter-mile track. The Out on a Limb exhibition puts visitors 50 feet into the trees for a bird’s-eye view of the forest and includes a larger-than-life Birds Nest, a canopy walk and an expansive rope netting which kids can scamper through like squirrels.
This 100-year-old working farm in Bucks County (just north of Philadelphia) is home to a fresh market, garden center and plenty of pick-your-own opportunities. Seasonal festivals center around what’s currently growing and feature hayrides, games and activities for the kids. Parents can enjoy a beer or cocktail and live entertainment at the on-site Stone’s Throw pub.
Parks & Playgrounds
Open spring, summer and fall
Blue Cross RiverRink brings ice skating in the winter ( Winterfest ) and roller skating in the summer ( Summerfest ) to the Delaware River waterfront alongside special pop-up fire pits, indoor games, cozy couches and hot drinks in winter. Summer brings air conditioning, rocking chairs on a wrap-around porch, cool drinks, carnival rides (including a 60-foot Ferris wheel!) and games for the whole family.
Offering parents the best of both worlds, Craft Hall features a selection of craft beers and something to do for the little ones. Home to Mainstay Independent Brewing Company , the space is explicitly family-friendly until 9 p.m. each day (when all patrons must be 21-plus.) While the adults sip and mingle, kids can play in an indoor, pirate-themed playground.
City Hall’s fantastic front yard has a retro-themed roller rink and tree-lined fountains (splashing encouraged) in warm weather, and an ice-skating rink in winter. Year-round pop-up concerts, fitness events, festivals, a cozy cafe and great access to public transit have revived the very center of Center City.
Bucks County’s all-in-one destination treats kids to Giggleberry Fair , with a restored 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company Grand Carousel; Giggleberry Mountain , the area’s largest indoor obstacle course; Giggles Discovers , an interactive exploration environment; and the Game Room .
Looking for a playground? A tennis court? Maybe a spray park or pool? Philadelphia’s Department of Parks & Recreation offers all of those things — and more! — at facilities in every section of the city. Use the department’s Activity Finder tool to find fields, courts, classes and other awesome kid-friendly services available to visitors and locals. Search by type of activity, zero in on any city section on the map and start having fun.
Water-loving kiddos and their families frequent this warm-day paradise for its pebble-bottom wading pool sheltered by a landscaped hill, along with 10 spouting fountains. The park also boasts a cafe and a kiosk selling plastic boats, swim diapers, sunscreen and other essentials, as well as kid-friendly programming from top museums and attractions during the summer months.
One of the oldest playgrounds in America is best known for the circa 1899 Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide and offers children (ages 10 and under) a free, safe place to play, jump, swing, climb and learn about nature. For children 5 and under, Tot Lot features more than 20 pieces of age-appropriate play equipment.
Open spring, summer and fall
Lauded as one of the best urban beaches in the world by Jetsetter , Spruce Street Harbor Park is an outdoor oasis on the Delaware River waterfront. With tree-slung hammocks, cargo container arcades and concessions, misting palm trees and planted barges (with bars for mom and dad), the park has become a warm-weather must-do.
Open spring, summer and fall
This 20-zipline obstacle attraction is designed for ages 4 and up. Open May through November, the self-guided, two-and-a-half-hour course includes 60 obstacles — swings, jumps, tightropes — of varying degrees of difficulty. The “chick’pea” course caters to ages 4 to 6.
Founded in 1976 (timed with the nation’s bicentennial), this groundbreaking museum tells stories of notable early African Americans through the core exhibit, Audacious Freedom . Children’s Corner , an interactive installment for ages 3 through 8, lets kids explore the daily lives of youth in Philadelphia from 1776-1876. Other exhibits examine contemporary issues through art and historic artifacts. Weekend family workshops and special events take place throughout the year.
More than 35 helicopters, autogiros and convertiplanes — some of which are fully accessible — fill this suburban destination . Kids’ learning and toddler areas give children under 6 the chance to play with puzzles, games and other toys. Several times a year, guests of all ages have a chance to ride in a helicopter.
