Things to Do in Philly With Kids

December 16, 2014

Okay raise your hand if you live near a major city but you never go there because you don’t know how to get around, you don’t know where you would park your massive SUV, you can’t fathom walking city blocks with young children, and you get twitchy if you hear more than 5 horns beeping per hour. If you’ve nodded your head, yes, to any of those questions, its time to get out of suburbia for a night. Get out of your comfort zone and I promise you will get a text from your significant other on Monday morning saying, “Damn. That was really fun.”

I know I have a lot of readers who live outside of Philly and it’s time to give the city of brotherly love some of the love it deserves. And guess what? Philly is awesomely kid friendly. So bring them!

things to do in philly

Things to Do in Philly with Kids

Ok, so I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I’m going to walk you through how to get there, where to stay, what do to etc… because if it weren’t for my husband who works in the city, knows how to get on the train and buy a ticket (newsflash, its not that hard!), I would have been lost. But no more!

To avoid parking fees (and 76), we decided to train it. So get on the closest train, head towards the city (if you don’t know which direction that is, well, then you really are more pathetic than me) and get off at Market East. This is a more central location to all of the action. Yes, we took our three children and the double BOB on the train and it worked just fine. The conductor asked me the ages of my children and when I said that my oldest was 5, he quickly replied, “Okay well now he is four.” So apparently kids under 4 are free. Bring cash and the tickets shouldn’t cost you more than $5-$10 per adult, one way, depending where you are coming from.

If you are staying at a hotel (and I do recommend making a night of it) the Westin is lovely. If you are as lucky as we were, the Eagles will be staying there the same night and you’ll get to ride the elevator with them and watch them eat breakfast and use your kids as bait to get a picture with them… nbd.

things to do in philly with kids

But I digress…. no really, it is a great hotel. To be honest, it was “free” with hotel points courtesy of my traveling husband. So for exactly 24 hours I was no longer mad at him for never being home at 5pm. Perks, right?

Things to do during the day:

things to do in philly with kids

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular – It’s on the hour every hour and is only 16 minutes long. Get a spot near the left or right side and you’ll get “snow” on your head towards the end.

From there walk around the Christmas Village in Love Park. Opens at 11.

Around 11:45 head over to Macy’s for the traditional light show at 12pm. The show runs every few hours. We didn’t time this right, but did get to check out the Rothman Insititute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park on the way. Our kids are too young to skate, and/or we didn’t want to risk spending the rest of the day with a sore back from holding them up on the ice….. but…. it was just as fun to watch everyone else do it 🙂

Grab some lunch at Reading Termial Market. If you are up for waiting in line, try out DiNics roast pork sandwich (with broccoli rabe and extra sharp provolone)… voted best sandwich in the nation by the Food Network. We opted for cheesesteaks and french fries and found a corner to stuff our faces.

things to do in philly with kids

The trip wouldn’t be complete without decadent cupcakes from Termini Brothers. We needed to prove that Reading Terminal Market was a better option than Wawa, which was were the kids begged to go. We won and now they are converts. The display of interactive holiday trains helped (sorry, no pictures).

Afternoon/Evening Activities:

If you go on a Friday, definitely check out Franklin Square. We walked from our hotel…and the kids loved it:

things to do with kids in phillyNot.

The frolicking lasted about a minute and was quickly overtaken by about 15 “are-we-there-yets.”  But I’m sure only our kids do that and yours will be fine. You’ll get a nice tour of China Town on the walk. From 4-8 on Fridays Franklin Square has food trucks (including Dr. Offit’s truck “Just Jackie’s – only CHOP patients will know who I am referring to here… yes, not only does she have yogurt shops now, but she also has a food truck!), and beer, and fire pits, and a light show… oh, and also mini golf and a playground, AND beautiful carousel to boot.

things to do in philly with kidsOn Saturday the 20th, Santa will be there for a Jingle Mingle event starting around 4. We ended up going here during the day and it was fun, but I can only imagine how fun it would be at night… check this out:

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of

But if you have to choose between the two, I would definitely choose the Blue Cross River Rink. You guys, my heart is giddy just thinking about this place. Ok, so its right at Penns Landing, and yes, we did walk here with our kids and our double stroller (about a 15-20 minute walk from the Westin). We got there around 4:30 just as it was getting dark and the timing was perfect. Ok let me set the scene, there’s the ice skating rink where you can skate with Santa, surrounded by hay bails and cozy nooks to hang out, then there is a chiminea/fire pit section and food trucks (oh, but not just any food truck, the whole place is Jose Garcia-ed out and the food truck is Distrito on wheels, and also the menu inside is curated by yours truly.)

things to do in philly with kids

Photo Courtesy of

Speaking of inside, enter the lodge with beer garten style tables equipped with old-school style table top ice hockey and jenga… the perfect distraction for the kids while you get your drink on because, remember, you walked there (!!). If you are lucky enough to score a couch by one of the many fire places, then grab a few hot chocolates for the kids and you may not ever leave. Try the fries with the short ribs on top… #amazing.

things to do in philly with kids

Photo Courtesy of

It is likely, however,  that your kids will spot the arcade across the way… but don’t worry, its not like a cheezy, bright, flashing lights arcade that smells like awkward teenagers. No, in fact, it smells like chocolate and there are a few classic games like skee ball and air hockey. Save time to venture back outside to enjoy the wrap around porch with rocking chairs and blankets….

things to do in philly with kids

It’s like a ski lodge without skiing and just the fun stuff that you do after a long day of runs. Oh, and I probably didn’t even have to mention this because I’m sure you’re already sold, but when we were there, there was live music and beautiful lights.

things to do in philly with kids

So grab your kids and some good friends and make a night of it.

things to do in philly with kids

This is one place you don’t want to miss.

Who knew, Philadelphia? Who knew…..

Oh. And this might help:

things to do in philly

Just try not to look too touristy looking at this map. Or at least just don’t wear jeans with sneakers. But if you must, make them be these. Happy adventuring!

  • Marci
    December 16, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    We had a great time skating at the Rothman rink last weekend.

  • Julia
    December 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    This made me want to go to Philly so bad. We used to do some of those things when I was a kid. This is a great guide. I’m already planning a trip in my head.

  • Rachel
    December 17, 2014 at 8:51 am

    All wonderful locations – it actually is a great city to explore with kids!

  • Sarah
    December 17, 2014 at 9:32 am

    OH!!! I want to check out the Blue Cross River Rink.

  • Gina B
    December 17, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Since we are here in Lehigh Valley, this is exactly the sort of info we need! I wonder if hubby would be down for a day in Philly on the 26th? Hope some of this stuff is still open!

  • Jo-Lynne Shane
    December 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    We love Philly! This post reminds me, it’s time to go back.

  • Trina O'Boyle
    December 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    We love Philly, spend a ton of time there throughout the year. We just went to Dilworth ice skating rink and Fankford Hall this past weekend. Great round up!

  • reesa lewandowski
    December 18, 2014 at 12:08 am

    We are about an hour outside of PHilly and have never gone. My husband was stationed there years ago, so he knows the area. We need to go and do these fun things!

  • Barb @ A Life in Balance
    December 18, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Oh, I am so tempted to take the day off and take the kids into Philly. Everything looks so fun!

  • Kaytlynn
    December 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

    This sounds like the perfect weekend! Jealous about the Eagles and glad Termini Brothers could win over the kids (how could it not?).

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