Philadelphia Vacations for Families, Couples and Friends

Your vacation with the family is going to look a lot different from your vacation with friends. By the same token, a romantic getaway just isn’t the same with the kids in tow. At some destinations, thankfully, you can have it all. Philadelphia, a city of historical significance and Brotherly Love, is one place with loads of activities that are perfect for any group.

We’ve compiled three bite-sized itineraries for a Philadelphia vacation, whether you’re traveling as a family, as a couple or with friends.

How to Get There

From Philadelphia International Airport, follow signs for I-95 North. Drive about 12 miles northeast to reach Center City Philadelphia

Philadelphia for Families

Philadelphia is a proud museum town (with over 100 to choose from), but that’s not to say seeing this side of Philadelphia with kids will be boring for them. Many of the city’s most prominent museums are kid-friendly, and some are designed just for them. The Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park, for example, offers children ages 6 months to 7 years the chance to “learn through play”; in the Roadside Attractions exhibit, children can climb through a real car, bus or trolley and operate a mini backhoe machine. The science-focused Franklin Institute in Logan Square has interactive elements for kids of all ages; be sure to catch the exhibit on how the brain works, the giant replica of the human heart you can crawl through, and the planetarium that delves into the mysteries of the night sky. The Museum of the American Revolution, which opened in 2017 in the Old City historic district, lets kids dress up like Continental soldiers, design an American flag and play with Colonial-era toys.

The Please Touch Museum, with permanent exhibits like Nature’s Pond, offers children ages 6 months to 7 years the chance to “learn through play.” Photo by Brian Michael, Flickr.

Beyond the museums, head to the Blue Cross RiverRink for more family fun in Philly. During the warmer months (Memorial Day to Labor Day), it hosts Summerfest, which includes roller skating, arcade games and mini-golf along the Delaware River. When it’s colder (roughly Thanksgiving to early March), the place is transformed into Winterfest, with ice skating, fire pits, warming cabins and hot cocoa aplenty.

To explore the sights outside the city, take a quick 4-mile drive across the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden, New Jersey, where Adventure Aquarium counts sharks, hippos and penguins among its permanent residents. Further afield, drive an hour and a half west of Philadelphia to Amish Country; take a buggy ride through the area and experience the local way of life.

Where to Stay

The Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing is well-situated for a Philadelphia family vacation, and is within walking distance of the historical attractions of Old City and a quick jaunt to the freeways for exploring outside of town.

Philadelphia for Couples

“Phila” is Greek for love, so of course there are lots of things for couples to do in Philadelphia. Stroll the majestic halls of the Philadelphia Art Museum and discuss its masterpieces, including Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and Claude Monet’s “The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool.” Then walk to the nearby Rodin Museum, which has the largest collection of the French sculptor’s work outside Paris. When it comes to public art, couples won’t want to miss a photo opp in front of Philadelphia’s iconic LOVE sculpture, which went back on display in February 2018 after a year of restoration.

The Rodin Museum showcases nearly 150 works of art from all phases of the career of renowned French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photo by Ashlyn Gehrett, Flickr

For a classy date night, see the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, brimming with new energy under the direction of the young and dynamic Yannick Nézet-Séguin. If your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, don’t miss Max Brenner’s “chocolate bar,” which serves nine decadent flavors of hot chocolate plus other confections.

For a daytrip outside the city, drive the picturesque Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, a tour of six wineries west of Philadelphia with tastings year-round. Or make it an overnight at one of many participating hotels that offer winery visit packages, like Hilton Garden Inn Kennett Square.

Where to Stay

Take a Drive Out of TownFor a dose of Colonial gentility, book one of the elegant rooms at Morris House Hotel. Lounge with your partner in the romantic courtyard garden or by your in-room fireplace.

Philadelphia with Friends

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Philadelphia with your friends. Start off with lunch at City Tavern in the Old City district, where your crew can feast like the Founding Fathers did. At this historic restaurant established in 1773, wait staff in period costumes serve authentic colonial fare, including the “Ales of the Revolution” beer flight, with brews made using the actual recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.

Drive to Rittenhouse Row to explore a wide selection of upscale shops, restaurants and art galleries. (There’s plenty of paid parking, and you can snag a reduced rate through apps like Parking Panda and ParkWhiz.) Plan an al fresco coffee break at Parc Brasserie, which overlooks leafy Rittenhouse Square for superb people-watching. Then catch a show at Philly Improv Theater for edgy and interesting improvisational comedy any night of the week.

Just 4 miles south of Center City, you’ll find venues for all four of Philadelphia’s major professional sports teams — Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers — so you can take in a game, whatever the season. On your way there, stop at “Cheesesteak Corner” in South Philadelphia and decide for yourself which veteran meat-slinger — Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks — gets the classic Philly sandwich just right.

“Cheesesteak Corner” in South Philadelphia is home to two famous sandwich makers — Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks — so you don’t have to go far to choose your favorite Philly cheesesteak. Photo by Doug Sun Beams, Flickr.

Where to Stay

You’ll be in the middle of it all at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City — with Rittenhouse Row immediately to the west and the sporting arenas a straight shot to the south.

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About the Author

Kathryn Anne Stewart is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @arewhyen.