Family Travel to Philadelphia

Looking for a great place to take the family on vacation? Leave the mouse in the south and instead head to Philadelphia for a family vacation that’s packed with fun and excitement and little tidbits of information everywhere you turn.

Philadelphia was originally known as a Lenape (Delaware) Indian city called Shackamaxon but by the 1600s the Dutch, British, and Swedish had established settlements and what was eventually to become Philadelphia grew by leaps and bounds due to its central location in the original colonies, its easy access by land and water and its reputation as a great trading center. But Philadelphia became even more important to the newly established government as the First and Second Continental Congresses were held there and some very important documents were introduced such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

It’s the historical significance of Philadelphia that inspires the first must see attractions in our list.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell

Independence National Historic Park encompasses three city blocks in the heart of Philadelphia, its most notable tourist destinations are Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It was in Independence Hall that both the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were penned and signed by some of this country’s founders. During 1790 and 1800 Philadelphia served as the country’s capitol and these original ideas and freedoms were first put to the test. It’s amazing that many of these historical buildings were not only preserved but still remain intact and open to the public today. One of the artifacts from this era is the famed Liberty Bell, which evolves from a history lesson to an actual gateway to our historical past for your children as they come face to face with the icon. It’s something that every American should experience, sort of a homecoming.

Lights of Liberty

So you’ve filled your day with fun and adventure but now you need something to keep the little ones occupied at night. The Lights of Liberty is just the ticket. Located in Independence National Historic Park, Lights of Liberty is the first ambulatory sound and light show of its kind in the world. Through this amazing display you and your family will able to actually visualize the American Revolution as it’s projected onto the buildings above you. Throughout the entire display it’s hard not to be moved with the knowledge that more than 200 years ago the activities you are watching above occurred right on the ground you’re sitting and standing on today. All of it accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Betsy Ross House

Just blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is the home of our country’s most famous seamstress, Betsy Ross. The 1740’s row house is restored to its 1777 condition, when Betsy lived and sewed in this very location. The self guided tour with audio accompaniment is the perfect way to explore her home, the area, and learn about what life was like in this trying time for a businesswoman, wife, mother, and entrepreneur. Much more than a woman sitting at her rocker, stitching stars onto a flag, Betsy Ross was a pioneer and an innovator who is still inspiring today. In the spring and summer the House is a flutter with activity as colonial crafters set up displays to show you what skills were valued in the past, the Once Upon a Nation storytelling bench comes alive with narrators and the courtyard stage is set for your amusement.

Franklin Institute Science Museum

The Franklin Institute Science Museum pays homage to its namesake, the great innovator and scientist himself, Benjamin Franklin. Located within the museum’s rotunda is the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. This 20 foot marble statue is impressive, as is the rest of the rotunda, but it’s the science that Franklin loved so much that makes this museum adventure a stop that will be loved by everyone in the family. The Franklin Institute Science Museum houses permanent exhibits such as The Giant Heart, Space Command, Amazing Machine, Sports Challenge, The Franklin Airshow, The Train Factory, Sir Isaac’s Loft, Kid Science and the Joel N. Bloom Observatory. In addition to these exciting regular exhibits there are great traveling exhibits such as the Chronicles of Narnia and Galileo. More than a day’s worth of interesting and educational inspiration is housed here.

Adventure Aquarium

For a learning experience that isn’t based on American history but rather based on Mother Nature, Adventure Aquarium is the place to go. Once known as the New Jersey State Aquarium, the newly renovated facility has more than just fish. With hippos, penguins, and seals you can immediately see it’s more than your typical fish tank. This is an experience not to be missed and heavy emphasis on interactive exhibits will leave your entire family enthralled by the experience. If you want to get a little more involved, consider purchasing a package that has you swimming with the sharks, feeding sea turtles, going behind the scenes with penguins, or training seals.

a pumaCreative Commons License photo credit: fPat

Cougar at Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo

Combining history with animal adventures, the Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country, having opened in 1874. The zoo fell into a state of disrepair by the 1970s and but has since been rejuvenated and is once again considered a leader in the nation with almost 1,800 animals. Some of their noted exhibits include PECO Primate Reserve, Zooballoon, Carnivore Kingdom, Jungle Bird Walk, the Treehouse, a Children’s Zoo and a number of exciting rides. But these are just a few of the incredible exhibits set on this beautiful 42 acre preserve. Come early and plan to spend all day at this exciting attraction.

With all that there is to see and do in Philadelphia we’ve only just scratched the surface, there are  many more historical experiences, amusement and water parks, animal adventures, recreation areas, and natural wonders. Philadelphia is the perfect place for a family vacation as there are so many activities that everyone can find something they’re really interested in and there’s room to discover something you never knew before.
Creative Commons License photo credit: michaelwm25