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Explore Philadelphia with Kids

Philadelphia is another wonderful city to explore with kids. This wonderful city has tons of history, attractions, and food to explore. I’m sure you will have just as much fun as we did on our trip to Philadelphia.

Known as the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia is a wonderful city to explore American history. It is of course, where the Declaration of Independence was written. Way before Washington DC was the capital, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. Let’s dive into this wonderful city.

Table of Contents

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Any visit to Philadelphia should start with the place where our nation started, Independence Hall.

The Pennsylvania Statehouse whose name was later changed to Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were written and signed into law. This is why this building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Philadelphia, Independence Hall
Independence Hall

Walking through these rooms to see where our nation’s beginnings took place is quite a unique experience. Of course, I really enjoy seeing the architecture of the time as well.

Assembly Room in Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Assembly Room

It surprises me how these rooms are not large by any means and yet so many gathered to debate and write our laws here. The tour of Independence Hall which is led by a ranger is very informative and worth going on. I always find out more fun facts and information about American History that I didn’t already know.

Supreme Court room, Philadelphia
Courthouse of Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Yes, I really love American History. You can read more about my love here in my post on the Freedom Trail in Boston.

Philadelphia is the home of the Liberty Bell

Going to see the Liberty Bell, one of America’s icon symbols is definitely something special. It’s truly beautiful. Although we can’t hear it ring any longer, we can imagine it hanging from the old State House, now Independence Hall calling the people of Philadelphia in to hear the news or to town meetings.

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia
The Liberty Bell

The message on the bell:

Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.

From the King James Version of the bible.

The message didn’t become a rebel’s cry until after the civil war though. It was then that those wanting to end slavery used the message for their plight. Afterward in the early 1900s women, suffragists used this “Liberty Bell” and its inscription for their cause. This is really when the average American becomes familiar with and learns about the bell.

earning her Junior Ranger Badge
Earning her Junior Ranger Badge

Don’t forget to have your kids earn their Junior Ranger Badge while exploring Independent National Historical Park.

The Crack in Philadelphia’s Bell

It’s almost funny to say the ‘crack’ you see is actually the repair to the bell. Historians believe the bell developed a small crack in the mid-1800s after 90 years of use. To try and fix the small crack, they widened the crack to restore the tone of the bell and stop further cracking. Unfortunately, the repair didn’t work. A second fissure formed and that is when the bell stopped ringing. No one alive today has heard this bell ring. The National Park system, however, has a computer model of what the bell would sound like.

Benjamin Franklin Museum

The story of the city’s founding father. The courtyard has the outline of Franklin’s original house and his grandson’s printing business.

Benjamin Franklin's house, Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin’s house

This is a hands-on museum where you can explore and learn about Ben Franklin. My kids really enjoy these museums and I enjoy watching them figure out puzzles and learning about Benjamin Franklin. There are 5 rooms to explore, each focusing on the different character traits of Franklin. Don’t miss watching the video in the library though.

If you and your kids are into a scavenger hunt then check out the “Skuggs mascot” as you enter the museum and look for these furry friends as you explore all the exhibits. (FYI – skuggs are what they used to call squirrels.) This is a fun scavenger hunt for all.

Don’t miss the Franklin Court Printing Office. They have a typesetting area as well as two reproduction 18th-century presses and a binder. They have Benjamin Franklin Bache, Franklin’s grandson’s printing office set up as well. You can see rangers giving a demonstration of either the typesetting or printing during your visit.

Betsy Ross’s House

Betsy Ross we all know sewed the first American Flag. However, did you know that is was actually considered an act of treason? The flag was ready to raise and display prior to the end of the Revolutionary War. This is why when you tour Betsy Ross’s House you will see the first American Flag in her bedroom. This is where she would have sewn the flag so others wouldn’t have seen it.

Taking the audio self-tour will bring you closer to understanding the times in which Betsy lived and her house. There is a separate kid’s audio that has them solving mysteries from the 18th century. I’d highly recommend this, my kids loved it.

There is a great courtyard outside Betsy Ross’s House with a fun fountain with 2 cats and the original 13 colonies are written along the bottom of the fountain. This isn’t original to the house; it was added in 1974.

I think my favorite part of the house is Betsy’s bedroom. I love seeing the flag but also the period furniture and bedspread and curtains. The most interesting item I found in the bedroom is the snuff-box, though. Yes, Betsy had a snuff box with tobacco. No, she didn’t smoke it but instead inhaled the finely ground tobacco. During her time, they believed it helped with eyesight. Since Betsy wore glasses and then went blind, historians believe it was for this purpose.

