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What should we see in 24 hours in Philadelphia with children?

We've never been to Philly, but I'm taking my three girls there for a whirlwind trip. We will see the liberty bell and the US mint, but that's the extent of our plan. Any suggestions on other activities to do? Rainy day things, great parks for sunny days? Must-eat local foods. Best places to eat a Philly cheesesteak.

6 Answers

top answer by
Thom from Philadelphia


The place to get lunch is the Reading Terminal Market at 12th and Arch Street and not far from Liberty Bell. There is lots of great food here and very crowded at lunch.  After lunch, go to the top floor of the Lowe's Hotel for great free views of the city in all directions.  Enter one of the conference rooms (if no meetings)  to get a view of South Philadelphia.

For cheesesteaks, I really like to take first time visitors to Philly to Pat's King of Steaks.  It is the original.  If you order the cheesesteak with cheese wiz then you are experiencing the original cheese steak at the original cheesesteak place!  When ordering onions on your cheesesteak order as follows like a real Philadelphian, “Cheese-wiz cheesesteak with.”  (Don’t say onions…its implied.) The seating is outside and covered.   You see all kinds of people from all walks of life.  This is still one of my favorite Philly experiences any time of day or night in any season!

Other things to see and do for kids in order of closeness to Independence Mall area:

  • Old City DistrictInteresting shops and art galleries.  Visit Olde City Coffee for great coffe and pastries.
  • Shopping - I like to shop for my nieces and daughter on Pine Street between 9th and 13th Streets.  There are some really great boutique stores that the girls would like (and antique stores). I think this is a great place to buy something special to remember Philadelphia and is not your typical tourist kitsch.

  • South Street – Eclectic shops and don’t miss Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
  • Farther north from Old City District is the Northern Liberties section.  Visit the Piazza and check out the shops and restaurants.  This is a great artsy/modern area of the city to walk around in.

  • The Philadelphia Zoo is a great urban zoo and will nicely fill the remainder of a day.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Reading Terminal Market (attraction)
  2. Pat's King of Steaks (restaurant)
  3. Old City District (attraction)
  4. South Street (attraction)
  5. Philadelphia's Magic Gardens (attraction)
  6. Northern Liberties (neighborhood)
  7. Philadelphia Zoo (attraction)
5 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Matthew from Prescott

As Diana wrote the battle over the cheese steaks is pretty split. What is good news for newcomers is they are across the street from each other. So I suggest ordering one from Pat's King of Steaks and one from Geno's Steaks and then splitting them; that way you can try both.

Eastern State Penitentiary is a nice hidden gem inside the city limits. Lots of interesting history and excellent photo ops.

Of course you have to run up the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Then you can walk along Benjamin Franklin Parkway which is surrounded by a park to check out The Franklin Institute.

Another great place to get a variety of food is Reading Terminal Market. They have anything you could want, and it is tasty.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pat's King of Steaks (restaurant)
  2. Geno's Steaks (restaurant)
  3. Eastern State Penitentiary (attraction)
  4. Philadelphia Museum of Art (attraction)
  5. The Franklin Institute (attraction)
  6. Reading Terminal Market (restaurant)
5 thankscomments (1)

answered by
ryan from New York City

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Franklin Institute (attraction)
  2. Betsy Ross House (attraction)
  3. Reading Terminal Market (restaurant)
  4. DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (2)

answered first by
Diana from Willow Grove

The "battle" over cheese steaks is Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's's a 50/50 split in our household! The Philadelphia Zoo is always fun for kids, too - not too big but not too small either!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pat's King of Steaks (restaurant)
  2. Geno's Steaks (restaurant)
  3. Philadelphia Zoo (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Lauren from West Village

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Please Touch Museum (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Sabrina from Tecumseh, Missouri

Depending on the age and dispostion of your kids, a ghost tour might be fun.

Philly cheesesteaks are OK.  This is a good guide to your choices:

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