Do you have a summer bucket list for your family? The days are long, the sun is shining, and the kids are out of school; so get out there and make it a great summer by creating a summer bucket list!
We've helped you get started by creating this list of the must-do, must-see activities for families in the Philadelphia area. We've added a little bit of everything, including beaches, theme parks, outdoor concerts, gardens, and more.
Please add to our list, and let us know your family's must-do summer activities!
Tim Ponisciak: Hersheypark is a must-do for families who love roller coasters and water rides! Thrill enthusiasts will love the wooden roller coasters, and there are plenty of kiddie rides (and character greetings) for families with young ones. An 11-acre outdoor waterpark with several attractions is open seasonally.
Admission is $13.50/adult, $9.50/junior (3-12), Free for members & children under 3
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: A year round, tropical Butterfly Atrium with more than 400 butterflies make Hershey Gardens a favorite of children. Family fun awaits as kids can take part in special crafts and activities, scavenger hunts and create masterpiece coloring pages. The children's garden offers 32 themed gardens for endless fun.
Cartoon Network Hotel
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Enjoy a unique getaway experience at the Cartoon Network Hotel in nearby Lancaster! They feature CN themed rooms and eateries including The Bearista Cafe, indoor and outdoor pools, movie and cartoon nights on their large screens, Toon Room, Omnicade and more. They also feature special packages with Dutch Wonderland.
National Toy Train Museum
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The National Toy Train Museum offers an old-time train station look with themed train displays and special exhibits featuring trains from the mid-1800s through the present day. Many exhibits are interactive and hands-on for children to experience.
Vanessa M.: Summertime means Longwood Gardens is in full bloom. Wander through the Mediterranean Garden, the Waterlily Display, the Topiary Garden, and the Children's Garden, to name a few of the attractions in the over 1,000 acres that make up Longwood Gardens. Don't miss the breathtaking Illuminated Fountain Performances and check out the dates for their Summer Performance Series.
Cost: Tickets start at $12
Reading Fightin Phils
Tim Ponisciak: If your little Phillies fans don't enjoy major league games as much as you do, take them for a short hour and a half drive to Reading to see the Fightin' Phils! The Fightins are the double A affiliate for the hometown team, so your kids will enjoy getting to see the Phillies of the future. The Fightins play at First Energy Stadium, which is a pretty unique ballpark among minor league stadiums in that it has been around for quite a while, since 1951.
Cost: Tickets start at $5/person
Strawberry, raspberry & blueberry picking
Vanessa M.: Kids will love picking their own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, summer squash and more at Linvilla Orchards. Check out their Farm Market for fresh baked goods, handmade candies and jellies, fresh produce, and more. Their calendar is full of fun, family-friendly festivals and events such as fishing derbies, story & craft sessions, and more.
Phila Flea Markets
Vanessa M.: Phila Flea Markets organize the largest indoor/outdoor flea markets in Center City Philadelphia and the Main Line. The outdoor markets pop up all over Philadelphia during the warmer months, while they are held indoors in colder months. Click here for the schedule. They are known for having friendly vendors and a large variety of interesting items. Browse for fun or find something unique for your home! Some are listed A&V for antiques and vintage only.
The Mann Center
Vanessa M.: There is nothing better than a summer concert outdoors under the stars at The Mann Center. Bring a picnic for most events, and enjoy family time together. Families may enjoy the Philadelphia Orchestra's performances of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Barenaked Ladies, Harry Connick Jr., or Tchaikovsky's Spectacular (with fireworks)! The Mann Center also offers free Young People's Concert Series and outdoor movies.
Cost: Varies by event
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Admission is $12/adult, $8/child (5-17), Free for members & children under 5
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Over a 1.2 acre site in Fairmount Park, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden contains a hill and pond style garden, courtyard garden, tea garden and Tea House. Children will learn about Japanese tradition and culture while experiencing the beauty of this delightful garden.
Shila: The Philadelphia Zoo is home to lemurs, lions, leopards, tigers, bears and more.
Citizens Bank Park - Ballpark Tour
$10/adult, $6/child, age 3 and under are free
Shila: Visit the ballpark where the Philadelphia Phillies play! Ninety minute public tours guide you through the gates, and make stops at the Dugout, the Diamond Club, the Hall of Fame Club, Broadcast Booth and Media Room. This is a treat for MLB fans of all ages.
