If you’re thinking of visiting Philadelphia with kids, I recommend purchasing a Philadelphia all-inclusive Go City Pass. For this trip, we purchased a 3-day all-inclusive Go City Pass. This gave us unlimited access to several museums and attractions for three days. To learn more about the Philadelphia Go City Passes and to read our review, click here. Below find out how much we were able to see and do in Philadelphia with kids in three days.
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Philadelphia with Kids- Day 1
Adventure Aquarium, Camden NJ
We arrived at our first attraction just in time for its opening. The Adventure Aquarium is in Camden, NJ but is included in the Philadelphia Go City Pass because of its proximity to Philadelphia. The Adventure Aquarium is a must-visit location when visiting Philadelphia with kids.
We spent approximately 3 hours at the Aquarium. We walked through the shark tunnel and across the shark bridge, met the divers in the shark tank, touched so many different species of sea creatures, and even met Dory and Nemo.
After the aquarium, we explored Camden, NJ. Behind the aquarium is a beautiful waterfront area that overlooks the Philadelphia skyline, the Delaware River, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. For my NBA fans, not far from the Aquarium is the 76ers training facility. Although we didn’t get to see any of the players, we did see some of their cars being washed and it was cool just to know that they were inside the building training for the playoffs.
As we drove on, we came upon this sign that said, “Enslaved Africans Once Sold Here” and decided to get out and have a closer look. Turns out that by 1766, around 600 African slaves had been sold on that street and two other nearby ferry landings. It was a cool and expected historical find.
Legoland Discovery Center
After checking into the hotel, we went to the Legoland Discovery Center because it was included with our all-inclusive pass. The Legoland Discovery Center is located just outside of the Philadelphia area inside the Plymouth Meeting Mall. We weren’t expecting much based on its location in the mall and how small it looked from the storefront but now I know why they say not to judge a book by its cover.
The Legoland Discovery Center blew us away. There were a few lego creation areas like we expected, but there was also a ride, a large soft play jungle gym area, a laser maze, and a 4D cinema, playing 3 different Lego movies. The Legoland Discovery Center is definitely worth the drive out of Philadelphia and is a must-do attraction when visiting Philadelphia with kids. Click HERE to visit their website to learn more. For discounts, visit Tiqets.com or getyourguide.com.
Springhill Suites by Marriot Plymouth Meeting- Hotel Review
We stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriott in Plymouth Meeting. With minimal traffic, it’s a 15-20 minute drive into Philadelphia. We loved the location of the hotel. If you don’t want to stay in the city, but want to be close to food, stores, and attractions Plymouth Meeting is a great location. A two-minute drive from the hotel is the Plymouth Meeting Mall, which has several restaurants and attractions, including Dave & Busters and the Legoland Discovery Center.
Plymouth Meeting is also a historical location. It was founded in 1686 by Quakers and in 1708 they built the Plymouth Friends Meetinghouse, which still stands today. In 1778, during the Revolutionary War, the Plymouth Friends Meetinghouse served as a temporary military hospital.
Outside of the great location and the great customer service, I was a bit disappointed by this Springhill Suites location. Although the entire hotel was supposed to be a smoke-free facility, the hallways smelled strongly of smoke. The rooms with two beds, which according to the hotel staff were full size beds, were extremely small. If you were planning on sharing a bed with someone, unless you are both under the age of 10 it would not work. We ended up switching to a King room, where at least the bed seemed to be Queen sized. The layout of the rooms were great. There was a small kitchenette area with a microwave, refrigerator, sink, and a desk and a living room area with a pull-out couch (no separate tv). The bathroom sink is also outside of the bathroom, which is a feature we love. However, the room felt very small. It was clean but was in serious need of renovations.
In addition to the rooms, the complimentary breakfast was a bit disappointing as well. With the breakfast being complimentary, we don’t tend to be picky, but almost every other hotel we have stayed at with complimentary breakfast had better breakfast than here. The hotel served a typical continental breakfast with a few hot options minus the pastries and fresh muffins. They served pre-cooked waffles, which were hard and weirdly sweet. And two other different hot options a day, which were usually eggs and a type of meat or pre-made breakfast sandwiches. We didn’t enjoy the breakfast at all and mostly went down for juice, coffee, tea, and fruit.
