Philadelphia, Pennsylvania should be on everyone’s list of U.S. cities to explore on a weekend trip. Home to famous free attractions such as at the Liberty Bell, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial and Independence Hall, the city also offers incredible art museums, beautiful gardens, great tours and excellent restaurants. Best things to do in Philadelphia, PA with kids include the Philadelphia Zoo, Please Touch Museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences and Smith Memorial Playground.
1. Philadelphia Museum of Art
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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest and most renowned museums in the country with a collection of over 227,000 objects and items.
Located at the west end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the museum is one of the top Philadelphia attractions, home to a range of works from the Western world that date back to the first century CE and from Asia that date back to third millennium BCE. Modern art collections include works by Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Salvador Dali, as well as American modernists, with contemporary art being showcased in works by Jasper Johns and Sol LeWitt.
The Museum is also home to the Rodin Museum, the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building and several historic houses in Fairmont Park. The Museum hosts around 25 special exhibitions every year, including traveling and touring shows.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-763-8100
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Independence Hall is the historic site of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Resting at the center of the Independence National Historical Park on Chestnut Street, Independence Hall was completed in 1973 and is now a World Heritage Site.
Visitors can explore the famous building on a guided tour, which includes visiting the famous Assembly Room where George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, the design for the American flag was decided, and the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed. Tickets are needed to tour Independence Hall and are available at the Independence Visitor Center.
520 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-965-2305
More weekend & day trip ideas: 12 Best Things to Do in Harrisburg.
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Nestled between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia is the Rodin Museum. Dedicated to showcasing the works of Auguste Rodin, the museum was designed by French architect Paul Cret in the beautiful Beaux-Arts style and is surrounded by formal French gardens designed by French landscape designer Jacques Gréber, which serve as a magnificent backdrop for some of Rodin’s sculptures.
Today, the Rodin Museum houses one of the most comprehensive public collections of Rodin’s work outside of Paris and is one of the city’s most defining icons.
2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-763-8100
4.Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
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The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a historic public garden and educational institution that aims to promote and inspire an understanding of the relationship between plants and people. Spanning 92 acres, the beautifully maintained gardens are home to over 12,000 labeled plants, trees and flowers across a range of collections, including an azalea meadow, an English park, a holly slope, a Japanese Garden and a stunning sculpture garden.
The Arboretum also boasts a variety of exhibits, collections, and educational programs to enjoy: see the forest from a 50-foot high canopy walk through the treetops on the interactive Tree Adventure exhibit, or delight in the Garden Railway, which features a quarter mile of looping, winding and tunneled model railroad tracks, complete with cable cars, bridges and model trains.
100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-247-5777
5.The Barnes Foundation
© The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation was founded in 1992 by Albert C. Barnes to promote and inspire an appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.
The Foundation has two main campuses that are open to the public: one on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which houses a world-famous art collection, and the other in the suburb of Merion, which houses the Arboretum and the Foundation’s archives. The facility on Benjamin Franklin Parkway boasts one of the world’s finest Post-Impressionist and Modern collections with works by European masters such as Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and Modigliani, as well as Old Master paintings, Native American ceramics, African sculpture and decorative arts and antiquities.
The Barnes Arboretum, located at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 species/varieties of trees and woody plants.
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-278-7000
6. Philadelphia Zoo
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The Philadelphia Zoo is located at the corner of 34th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia's historic Fairmount Park and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered.
The zoo’s 42-acre landscape is home to several eco-friendly animal habitats designed to offer personal encounters with the animals, from lions to lizards, as well as a variety of top attractions and adventures, including the Amazon Rainforest Carousel, Lorikeet Encounters, draft horse and pony rides, camel safaris, paddleboats and a train ride. If you are wondering what to do in Philadelphia with kids, this is a great place to visit.
The Philadelphia Zoo features a world-class breeding program and works alongside many groups around the world to protect the natural habitats of the animals in their care.
3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-243-1100
7.The Academy of Natural Sciences
© The Academy of Natural Sciences
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the place where scientists reveal the mysteries of nature through exciting exhibits and activities. You can see the real skeletons of giant dinosaurs, meet live birds or tarantulas, and watch butterflies flutter around in their natural habitat. The Academy is the oldest institution of its kind in the West, founded in 1812 when Philadelphia was the center of the new nation.