Tour tickets must be purchased in advance. Strollers are welcome.
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
Closed on Mondays
Vanessa M.: Smith Playground and Playhouse boasts a giant, 16,000 sq ft mansion that was built as a playhouse for the children of Philadelphia. Inside, you will find a low-key children's museum type environment, with lots of fun activities for smaller children. Outside, you will see a sprawling, 6 1/2 acre, state of the art playground, with different sections for younger and older children. Kids and adults alike will love riding a potato sack down the giant wooden slide that has been a fixture at Smith Playground since 1905.
Cost: Admission to the playhouse is free, donations accepted
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Dorney Park May-October
Wildwater Kingdom Memorial Day-Labor Day
Tim Ponisciak: Dorney Park has been around since the 1800s. The park has a lot of great roller coasters, including Steel Force, one of the longest roller coasters in the US. There are also a lot of great kids rides, including a child-sized train, a carousel, a ferris wheel, and much more! If your kids are into Charlie Brown, this is a great park to go to, as Charlie, Snoopy, Woodstock and a lot of other members of the gang are at the park, along with Peanuts themed rides!
The Franklin Institute Fels Planetarium and Bloom Observatory
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute features a 60 foot diameter dome to view the night sky as it would look without weather or pollution interference. With high tech sound and video, they offer mesmerizing shows about space, cosmic exploration and more.
The Bloom Observatory and Ben's Starlight Lounge provide Night Skies on select nights to view the night sky, planets, stars and more with Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts. There are also presentations, hands-on activities and more. Free star maps are provided.
Sister Cities Park
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Sister Cities Park on the Ben Franklin Parkway offers outdoor play with a Children's discovery garden, fountain spray park in the Summer and special playground in the Winter. The Sister Cities Café is available to grab a quick bite or beverage. Your kids will love this park year round!
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Vanessa M.: Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is an outdoor art museum and gallery space like you have never seen before, spanning half a block in downtown Philly. Artist Isaiah Zagar spent his life creating giant mosaic murals out of unique, found objects, as he worked hard to revitalize the South Street neighborhood. Wander through the outdoor sculpture garden, and enjoy the indoor art galleries. Most areas are wheelchair/stroller accessible. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended as tickets often sell out.
Cost: $10/adult, $8/student, $5/child (age 6-12), under 5 free
Kawaii Kitty Cafe
Shila: This is a local coffee shop serving teas, espresso, pastries and kid-oriented specials like milkshakes, colorful-sprinkled sundaes, and hot chocolates. In addition, another room hosts a cat lounge! Feel free to cuddle, pet, play or just cozy up with purring pals on the couches while you read a book or just relax. This is a great idea for kids (or anyone) who love to interact with cats!
Kids must be at least 5 years old (and kids under 14 will need an adult). You can make reservations online, or drop in. Check out the Kitty Cafe's family movie nights, too!
Headhouse Farmers Markets
Open Year Round
Vanessa M.: As fresh, local produce reaches its peak during the summer months, Headhouse Farmers Markets makes a great place for family fun this summer. Headhouse Farmers Market is the largest farmers market in the city. With over 40 vendors , there is lots to see as vendors offer everything from just picked produce to locally prepared foods and artisanal items such as gourmet ice cream, soups, baked goods, and wine. The Lankenau Medical Center offers free health screenings at the market in the summer months.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Vanessa M.: Spruce Street Harbor Park is a unique gathering space that comes alive in the summer months. The park is filled with colorful hammocks, floating gardens, beautiful lights, refreshing beer gardens, and food from popular Philly restaurants. The boardwalk boasts swings, hammocks, bocce courts, ping pong, shuffleboard, arcade games, and hammock lounges for a relaxing time together. Click here for hammock reservations.
Independence Seaport Museum
May - September
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Independence Seaport Museum features family fun on the Delaware River! Paddle Penn's Landing enables your family to paddle along the Delaware River adjacent to Penn's Landing on a swan, dragon, rowboat, pirate ship or kayak. They also feature Kayak excursions on select days along the Delaware and to explore the Philadelphia area. Life jackets are provided.