Family programming — including toddler times and free first Sundays — give kids access to this most spectacular collection of 181 Renoirs; 69 Cézannes; 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos; works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Seurat and Modigliani; French metalwork; regional decorative arts; African sculpture and Native American textiles; jewelry; ceramics and more. Kids 12 and under enjoy free admission to the museum, and tickets for those age 13-18 are just $5.
Future emergency responders get a head start at this restored 1902 firehouse , home to some of the nation’s earliest firefighting equipment, including hand, steam and motor fire engines and an interactive kiosk that teaches kids about 911 services. Visitors can try on fire coats and boots, and learn about fire prevention.
On the edge of the Delaware River, little landlubbers can explore the Cruiser Olympia, which participated in the Spanish-American War, docked outside the museum . Visitors can also explore the World War II-era Submarine Becuna for an additional fee. Indoors, kids climb through a full-size reconstruction of the 1707 schooner Diligence. In summer months, families can also rent kayaks or museum-built rowboats to explore the calm waters of the basin.
Offering free admission to children under age 5 and discounts to older kids, this museum located in the Historic District delves into the citizens’ conflict that created the United States of America. All ages can join the Sons of Liberty, board the deck of a privateer ship, play soldier throughout and visit interactive Revolution Place , a discovery center made especially for ages 5 to 12 that recreates 18th-century Old City via a military encampment, a tavern, a home and a meetinghouse.
At America’s first and only museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution, highlights include interactive exhibits; the powerful, multimedia Freedom Rising performance; Signers’ Hall , filled with life-sized statues of the signers of the U.S. Constitution; and house-curated exhibitions. Special family-friendly programs take place throughout the year on civic holidays, including Constitution Day, Presidents Day, Veterans’ Day, Tax Day, Earth Day and more.
A robust calendar of kid-friendly programming awaits at the crown jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway . The museum offers themed guides for kids, family programming throughout the year, pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of every month and every Friday after 5 p.m. The best part: Admission is always free for kids 18 and under.
Dr. Fred Simeone’s impressive collection of racing sports cars — including machines from Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Mercedes, Ford and more — led to the creation of this museum that is perfect for gearheads of all ages. The museum hosts rotating exhibits highlighting the history of sports cars and regularly takes cars from its collection outside for a spin during scheduled demonstration days.
The Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall are two of the 25-plus attractions that make up America’s most historic square mile in Independence National Historical Park . The National Parks Service’s Junior Ranger program gives kids a chance to earn a special badge and certificate during their visit by attending at least one ranger program and completing five activities in the Junior Ranger Activity Booklet. Interested families can pick up a booklet from the Independence Visitor Center on the day of their visit.
Nautically and militarily inclined kids can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship for tours, a simulated launch of a tomahawk missile and sleepovers in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program.
America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18 th -century upholstery shop . Visitors learn about Betsy’s life, work and legend from the upholsterer herself. An audio tour caters to 4- to-8-year-olds, offering lessons in colonial life and the opportunity to solve “history mysteries.”
Available in summer
In Philadelphia’s Historic District, Once Upon A Nation storytelling benches feature free tales and secret stories told by professional storytellers. Learn fascinating details about some of our nation’s earliest “celebrity” citizens in the places where the history actually happened.
Fun & Learning
Offering a lighthearted break from the more serious historical sites in Old City and Philadelphia’s Historical District , the Museum of Illusions features a number of Instagrammable exhibits meant to trick the eye. Visitors to this good-for-the-whole-family spot typically spend an hour interacting with the space’s holograms, stereograms and optical illusions, all the while learning about vision, perception and the human brain.
Mosaics bloom at this fantasy-like art showplace on South Street, presenting and preserving the work of artist Isaiah Zagar. Visitors can take a tour and snap a selfie in a wonderland constructed from bicycle spokes, bottles and other knick-knacks. Once a month, the eccentric space hosts PECO Family Jams — afternoons dedicated to family-oriented programs and craft-making opportunities.
Animals & Nature
Parks & Playgrounds
Fun & Learning
Top Free Things to Do in Greater Philadelphia
Some of the city’s best inexpensive offerings...View More