Walking the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia is like traveling through the pages of a history book. Older kids will love seeing the Liberty Bell and other landmarks they've learned about in school, while younger kids will get a kick out of the costumed performers who bring history to life. The city's modern attractions appeal to all ages with hands-on exhibits at the Franklin Institute and Please Touch Museum, plus trolley rides around the city.
Philadelphia is especially fun to visit between May and October, when exhibits are open later and the weather makes walking more enjoyable. In late spring, the city hosts the International Children's Festival, with many school groups touring the historical landmarks. Warm weather makes ferry and open-air trolley rides even more pleasant, and Independence Day celebrations are truly special here in the country's birthplace. Fall sees cooling temperatures and fewer crowds, with easier access to the city's many attractions.
Summers tend to be hot and humid in Philadelphia, especially in July and August when average daytime highs are in the mid-80s. Spring and fall are somewhat milder, with fall temperatures staying around 73 degrees. Winter is cold, although the mercury seldom drops below freezing. Precipitation is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, but on average October is the driest month. Get more weather info.
Philadelphia is about 100 miles south of New York, 130 miles north of Washington, D.C., and 55 miles from Atlantic City. If you're flying, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is served by all major domestic carriers and is only seven miles from Center City. The SEPTA Airport Rail Line travels directly from the airport to Center City in less than 25 minutes.
Philadelphia is also accessible by train, bus, and even cruise ship if you're traveling from Canada or New England. Amtrak provides service along the Northeast Corridor, and Greyhound operates bus service throughout the region.
Philadelphia -- especially the historical and museum districts -- is best seen on foot. The city layout is a simple grid spanning 25 blocks between two rivers: the Schuylkill and the Delaware. Streets running north/south are numbered, while streets running east/west are named after trees.
If the kids are tired or walking is impractical, Philadelphia's transit system (SEPTA) is the best way to get around town. A One Day Convenience Pass is only $6 per person and includes eight trips in one day on any of the buses, trolleys, or subways. You can print maps and buy passes before your trip from the SEPTA website.
Other fun travel options include the purple Philly Phlash bus, which travels between major hotels and attractions for only a dollar, and the Philadelphia Trolley Works, a network of open-air trolleys and double-decker buses with unlimited on/off privileges at 20 different attractions.
If you're planning to take a day trip or just feel better having a car handy, refer to the Philadelphia Parking Authority website, for convenient parking locations and prices as well as maps.
GoPhila .com is the official visitor website for greater Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Pass is your ticket to 25 top attractions, including the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo, as well as special discounts at various retailers and restaurants and a comprehensive guidebook with maps. Or downsize to the Philadelphia City Pass with admission to six attractions.
Check each attraction's website before your visit. Many require timed tickets, which you can purchase or reserve before your trip (guaranteeing admission and bypassing long lines).