Its numerous exhibits are the result of 200 years of research and samples’ collection of hundreds of scientists, who travel the world looking for answers to the Earth’s natural history. The Academy also offers fun activities such participating in the real archeological dig, talking to the researchers, or meeting the feathered, furry and scaly residents of the museum. Next read: water parks in PA
1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-299-1000
8.Please Touch Museum
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Please Touch Museum is the foremost children’s museum in the state of Philadelphia, providing families with children under the age seven with a variety of interactive and fun-filled experiences to encourage learning through play. The Museum offers an array of educational programs, including exhibits and displays, theater and art, music and movement, carousels and collections. The Please Touch Museum features two floors of stimulating and interactive exhibit zones designed to encourage education through immersion, such as ‘City Capers’, ‘Roadside Attractions’, ‘River Adventures’, and ‘Wonderland’.
Children can also partake in several educational programs like theater shows, story times, sing-a-longs, and special programs based on mathematics, engineering, science, and technology.
Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (formerly North Concourse Drive), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-581-3181
9.Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
© Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is made up of a working art school and modern museum, which is internationally known for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper.
Established to “promote the transformative power of art and art making”, PAFA’s nationally acclaimed art school offers classes in painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, and the opportunity for students to exhibit their works in the institution's museum. Visitors can explore America's rich artistic heritage on a guided tour through the museum, which features temporary and permanent exhibitions.
118-128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-972-7600
10.The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
© NPS Photo
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is located in the vast rotunda of The Franklin Institute. The memorial features a colossal statue of the statesman that stands 20 feet high. Designed and sculpted by James Earle Fraser, the sculpture rests on a pedestal made from white Seravezza marble and is the focal point of the Memorial Hall.
Visitors can enjoy a short multimedia show entitled Benjamin Franklin Forever, which takes a look at Benjamin Franklin’s impact on the world. The memorial is open to the public at all times when The Franklin Institute is open, and admission is free.
222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-448-1200
11.Mural Arts Program Tour
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The Mural Arts Program is a mural program that aims to “transform places, individuals, communities and institutions” through the preservation and presentation of contemporary and modern forms of art. The Mural Arts Program is home to the world’s largest collection of outdoor public art, which includes the world-renowned ‘History of Immigration’ mural, which is over 600 feet in length.
Visitors can enjoy guided tours around the Mural Arts Program, which includes a detailed insight into the artistic process behind each mural, the artists involved and the history of the communities so closely linked to this unique art form. Public and private tours are led by professional guides and include walking, trolley or train options.
Mural Arts Center, Thomas Eakins House, 1729 Mt Vernon St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-685-0750
12.HAHA X Paradigm
© Courtesy of HAHA X Paradigm
HAHA X Paradigm is a Philadelphia-based creative studio that was founded in 2012 by Ginger Rudolph, the founder of HAHA Magazine, along with Paradigm Gallery's Sara McCorriston and artist Jason Chen. The collective, which has been profiled in Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Philly Voice, is a unique artist-to-community initiative that crafts public art projects throughout the city, working with regional artists and brands to develop one-of-a-kind campaigns and projects. Past projects have included artworks developed for the South Street Spring Festival and the Fourth Street Bainbridge Green Pop-Up. Philadelphia visitors can view the collective's works on display throughout the city's Queen Village neighborhood, including beautiful converted junction boxes along Bainbridge Street.
13.Reading Terminal Market
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Reading Terminal Market is a historic covered public market that sells a variety of farm-fresh produce, meat and seafood, freshly baked goods and groceries, artisan cheese, honey and beer, arts and crafts, books and clothing.
Located on the corner of 12th and Arch Streets in downtown Philadelphia, the 80,000-square-foot market is housed in a former train shed at the Reading Terminal and is one of Philadelphia’s most recognizable landmarks, hosting over 100 vendors selling their wares for over 120 years. The market is open every day of the week, year-round and is a popular source for culinary treats and unique gifts and merchandise.
51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-922-2317
14.The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Bearing the timeless message: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof”, the Liberty Bell is one of the nation’s most iconic symbols. Once known as the State House Bell, the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, what is known today as Independence Hall.
The Bell, its famous crack, and much-repeated inscription became a symbol of hope and a herald of liberty. The Liberty Bell is housed in a modern visitor’s center which showcases the history of the bell and how it came to be cracked, as well as the role it played in the development of a free and fair society through a range of exhibits, films, and displays.
6th St & Market St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-965-2305
15.Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
© Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse has been providing children with an invaluable place to learn for more than a century. Located in East Fairmount Park, the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is surrounded by acres of rolling hills, open fields, and wooded forests, which are scattered with over 50 pieces of unique and age-appropriate play equipment.
The Playhouse rests in the center of the Playground and spans more than 16,000 square feet of space, housing education-focused play areas such as a railroad terminal, a kitchen, an artist’s studio and more.
The Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse also offers a range of on-site programs, such as ‘Story Time’, ‘Crafts in the Playhouse’, and ‘Ready, Set and Play!’
