Enjoy Philadelphia’s family-friendly fun

May 20, 2022

Play, learn, and spend time outdoors with some of the many family-friendly sites close to the Pennsylvania Convention Center during AVMA Convention 2022, happening July 29 through Aug. 2.

The Franklin Institute, just west of Center City, has hands-on exhibits that help children have fun while learning about science and technology. Now open at the museum is “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” a 20,000-square-foot, behind-the-scenes look into the magical world of Harry Potter, and the expanding worlds of author J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The exhibit will run through Sept. 18 before embarking on a world tour. Visitors will get an up-close look at authentic props and original costumes from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies as they engage with innovative environments and installations, according to the institute.

The Please Touch Museum, located in the Centennial District, features the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, which is almost 100 years old. (Photo by Michael Branscom for Visit Philadelphia)

And further west across the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park—north of the Philadelphia Zoo—the Please Touch Museum is filled with fun exhibits where children learn through play. Featured is the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, which was built in 1924 and has intricately carved horses, rabbits, cats, pigs, and goats. The museum also has a collection of more than 25,000 historic toys and games.

Speaking of animals, the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo, is home to 1,700-plus rare and endangered animals. The zoo’s exhibits include see-through trails that let big cats and primates cross over pedestrian paths as the animals travel between exhibit spaces.

Just east of the convention center, across the Delaware River into New Jersey, the Camden Children’s Garden is a 4.5-acre horticultural playground full of games, crafts, and opportunities for children to connect with nature. And the nearby Adventure Aquarium, also on the New Jersey side of the Delaware, has 15,000 aquatic animals, including penguins, hippopotamuses, and sharks.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities, Franklin Square, just a few blocks east of the convention center, has the Parx Liberty Carousel, miniature golf, a playground, and fountain shows in a historic public park.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, less than a mile south of the convention center, is a mixed-media artistic environment, with every surface covered in mosaics created from handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle tires, and other found objects.

History is everywhere in Philadelphia. The city is home to Independence National Historical Park, a 54-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the locations where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed. The park includes the Liberty Bell Center, the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, the First Bank of the United States, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum.

While visiting Independence Hall, don’t forget to pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet at the Independence Visitor Center. The booklet is designed for children ages 5 and up. Kids who attend at least one ranger program and complete five activities earn a Junior Ranger certificate and badge. Participants must find historical places, objects, and documents in the park to answer questions in the activity booklet.

The city has many more kid-friendly historic sites, including the Betsy Ross House, the Fireman’s Hall Museum, and the Independence Seaport Museum. At the Betsy Ross House, kids’ audio tours are available for children ages 4-8. They can tour the house as they learn about Betsy Ross, the American flag, and life in the 18th century while they solve 13 history mysteries.

There’s a lot for kids to learn while also having fun in Philadelphia. Whether they’re history buffs, enjoy the outdoors, or love animals, there’s something for everyone in the City of Brotherly Love.