fun things to do with kids in philadelphia -   Travel for Kids
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Philadelphia - Historic Old City

Old City is a compact area, and every block is filled with historic sites. Franklin Court, where Benjamin Franklin lived, is beautifully preserved, and kids will have fun in the museum with hands-on activities. A new Museum of the American Revolution is an immersive experience in war and founding of America. US Mint is a hidden gem, walk the factory floor where coins are made. Step into the 18th century in Betsy Ross' house, and find out why the Liberty Bell is a worldwide symbol of freedom.
For details about visiting Independence Hall, we have a separate page. Independence Hall is across the street from the Liberty Bell Center.
    Independence Visitor Center
      This is where you pick up tickets to Independence Hall – a timed entry for the tour is required, March to December.
      Also in the Visitor Center, see movies about the American Revolution, cafe and snacks and cold drinks, lots of benches and grass outside the for kids to run around.
     Liberty Bell Center
    "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof."
    One of the most iconic symbols of the United States, the bell was originally made in London in the mid 18th century. The bell cracked, was melted down and re-cast, but cracked again.
      Exhibits in the Liberty Bell Center show x-ray photos and efforts to preserve the bell, and importance of this bell as a symbol of liberty worldwide.
      Tip: Liberty Bell is free, but go early in the morning to avoid school groups and long lines through security. There are no restrooms inside the Center. From the outside, the Liberty Bell is visible through a picture window on the east side of Center (handy if the Center is closed).
    President's House Site
      Before seeing the Liberty Bell, in front of the center take a look at a "ghost house" of the first US presidents. In the 1790's, when Philadelphia was the nation's capitol, George Washington and John Adams lived here in a four story house (just the outline of the house remains).
    National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is a must see for older kids and teens. Start your visit with in the Sidney Kimmel Theater, a 360 degree multi-media and live actor production about the U.S. Constitution and creation of three independent branches of government to rule the nation – highly recommended.
    To really make the creators and signers of the Constitution come alive, visit the Signer's Hall, with life-size bronze statues of the founding fathers. Kids can touch Benjamin Franklin's bald head (he's sitting down), stand next to Alexander Hamilton holding a cane (he's short), and see how tall George Washington was for his time. Each signer is clearly labeled.
      More info, read our blog post: "National Constitution Center Philadelphia: We the People"
    United States Mint
      United States coins were first made in Philadelphia starting in 1792, and continue to this day.
    On a self-guided visit to the US Mint, kids will find out about history of US coins, and see how coins are made as you walk through the factory – making a die, preparing the blank, striking and inspecting shiny coins, bagging them to send to the bank.
      The factory floor is fascinating to watch, and along the way are activities, such as design a coin, view reject coins under a microscope, coin designs over the years, etc.
      United States Mint is free, open Monday to Friday year round, in summer Memorial to Labor Day also open on Saturday.
    Franklin Court
      Benjamin Franklin lived in this part of Philadelphia on Market Street in his later years.
       Franklin "ghost house" – Step through a brick passage into a courtyard to see two "ghost houses," outline of Franklin's three story family house and printing office. Features of his house, such as the ice pit, study, dining room, guest rooms, privy pit (latrine), etc. are marked on the concrete.
     Benjamin Franklin Museum – One of our favorite museums in Philadelphia, it's full of hands-on activities, video stories, historical artifacts, a fun environment for kids to discover this "American genius." Franklin was an inventor, printer, newspaper publisher, scientist, best-selling author, cartoonist, poet, diplomat, politician, signer of both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
      In the museum, kids play tunes on the armonica (instrument Franklin invented), learn how to set type, play magic (math) squares like Franklin did for fun, find about his public service, starting a public library, fire brigade, educational academy, hospital, see his inventions – stove, bifocals, soup bowl for eating on board a ship, and more.
     B. Free Franklin Post Office – Franklin was postmaster of Philadelphia, then all thirteen colonies under the British, later he organized the postal service when America became independent.
    Step into the post office to pick up an envelope with Franklin's unique cancellation "B.Free Franklin." Post office is open 9 - 5, Monday to Saturday.
    Museum of the American Revolution
    A new museum that presents the story of the American Revolution and founding of the United States with immersive theater and hands-on experiences, re-created historical moments, personal stories, authentic artifacts, such as muskets and swords, newspaper with Declaration of Independence, and George Washington’s war tent.
    In the children’s gallery, kids can make flags and tents, try on Revolutionary-era clothing. Older kids with some knowledge of the American Revolution will get the most of out of this museum.
      For all the details, read our blog post: "Museum of the American Revolution."
    Betsy Ross House
    In 1776, a young widow named Elizabeth Griscom Ross, had her own upholstery shop in Philadelphia, where she sewed home furnishings, and made flags for the Continental Army.
    According to her grandchildren, in summer 1776, George Washington asked her to make an American flag, with thirteen red and white stripes, and thirteen white stars on a blue rectangle.
     

