Philadelphia Family Vacation Ideas – Attractions, Activities & Things to Do for Summer Vacation

Family vacations are a special experience, whether they’re that leisurely week in the summer or an exciting, action-packed weekend getaway.

You’re making memories the whole family will treasure in the years to come, so it makes sense that you’d want to choose only the best attractions and activities to fill your time.

If you’re in search of those perfect family-friendly vacation ideas to make a trip to Philadelphia a memorable one, consider some of our suggestions.

Our favorite ideas for Philadelphia family vacation ideas include:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Philadelphia Tour
  • Franklin Institute
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • National Constitution Center
  • Betsy Ross House
  • One Liberty Observation Deck
  • Adventure Aquarium
  • Philadelphia Zoo
  • Academy of Natural Science
  • Battleship New Jersey

Save on Family Vacation Attraction Ideas

Regular admission to a number of these family-friendly attractions is available on The Philadelphia Pass.

Choose as you go from top visited attractions and save up to 45% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Learn more about our Philadelphia passes, attractions and prices.

Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Philadelphia Tour

Big Bus Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing tour

For a perfect start to your family’s vacation, hop aboard a Philadelphia bus tour. It provides a comprehensive overview of the city’s central neighborhoods, including all the important historic and modern landmarks.

If you’re interested in a particular area, or want to see some of the historical attractions the bus will pass by (like the Betsy Ross House – see more on that below), you can hop off at any of the included stops.

Should you choose to ride the entire route, though, it takes about 90 minutes. Either way, it’s a great introduction to Philly.

Getting In: Philadelphia Bus Tour tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Franklin Institute

The front of Franklin Institute

This is one the kids will absolutely adore. It’s a highly interactive science museum, offering hands-on experiences in the sciences, engineering, and much more. The Franklin Institute has exhibits for children of all ages, too, so it’s great for big families.

Permanent exhibits focus on topics like virtual reality, human biology, athletic performance, electricity, engineering (with a real train to explore!), the science of flight, and much more. They also offer rotating exhibits on scientific and cultural topics.

Getting In: Franklin Institute tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibit Hall in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Get the whole family inspired with a visit to the Philadelphia Art Museum. With its impressive collections, majestic architecture, and the iconic steps leading up to the entrance, it’s a must-visit.

Although their holdings are vast and eclectic, highlights of their collections include contemporary art (post-1950); American decorative arts, paintings, and prints; arms and armor; Chinese art (with a focus on ceramics); Indian architecture and architecture from the eighth to twelfth centuries; and Dutch old master paintings.

Getting In: Philadelphia Museum of Art tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

National Constitution Center

Inside the National Constitution Center

A visit here is a nice complement to any American history units your kids are in the middle of at school. The National Constitution Center focuses on the history and legacy of the American Constitution, and the enduring importance of this foundational document.

It also offers a collection of exhibits and artifacts on important and challenging topics of American history, including slavery, civil rights, the September 11 attacks, and more. It’s a thorough and fascinating museum for visitors of all ages.

Getting In: National Constitution Center tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Betsy Ross House

Fun with Flags at the Betsy Ross House

Come to the Betsy Ross House to see where the first American flag was designed and to learn about life in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. The story of this amazing Quaker woman is an enjoyable tale to hear, as well as an inspiring one.

She made a career for herself as a seamstress in a time when women were rarely independent and became one of the most important figures in Philadelphia during the American Revolution. Her house has been restored to the way it would have looked during her lifetime and features objects and artifacts from the period.

All in all, a really intriguing historical attraction.

Getting In: Betsy Ross House tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

One Liberty Observation Deck

Visitors taking in the view at the One Liberty Deck Philadelphia Observation Deck

See the city from an amazing perspective at the top of the One Liberty Observation Deck. Located right in the popular Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, this towering building offers panoramic views of the city and the riverfront neighborhoods, as well as iconic structures like the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Your kids will especially appreciate the interactive technology at the top that helps to identify the buildings you’ll see below you. It’s a great attraction to pair with that bus tour and helps you to see more of the city from a unique angle.

Getting In: One Liberty Observation Deck tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Adventure Aquarium

Kids in front of large tank at the Adventure Aquarium Philadelphia

The Camden Adventure Aquarium is a can’t-miss destination for animal lovers. Come here to encounter a wide variety of sea creatures from salt and fresh water, as well as the intimidating but adorable hippos, housed in Hippo Haven.

Animal exhibits include Piranha Falls (new for 2017), Caribbean Currents, Gill’s Grotto (for the little ones), Little Blue Beach (filled with tiny penguins), Sea Turtle Cove, and many more. You’ll get to enjoy a show in their 3-D Theater, included with general admission.

Getting In: Adventure Aquarium tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Philadelphia Zoo


America’s first zoo remains an enticing attraction for animal lovers of all ages. 42 acres located just on the other side of the Schuylkill River from downtown Philadelphia, it’s easily accessible and is filled with charming critters from across the globe.

Featured animal exhibits span the gamut from the delightful Zoo Babies (which changes frequently, of course), to slithery reptiles and a wide variety of mammals. Some of our favorites include “Bear Country” and “Wings of Asia.” Don’t forget to check out their zoo shop for some fun souvenirs. What kid doesn’t want to come home from the zoo with a stuffed version of their favorite animal?

Getting In: Philadelphia Zoo tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Academy of Natural Sciences

kids checking out the exhibits at the academy of natural sciences in Philadelphia

Housed at Drexel University, this science center is another great attraction for kids interested in the natural world. It’s both a top research institution/library and a place for curious visitors to explore the natural and environmental sciences.

Exhibits are geared towards kids, but adults will learn a lot, too. Exhibits at the Academy include “Butterflies!”, the magnificent Dinosaur Hall, scientifically accurate dioramas, and the hands-on “Big Dig” exhibit where kids can search for fossils at a mock dig site.

Getting In: Academy of Natural Sciences tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Battleship New Jersey

Battleship New Jersey lit up at night

For fans of military history or American history in general, the Battleship New Jersey is another popular attraction. Located across the river in Camden (next to the Adventure Aquarium), this historic battleship offers historical exhibits and the change to explore the ship itself.

She’s a pretty important ship, too. One of the largest vessels of her kind, the Battleship New Jersey has also served in three conflicts – World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Let the kids crawl around inside to see what it was like for sailors to live and work on the ship, and then explore the museum’s exhibits to learn about her history.

Getting In: Battleship New Jersey tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern-State-Penitentiary-Philadelphia-Sightseeing (1)
If you’re into the history of the American criminal justice system then this just may be your holy grail. The former prison used to house the likes of Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton to name a few.

We recommend the “Hands on History” exhibition for families as they are staff-led and very informational, especially if you are traveling with children.

This unique experience is a must-do for anyone visiting Philadelphia.

Getting In: Eastern State Penitentiary tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Remember to Save on Family-Friendly Admission

There you have it! These are our favorite suggestions for things to do on your Philly family vacation.

With so many Philadelphia attractions and activities to choose from, we’re sure you’ll find something to make your family’s trip that extra little bit of magic.

Regular admission to a number of these family-friendly attractions is available with The Philadelphia Pass at a savings of up to 45%, so don’t forget to pick one up today!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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