Over spring break, our family took a short two day trip to Philadelphia. We live in the suburbs of New York City, so it’s only about a three hour drive for us. We knew we had limited time and wouldn’t be able to see everything we wanted to in two days. We had a great trip though and wanted to share our family’s two day itinerary in Philly. Please be advised that we did a lot of walking on this trip! Our kids are used to walking long distances and Philadelphia is very walkable. There is plenty of transportation options available if needed, although parking for a lengthy amount of time can be hard to come by and expensive.
We got up at 5:30 AM so we could be on the road by 6:30 AM. With breakfast and restroom stops it took us about three hours to get to Philadelphia. We arrived at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Penn’s Landing at 9:30 AM, but couldn’t check in until 3 PM. We ended up leaving the car in the hotel lot and walking into the historic district.
We walked by Christ Church, founded in 1695 and also known as “The Nation’s Church.” We then walked down Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential neighborhood in the country. It was very cool to see residents living in the same houses that had once housed people from the Colonial era.
We walked to the Betsy Ross House at 239 Arch Street and paid the $5/adult admission and $4/child admission to take a self-guided tour the house. For two dollars more per ticket you could take an audio tour. We got there a little after the 10 AM opening and there were only a few other visitors that we saw. The kids enjoyed the hands-on kitchen displays in the basement and meeting Betsy Ross in the upholstery shop.
After the tour of the Betsy Ross House we walked past the Christ Church Burial Ground, where Benjamin Franklin is buried, and headed to the Independence Hall Visitor Center. We visited the gift shop and bought a liberty bell Christmas ornament to add to our collection. We reserved 3 PM tickets to tour Independence Hall and were able to pick them up so we had them. The visitor center has a phone charging station, rest rooms, and lots of tour desks if you want to book a tour. There are also displays and a movie theater as well as a small food stand.
After our quick stop at the visitor center we headed to the Liberty Bell. We stood on line for about a half hour to get in. They do a security check in which all belongings, including jackets, are run through a security conveyor. This was the cause of most of the line wait. We walked through the display and saw the liberty bell. The last time I visited the Liberty Bell I was in elementary school on a trip with my girl scout troop! It was nice to be able to visit the bell again and have the kids see this national symbol of freedom.
After visiting the Liberty Bell we walked to Reading Terminal Market to grab some lunch. After lunch we walked back toward Independence Hall. Since our tour wasn’t until 3 PM we toured through Carpenter Hall first and then headed over for our tour.
Entrance to Independence Hall is only by a ticketed guided tour. Tickets are free, but are timed entry and must be picked up at the visitor center. A limited number of tickets are available the day of and it is advised to be at the visitor center early to try to get them. Since we weren’t sure what time we’d get into Philadelphia and wanted to make sure we had tickets, we reserved our tickets online and paid the $1.50 each surcharge. Our tour guy Ray, was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot during our tour. While there we also toured Congress Hall, which has free admission.
By the time we finished the tour we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel. We stopped at Franklin Fountain for a quick ice cream sundae treat before checking into our hotel. We then relaxed for a bit before heading out again for a late dinner at Cuba Libre.
We woke up early, took advantage of the free breakfast at the hotel and headed out by 9:30 AM. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until Sunday evening that the Philadelphia Museum of Art is closed on Mondays. The hotel had a free shuttle and our driver was nice enough to drive us out to the museum, even in morning rush hour. We decided that we were still wanted to run the famous “Rocky steps” and take some photos. (The kids had no idea what we were talking about, but watching Rocky together is now on our to-do list.)
We ran the steps and took lots of pics with the “Amour” sign and the Rocky statue.
We then did a quick walk around the outside of the Rodin Museum, viewing the statues and taking pictures on our walk to the Franklin Institute.
We heard about the Please Touch Museum, but thought our kids, ages 7 1/2 and almost ten, were a little old for it. Instead, we opted to visit the Franklin Institute. We purchased the $39.99/adult and $34.95/child tickets which included admission to The Science Behind Pixar special exhibit, the Lost Egypt special exhibit and admission to the Franklin Theater (with a choice of either an IMAX or 3D show). We planned on spending the day and thought we’d get the most out of our visit with these tickets. The only thing I did not like is that all of the special exhibits and movies are timed entry. While at the desk purchasing tickets, we had to choose the times of our entry for the Pixar and Lost Egypt exhibits as well as the 3D show. The museum employee was super helpful in assisting us plan our day. I just didn’t like being put on the spot and having to make decisions right there. We loved the museum and it was perfect for the kids’ ages. It is very interactive and the kids (and adults!) had a lot of fun exploring all the exhibits. We spent the entire day there, arriving a little before 10:30 AM and leaving at 6 PM. We saw all three levels of exhibits, including the special exhibits, the Walking with Dinosaurs 3D show and The Sky Tonight planetarium show. You get an admission bracelet and can leave and enter the museum throughout the day. We left to grab a quick lunch at a local pizza place around the corner from the museum and then came back to continue our visit.
After our long day at the museum, we walked to Chinatown to grab dinner before heading back to the hotel.
We had a quick, but very enjoyable trip to Philadelphia. We look forward to visiting again soon!