Planning a family break in one of the USA’s thriving metropolises isn’t easy. Sure, both LA and New York are packed with parks, museums and kid-friendly activities galore. But as a parent you can’t help but wonder; would the roar of New York be too loud? Would the heat of LA be too much?
If this is how you feel – let us recommend Philadelphia. As big and bustling a city as any, America’s sixth largest packs all the attractions you could hope for while still retaining a small-town charm. It’s simply ideal for families, and with attractions like these it’s easy to see why.
No visit to Philadelphia is complete without stopping in at Independence Hall. Sitting in the centre of Independence National Historic Park (also the location of the Liberty Bell Centre and the First Bank of America), this impressive building is where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitution were signed in the 1780s, as well as once being the primary meeting house for the Continental Congress. Kids of all ages will enjoy visiting the birthplace of the USA, and what happened in these walls ended up shaping the world as we know it.
For the best family photo opportunities in Philadelphia, head to Elfreth’s Alley near the waterfront. This charming row of traditional Georgian houses is the oldest residential street in America and was once a bustling trading path to the port. Stroll along the cobblestones before popping into the small museum which offers a glimpse into colonial living before, during and after the Revolution.
Home to over 1,300 animals, Philly Zoo is America’s original and – arguably – its best. It’s lauded as one of the best such facilities on the planet when it comes to breeding animals that are usually difficult to breed in captivity, and many of its residents are rare or endangered. Among its most unique inhabitants are the western lowland gorillas, polar bears and snow leopards.
It might be the oldest zoo in America, but it features some seriously modern innovations. Take a ride on Zoo360, a first-of-its-kind trail system, or the Zooballoon for a view of the park from hundreds of feet above.
To wow the whole family with something weird and wonderful, head to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Nestled between buildings off South Street, a bizarre labyrinth of mosaic awaits. With everything from kitchen tiles to plates and bike wheels hanging from the surreal, curving walls and arches – it’s like nothing you will have seen before. Far from the classical paintings hanging in the big museums, this is a kind of art the kids will really get excited about.
Franklin Institute Science Museum
It’s only natural that kids would rather visit a museum they can actually interact with, as opposed to looking at things through glass cases. Thankfully, the Franklin Institute Science Museum offers them a place to feel, hear, smell and touch, all the while learning about everything from the human body to astronomy. You’ll probably learn a thing or two yourself! Don’t miss the incredible Neural Climber exhibit, which the kids will love crawling around in, and the Changing Earth section, which studies the powerful forces of air, water and land.
These are just a handful of the spectacular family attractions Philly has to offer. With this much to see and do, it’s hard to believe anyone – young or old – could possibly leave with anything less than a smile on their face. Make your family trip to America’s birthplace happen with flights to Philadelphia from Manchester Airport.