One Day in Philadelphia: City Guide for Families (Staycation or Visitors)

Traveling is such a huge part of so many our lives and the pandemic has made it almost impossible. Juggling social distancing and travel restrictions, along with financial constraints, have many of us on edge. The desire to escape reality exist even more and as the weather changes our backyards are often no longer an option. Road trips will never go out of style and the Toyota Highlander helped carve out some fun staycation ideas near me. Creating new memories and breaking up this new norm is always top of mind.

Brown girl getting out of Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander makes road trips easier

What is a Staycation?

The easiest way to describe a staycation is, simply, a vacation at or near home. Can be a day trip and often does not require an overnight stay unless you just want to get away from home. You decide how activities within day trip distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodation. How realistic, how exciting, or how relaxing you make it is up to you. Theme it up for a more authentic “away-from-home” experience. You may be surprised by how much you’ll find within walking distance of your neighborhood or workplace. This trip highlights things close enough (and fun enough) that even #TrailTalkers could go on them

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is the second largest city (east coast) in the United States and one of the most historic. It's rich with history, culture, art, museums, restaurants and landmarks. The Liberty Bell is located here as well as Independence Hall where our nation declared independence from England. Join me on a tour of the Philadelphia area so that you can see what makes this city such an amazing place to visit!

Mapping It Out!

Planning a trip to Philadelphia and want to know what the best things are? I've got you covered as we're going to explore everything that Philly has to offer. From fun family-friendly adventures, delicious food options, and even where you should stay when visiting the city for the first time. Don't worry if your only question is “What's in Philly?” because I'll answer that too!

Toyota Highlander Philly fun guide on ben Franklin parkway
Toyota Highlander on Ben Franklin Parkway


1. Independence Hall– located on Chestnut Street in Old City, this is where our nation declared independence from England. It's a pretty great place to visit that will also give you a nice view of the city! The Independence Visitor Center can also provide walking maps and guided tour information.

2. Liberty Bell – also located in Old City, is a really great historic landmark. If you go, you can see the crack in it from where it was rung to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

3. National Constitution Center– Created by the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988 it officially opened its doors on July 4, 2003. Located near Independence National Park to provide nonpartisan awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.

Reading Terminal Market Philly fun guide one day trip

4. Reading Terminal Market – this historic, indoor market is located in the center of the city and full of amazing stores and restaurants like Pennsylvania General Store for their collection of the best Pennsylvania-made products or Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine for some delicious jerk chicken.

5. The Ben Franklin Bridge – one of Philly's most iconic landmarks is the Ben Franklin Bridge. You can see it from just about everywhere in Philadelphia and even make a day trip out of crossing it! If you'd like to drive across, there is a small toll for doing so. You can also take a bus, trolley or the subway across it.

6. Eastern State Penitentiary – located at 2027 Fairmount Avenue in Philly this historic prison is an art museum that gives you a look into what life was like inside of a penitentiary during the 1800s. As America's first prison, you can take a day or twilight tour to see Al Capone's cell.

Outside view of Franklin institute philly family fun guide
Outside view of Franklin Institute

7. Visit one of the amazing museums – Philadelphia is home to lots of great museums with many being in walking distance along the Ben Franklin parkway, like the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Barnes Foundations and so much more! There are also some great nature centers around as well including the Wissahickon Valley Nature Center and a conservatory called Bartram's Gardens that are all worth checking out during your trip

8. Elfreth's Alley– located between Front Street and Second Street this tiny street is the oldest residential street in the US that still stands today. You can see some of the historic houses, cobblestone streets and learn more about Philadelphia's past here. There are only two ways to get into Elfreths Alley: either through an entrance at 205 South Second Street or by walking down an alleyway off of Sansom Place.

Philly cheesesteak Family fun guide or chicken cheesesteak
Loaded Chicken Cheesesteak with Fries

9. Visit a cheesesteak shop – yes you can find cheesesteaks just about anywhere but if you head to Philly, you have to try one! Most tourist go for Pat's Steaks on East Passyunk Avenue, Jim's Steaks on South Street, John's Roast Pork at his cart on South Street or Tony Luke's in South Philly, but I say always go where the natives are and go to ishakabibbles on South Street or Dalessandro's Steaks or Chubby's in Roxborough.

10. Magic Gardens – Located on South Street, this quirky location is unlike anything else I have ever been too. The mosaic covered walls tell stories about Philadelphia through tiles painted by local artists over 30 years ago. Nowadays if you go there are still several artists painting murals every year to contribute their own piece of art to the walls of the “Gardens”.

Related: Franklin Institutes Breaks World Record

11. Explore Rittenhouse Square – located in the center of the city at 18th Street and Walnut Street, this beautiful park gives you a calm break from all of the hustle and bustle just outside its gates.

12. Eat a cannoli at Varallo's Brothers Bakery or Termini Brothers – these famous Philadelphia bakeries are home to some delicious and classic Italian pastries! Termini has several locations around the city so no matter where you are while you're visiting, there will be one close by to help satisfy your sweet tooth!

13. Fill up at a Korean BBQ – if you're craving great food, but want something different head to Philadelphia's China Town located on 9th and Arch Streets. Everyone loves Nine Ting and the all you can eat hotpot.

Philadelphia Park bike riding family fun guide. Visit Philly one day trip
Philadelphia Park View

16. Visit Fairmount Park – located just about 10 minutes northwest of Center City, this park is home to beautiful views over the Schuylkill River, miles upon miles of hiking trails, amazing craft beer at Love Park if that's your thing and much more! You can't miss visiting this awesome natural Pennsylvania treasure by visiting Philadelphia.

17. Hangout at a brewery – if beer is your thing, you can't visit Philly without stopping in one of the city's many awesome breweries around town! Some favorites include: Yards Brewing Company, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Triumph Brewing Company or the Uptown Beer Garden.