Upholstery Shop, Philadelphia
Listening to the audio tour while in the Upholstery Shop

Another great item the museum has is the only known signature of Betsy Ross as Elizabeth Ross. It is on the probate papers that show the legal transfer of her husband, John Ross’s, possessions to Betsy after his death in 1776. These probate papers are on display in the Upholstery Shop.

Elfreth’s Alley, one of the first streets in Philadelphia

Elfreth’s Alley really grew out of necessity in colonial Philadelphia. To alleviate overcrowding, a few landowners, close to the port, opened up a passageway through their land, and Elfreth’s Alley was born.

This street really is a wonderful look at colonial architecture. As you walk the ‘alley’ you can imagine being back in colonial times. Back with Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross and John Hamilton. These houses are excellently cared for and have all the original features and even the original glass.

We owe the preservation of the alley to Dolly Ottey. Ms. Ottey fought to keep Elfreth’s Alley from deteriorating and even helped form the Elfreth’s Alley Association in 1934. Thankfully the EAA also secured National Landmark Status for the alley which prevented the new Rt 95 highway from going through and tearing down the alley.

The US Mint in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Mint is one of six mints around the country. Four of the facilities are production facilities, like Philly. However, the other two mints are not. The mint at Fort Knox, Kentucky houses the bullion deposits and the Washington DC location is the headquarters of the mint. I would love to see the bullion deposits. I’m sure it is something special.

US Mint, Philadelphia

The establishment of a national money system started with the coinage act of 1792. In this act, the US Mint was established along with the coins to be produced. I think it’s so interesting that the denominations were similar to the England coins. The half-penny is a coin England used up until December of 1984. In fact, I remember the half-penny and used it when I was in England as a kid.

The Coinage Act specified the coins to be minted in the following amounts: copper coins in half-cent and cents, silver coins in half-dime, dime, quarter, half-dollar, and dollar. Finally, gold coins in quarter eagle, worth $2.50, half eagle, worth $5 and eagle worth, $10. As you can see paper money didn’t come till later. Coins began to circulate one year after the US Mint was established.

commemorative coins, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia mint is special in that they ‘do it all’. They produce coins but also have all the designers and engravers to do the congressional medals and non-circulated and commemorative coins.

commemorative coins, Philadelphia

The tour is a self-guided tour with lots of hands-on and interactive exhibits. Unfortunately, the production floor was not active when we were there but you can see videos of it in action. My kids think all the coins are super cool.

National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is a great way to learn how the Constitution came to be and how “We the people” all started. There is so much to see and do in this museum but start with the movie called “Freedom Rising.” What I love so much about this movie is that it’s a 360-degree screen and you feel as though you are in the scene as you watch the movie. There is a narrator telling you the story of how the colonists fought for the freedom we have today. Honestly, it’s the best place to start in the museum.

Of course, there is an exhibit in the entry hall with this frame hanging. The year on the bottom of the picture is the year each of my kids can run for president. They both thought it was cool to calculate the year.

The next exhibit you must visit and is very interactive is “The Story of We the People.” Here my kids got sworn in as President, proud mama moment. OK, seriously though they have a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a must-see. There is also a book with questions you would need to answer if you wanted to become an American Citizens.

I do solemnly swear …

The third main exhibit is the “Signers’ Hall.” This is a room full of bronze statues of all 42 Founding Fathers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. You can shake their hands and say “Thanks for all your hard work and making this a free country.”

photo credit to National Constitution Center

Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution is a great place to start learning about how American won its independence from England. This hands-on and interactive museum is a great way to learn about our country.

Tree of Liberty, Philadelphia
Boston’s Tree of Liberty, photo by MoAR

There are five sections to the museum that takes you from the start of the revolution to the end of the war. In the first rooms, you learn about ‘Becoming Revolutionaries’. Here you learn about British rule, taking down the King, and ‘Boston’s Tree of Liberty’. The second section of the museum focuses on ‘The Darkest Hour’ from the battle of Brooklyn to Saratoga and onto Valley Forge.

Privateer Ship, Philadelphia
Privateer Ship, in A Revolutionary War rooms, photo by MoAR

The third section has a section of a life-size warship of the times and focuses on the war itself. The fourth room is all about the ‘New Nation’ and the constitution. The last area is George Washington’s war tent. This is a film about how Washington started as a general and became President.

Washington's tent, Philadelphia
Washington’s tent, photo by MoAR

This museum truly brings the American Revolution alive with all the exhibits.

Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum is a little bit out of downtown Philly but it’s worth the drive. With a full carousel and treehouse to climb you will find fun for the whole family here.

Some of our favorite exhibits are the Wonderland area based on Alice in Wonderland, the river adventures, and the treehouse. I’m a big fan of letting the kids play and learn as they go to these museums. It always amazes what they gravitate toward and how they explore.

I have to say Clint and I got into the play as well with filling our shopping carts in the Healthy Me supermarket area. But don’t miss out on the slinky fun. Did you know that the slinky was invented in Philadelphia?

carousel, Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia

Christ Church and Burying Grounds

This church is the ‘Nation’s Church’. It is the first Episcopalian church here in America. Founding Fathers such as Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington, and Robert Morris among others attended this church. Don’t miss the seating arrangements to see which pew you want to sit in.

Take the tour and learn about the history of this church and how it was part of the colonial scene during revolutionary times. For more fun take the burying grounds tour and see the graves of Benjamin Franklin and several other members of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Jim’s Cheesesteak

While traveling we love to check out the local food scene. In Philly that means cheesesteaks! We love locals’ recommendations for this icon sandwich and tried a few. The winner is certainly Jim’s Cheesesteaks! The steak is tender and juicy. The bun is soft, yet holds up to all the meat and cheese inside. CHEESE, oh the cheese, what can I say but YUM! It really makes the sandwich. Jim’s put the right amount of cheese on to make it tasty but not overwhelm the steak. It’s the right amount of everything all wrapped up in one bite. Delicious! Don’t miss this American treasure!

Jim's cheesesteaks, Philadelphia
Yummy cheesesteaks!

Pin for Later

Other Site Around Philadelphia

There are so many more sites to see around Philadelphia. Here are a few more sites we enjoyed. The Rocky Steps, Reading Terminal, Love Park, and the Philadelphia City Hall. We also found some fun statues and even Benjamin Franklin walking around. Have you ever gone to a city and seen a historical character walking around?

Final Thoughts

Philadelphia is a great city to explore with your family. From American History to food there is something for everyone. Have you been to Philly? What is your favorite place to visit?

This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Eraina Ferguson

    So beautiful! I have family in Philadelphia. I had a great visit over 10 years ago and hoped to visit again. Great photos and beautiful family.

    1. Leeanne

      Thanks, I feel like I want to go back to Philadelphia too. We had a great time there.

  2. Denise Macuk

    Sometimes we need to fly into Philly to visit family in MD so we will use this info in the future. Thanks for the info!

  3. Julie

    Great post! We were driving through and only had half a day in Philadelphia so we didn’t get to do a whole lot (we did make it to Jim’s, though). Can’t wait to go back and check out some of your suggestions! I particularly would love to see Elfreth’s Alley – never heard of it before and I love historical homes.

    1. Leeanne

      If you like historical homes you should definitely make it to Elfreth’s Alley. You will love the houses there.

  4. Missy

    Taking a tour of this area would be great with a tour guide to share the untold stories. I would like to see the Liberty Bell.

    1. Leeanne

      I love taking a walking tour of cities, especially historical cities. You really learn so much it’s incredible.

  5. Pam

    What a great place to visit. I haven’t been since I was a kid and I really want to take my kiddos. So much history.

    1. Leeanne

      Your kids are at the best age to explore Pam. They will still enjoy everything and yet can stay up late and take advantage of the night activities as well. We aren’t there yet with the night activities, but maybe soon.

  6. Tricia Snow

    I grew up in the suburbs so I could not agree more. There is so much to do and learn.

    1. Leeanne

      We would have spent more time in Philadephia but had other places booked so we had to move on. Just another reason to go back.

  7. Sara

    Philadelphia is another city that my kids have been begging to visit after watching the National Treasure movies. We need to plan a trip there.

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, I love when kids watch a movie and then want to go visit the location. It really brings the history and city to life.

  8. Katie Y

    These are all great spots! We did a trip to Philadelphia with our daughter two years ago. Her favorite thing was by far the Please Touch Museum!! I thought Elfreth’s Alley was such a unique find-how cool would it be to be able to live on that street!!! It looks like you and your family had a great trip. Philadelphia is fairly walkable which is always something we enjoy in big cities 🙂

    1. Leeanne

      We love to walk in the city too. Yes, one of my favorite spots is Elfreth’s Alley too. They even have a museum in two of the houses but it wasn’t open when we visited.

  9. Shirley

    As a school kid, we went to Philadelphia a couple of times for field trips. I always looked forward to those trips….this article makes me want to pack my bags and take the grandkids for a visit!

    1. Leeanne

      What a great memory, Shirley. Where we live the 8th graders go to Washington DC and my older daughter is so looking forward to that trip with her friends even though we have already been there.

