Spring break is right around the corner, amigos! A whole week of having our little people all to ourselves, saying screw it to early bedtimes, and [if you’re lucky] no homework every night!! You may already have plans in the works involving itineraries all meticulously thought out. In fact, plane tickets may even be involved. For the just in case, however, we thought we’d share an option for a more local destination- a weekend getaway to Philadelphia! Granted you’ll be missing out on all the fun of intimate exchanges with your local TSA agents and barefoot treks through the filthy security line floor, BUT I can assure you that this historical city and all it’s charm will more than make up for it!
To be honest, a weekend in Philadelphia had been on our radar for a long time.
As with many things, however, something always managed to come up from behind and rob it of it’s day in the sun. It took my boys’ passion for all things dinosaur to finally make Philly a reality when I read that the Jurassic World Exhibit was coming to Philadelphia. Sold. We bought our exhibit tickets, packed our bags, and saddled up for a road trip to a destination new to all of us. First stop? Food, of course! We grabbed lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, a bustling indoor space that reminded us a lot of New York’s Chelsea Market. We had sandwiches at Dinic’s and then spent some time checking out the market’s various shops and all their unique wares. After lunch we started on the Constitutional Walking Tour which takes you around to see the city’s many historic landmarks. If you’ve ever been to Boston it will remind you a lot of bean town’s Freedom Trail. We spent the most time on the trail at the National Constitution Center where, due to it being President’s Day, admission was free! Our favorite part of the museum was the Freedom Rising production, a 360-degree theatrical projection with a live actor who narrates the American journey to freedom. The spoken words are timed perfectly with the moving images and our boys were completely immersed.
Along the tour we also spent a good deal of time at the President’s House site. This outdoor exhibit features the actual foundation of the house both Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived in during their time in office which visitors can view through temperature-controlled glass. The exhibit explores the contradiction between freedom and enslavement within one home and also one nation as both presidents brought their household slaves to live with them here while ironically leading the country toward freedom. Other highlights featured on the tour were the Liberty Bell (naturally!) and Independence Hall, the site where the Constitution was signed and where this important piece of history still resides. Then finally, it was time for the exhibit right out of my boys’ dreams, the one that had managed to finally lure us to this amazing city- Jurassic World: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute.
Our little dinosaur aficionados were beyond thrilled with the exhibit! Absolutely no expense was spared in making the space come alive so that visitors feel as though they’re really walking through a jungle! As for the dinosaurs themselves, I cannot begin to explain how realistic they looked. Everything from the design, to their movement, to their size, and the sounds they make placed us right into another era. There was even a velociraptor moving around an exhibit space as though it had gotten loose! I won’t spoil all the fun but suffice it to say that the T-Rex takes the cake! (wink wink) The exhibit also features some discovery areas where kiddos can engage and learn a bit about the Jurassic period including things like digging for fossils, peering through microscopes, and checking out actual props used in the movies. Overall we enjoyed every bit of this wonderful production and highly recommend you check it out if you can, it’s there until April 23rd!
The next day we took advantage of being in the area and checked out the incredible Adventure Aquarium in nearby Camden, NJ. The aquarium was very hands-on, featuring many different touch pools, a KidZone with Gill’s Grotto- a hands-on experience with invertebrates- and a playground where the littles can explore and play while surrounded by exhibits at their eye level. The aquarium also features an enormous tank housing the country’s only hammerhead shark on exhibit. Suspended directly over the tank is the “longest shark bridge in the world” offering visitors a different perspective from which to view the tank’s inhabitants! We loved it so much we did it twice! A shark tunnel underneath allows you yet another vantage point- a walk through the middle of the tank. Other highlights were the Octonauts 3D film and the adorable Little Blue Penguins- the smallest species of penguin in the world.
We decided to end our day and our trip at the One Liberty Observation Deck to see this beautiful city from above. From 57 floors up we took in the stunning 360 degree views of the City of Brotherly Love. Touch screen monitors and tower viewers throughout the deck guide you around the city’s most iconic sites but, naturally, my boys’ favorite station was the coloring station! We sat down together and colored a few pages with illustrations of famous Philly landmarks, the beautiful city serving as our backdrop. You can be sure I’ve kept these cherished mementos for my Project Life adventures! Finally it was time to go. Our weekend getaway to Philadelphia was over. It was time to head back to Long Island and to our home. Thinking back, I can’t believe it took us so long to finally get to know a great city so close to home. We came here fully expecting our boys’ Jurassic dreams to come true, never knowing that we would come away having fallen for this place ourselves. Philadelphia has been there all along, a city bursting with kid-friendly and family oriented fun just around the corner. Without a doubt we plan on heading back and discovering new corners to explore and new memories to make! If you’ve got a few of your own favorites, we’d love to hear them!