Ages: 6+ (Paddle Penn's Landing) and 15+ (Kayak excursions)
Cost: $8/per person for 30 minutes (Paddle Penn's Landing) and starts at $35/per person (Kayak excursion)
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
Memorial Day-Labor Day
Juan L.: Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, down on the riverfront, is a must for every Philly family. It sports Philadelphia's only outdoor skating rink, mini-golf, games, rides and concessions.The boardwalk has a 60 ft. Ferris wheel, a carousel, and many boardwalk games making it feel like a closer and more family-friendly Jersey Shore boardwalk. The crab shack and ice cream store are can't miss for concessions.
Cost: Activity costs range from $2-$10/person
Camden Children's Garden
Admission is $9/person, Free for children 1 & under
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The 4 acres of the Camden Children's Garden was designed for parents and children. It offers horticulture for education, imaginative play and creativity. Special features include the Storybook Garden, Fitness Garden, Butterfly House, Dinosaur Garden, Maze, Splash Pad and more.
There are rides, shows, hands-on activities for toddlers, youth empowerment programs for teens and Scout programs. Special events are held throughout the year too.
Shila: Adventure Aquarium offers several behind the scenes or up close and personal opportunities for awesome animal encounters, including penguins, sea turtles and hippos.
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs is the Minor League Baseball team in Allentown, PA. They offer discount membership plan tickets, group rates, birthday parties, promotions including fireworks, fan clubs, and give-away days. The team gives back to the community through recreational and educational programs for area youth. The ballpark offers various concessions, gift shops and special events. Get out and enjoy some Summer Baseball with the Ironpigs!
Cost: Single ticket prices start at $8
Kids Castle at Central Park
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: This epic spot in Doylestown is one of the best playgrounds near Philadelphia, and is worth a drive to check out! The centerpiece is a multi-level wooden castle that kids love to explore, but there's plenty of modern equipment, too. You'll find a zipline, electronic game station, and play structure that's inclusive of all abilities.
General admission from $18.99
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Crayola Experience is a Museum as well as a Factory Tour. Guests of all ages can discover how crayons are made in a live theater show as well as uncover interesting crayon facts. They will learn the history and science of Crayola products as well during this fun and interactive hands-on tour.
Guests can visit 28 hands-on attractions including melting crayon wax to make a keepsake, creating a 4D adventure and make a drip art creation.
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: If you are a fan of better tasting organic blueberries, then make an appointment to pick your own blueberries over at upscale DiMeo U-Pick Blueberry Farms, where you'll find only organic heirloom blueberries that taste even better than they sound. It is a great birthday party venue during the blueberry picking season, and parents can bring a picnic basket along with their berry basket to enjoy a date night along the beautiful Hammonton Creek. Also great for rustic family photo shoots where you can bring your own photographer and book the farm venue location.
Sesame Place Philadelphia
Vanessa M.: As they say at Sesame Place, "Go before they grow!" Sesame Place offers the best family fun with rides for all ages, your favorite Sesame Street characters (including character dining), water rides, shows, parades, and more. Sesame Place even offers a "Sunny Day Guarantee," so if it rains continuously for one hour or more during your visit, guests can receive a ticket to return at a later date!
Cost: Click here for ticket & pass information.
Jersey Shore Boardwalk
Erin P.: Head up the shore for a day, a weekend, or even longer! Ocean City, NJ is an iconic summer beach town. Enjoy the beautiful ocean as well as the restaurants, shops and activities that make this a bustling boardwalk. You won't want to leave!
Trenton Thunder Baseball
Tim Ponisciak: If you have little baseball fans in your family, but don't want to spend a fortune on food and parking, check out some double A minor league baseball with the Thunder, just a short drive from Philadelphia. Arm & Hammer Park is a beauty of a minor league park, right along the Delaware River. The park is about 20 years old but still feels new. There are some great promos and events, like Pork Roll Fridays, Super Value Tuesdays and Fireworks Spectacular. Kids can join Boomer's Kids Club for more fun and prizes!
Cost: Single tickets starting at $11
Six Flags Great Adventure
Vanessa M.: Kids rides, family rides, BIG roller coasters, shows, water rides, Looney Tunes character greeting, safari animals, and 4-D ride experiences will make your visit to Great Adventure unforgettable.
Primary photo: Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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