Ben Slept Here!
Philadelphia is chock full of world class attractions. Most of which are located in Center City and Old City and within walking distance of many major hotels. So grab the stroller, a map, some snacks and the kids and head to some of the most amazing and historical spots in the country.
The city is all about the Benjamin and for good reason. Benjamin Franklin (a.k.a Ben) epitomized Philadelphia's sense of adventure. He was a printer and writer, a scientist and a statesman, an inventor and a revolutionary leader. His spirit is strong at The Franklin Institute. An enormous, awe-inspiring statue of Ben greets you as you enter the museum. The place is overflowing with kid-friendly stuff: a giant walk-through heart, an Imax theatre, a planetarium and so many science and sports oriented exhibits you might want to spend the whole day here.
Grab a bite to eat at Ben's Bistro (the smoothies are awesome) and then head around the corner to go digging for dinosaur bones at the Academy of Natural Sciences. As you walk through the exhibits I guarantee this will become one your favorite places in Philadelphia. The museum even has an interactive discovery spot called Outside In for the littlest of visitors. During our last visit we came face to face with some mighty interesting creatures, but you'll have to visit to learn more.
For dinner, grab some groceries from the Whole Foods Market at 2001 Pennsylvania Ave. and head over to LOVE Park or the Courtyard of the Municipal Services Building. Both places have ample outdoor space for the kids to run, jump and explore. After such a full day, the kids are exhausted and so are we, so it's time for bed because as Ben always said, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (and woman) healthy, wealthy and wise."
Now I am going to tell you something very, very important: Don't miss the Please Touch Museum. Designed for children seven-years-old and younger, this children's museum has been setting the standard for the nation's children's museums since 1976. Spend the rest of the day exploring Broad Street and the Avenue of the Arts. The Kimmel Center is the heart and soul of this district, featuring a world class facility with many family friendly productions. Next season will see productions of The Lion King and Annie to name a few. Just around the corner at 1515 Locust St. is the kid-friendly restaurant Bertuccis. Make sure they give the kids a piece of uncooked pizza dough to play with while your brick oven pizza is cooking.
The Independence Mall area and Old City have some of the City's most popular attractions. Now I could write a whole article about this most historic mile in America, but instead I am going to mention a few must-see places and let you do your own planning. The Visitor's Center, National Constitution Center, Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are at the top of the list. These places truly represent the birthplace of our country.
When it's time for lunch, head down Market Street to any one of a number of outdoor cafés and lunch spots. Take a stroll in Franklin's Court and Franklin's Print Shop where the children can watch and even assist with a real printing press. Then head down to 2nd Street where there are two more essential spots. The first is Elfreth's Alley, our country's oldest continuously inhabited street. The second is Fireman's Hall Museum on 2nd at Quarry Street. Harry McGee is the man to talk to in this place. He's a super-friendly guy who knows all about the history of firefighting. For dinner, visit the City Tavern and enjoy a feast in the same spot where Jefferson, Adams, Paul Revere and Ben all ate.
Head out early the next morning to the Betsy Ross House, where the children will enjoy climbing the narrow staircases and peering into the period rooms, and don't miss Arch Street Friends Meeting House both are located on Arch Street. While on Arch be careful not to miss the best Philadelphia souvenir shop in town, Souvenirs at 307 Arch St. What makes it the best you ask? An amazing assortment of Philadelphia themed items, all hand picked by Steve who is always in the store to direct, advise, counsel or just listen-a real life modern day Ben!
Next month: I'll write about Chinatown and the Reading Terminal Market
Matthew G. Rosenberger is author of ABC Travel Guides for Kids-Philadelphia, the first in a series of alphabet travel guides designed specifically for preschoolers and up. Visit www.kidstravelguides.com for great links, addresses, telephone numbers and more information.