This is our third year continuing our new family tradition of doing a quick getaway rather than going home for Thanksgiving weekend. Two years ago was Montauk, last year was Riverhead, and this year was... Philadelphia! Here's what we did (there are TONS of great things we just didn't have time for), feel free to copy, thus making planning your own family trip to Philly easy peasy!!
MONEY SAVING TIP: CityPASS
If you're on a budget but want to see it all (like me), you've got to go ahead and get the CityPASS. An adult pass for Philadelphia is $62 and includes admission to the top attractions (Franklin Institute, Adventure Aquarium, Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works, Philadelphia Zoo or National Constitution Center, and Eastern Penitentiary or Please Touch Museum. My advice is to consider how much time you'll have in the city and calculate the cost of what you plan on doing. If you're just going to one or two places, the CityPASS won't be worth it, but most likely you're planning to go to most or all of the places included and in that case you will save big! The child's pass (for ages 2-12) is $39, but keep in mind some attractions, such as Franklin Institute and Big Bus Company, are free for kids under 4 years.
NYC - PHILLY TRANSPORTATION:
While it's certainly not the most luxurious (or safest) means of transportation, we took the good ol' Chinatown Bus down to Philly. There are no seat belts (so don't even bother bringing car seats) and there is no guarantee you'll get on the bus you booked (though they run every 30-60 minutes), but they are dirt cheap. For our family of five, we're talking $60 roundtrip, for FIVE PEOPLE! I mean, come on! It was also quick, under 2 hours!
We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Philadelphia and were extremely pleased. The location was superb - just a few blocks from our bus stop and Reading Terminal Market, and directly across the street from the beautiful city hall, so our view was amazing!! We booked the cheapest room, of course, and it was huge! With a king bed it easily fit the pack 'n play they provided us and actually could have fit 1-2 more! They were nicely decorated for Christmas with a huge tree, had Starbucks and a restaurant on site, free wifi, and our favorite part of the hotel was their pool and hot tub. It was fabulous!!
The oldest zoo in the nation, but it sure didn't feel that way! They've got some really cool and unique features. One being Zoo360, with wire tunnels running overtop throughout the zoo, you see monkeys and tigers running around above you - very cool!! Also, there are a couple of play areas for kids that are quite exceptional! As far as animals, you have all the usual suspects and the one that I was most excited about were the hippos! I don't think I've ever seen those in person before!
It was quite stroller friendly but you did have to park outside of some exhibits, and they actually have single and double strollers to rent as well. It took us about 3 hours to see the whole zoo, but we didn't really dilly dally, so you might want to budget a bit more time if you are big zoo-goers.
This place was ah-may-zing! HUGE!!! The building used to be an art museum and is in itself quite impressive. But they have two ginormous floors filled with activities and play centers geared for ages 6 and under, and quite a few for the small tots as well. It's quite pricey, $17 per person ages 1 and over, but well worth it, and is included in the CityPASS. Please Touch is right up there with Baltimore's Port Discovery Children's Museum in my book, the 2 best we have been to. We spent 4 hours here, including a quick lunch, but our toddler could easily have spent the entire day there, and then some!!
We timed this one to go during our toddler's nap. They do have an exhibit especially for the little ones, but we wanted to be able to do all the interactive goodness (that a rambunctious toddler wouldn't have allowed us to do) since we had spent a good part of the day at the children's museum already. We only had an hour, but we managed to check out their new "Your Brain" exhibit, Sports Zone (hubby cleared 9' on the standing jump and running jump - woohoo!), Sir Isaac's Loft, and of course the famous Giant Heart. Would love to have had several more hours there, but oh well, maybe next time!
This place was just a couple blocks from our hotel and in 4 days in Philly we ate 4 meals here, it's that awesome!! Ha! The place is huge with any kind of food you can imagine! From cheesesteaks to crepes to gourmet chocolates. There is also a section of Pennsylvania Dutch merchants which was pretty cool to see.
Our first morning, the ladies at the information center recommended Down Home Diner to us because it was the only place with booths (i.e. stroller friendly; most other merchants had counter dining only). It was really cheap and really yummy, so we went back there the next morning as well! I recommend going to the market early if you have kids. We were there before 9AM and it was fairly empty, no problem with a stroller and toddler running around! We went back to grab lunch to go around noon on our last day and it was a mad house!!
They also had a cute (big) model train display, including Thomas and Percy which especially excited our little boy!
This was a great way to get around to all of the top attractions. Our toddler LOVED the open air top deck and the guides were really interesting! The negatives were: you have to fold your stroller, they buses only came ever 20 minutes or so, and the last pickup was about 5pm (during summer they have night ones though).
Here's a video montage of our Philly trip - don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!!
So, that's what we crammed into 4-nights 3-days in Philly. Have you been? What is on your must-do list?? Share in a comment below!
If you found this "kid-friendly getaway from NYC" article helpful, check out these too!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive CityPASS free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!