3500 Reservoir Drive, East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-765-4325
Owned by a trio of chefs and friends, Fond is a contemporary restaurant on South 11th Street that serves a delicious menu of seasonal cuisine and local beverages. Lee Styer, Jessie Prawlucki, and Tory Keomanivon come together to create a warm and welcoming eatery where diners are made to feel at home from the minute they walk through the doors.
The team presents a creative menu of contemporary American cuisine prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, as well as mouthwatering bread and desserts, which are baked on site daily. If you are looking for unique date ideas in Philadelphia, this is a great place to try. The dining space boasts beautiful views of the fountain on Passyunk and a bespoke bar is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of wine from the extensive wine list.
1537 South 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-551-5000
17.Le Virtu, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
© Le Virtu
Inspired by family-friendly Italian-style meals in Abruzzo, Le Virtù (The Virtues) offers guests a bold menu of Abruzzese-inspired cuisine, made with fresh, locally sourced or imported ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Following age-old methods, meats are house-butchered and house-cured, pasta is hand-cut and savory ragùs are left to slow-cook and simmer for hours.
The rustic menu features slow-roasted lamb and pork dishes, thick soups, fresh pasta with homemade sauces and rich sheep's milk cheeses. Desserts choices include saffron pannacotta, chestnut pudding, and tarte pognoli. Le Virtù presents an intimate wine list with wines sourced from the Abruzzo region, as well as a range of craft beers and signature cocktails.
1927 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-271-5626
18.Bank and Bourbon
© Bank and Bourbon
Located in the elegant Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Bank and Bourbon is a trendy American bar and restaurant with a large 220-seat dining room with rustic touches, comfortable leather seating, and soft lighting. Bank and Bourbon offers more than 80 kinds of bourbon in its innovative barrel-aging program in addition to creative cocktails and familiar American cuisine with the exquisite interpretation and flare of celebrated Chef Tom Harkins. Classic dishes are prepared using seasonal, local ingredients with surprising touches: Juicy roasted chicken comes with piquant salsa verde and the cauliflower salad, with its roasted florets, is sprinkled with sherry vinegar and pumpkin seed brittle.
1200 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-231-7300
19.Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA
© Vedge Restaurant
Vedge was opened in 2011 by Chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby and is well known for its vegan menu. Located in the historic Tiger Building on Locust Street, Vedge offers a classically elegant dining experience with a menu that has no animal products. The menu, which highlights a bold, creative approach to cooking, features dishes such as Cauliflower Socca and Saffron Corn Broth or Portabello Carpaccio with shaved kale and sunflower seeds.
Innovative desserts are also vegan, featuring items like Figgy Cheesecake and Mud Pie. Unique cocktails, beers and wine are also served.
1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-320-7500
20. a.kitchen and a.bar
© a.kitchen and a.bar
a.kitchen and a.bar are two avante garde restaurants located at AKA Rittenhouse Square at 18th and Walnuts Streets, respectively, which showcase the compelling cuisine of award-winning Chef Eli Kulp, accompanied by an innovative wine and spirits program. Using an old-school technique of cooking over coals, Chef Kulp presents a menu of creative dishes and small plates with a modern flair, made from fresh seasonal ingredients.
The kitchen’s sibling eatery, a.bar, is a 42-seat raw bar located directly on the bustling corner of 18th and Walnut Streets with beautiful views of the park, and features an outstanding selection of cuisine from seafood to sandwiches. Pair cuisine with intriguing house cocktails and boutique wines for an unforgettable dining experience.
a.kitchen: 135 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-825-7030, a.bar: 1737 Walnut Street
NE Corner, 215-825-7035
21.Woodford Mansion, Philadelphia, PA
© Woodford Mansion
Woodford is an elegant country home and summer retreat that once belonged to a local merchant, William Coleman, and today stands as a National Historic Landmark and museum for the public to enjoy. Built along the banks of the Schuylkill River during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the house is furnished with an exquisite collection of antiques and vintage décor that highlight the lifestyle of the wealthy during this time.
The house can only be explored on guided tours. Located in East Fairmount Park, the museum is close to other historic Fairmount Park houses like Strawberry Mansion, and popular cultural attractions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boat House Row, and the Please Touch Museum.
33rd & Dauphin Streets, East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-229-6115
© Rescue Spa
Rescue Spa is Philadelphia's premier luxury day spa and offers a highly personalized, comprehensive, and integrative approach to skin care. The Rescue Spa provides an unparalleled program of skin care, nail care, and massage therapy. Rescue uses the finest skincare products from Biologique Recherche, Institut Esthederm, and Valmont and combines them with the latest technological advancements such as Microcurrents, Microdermabrasion, LED, Refirme, and eMatrix. A Rescue facial includes a comprehensive diagnosis of the client’s skin and an analysis of their lifestyle. Rescue’s skin care experts undergo extensive training to be able to advise clients on the products best suited to their needs and their skin’s state.
