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For those on the East Coast, Philadelphia serves as a historical hub with plenty of family friendly activities and gastronomic delights. Just two hours from New York City and Washington, D.C., it’s home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the famed steps that appear in the movie Rocky but also so much more.
We spent three days of our spring break in Philadelphia’s Center City exploring a city that we’ve visited twice before never felt we’d explored nearly enough. Calling the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown our home base, we enjoyed taking in the view of City Hall at all hours from our corner room windows.
One of the best ways to get to know any city is by foot. Laid out like a grid with numbered streets whose cross streets are named, Philadelphia is easy to navigate whether you’re casually strolling looking to discover new places or en route to a specific destination.
Famed Museum Mile, also known as Benjamin Franklin Parkway was just a short walk away from where we were staying. Flags of the world line the street that ends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, making a picturesque walk to The Franklin Institute and Museum of Natural Sciences that provide plenty of hands on fun for curious learners of all ages.
With a planetarium, new interactive exhibit on the brain, hands on time with simple machines, concepts of flight, and the chance to climb up into a two story heart to learn about how it works and more, the Franklin Institute is not to be missed. It’s the perfect place to spend an entire day so you can take in the exhibits at your leisure.
At the Franklin Institute until September 2015 is Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick. Lego lovers young and old will marvel at famous works of art Sawaya has recreated out of bricks. Just as the Lego Movie made kids want to rush home to build, Sawaya’s masterful creativity will inspire young builders to go home and dive into their Legos too. Tip: Buy tickets for the Franklin Institute and Art of the Brick online before your visit so you can pick them up at will call upon your arrival. Doing so allowed us to pick up our tickets and go straight to the exhibits rather than waiting in line for over 40 minutes!
Being on our feet all day made us hungry and there’s no shortage of food options in and around Center City. Always skeptical of other Chinatowns that are not San Francisco or New York, I was pleasantly surprised by the authenticity of Philadelphia’s where we discovered hand pulled noodles that rivaled the ones we devoured in Lang Zhaou during a family trip two years ago.
It’s always a treat to visit Reading Terminal Market where there’s something for everyone especially if you’re hungry. The Dutch Eating Place urges you to stop and sit to take a load off with their daily specials featuring Amish specialties, Belier’s tempts you as donuts are made right in front of you, and if the beautiful pastries don’t make you slow down when you pass by Termini Brothers the desire to watch cannoli being filled by hand will. While you could wander from stall to stall to sample, you can also pick up Thai, Indian, crepes, bulging barbecue sandwiches overflowing with meat, and more to take to communal tables centrally located in the Market or outside for a picnic.
If you’re overwhelmed by choices at Reading Terminal or craving a quieter spot, wander over to Nomad Roman for delectable brick oven pizza that’s truly out of this world.
What else did we do in Philadelphia?
The free self guided tour of the U.S. Mint was amazing (I could watch conveyor belts transport quarter blanks all day), we tried to get Betsy Ross to break character when touring her house (she didn’t!), and if you’re driving from points south, a stop for hot off the line chips can’t be beat during the free Herr’s factory tour!
To read more about our trip with more inside information about the places we visited, visit my Spring Break in Philadelphia notemap to help you plan your family vacation and while you’re there, follow me on Findery and leave notes about your favorite things to do in the spring and tag them #FindingSpring! TIP: You can also look in the right sidebar of my site to see my most recent Findery notes to help you discover places near and far!
Findery compensated me for my time in creating Notes and Notemaps about my travels but all expenses for our trip to Philadelphia were at our own expense.