If you’re looking for a weekend getaway with the kids, consider Philadelphia! It’s an easy two-hour drive from Brooklyn and offers rich history, beautiful architecture and lots of family-friendly activities (at a slightly slower pace than NYC). Holly Rosen Fink gives us her top picks for Philly as a destination.
Growing up with solid Philadelphian roots, I’ve always referred to the city as Philly. Philadelphia is the combination of two Greek words: Phileo, which means love and adelphos, which means brother. This is how Philly became known as the City of Brotherly Love.
The city is indeed full of great people and energy but it’s also full of history and culture. Now that my children are older, I Iove to show them the sites more than ever. Every time we go, I bring in new ones, we try new foods, and we see the city by foot. It’s a very organized, walkable city and perfect for strollers, with its wide-open sidewalks. Every time we visit, I’m even more impressed than our last visit with the city. It’s brighter, more beautiful and a bit reminiscent of Europe. The city is doing a great job of restoring and bringing the city’s history to life.
Brooklynites should know that two years ago, The New York Times branded the city as the “sixth borough” of New York. Attracted by a thriving arts and music scene and a cost of living that is 37 percent lower than New York’s, a significant number of youngish artists, musicians, restaurateurs and designers are leaving NYC and heading down the turnpike for the same reasons they once moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan.
So, Philadelphia is worth checking out for more reasons than you realized. If you plan on heading out for a few days, here’s our handy list of where to go, what to eat, and where to rest your heads at night.
What to Do
Definitely hit the historical district. The Betsy Ross House was built in 1740 in the Georgian style and consists of 2-1/2 stories and 9 rooms. There she created the first American flag, strewn with 13 stars and stripes. Wander through the cellar kitchen, the period parlor, bedrooms, and view models of areas where the Ross’s likely worked on their upholstery projects. The U.S. Mint is just a few blocks away from the Betsy Ross House. It’s the nation’s first mint and it’s very impressive. The mint makes circulating coins of all denominations; commemorative coins as authorized by Congress, and produces the dies for stamping coins and medals. The tour is completely free and is self-guided.
The Barnes Collection and Rodin Museum are both located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Barnes Foundation maintains and displays of the world’s leading collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings and our visit was really a unique experience. They offer an excellent audio tour. The Rodin Museum houses the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works outside Paris. It’s a uniquely shaped edifice surrounded by beautiful gardens featuring many figures in “The Gates of Hell” inspired his later iconic sculptures from “The Kiss” to “The Thinker.”
The National Museum of American Jewish History is a 100,000 square-foot, five-story museum located in Independence Mall, with a mission that explores 350 years of Jewish life in the U.S., and highlights themes of freedom, civil rights, prejudice and assimilation. Little boys will love Eastern State Penitentiary, located at 2027 Fairmount Avenue. When the building was erected it was the largest and most expensive public structure ever constructed, quickly becoming a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide. Don’t miss the Franklin Institute, and interactive and educational museum about science and technology. There are three floors of exciting exhibits, mainly for young kids.
What to Eat
You can’t go wrong when it comes to eating out in Philadelphia.
Jones Restaurant on 700 Chestnut Street is super convenient to all the main sites (like the Liberty Bell and the Museum of African American History). It’s a real find for families looking for quality food without giving in completely to kid culture. It’s stylish and has a retro vibe, while staying down to earth, while offering “comfort food” like macaroni & cheese, meatloaf and brisket. Zama is located at 128 South 19th Street in Rittenhouse Row. The restaurant offers more than 30 a la carte sashimi, as well as a wide variety of maki rolls and vegetable offerings. Melograno is authentic, delicious Italian food. The pasta is homemade and the dishes are off the chart delicious. While you’re there, grab a Philadelphia steak sandwich, old-fashioned water ice, and hot dog anywhere and everywhere.
Where to Stay
The Ritz Carlton is a short walk from City Hall, LOVE Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Reading Terminal Market. The hotel offers vacation packages to make a trip more affordable. The Stay and Play package is geared toward family travel.
Four Seasons Philadelphia is another centrally located hotel. Children are indulged as soon as they enter the establishment with candy and it’s an incredibly family-friendly hotel.