1601 Walnut Street, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102, Phone: 1-866-772-2766,
Tria consists of four restaurants dedicated to sharing the love of wine, cheese, and beer. The Tria Café was the to open and has become a Philadelphia institution. Established in 2004 as a gathering place for people to enjoy great wine, beer and cheese amongst friends, Tria Café serves a seasonal European-style cafe menu of gourmet light fare accompanied by an ever-changing fermentation menu of local craft and imported beers.
All four Tria eateries offer a casual, laid-back atmosphere in which to enjoy good food, wine, and beer. They boast beautiful views of the city and are open for dinner seven days a week.
Tria Cafe Rittenhouse, 123 S. 18th Street, 215-972-8742; Tria Cafe Wash West, 1137 Spruce Street, 215-629-9200; Tria Taproom, 2005 Walnut Street, 215-557-8277
© Double Knot
Double Knot is a unique hybrid restaurant venue by executive chef and Ultimate Cake-Off star Michael Schulson, opened in 2016 in Philadelphia's Washington Square West neighborhood next door to his popular contemporary Asian restaurant Sampan. The all-day restaurant concept serves up coffee shop beverages by Elixr during the daytime hours, along with a variety of imported hand pours, teas, and matchas. At lunchtime, visitors can create their own rice, noodle, salad, or bahn mi plates filled with a variety of meat and vegetarian protein options. Downstairs, a basement-level izakaya joint serves up sushi and robatayaki meat offerings during the evening hours, with speciality cocktails, wines, beers, and sakes available on both levels.
120 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107, Phone: 215-631-3868
© Penn Museum
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, commonly known as the Penn Museum is a world-renowned archeology and anthropology museum and research institution.
Located on the Penn campus, the museum features collections of objects and materials from the ancient cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean World, South and East Asia, and Mesoamerica, as well as artifacts from the indigenous peoples of Africa and Native America, collected from more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions conducted around the world.
Visitors can enjoy docent-led tours around the museum’s galleries, which see over 25,000 guests each year.
3260 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phone: 215-898-4000
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25 Best Things to Do in Philadelphia
- Philadelphia Museum of Art, Photo: Courtesy of Dave Newman - Fotolia.com
- Independence Hall, Photo: Courtesy of trekandphoto - Fotolia.com
- Rodin Museum, Photo: Courtesy of pixs-sell - Fotolia.com
- Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- The Barnes Foundation, Photo: The Barnes Foundation
- Philadelphia Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of jgolby - Fotolia.com
- The Academy of Natural Sciences, Photo: The Academy of Natural Sciences
- Please Touch Museum, Photo: Courtesy of HT777 - Fotolia.com
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Photo: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, Photo: NPS Photo
- Mural Arts Program Tour, Photo: Courtesy of gabe9000c - Fotolia.com
- HAHA X Paradigm, Photo: Courtesy of HAHA X Paradigm
- Reading Terminal Market, Photo: Courtesy of Nikonite - Fotolia
- The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of rabbit75_fot - Fotolia.com
- Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, Photo: Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
- Fond, Photo: Fond
- Le Virtu, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Photo: Le Virtu
- Bank and Bourbon, Photo: Bank and Bourbon
- Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA, Photo: Vedge Restaurant
- a.kitchen and a.bar, Photo: a.kitchen and a.bar
- Woodford Mansion, Philadelphia, PA, Photo: Woodford Mansion
- Rescue Spa, Photo: Rescue Spa
- Tria, Photo: Tria
- Double Knot, Photo: Double Knot
- Penn Museum, Photo: Penn Museum
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ehaurylik - Fotolia.com
9th Street Italian Market
The 9th Street Italian Market is the nation’s oldest outdoor market and is considered to be the beating heart of Philadelphia’s Italian community. Extending from Fitzwater Street in the North to Wharton Street in the South, the market offers an array of Italian-influenced products and goods, from grocery shops, cafés and restaurants to butcheries, bakeries, cheese stores and delicatessens.
The market features bright, colorful metal awnings covering the sidewalks where vendors sell their items seven days a week, year-round. Outdoor stands, cafés and restaurants open early and serve customers until late into the evening.
919 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA, Phone: 215-278-2903
The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ
The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ is the largest fully functioning pipe organ in the world. Located in the seven-story high open court at Macy’s Center City, the organ is played every day, Monday through Saturday and during the holiday season, with special concerts held throughout the year.
The instrument consists of 28,604 pipes in 463 ranks and is famous for its beautiful orchestra-like sound that builds up from the mass of pipe-tones. Music lovers can hear the organ play during weekly concerts held in the Macy’s Center court where admission is free.
Macy’s Center City, 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA