There is so much for little people to see and do in the City of Brotherly Love, and many options are equally engaging for parents. Here are some places that are worth a visit even without kids.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers so much more than the iconic stairs Rocky ran in the classic movie. The museum holds one of the East Coast’s finest collections of art, spanning centuries, continents, and media. The European and Modern galleries hold innumerable treasures, and your ticket also covers the nearby Rodin Museum.
Highlights: The Armor Collection is impressive. The Asian wing holds rebuilt temples and tea houses you can walk through. In summer, Arts Splash has lots of hands-on art projects for kids
Parent Perks: There is excellent art for everyone, killer gifts shops, and good coffee in the cafe. The first Sunday of the month is pay-what-you-wish, which is often paired with special family programming.
The Simeone Foundation
Informally called The Car Museum, this museum houses a stunningly broad collection of historic cars dating from 1909 and representing the evolution of Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti, BMW, and all the usual suspects. Some of the cars have run major road races like Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.
Highlights: The museum’s 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe is among its most beloved racing cars. Check out the winner’s circle and the Italian village exhibit.
Parent Perks: Design buffs will love these cars and some of the clever exhibits and displays. Volunteer staff are knowledgeable and eager to talk, especially to fellow motorheads. Look for Demo Days, when museum staff race select cars in the large lot out back.
Please Touch Museum
Set between West Philadelphia and Fairmount Park, the Please Touch Museum is a must for families with young kids. Full of educational activities, creative exhibits, nostalgic toy displays, and hands-on activities and play spaces, this museum is a family favorite.
Highlights: Kids love the SEPTA city bus they can drive and the mini grocery store and village in the basement. The construction site is also a lot of fun. The Alice in Wonderland Exhibit is downright trippy. Ride the historic carousel. The puppet shows are a lot of fun, so be sure to plan your visit around one, and line up early.
Parent Perks: The museum’s building is a National Historic Landmark, built for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the first major World’s Fair held in the US. Inside there’s cool art, including a sculpture and mural, plus a model of the World’s Fair grounds on the lowest floor.
Fairmount Park is one of the most expansive urban parks systems in the country. The Wissahickon is its wildest part, with a trail system so extensive, you’ll need a hiking map. Forbidden Drive is a long, wide, level road that cuts through it, tracing Wissahickon Creek, closed to car traffic but busy with strolling families, cyclists, runners, and horse back riders.
Highlights: Look for the covered bridge and the historic Valley Green Inn. The Devil’s Pool attracts daredevil divers and swimmer. On the westernmost edge, you’ll find horse stables, and a creek access point where you can skip rocks on the water.
Parent Perks: Strollers and bikes are welcome, and there is space for all. Near the end of the trail at Northwestern Ave., there is an excellent cafe called the Cedars that sells good coffee, smoothies, and cookies.
The Morris Arboretum
Another favorite green space is the Morris Arboretum, the city’s backyard, full of flower gardens, rolling hills, thickets of trees including redwoods, and a pond inhabited by swans. Follow the meandering trails and look for informational plaques throughout the grounds.
Highlights: Out on a Limb is a treehouse that allows kids to sit on eggs in a super-sized robin’s nest, walk the planks through the tree canopy, and lounge in a hammock high above the ground. The fernery greenhouse has a koi pond and resident buddha. The log cabin offers a work space with Lincoln Logs. The arboretum also hosts a spectacular outdoor train exhibit in summer and at the holidays.
Parent Perks: Adirondack chairs on the porch of the log cabin offer a rest while little ones play inside or roll down the nearby hills. The rose gardens are sublime. The whole of the gardens offer paved walkways that are stroller friendly.
Of course, you will also want to check out the Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute science museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences for dinosaurs. These sights also offer something for all!