If it’s a nice day, visit Love Park and the fountains at Logan Square Park, for some very Instagrammable photo opportunities. I love the Philadelphia Art Museum, but my own children prefer the Philadelphia Zoo (it’s BIG!), the Benjamin Franklin Museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, mainly for the bugs.
The Franklin Museum is an awesome (and also quite large) museum with rotating special exhibits, an actual train to climb and run around in, a giant model heart/play area, a huge climbable spider web, and even an area where you can a nice little electric shock (a huge hit with my children. Kids are weird.) You can easily spend a whole day there, going from exhibit to exhibit.
About 30 minutes from Philadelphia is Linvilla Orchard, in Media, PA. We visit in the fall to get our pumpkins, but it has something going on in every season, including barnyard animals to pet (they even have some tame deer you can visit – not pet), playgrounds, pick-your-own fruits and veggies, a beer garden, and more. It’s fun and yummy no matter what’s in season.
Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA is one of the top botanical gardens in the country and is absolutely impressive any time of year. It is family friendly (but not dog friendly). Even in the colder months, the grounds are beautiful and the indoor conservatory is incredible.
An impressive train display beloved by children comes out in the fall, as well as pumpkin and harvest gardens and displays. The holiday lights are magical, but it does get crowded, so look on the website regarding reservations.
On hot summer days there is plenty of shade, especially around the treehouses, tower, and Italian water gardens, and you can always cool off in the grotto or inside children’s garden, and play in the fountains. We come here often as members, but it’s BIG – you can easily spend a whole day, or several days if you choose to purchase membership (worth it if you’re paying for multiple children for multiple days).
Lancaster Amish Country
A little further west you come to Lancaster – if you drive through the surrounding countryside, you’re sure to see Amish buggies making their way along the shoulders of the road, and likely you’ll see some Amish folks out and about on their farms. You’ll find them selling quality, handmade furniture and other goods, as well as delicious, Pennsylvania-Dutch style food (think German-inspired, homemade dishes).
If you’re interested in learning more about their lifestyle, you can visit the Amish House and Farm and take a tour, as well as visit the animals on your own. Your children may be fascinated by this community living (by choice!) free of electricity for the most part (yes, that includes YouTube and gaming).
The PA Capital Building in Harrisburg
Although the surrounding city may not be too fancy, the Harrisburg Capital is one of the most impressive capital buildings in the country, both on the inside and outside. The architecture is stunning and even young children will enjoy it. You can walk around on your own, but if you join a tour it’s only about 30 minutes, so not too long for little ones.