Looking for a way to keep the family happily busy, without killing your budget, in the Philadelphia area? Read on for some suggestions.
Philadelphia and the surrounding counties have a plethora of parks, covering everything from sedate walking paths to challenging steep hills. Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park offers walking trails (215 miles and counting), picnic sites (139), athletic fields and outdoor courts (368), all spread throughout the city. A favorite draw for many is the section of the park adjacent to the Schuylkill River where Boathouse Row offers a dozen different rowing clubs. Others seek the water areas to go fishing (be sure to obtain necessary licenses).
If you are not into rowing, you might decide to have a picnic, fly a kite, or walk the trails (for a long hike, try the Schuylkill River Trail, which extends from downtown Philadelphia all the way to suburban Oaks, Pennsylvania). Bring your dog if you like as well, but remember to keep Fido leashed. Pennsylvania law requires leashes to be 6′ feet in length or less. And if you are a resident of Philadelphia, you don’t have to go home empty-handed; you can get up to 30 gallons of screened leaf compost for your home garden for free at the recycling center (3850 Ford Road, Philadelphia, PA 19131); just show proof of city residency. For more information about the park, visit www.fairmountpark.org.
Independence Hall and National Historical Park offers free, timed tickets to see the Liberty Bell, Declaration of Independence, the President’s House site, and a gallery of portrait paintings. Special events occur throughout the year, such as around President’s Day when “President Lincoln” will be visiting. Tickets can be obtained at the Independence Visitor’s Center (525 Market Street), starting at 8:30 am everyday. I do recommend that everyone wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a fair amount of walking and keep small bills on hand to purchase snacks and food cart meals from hot dog, pretzel and fruit vendors in the area. I’ve seen more than one frustrated parent end up carrying a small child with dressy footwear that probably was not comfortable enough for all-day walking and standing. For more information and to get current events information, visit both www.independencevisitorcenter.com and www.nps.gov .
If you don’t already have a copy of the movie “Rocky”, consider renting that, watch it with the family, and then go visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Let the children do their best impression of Rocky by running up the steps of the museum, and then head on in. The museum offers “pay what you can” admission on the first Sunday of each month and regularly schedules free programmed activities to help make the museum friendlier to child and adult alike. (Unfortunately, many of the free programmed activities are scheduled for the third and fourth Sundays of the month). Children aged 12 and under enjoy free admission, though, so it still turns out to be a great deal. The main building is at 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130. For more information about the Philadelphia Museum of Art, visit www.philamuseum.org.