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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Liberty Bell

Philadelphia is one of the greatest learning cities to discover with your kids!  It is a destination that offers many hands on lessons in history, science and art.  My son and I have enjoyed many trips to this city that is steeped in history.  These are my top picks for those who love history, science and art:

HISTORY BUFF

One of the best places to start your visit in Philadelphia is at the Independence Visitor Center.  It is a great place to get maps, purchase tickets to attractions and pick up a Park Service Ranger Activity Book for your kids.  These books will allow your kids to go on a treasure hunt through history as they go to different attractions.  The Visitor Center is also a great place to learn about events, like Breakfast with Ben, which is a fun thing to do in the summer on Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Once you have your map in your hand, start out at the National Constitution Center.  This museum is highly interactive and we spent a good two hours and my son never once uttered the words, “I am bored” or “can we go now”!  He really loved the exhibit titled “We the People” and learning about the constitution was more fun than you can imagine.

Of course no trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a visit to the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall. Both of  these historical attractions are free, but you do have to go through a security line at the Liberty Bell and you still need to get a ticket to tour Independence Hall.  You can get tickets at the Visitor’s Center or you can buy them up to a year in advance at http://recreation.gov.

Independence Hall

Franklin Print Shop

Other fun attractions to check out are Franklin’s Court and Betsy Ross’ house  I really enjoyed the Franklin Court.  You can visit the Franklin Print Shop, the Franklin Museum and the United States Postal Service Museum.  On our visit my son and nephew were able to see a printing demonstration on 18th century printing equipment.

Betsy Ross' House

Touring Betsy Ross’ house will not take too much time, but it is place that still should be visited.  If you go in the summer, check out their website for events like raising the flag.

BUDDING SCIENTIST 

Philadelphia is not all about history!  There are some great science museums.  In fact the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia is one of America’s oldest natural history museums and this is the place to go if you have any dinosaur fans in your household.  Your kids will have a blast  getting dirty in the Big Dig while they search for fossils.

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute  is a science museum that is hands on and there is no way you can’t have a great time here!  Plan on an entire day, because there is so much to see and do.  There is a great exhibit on the first floor called KidScience for kids that are between the ages of five and eight.  They will be able to learn about light, water, earth and air through a fictional story called the “Island of Elements”.  Older kids will enjoy exhibits on electricity and the giant heart which has been popular for years.  The Sports Challenge is also loads of fun and interactive and will get your kids thinking about the important role science plays in their favorite sports.

ASPIRING ARTIST

If you are looking to expose your kids to a little culture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has a great family and children’s program.  Programs range from workshops like Drawing Together and Family Studio to tours like Tours for Tots and the Family Gallery Tour.  If you want to do your own thing, you can explore at your own pace and pick up a printed family guide to four of their exhibits.  The guides have activities and questions that will make going through the museum more like a treasure hunt.  Audio guides for children are also available at the visitor service desk for kids six to ten years old.  For parents, an added bonus is that you won’t be able to escape the Rocky theme song that will enter your head when you climb the steps to the entrance…fun for all!

An unexpected art find and fun experience is in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building where the Ladies’ Home Journal is published.   Here you will find the Dream Garden, a beautiful mosaic of more than a 100,000 pieces of colored glass that was completed by Tiffany Studios.  Across the street from Independence National Historical Park, this a great place to take a break. It has been reported that there is over 250 colors in the mosaic, so kids can have fun trying see how many shades of purple, pink and blue they can find while you relax in the serene surrounding.


Philadelphia can be a great day trip, weekend
getaway or week-long vacation.  Our family has enjoyed several trips to Philadelphia and we are amazed at the fact that there is still so much more for us to discover. This great city is another family destination where your kids won’t even realize they’re learning because they are having so much fun!  So go ahead, and plan your next family adventure in Philadelphia!

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Certain historical places need to be seen, so you will never forget them.  Valley Forge is one of them.  Just a short distance from Philadelphia, you can find one of the most renowned aspects of the American Revolution.  The day we visited, it was during the winter and very cold.  Experiencing the site of the encampment of the Continental Army from 1777-1778 on this cold day allowed us to really reflect on the severe conditions the soldiers faced.

As always, we started at the Visitor’s Center. Like many other National Park Service sites, we viewed a short film and explored the exhibits. Armed with new knowledge the boys and I picked up a map and started our audio tour of the park in the comfort of our car.

The boys really enjoyed Mulenberg’s Brigade.  They were able to go in and check out the reconstructed soldier huts.  They quickly realized how lucky they were to have  warm beds to return to at home instead of the bunks that were in the huts.

Moving along, we then proceeded to Washington’s Headquarters.  This was the house that was rented by George Washington.  The house is furnished and there is also a stable and a train station, which both have additional exhibits.

Unfortunately, since we were there in the winter, we were unable to tour Varnum’s Quarters.  It is open all week in the summer and weekends in the fall and spring.

I really enjoyed  seeing the National Memorial Arch which was inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome.  The arch was built to honor George Washington and his army that secured our nation’s independence.   It really is beautiful.

The boys favorite part of the day was checking out the cannons at Artillery Park and the soldiers huts.  During the summer there are living historians and re-enactments at Muhlenberg’s Brigade.

If you are planning a trip to Valley Forge it is smart to check out their website at www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm  or their facebook page at www.facebook.com/ValleyForgeNHP for a schedule of  events.  You may also like to take a 90 minute trolley tour which is $16 or adults and $13 for children 11 and under.  You can purchase these tickets on-line.

Writing this blog reminded me of the great time we had at Valley Forge and I realized I would like to re-visit this summer to experience it in the warmer months.  To change it up I plan on checking out the hiking and biking trails.  I look forward to taking in a little history and nature with my son.  Maybe we will see you there!

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