Although there was nothing really wrong with the hotel, for our needs which is space, a modern feel, and a decent complimentary breakfast, it just didn’t work. It’s unlikely that we would stay here again.
For pictures and more reviews of this hotel or to search for places to stay in the Plymouth Meeting area, click HERE.
Philadelphia with Kids- Day 2
Parking and the Independence Visitor Center
On Day 2 of our trip, we arrived in the city center sometime around 9:30 a.m. and parked in the lot under the Independence Visitor Center. This parking lot was closest to the first stop of the bus tours and was a decent price for all-day parking. We paid $24 for up to 12 hours. To learn more about this parking lot, click HERE.
Once we were parked, we went inside the Independence Visitor Center. We can never visit a new city or place without stopping by the visitor center. This was a beautiful visitor center, with multiple interactive activities. Like most visitor centers, this is where you can get your area maps and coupon booklets, speak to an employee for additional information, and visit the souvenir shop. There are also a couple of theaters and exhibits if you are interested in learning more about the history of Philadelphia.
Pro tip: The Independence Visitor Center has some of the cleanest bathrooms in the area, so you may want to visit there first for a potty break before exploring the city.
The Liberty Bell
Across the street from the Independence Visitor Center is the Liberty Bell, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia. No tickets are required to visit the Liberty bell which means that there is normally a long line. In addition to being free, you must pass through metal detectors before entering the building, which contributes to the long line.
The liberty bell is also on the same street as the first stop of the bus tours so we decided to take advantage of the short line and see the liberty bell before getting on the bus. We were glad we did because later in the day we saw just how long the line can get.
Pro Tip: Visit first thing in the morning when the line is short. The line can grow to be hours long and it may not be worth the wait, especially if you have younger children who have a hard time being patient and waiting in line.
City Sightseeing Bus tour
After the liberty bell, we boarded the City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour bus. This is a must-do attraction when visiting Philadelphia with kids. While I do not recommend this service for the hop-on and off feature, the full guided tour was amazing. Parents take in the humor and knowledge of the guide, while kids will be in awe of the views sitting on the top level of the bus. Also, it was a great time for my toddler to take a nap. The rocking of the bus and the breeze put him right to sleep. Just make sure to have something handy to shield their eyes from the sun on a sunny day. The full tour took a little over an hour so make sure little ones use the bathroom right before boarding. Worst-case scenario, be prepared to hop off the bus and find one.
Reading Terminal Market
After the tour, it was time for lunch so we hopped back on the bus and got off at the Reading Terminal Market. For the best idea of what the Reading Terminal Market is like, I suggest you watch several YouTube videos to decide if it’s for you. [While there, subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notification button to be one of the first to see hotel, resort, and attraction tours for some of our adventures.] Unfortunately, the market during lunch was so crowded and chaotic that I was unable to record it. I was too focused on making sure our family stayed together while we navigated the aisles.
After touring the entire market, we decided on The Rib Stand. We had pulled pork and ribs, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and cornbread. The food was delicious!
Love Park and Logan Square
After the market, we decided to walk a few short blocks to Love Park. During the walk, we got some good views and shots of City Hall. There wasn’t much to see in Love Park but we did get a few good pictures, and a chance to rest our legs, which is kind of the point of Love Park. We took the bus over to Logan Square, which is only a few blocks away from Love Park if you feel like taking the walk. The tulips were in full bloom for spring and we got some more great shots in that area.
The Benjamin Franklin Institute
Our last stop for the day was The Franklin Institute Science museum. The exhibits are educational and interactive, the perfect place for a kid. Even if your child is too young to care about the educational portion of the museum, like my toddler was, they will still have a blast with all the hands-on exhibits–whether they are climbing through a giant heart, racing against a virtual track star, or creating electricity.
Philadelphia with Kids- Day 3
We had initially planned to go to the Philadelphia Zoo on Day 3 but because of issues with the hop on hop off bus that caused us not to be able to see as much as we wanted we decided to spend another day in the city instead. Our first order of business was to go back to The Franklin Institute Science museum since the kids enjoyed it so much but did not have much time to spend there the day before.
