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A Weekend in Philadelphia: A Family Friendly Philadelphia Travel Guide (Day 1)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania DAY 1
Location: Downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Time: Give yourself an entire day to see the historical sites and downtown.
Tip: Get there early in the morning, reserve Independence Hall tickets in advance, and park at Liberty Square as a central point to walk to all the other locations.

I have a dear friend from high school who went to the same two universities I went to at the same time I was there, and we’ve always been supportive and there for each other in low moments of life. He met Jacob when we started dated and gave me the thumbs up pretty, and when he moved to Philly for grad school and fell in love, well, Jacob and I both knew we needed to be there for the wedding if at all possible. And so a weekend trip to Philadelphia was put in the books right after the engagement was announced. Thank you, Jacob, for always being the proactive planner who insists we do whatever we can to support our friends- particularly some of our longest standing friends, and books tickets the moment I mention anyone is engaged. He’s a loyal one, and it’s one of the things I love most about my husband!

Philadelphia Travel Guide- Philadelphia things to do including great family travel activities in Philly, when you have a weekend in Philadelphia.

And so we started to plan how much ground we could cover in only two days and asked our friend for recommendations of what we needed to put on our must-see list for Philly.

First up, The Liberty Bell.

 A weekend in Philadelphia: seeing the Liberty Bell.

I’ve always thought this was a cool American symbol, but it’s really amazing to see these things in real life and have the chance the read all the history and see the progenitor to so much American symbolism and ideals.

How to see the Philadelphia Liberty Bell.

It’s free to go, and even on the busiest of days, the lines move quickly. I’d plan a half hour to an hour to wait in line, and maybe up to an hour to walk through the museum area and to get a picture with the Liberty Bell. It’s no small task, everyone swarms, there isn’t a clear line, and you often have to wait through a crowd. Don’t let that discourage you, but I’d be prepared to wait for a nice family to trade or bring a selfie stick if you’re using a phone. It’s worth it though! Even if your baby cries because they want to run around and not hold still, it’s still worth it to show them that they’ve been there!

Guide of how to make the most family travel to Philly! The Liberty Bell Center Philadelphia. Family travel to Philly!

After behaving himself and sitting in a stroller for so long, our little man was ready to roam around. The good news for parents traveling with kids is Liberty Square is right outside the exit, and you can let your little one roam free and get their wiggles out on the grass and in the park.

Family travel to Philly!

Traveling with a toddler to Philadelphia.

And then you can hope they will come back for a family picture in front of Independence Hall. This is such a cool place, I kept referring to it as “The Room Where it Happened” since we’re clearly still obsessed with Hamilton. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Consitution came to fruition in these walls, and I don’t think I even realized how much American history took place in this square mile until we came for the day. If you are lucky enough to get tickets you need to do so early- either book them online or get to Constitution Square the moment it opens and hope there are some available.

Family travel guide of things to do in Philadelphia.

Once again, after a morning viewing history, we decided it was time to give our little man some free time. We chased him around the square, we stopped at the park and let him chase birds and squeal “Biiiiirrrrrddd” for a while, and we enjoyed some really pretty city views of historic building surrounding us.

Family travel guide of things to do in Philadelphia with kids.

Things to do in Philadelphia.

After he had some free time, we put our toddler back in the stroller and walked about a mile for lunch, and we enjoyed the city skylines. I’m kind of obsessed with those, we even have a room in our home with pictures of skylines from some of our favorite places in the world, and Philadelphia has some truly gorgeous architecture.

 A weekend in Philadelphia: a travel guide of things to do in Philadelphia.

Our friend let us know that the Reading Terminal Market was a must for us, and one of the coolest places to visit and eat in Philly. So, of course, we put this at the top of our to-eat list.

Eating at Terminal market in Philadelphia.

To say this place is busy would be an understatement, it’s bustling and there are market shops of all types and food establishment galore! Things to eat, and how to make the most family travel to Philly!

We stood in a few lines and we waited patiently for a table. It was actually super family-friendly even with all the crowds and I couldn’t stop smiling at all the family dates I saw taking place. There were a lot of date-dates too for the record, which also warmed my heart. I just love people watching, and this was one really fun place to do it! Philadelphia market.

We assessed a lot of places and went with Hunger Burger for the boys and Molly Malloy’s for me. Molly Malloy’s is a brewery so if you’re into drinks this looked like THE place with long lines at the bar area, but the salad area was so reasonable and I can honestly say this one of the best salads I’ve ever had!

Terminal market in Philadelphia. What to eat Terminal market in Philadelphia.

This took us to afternoon, where we spent our time indulging in more American history. We headed to a fairly new museum, the Museum of the American Revolution.

A weekend in Philadelphia travel guide. What to see and things to do in Philadelphia.

It’s amazing how we take one honors U.S. History class in high school and one American Heritage in college, listen to Hamilton, visit Washington D.C. and feel like you know so much about the American Revolution, and then go to a museum like this and realize how little you actually know.

We learned so much about George Washington, and all he sacrificed for this nation. We learned so much about the political issues of the time. If anyone thinks the United States is a political mess now, this museum may really open your eyes! We read about British loyalist, those joining the revolution, battles amongst Native Americans who had pledged loyalties to different sides, political issues of slaves and slave owners, women, different classes, etc. Oh, what a task it was to unite this nation! It kind of lead me feeling like that’s the task of all leaders of our country, to let us tear everything apart and debate and be free, and somehow bring us to together and to help us be united in general beliefs and causes. It was truly mind-opening!

And for all the cerebral moments I had, there were plenty of funny moments like this one where Jacob tried to understand the selfies of late 1700’s.

Philadelphia Washington War Exhibit.

I wish we could have taken pictures, but our favorite was the Washington’s War Tent exhibit. This is where everything went down in the war, and it was a relic that was given to General Lee and his wife, almost lost in the South when the house was ransacked during the Civil War, and an enslaved servant named Selina Gray protected it and kept it safe for years knowing it was a piece of history and an heirloom to protect. I think that’s what I loved most of all about this museum, the stories you aren’t told in history class. Trying to put myself in the mindset and perspective of so many different people and so many different stories at this time when history just seemed, well, crazy.

A weekend in Philadelphia Washington War Exhibit.

We stayed until they kicked us out, and we only got through half the museum! If you can give yourself 3-4 hours you should be able to see most of it. They also allow you to come back for free the next day with your ticket, and if we didn’t have a full day we likely would have.

We went and grabbed a late dinner on the University of Pennsylvania campus and walked around, but due to baby blowout I was distracted and didn’t get pictures. We had a wedding that evening on campus to attend, and went to the reception after a quick walk around one of the most beautiful places!

We had a wedding that evening on campus to attend, and went to the reception after a quick walk around one of the most beautiful places! If you need a free activity I would highly recommend touring one of the university campuses. They are gorgeous, full of history, and some of the best quick bites in Philly are found there!

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