  10. melissa

    Philly is such a wonderful city to explore with kids. I can’t wait until mine are a little older and they can truly appreciate the history; but,I would love to bring my kiddos to the Please Touch Museum now! We lived there for 4 years and we were always finding something new to explore. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

    1. Leeanne

      I find that about living in a new city, you can continue to explore. I love that. I’m sure your kids will get some understanding from the history even when they are young.

  11. Leslie

    Great tour! So much history there.

    1. Leeanne

      There is a ton of history in Philadelphia. Glad you enjoyed it.

  12. Leigh

    Fascinating post!! I really enjoyed this. I just followed all your social media and will definitely be reading more of your blog. Loved all the interesting history- thank you!

    1. Leeanne

      I’m glad you like history as much as me. Thanks for following along on our journeys.

  13. Lisa Manderino

    Oh wow, this make me want to take my kids to Philadelphia. We went when my older kids were little but they can’t remember!

    1. Leeanne

      I find that happens when the kids are little. It’s a great reason to revisit places.

  14. kmf

    I’m all about history so would love to check out all these sites. I’ve only been there once for work and all I saw was the inside of a convention center and hotel…although I did ask our driver to stop at the Rocky stairs so we could run up them.

    1. Leeanne

      That’s awesome. My kids aren’t into the movies so they didn’t get the steps at all. Thankfully they enjoyed the historical sites and seeing an old friend.

  15. Alexandra Alejandro

    This post brought so many good memories of my trip to Philly! It’s a wonderful place to visit!

    1. Leeanne

      I absolutely agree. I love Philadelphia too.

  16. Jordan

    I’ve visited Philadelphia once, but it was only for a day. I will definitely check off a lot on your list next time I go. In particular, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and Museum of the American Revolution.

    1. Leeanne

      Those two museums are super cool and really engaging for kids as well as adults.

  17. Barbara

    Love the quaintness of Elfreth’s Alley!

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, Elfreth’s Alley really brings the 1700s to life.

  18. Cindy

    We loved seeing Philly with our kids and grandson. Amazing! Just so much history.

    1. Leeanne

      I agree, there is so much to see in Philadelphia.

  19. Eva Keller

    My dad drove us through Philadelphia once on our way to my aunt’s house in DC, but I’ve never been anywhere in Philadelphia and it is on my bucket list. I hope to do a road trip with my husband where we do Philadelphia, DC, New York, and Boston for a couple weeks.

    1. Leeanne

      That sounds like a great road trip and some awesome cities. We’ve explored them all with our kids.

  20. Cindy

    I visited Philadelphia a few years ago and loved exploring the city! There are so many historical places to see. And, there’s such a variety of restaurants! I enjoyed this city very much.

    1. Leeanne

      I’m glad you enjoyed the city as much as we did.

  21. heather J jandrue

    We have never been to Philly. I am not sure why not. There seems to be so much to do and see. I love the photo of Elfreth’s Alley. It is very “colonial” looking.

    1. Leeanne

      That is one of the reasons I like Philadelphia, you can see the new and the old colonial buildings.

  22. Jennifer

    I’d find it interesting to visit the historical sites of Philadelphia.

    1. Leeanne

      There is so much history in Philadelphia, I’m sure you would love it.

  23. Cynthia Mackintosh

    What a great list of things to do with kids in Phili! I’ve never been there and I’ve always seen so many fun things to visit with a lot of history. Pinning this for the future!

    1. Leeanne

      There really is a ton of great activities for families in Philadelphia. We loved our time there and I’m sure you will too.

  24. Kim

    This would make for a great road schooling trip for homeschoolers. That room is really small where they gathered to create the laws. It is really interesting what your mind thinks when you are reading about history. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Leeanne

      It is very interesting to go into buildings that our forefathers help meetings and debates in. These buildings just like the ones in Boston all seem pretty small yet they made the space work. I think perhaps they were closer together than what our lawmakers are now.

  25. Bettye L Rainwater

    I dated a fellow in Philadelphia for a year and traveled there twice a week (!!!) from Long Island! I really liked the city and the outlying areas and attractions but I didn’t do any of the history stuff 🙂 It’s a very walkable city and that’s nice. I’d like to go back again as there are a lot of good gardens to visit in the area!


    1. Leeanne

      We really enjoyed Philadelphia. Our kids weren’t into the gardens at the time but they really loved the history and museums so that’s what we focused on. I’d love to go back and explore the gardens.

  26. Julie

    I would be in Elfreth’s Alley for sure! So much history to explore in Philadelphia with kids.

    1. Leeanne

      Absolutely, we loved Elfreth’s Alley is it so unique.

  27. Dara

    Thanks for your post, we are going in July and wanted to see what ideas you had for kids.

    1. Leeanne

      I hope you have a great trip. My family really enjoyed Philadelphia.

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