Sonny’s Famous Cheesesteaks
By the time we finished at the museum, we had worked up an appetite and decided it was time to try our first authentic Philly cheesesteak. Sonny’s Famous Cheesesteaks was closest to where our journey after lunch would begin and we heard great things about them. Their cheesesteak did not disappoint. The meat was very flavorful and the bread was soft but toasted well so that it was not soggy. My only complaint was that there was not a lot of cheese like what you would expect in a cheesesteak and it wasn’t as juicy as I would have expected. We ended up putting hot sauce on our cheesesteaks, which worked very well, but I imagine the perfect cheesesteak would need nothing more. We’ll have to try some other locations next time.
A Walking History Lesson in Philadelphia with Kids
After lunch, we walked across the street to Christ Church, built between 1727 and 1754. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Robert Morris all worshipped there. We even got to sit in the exact same pews that they once sat in. Buried beneath the church is John Penn, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried either at the church gravesite or a nearby gravesite also owned by the church.
After taking in the history of Christ Church, we walked a couple of blocks down to Elfreth’s Alley, where homes built between the 1720s and 1830s still stood on the same cobblestone road. I could almost picture the horse-drawn carriages as they rode down that very same street 300 years ago.
By this point, I could tell everyone was getting tired, so we walked past but did not enter The Betsy Ross House, which is believed to be the birthplace of the first American flag sewn in 1776. Visitors can also visit the grave of Betsy Ross inside of the home. We’ll have to visit during our next trip.
On the next block past the Betsy Ross House is the Arch Street Meeting House for Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends. In 1701, William Penn, a Quaker, deeded the house to be used as a burial ground, although burials took place on the property as early as the 1680s. It is believed that the property is the gravesite of thousands of people in unmarked graves. As rumor has it, people would throw their deceased loved ones’ bodies over the wall because they knew the Quakers would bury them. The wall was later erected another 3 feet in height to prevent this. Standing on the grass on the property knowing thousands of skeletons were buried somewhere underneath was quite the eerie feeling.
Lastly, we walked one more block to the Christ Church Burial Ground and entered to pay our respects to Benjamin Franklin and his family. Next to Benjamin Franklin rested his wife and their 4-year-old son who died of smallpox, a virus which is thankfully now eradicated.
Ice Cream, The Park, and a Scenic Drive
The kids (and my husband) were exhausted at this point so we decided to call it a day. To reward them for their patience while I visited all the historical landmarks that were so important for me to see, we stopped, as promised, at the Mister Softee Ice Cream truck. Turns out the nostalgia of having Mister Softee all these years later was not worth the price, which had gone up by quite a bit over the years.
Our car was parked by one of the many parks in that section of Philadelphia (behind the Franklin Institute) so we let the kids run around for a bit and then took a beautiful scenic drive along the Schuylkill River back to our hotel.
During the drive, we discovered Fairmount Park which is a beautiful waterfront park with a long walking and biking trail. There were also plenty of open grass areas to play or picnic in. There was even a bike rental store on location in case. Fairmount Park seemed like the perfect place to be on a beautiful spring or summer day. This is another location we plan to add to our itinerary during our next trip to Philadelphia.
Is 3 Days Enough Time to Visit Philadelphia with Kids?
Before going on this trip, we watched a lot of YouTube videos about what to do when visiting Philadelphia. I was so excited to see and do everything and made a list of all the places we would visit while there. What I forgot at the time was, unlike the vloggers who created those videos, I had young children.
My advice for you is to manage your expectations in advance. One day to explore everything you want to see and do in Philadelphia with young children is just not possible. We spent two days in Philadelphia and still did not make it to many popular Philadelphia attractions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art to take pictures with Rocky Balboa and climb the “Rocky stairs,” the Eastern State Penitentiary, or the Philadelphia zoo.
If you’re traveling with young children and live far from Philadelphia, I’d recommend staying at least 5 days if there’s a lot you want to see and do. A long weekend is fine if Philadelphia is a short road trip away from you like it is for us. However, you should plan to see no more than three attractions a day (unless they are grouped together like our walking tour) and come back another weekend to see more.
Overall, Philadelphia is a great city to visit with kids. We’ll definitely be back.