On a self-guided tour of the house, kids will step into the 18th century, to see a parlor, upstairs bedrooms, basement with kitchen, storeroom, laundry area, and kids' kitchen to (pretend) cook a turkey pot pie. In the upholstery shop is a young woman dressed as Betsy Ross, sewing away.

    Elsfreth's Alley – Near the Betsy Ross House, walk down the street west. Close by is Elsfreth's Alley, lined with typical early American 18th century brick houses, lace curtains in the windows, and a cobblestone street. When we visited, it was Easter – spring break, and doors were decorated with egg wreaths.
  Fireman's Hall Museum – This small museum is a gem – filled with old fashioned fire trucks – steam fire engines (including the oldest one in America 1857) and hand drawn hose car, hats, fire fighting equipment, uniforms and boots kids can try on, a collection of antique model fire trucks and fire boat, Dalmation dog wearing a red fire hat. Little kids will have a great time.
   

Fun food

     

The Franklin Fountain – On a hot summer day, head over to old-fashioned Franklin ice cream, to try flavors such as "Whirly Berly" "Cherry Butter Almond" "Honeycomb" "Franklin Mint Chip" "Teaberry Gum" "Cotton Candy," along with milkshakes and sundaes.

     

Shanes Confectionary – This is a chocolate store, with chocolates galore, and the Philadelphia specialty - a chocolate covered pretzel. At Easter, join all the locals buying chocolate bunnies. In winter, this is the spot to go for hot chocolate.

kids bookspennsylvania
     
 
The Liberty Bell
Mary Firestone, Matthew Skeens

Illustrated history of the Liberty Bell, symbol of freedom. On July 8, 1776, this bell rang out in honor of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. The bell was hidden from the British during the American Revolution, and became the symbol of the fight to end slavery. (Picture book)

And also, Our Liberty Bell.

 

     
To the Future, Ben Franklin
(Magic Tree House)
Mary Pope Osborne

Annie and Jack are whisked back to Old Philadelphia in 1787. They need to meet up with "Doctor Ben," to help convince him to sign the the new Constitution. (Easy reader)

Also, non-fiction companion book: Benjamin Franklin

 

 
     
 
Who Was Ben Franklin?
Dennis Brindell Fradin, John O'Brien

Illustrated biography of Ben Franklin, inventor, scientist, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, printer, poet, publisher, diplomat, politician, general, cartoonist, postmaster, parent, best-selling author. (Chapter book)

 

     
American Revolution (Eyewitness Books)
Stuart Murray

A visual guide to the American Revolution – battles and leaders, soldiers, spies and traitors, battlefields and the home front, peace and birth of a nation. Rich, historical illustrations. (Picture book)

 

 
american revolution
     
 
Who Was Betsy Ross?
James Buckley Jr.

Biography of Betsy Ross, a young widow with her own sewing business in Philadelphia. According to her family, in 1776, George Washington came to her house, and asked her to sew a flag with thirteen stars and stripes, the first flag of the United States. Perfect to read before visiting the Betsy Ross house. (Chapter book)

 

More books on Philadelphia pages
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