Parents’ Travel Guide: What to Do in Philadelphia
With Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia situated in Logan Square, families can sneak in a little bit of everything from arts and culture to sports—and even something educational in between.
You feel smarter after a trip to Philadelphia. The tree-lined avenues, the family-friendly green space, the towering statues and delicate Colonial architecture all work to create a city that feels more livable than many. In its cluster of neighbourhoods, you’ll find lessons in civil rights, introductions to Constitutional forefathers, iconic movies and the best way to order a cheese steak. (Hint: You can drop the Philly; they know where it’s from.)
Situated in the northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, Philadelphia is a port city known for its arts and culture. There is no “us” (locals) and “them” (visitors) here; everyone blends in on the streets, and the only way to know for sure if that other family playing in the fountain is visiting, too, is to ask them. Go for it. Local or not, you’ll find this city of American firsts (U.S. Mint, zoo, hospital, public park) more than lives up to its reputation as the City of Brotherly Love.
- Location. Based at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, you’re in the best spot to see it all. You can hop on a local bus, go for the double-decker tour bus or use your feet to make the most of the city.
- The history. Founded by William Penn, this is the place to understand American history.
- The Liberty Bell. See the iconic symbol of American independence up close.
- Award-winning cuisine. Take your pick of AAA Five- and Four-Diamond restaurants that turn out incredible, mouth-watering dishes and memorable local delicacies.
- Four Seasons service. Enjoy a staff that’s professional without being stuffy.
- The view. Book a room that looks out across the mall and plot out the museums, galleries and the memorable staircase made famous by Rocky Balboa that you’ll take on throughout the day.
What the kids will love
- More outdoor sculptures than any other U.S. city. No trip is complete without a snapshot in front of the famous LOVE sculpture, but the giant Clothespin and Your Move oversize game pieces will get the kids laughing, too.
- Museums that encourage engagement. The Franklin Institute’s hands-on exhibits are meant to spark the inventor in all of us; The Academy of Natural Sciences, the nation’s oldest natural history museum, gets you up close to everything from insects to shark teeth. The smallest visitors will love the Please Touch Museum.
- A trip to Franklin Square. Let off some steam amid manicured lawns, a carousel, a mini golf course and free playgrounds. You’ll also learn a thing or two from the historic costumed storytellers as you wander.
- The Hotel’s indoor swimming pool. Kids only have to go as far as the deck for lunch (in-room dining delivers here, too).
What you will love
- History comes alive. Watch the kids learn as they chat with Ben (Franklin) and Betsey (Ross)—or at least their costumed versions—in the historic part of the city.
- The variety. There’s a good mix of outdoor strolling and indoor learning around the Independence Visitor Center; The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and National Constitution Center are all nearby.
- Some quality time. Enjoy evening strolls with or without the kids (thanks to in-room babysitting) along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the tree-lined boulevard just outside your door.
- Drinks of your choice. Sip tea in the Hotel’s landscaped courtyard or a pre-dinner cocktail in The Lounge.
- The amenities. The Hotel’s fully equipped Spa allows you to exercise or be pampered after a full day of activities. You also have access to the complimentary town car and driver for a quick trip into the city centre.
The Rocky Statue. It stands just off to the right of the Art Museum Steps (aka the “Rocky Steps”). Hum the theme music, raise your fists in triumph and snap the picture your friends are expecting.
You’ve got the best of Philadelphia dining in-house. Fountain Restaurant boasts AAA Five-Diamond cuisine that is as tasty as it is beautifully presented. Indulge in The Lounge’s killer Sunday brunch buffet, or take advantage of the Children’s All-Day Menu that hits all of their favourites, with plenty of healthful options parents will be happy with, too. Or, order the same via in-room dining.
Philadelphia food culture is all about family. There is no loss of local establishments perfect for fun, family-friendly outings that entertain beyond their tasty menus. Jones Restaurant has funky décor and down-home fare, while City Tavern is a restored Colonial tavern complete with costumed staff. On the waterfront, Moshulu is a historic four-masted ship with a fantastic seafood restaurant and decks to wander after dinner. The Franklin Fountain is an old-fashioned ice cream shop where scoops are piled as high as you can handle; they also have ice cream sodas and sundaes just waiting to be shared.
5 family to-dos
1. Get the lay of the land. Board a Philadelphia Trolley Works car or the Big Bus Company’s double-decker tour buses to get your bearings once you arrive. The bus has great tour guides and the hop on-hop off option means you can make the most of your day.
2. Bring history to life. Boring history lessons in a classroom? No, thanks. Kids will learn without prompting with historic American landmarks around every corner. Visits to the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall are musts.
3. Enjoy family time at the Hotel. Take a day to relax; sleep in late, head to the heated indoor pool for a swim and order in-room dining. Need board games, books or DVDs? Just call down to the front desk.
4. Eat Philadelphia-style. The city is known for its unique noshing options. Ask the Concierge to help you make a checklist of the absolute must-tries—Philly cheese steak, Rita’s Italian Ice and scrapple should top the roster.