I went to Philadephia about 20 years ago in my late teens. I remember hating it. So, when I needed to return to a work conference, I really didn’t want to go. My husband, however, really wanted to go and we turned it into a family trip. I agreed thinking that it would at least be a good history lesson for my son. It ended up being one of our BEST family vacations.
You can also make this an affordable trip, one that sticks to a budget. There are several free admission sites, and you can use a CityPASS in Philadelphia for fantastic savings!
Plan a Family Trip to Philadelphia
Philadelphia has put a lot of work into their city in the last 20 years and does it show. It’s beautiful! I’m already daydreaming about going back soon.
Visit the Liberty Bell
I’m going to state the obvious, but, definitely be sure to start with the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell Center is lovely, and as you wait in line to see the Liberty Bell, you’ll get to view a gallery of historic pieces with informative descriptions.
Best yet, admission is free to see the Liberty Bell. No tickets are required. You view it on a first come, first serve basis.
Enjoy Philadelphia on a Budget
I would also recommend a CityPASS for Philadelphia. You can choose the C3, C4, or C5 options. This lets you choose 3-5 different attractions for up to 49% off the ticket price. You can choose between multiple things:
- Adventure Aquarium
- The Franklin Institute
- Philadelphia Zoo
- Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works
- One Liberty Observation Deck
- Eastern State Penitentiary
- Please Touch Museum
- Museum of the American Revolution
- Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial
- Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
- National Constitution Center
- Barnes Foundation
The Big Bus Company in Philadelphia
We enjoyed riding with the Big Bus Company, and of course, my son wanted to sit on the very tip-top of the bus! (Pro tip: Wear sunscreen on your bus trip. Else you’ll get sunburnt as I did.) Philadelphia’s Premier Tour Company will show you the sights and tell you the tales of a city that cheered for Rocky, forged a nation, and is home to the Liberty Bell. Enjoy unlimited on-and-off privileges at 27 stops throughout the city.
You will definitely want to get off and run up the steps and pretend you are Rocky!
Philadelphia is Rich with Art
Of the choices recommended, I put the Barnes Foundation on the top of the list. I was actually lucky enough to go there over 20 years ago when it was originally in Dr. Barnes home. It is now in a museum, but the works of art are still spectacular.
The Barnes is home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with artists such as Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912 and 1951. The docents were also very sweet to my son and made sure to point out to him that a child has a painting in the gallery and told him where he could find it.
The Ben Franklin Museum
A third option from the CityPASS is the Ben Franklin Museum and that was also a huge hit with my son. Let your imagination soar when you climb into a fighter jet, get your blood pumping in an exhibition about the science of sports, and take a journey through a giant two-story human heart. We might have gone through the huge heart multiple times!
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, there are lots of other options with the CityPASS, but I highlighted the three we enjoyed with CityPASS.
Don’t forget about food when you are in Philly. There are so many delicious foods, and a wide variety! (Don’t forget the famous Philly cheesesteak!)
The ONE THING you can NOT miss is the Reading Terminal Market. It is one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed in a National Historic Landmark building since 1893. The Market offers an incredible selection produce, locally sourced meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections. You’ll find everything from cookbooks to fresh cut flowers. It also has the widest variety of restaurants under one roof.
I was so lucky our hotel was right near it. Every morning, I’d cut through it for breakfast. Beiler’s donuts are something dreams are made of. We also enjoyed the best crepes I’ve ever had at Profi’s Creperie. You can eat somewhere new here at every meal.
Philadelphia was a Surprising Favorite Family Trip
Philadelphia ended up being a family favorite, and my son has even asked when we can go back. It’s truly a city of brotherly love!
Have you been to Philadelphia? Do you have any plans to go? I’d love to hear about your trip, or answer any questions you have!