I’ve been a regular visitor to Philadelphia since my brother moved there nearly 20 years ago and have always loved its mix of genuine grit and historic elegance. Since having kids, I’ve also come to appreciate its many thoughtful playgrounds and creative public spaces.
Philadelphia is a city where the past feels very present, and it can be a great place to turn a family vacation into a field trip. Philly’s also a great eating town with a ton of kid-friendly options beyond the namesake cheesesteak. You’ll find incredible Vietnamese, Israeli, Sichuan, and Italian food, along with the best donuts I have ever had. Here’s my itinerary for a few fun days in Philly with your family.
Spring and fall with their temperate weather are beautiful seasons to visit Philadelphia.
If you only have time for one thing in Philadelphia, make it Penn’s Landing, the lively historic waterfront district.
Known as the birthplace of America for its crucial role in the American Revolution, Philadelphia vibrates with historic resonance. Many of the Revolutionary-era landmarks are conveniently clustered together in the Old City neighborhood, making it a great spot for a family-friendly walking tour. Conclude the educational segment with a visit to the Museum of the American Revolution, and then treat everybody to ice cream at the old-timey Franklin Fountain ice cream parlor.
Once fortified, you and your family can enjoy a scenic walk to Franklin Square for carousel rides, mini golf, and burgers in the 200-year-old public space.
Fairmount Park sprawls across both sides of the Schuylkill River, home to a huge range of activity spots, gardens, and museums. My kids have passed many happy hours at Smith Memorial Playground, which features a 16,000-square-foot playhouse along with a century-old giant wooden slide and an outdoor playground full of interesting play equipment.
Philadelphia is home to lots of street art, and walking tours in search of neighborhood murals can be a great way to get your kids some culture while burning off all that wild energy. One work that kids love is the massive Magic Gardens mosaic installation on South Street. If your kids are 12 and up, a Segway mural tour can cover ground in more far-flung neighborhoods.