You don’t have to balk at the idea of letting your wee one tag along with you on your next adventure. All it takes is a little additional planning—and perhaps a few extra snacks tucked in your bag—to ensure you and your little ones have a blast exploring one of America’s best cities together. Here’s a local’s guide to some of the top toddler-friendly attractions in Philadelphia. As an added bonus, these won’t cost you a dime. It’s well-known that nothing guarantees a massive crash-and-burn moments after arrival like a pricey admission ticket.
This public park, café, and wading pool across the street from the fountain at Logan Square is the urban oasis of your little one’s dreams. Leave your shoes and belongings in the tiny cubbies that line the edge of the pool, put on their bathing suits and swim diapers (for sale at the park should you have forgotten to pack some), and wade into cool, clean water that never goes deeper than just above your ankles. When you’re ready to dry off, take the kids for a mini nature walk through the Children’s Discovery Garden to the north of the pool, and let them clamber up and around rocks, branches, and over the tiny stream that cascades down to the pool below. Afterwards, treat yourself to a snack and cool beverage from the snack counter at the visitor center. You won’t feel farther away from the hubbub of center city crowds than right here.
Located on the west side of City Hall, the recently-renovated Dilworth Park consists of a lush lawn, a café by local darling Jose Garces, and sprawling fountain that boasts a series of walkways that circumvent the water features should you not be in the mood to kick off your shoes for a little splash. The park also features year-round programming that includes live music, outdoor movie screenings, yoga, and happy hour specials.
Open from May through September 25th, this award-winning seasonal oasis is a favorite among locals and tourists alike—and for good reason. The riverside park boasts dozens of hammocks that are ripe for midday naps and reading binges and there’s tons of free games—including a giant Jenga tower and toddler-friendly giant LEGO blocks, fountains, a boardwalk, several outstanding dining options, swan boats, and kayaks. As a bonus, it’s a short stroll to Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, open May 27th for another season of retro-fabulous fun on wheels at Philadelphia’s first and only outdoor roller skating rink.
Hidden among the cobblestone alleyways just west of the Delaware River, this small playground and picnic area is a local favorite. Large trees provide ample shade, and the surrounding centuries-old townhouses buffer the vast majority of the clamor from busses and traffic that rattle down nearby Pine Street. If you find yourself in Philly on Halloween, head on down to the park for the local block party, where parents let their kids run off sugar highs after trick-or-treating up and down the neighboring streets.
Recently named the Best Urban Trail by USA Today, this multi-use trail runs for over 26 miles along the Schuylkill (pronounced SKOO-khul) River from Philadelphia to Phoenixville, PA. The pathway is stroller-friendly and boasts some of the most Instagram-worthy views of the city. Summertime brings warm-weather programming in several spots along the trail, which includes family-friendly riverside movie screenings (don’t forget the bug spray).
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