18. Hangout at City Hall – located right in the center of things in Center City, this awesome building is worth seeing if you can swing it – perhaps after dinner out or something at one of the other classic destinations like La Colombe. Be sure to check it out around noon when they hold their daily tours for more information! Dillworth park located on the west side of city hall offers year round skating and other activities.

19. Fashion District– formerly the Gallery Mall, is a new shopping mall located at 9th and Market is a perfect place to grab a bite, do some shopping or enjoy live music from local artist.

Philadelphia Zoo welcome sign for Philly Family fun guide
Outside View of Philadelphia Zoo

20. The Philadelphia Zoo– The first true Zoo in the United States opened in 1874 and has been a true landmark fort he city. Home to over 1200 animals, the conservation program is one of the best in the country. It's a quick train ride or drive from center city. If you love the National Zoo in Washington D.C, then you will definitely be wowed. Make certain to say hi to the primates.

21. Kimmel Center Cultural Campus– No need to head to New York City for a piece of Broadway. The Kimmel Center Cultural Campus has brought it to Broad Street. The campus incorporates the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Academy of Music and the Merriam Theater. You will find a host of special events happening.

22. Spruce Street Harbor Park– part of the Delaware Waterfront (Penns Landing) this outdoor fun spot is only open from May until September but is a perfect place to eat, relax while watching the Delaware River.

Original Hot Dog Factory Philadelphia must see and eat places for a one day visit family guide
Courtesy The Original Hot Dog Factory

23. The Original HotDog Factory – This Atlanta-based chain made popular on Bravos' Housewives of Atlanta specializes in loaded hot dogs, from the La Dog, bacon wrapped and topped with chili cheese fries, and grilled onions, to the California Baby Dog, which comes topped with lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions with special sauce, there’s something for every hot dog craving, this is a must-see and a great place to grab lunch.

24. Franklin Square– One of five original squares in Philadelphia, this outdoor playground is loved by all. It's family-friendly features include the Parx Liberty Carousel and Philly Mini Golf. The restored 19th-century Franklin Square Fountain serve as a great backdrop while enjoying a tasty meal at SquareBurger. This is within steps of the historic district.

BrownGirl at Candytopia Philly Family fun guide

25. Candytopia– located in the Fashion District is a sweet interactive activity for the entire family. You will be amazed at sculptures made purely from candy, with signs signifying how many hours and pieces of candy were put into every creation. Get a glimpse and pictures of some Philly icons.

Where to Stay?

Philadelphia is a city of many faces, and it's no surprise that there are so many ways to enjoy the historic charm and diverse culture.  There is no shortage of places of stay, the problem will be deciding which area.

Joseph Anthony Spa Room View Loews Philadelphia Hotel
Joseph Anthony Spa located in the Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Downtown Philly Hotels: I am partial to hotels that offer amenities that make me not want to leave. The Four Seasons Philadelphia and Loews Philadelphia Hotel are provide an experience you will not forget. Loews Philadelphia is a landmark structure and was America’s first skyscraper, rising a commanding 33 stories into the air. Using curved glass and bold geometric shapes, it was constructed in the Art Deco period and was home to our country’s first savings bank. It is close proximity to all city attractions and in addition to spa services you can dine at Bank and Bourbon where they serve up dishes with a Philly twist.

If you want something quaint, consider the Rittenhouse Hotel which was voted one of the 10 best hotels in America according to Tripvisor. This hotel provides personal service with lots of charm. The rooms are spacious and they have an on-site spa.

The budget friendly might want to consider the Courtyard by Marriott South or something closer to the Philadelphia International Airport. There are also lots of stay and play deals available year round.

Philly Loves Sports

Philadelphians love their sports, which is why the city has such a rich history of them. From baseball to football, basketball and hockey (you read that right!), Philadelphia always gets behind its hometown teams – for better or worse! Check out Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies take on another team with seats right at field level; Lincoln Financial Field to see how much you can't stand soccer when watching an Eagles game in person; or Wells Fargo Center if you want some more entertainment options.

Brown Girl at Nordstrom Toyota Highlander Philly Fun Guide
Toyota Highlander is Perfect for Shopping

What's Outside the City Limits?

If you have access to a car or don't mind public transportation, there are some pretty cool areas that you can get to quickly.

Montgomery County: Take on Valley Forge National Park and see the location of the encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washingtonor visited King of Prussia Mall (the second largest mall in the United States). Add Legoland and the Elmwood Park Zoo.

Delaware County: Linvilla Orchard offers year round fresh veggies and fruits that you can pick or jus buy; Try your luck at Harrah's Casino and Racetrack or explore the gardens of Tyler Arboretum.

Bucks County: Unique shopping at Peddlers Village, New Hope or Water activities at Peace Valley Park.

Chester County: Plenty of outdoor fun at Marsh Creek Park or Longwood Gardens. The self-guided bridge tour of the covered bridges provides lots of historical information.

Finally….

Philly is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you're looking to eat your way through the city, explore historical landmarks, or do some shopping while in town, Philly has it all! With so many things to see and do, how does one decide what to do when they only have 24 hours? It can be tough! We hope this guide of activities for families that will help you plan your staycation or trip with ease.

I love living in the Philadelphia area because of the constant influx of restaurants, pop-ups, museum exhibitions, and cultural events. Keeping up isn't easy so I keep a running list. Make sure to check back often for updates.

Happy Travels!

Welcome to my home on the web... I’m Tomika, the thought leader behind Life in Pumps. I love all things fashion, fun & travel! I’m a wife and mother of two very active teenagers. I'm a social butterfly and passionate about advocating for breast cancer disparities and the benefits of organics. Follow along as I believe life is more fun when you actually live it!

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