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We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City. And oh, Philadelphia, how I love how much history you have. Plus, the city is very easy to navigate, not too big and has plenty to eat and do. Here are our picks for 5 family-friendly things to do in Philadelphia. Visit Philly provided us with a VIP pass during our stay, however, all opinions are my own.
Big Bus Hop On Hop Off Tours
One of the first things we did in Philly was to board one of those hop-on/hop-off bus tours. These may seem touristy, and in a sense they are. But that’s how you get to know the lay of the land and get some interesting history and tidbits thrown in. Plus, you’re not driving. The Big Bus in Philadelphia is an open-top double-decker bus. What we all enjoyed the most onboard is the live guide that tells you about what you’re seeing as you pass. Plus, this being a hop-on/hop-off, you can get off the bus at any point to see the sights, knowing another bus will be along in 20-30 minutes.
1 Day Adult $31.50 / Child $10.50
2 Day Adult $49.50 / Child $16.20 * Recommended
3 Day Adult $67.40 / Child $23.40
One Liberty Observation Deck
This was a pleasant surprise and spur of the moment decision to see Philadelphia from the top. Unlike some other observation towers, One Liberty Observation Deck is completely enclosed. It feels safer for a family with young kids. Its sweeping views of the city are matched by a wide-open room filled with Philadelphia facts and history. Plus, you get to take a photo with Benjamin Franklin from top to bottom!
Admission $14.50 Adult / $9.50 Child
Family Four Pack 2 Adults & 2 Children $40
Perhaps the most visited place in Philadelphia is Independence Hall. Of course, we are big fans of National Treasure. My favorite part is when they have the Declaration of Independence and pause to reflect that the last time that document was there, it was being signed by our Founding Fathers.
Independence Hall is run by the National Park Service, and guides take you through the history of the three documents created there, as well as into the rooms of the hall and how they may have been arranged.
Tours are free, but you must get tickets in advance at the Independence Visitor Center. Tickets are same-day only, and the Independence Visitor Center opens at 8:30 am. It’s located across the street from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Depending on the time of year, you likely won’t have difficulty obtaining tickets. However, you can purchase them in advance for a small fee, here.
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is one of the stops along Big Bus Route, located on Arch Street, a few blocks from Independence Hall. Betsy Ross is a legend in American culture. While she is often credited with creating the stars and stripes flag that we associate as the first flag of the United States of America, it’s more likely she sewn the flag (and updated the star shape) based on other designs.
Regardless, she’s still an important part of American history and her former home covers this significance. This is a woman, who owned and ran her own upholstery business, a rarity, openly rebelling by sewing the colors for the Continental Army.
The Besty Ross House is a quick tour, making it one of the easier family-friendly things to do in Philadelphia. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for children.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
Easily, our favorite highlight of the trip was the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Located on what was once his home, the museum is also run by the National Park System. The museum itself is in the basement of the location. It contains 5 separate “rooms” that explore different traits of Mr. Franklin. I knew Benjamin Franklin had done a lot in his life, I don’t think I realized just how much he did.
What makes the Benjamin Franklin Museum the best of the family-friendly things to do in Philadelphia is the interactive exhibits. Here you’ll find videos, touch screen interactive elements, and movable exhibits. We spent well over an hour exploring the museum and grounds. According to the kids, it was the best site we did in Philly.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum (not to be confused with the Ben Franklin Institute, which is a great science museum for kids) tickets are reasonable. Price is $5 for adults and $2 for children.
Family Friendly Ticket Options in Philadelphia
Want to do all these attractions and so much more? Get the Philadelphia Pass, an all-inclusive pass that includes 36 of Philadelphia’s attractions. This includes the Big Bus, One Liberty Center, and Betsy Ross House that I mentioned. I’d also recommend the American Revolution Museum, the Independence Seaport Museum, and the Franklin Institute.
The passes start at 1 day for $59 for an adult and $44 for children, which is already cheaper than visiting these places on your own. I’d recommend the 2-day ticket for $84/$59 to see as much as you can of the city.
I used the Boston city Pass when I visited and it was well worth the cost.
CityPASS is another combo ticket option that includes some of these attractions. You can choose from 3, 4, or 5. Choose what you want to see, and cross-check both passes to see which makes the most sense. A 3-attraction CityPASS starts at $49 for adults and $39 for children. While a City Pass is less expensive than the Philly Pass, you are limited by what you see.