What Should We Do This Year?

Stephanie Anderson - Philadelphia
February 7, 2012

Every year, we get excited in anticipation of what the coming months will bring: new adventures, new experiences, new memories to be made.  So often, we dream big, planning extravagant (and expensive) trips to faraway places. And while the world has so many fantastic places to enrich the mind, body and soul, we overlook the amazing opportunities in our own backyard.

This year, stay local and explore all that the City of Brotherly Love has to offer. And since everything is close and accessible, you can make memories by having local fun with all your family and friends. Here is your list of the must-do activities in and around Philadelphia this year:

Philadelphia Zoo and the Adventure Aquarium

These two landmarks are often top on the list for tourists and locals alike. Great for year-round visits, the zoo and aquarium speak to the animal-lovers in all of us.  Both offer amazing up-close experiences of land and sea animals, as well as plenty of hands-on educational exhibits for kids.  Many families enjoy the benefits of purchasing a zoo membership and/or an aquarium membership, which enable families to frequent these beloved attractions as often as they please.

Longwood Gardens

On a scenic landscape in the quiet suburb of Kennett Square, less than an hour outside of Center City, Longwood Gardens captures the agriculturalist in even the youngest of hearts. Boasting 11,000 different kinds indoor and outdoor plants, there is no lack of beauty to behold. Longwood has a proud local history, starting with the duPont family, and continues making history with breath-taking exhibits and learning opportunities every year. Many attractions are created for children, including the Children's Garden in the Conservatory, complete with fountains to splash in, plants to sniff and mazes to meander through.

Reading Phillies

While the Fightin' Phils get a lot of the region's baseball focus, there is a surprisingly fun and entertaining hidden gem in the outlying suburbs. The Reading Phillies, a minor league baseball team based in Reading, PA, offer family-fun games throughout the baseball season. Tickets are less expensive than the major league games, and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Check their calendar for themed nights, many of which offer promotions geared toward kids and families.

Please Touch Museum

One of the areas most outstanding children's museums, the Please Touch Museum houses a fantasy world for kids to explore, imagine and adventure with. Every exhibit appeals to the senses and imagination, such as the Wonderland that takes you through Alice's adventures, or the City Capers where you can explore the grocery store. There is even an indoor carousel! One of the nice features of the PTM is that it resides just outside the busy city in Fairmount Park, so it's easy to navigate to and find parking—perfect for those with little kids who are itching to play!

Peddler's Village

This Bucks County destination has something for every member of the family. The scattering of boutiques and quaint shops appeal to a variety of interests. Kids love Peddler's Village for Giggleberry Fair, an indoor entertainment center in the heart of the village. Giggleberry Mountain offers an obstacle course to conquer, while Giggleberry Discovers is a "voyage of investigation and exploration for toddlers and preschoolers." There is also a game room/arcade and Grand Carousel! There are also several family-friendly eateries in the village. This year is Peddler's Village 50th anniversary celebration, so check their website for special events and attractions over their monumental year!

Strasburg Railroad

Located in the heart of Lancaster County, the Strasburg Railroad let's kids of all ages experience trains up close and personal. Bring the family for a train ride on America's oldest short-line railroad the and watch the scenic countryside roll by. Enjoy a meal on the dining car, or hop on board during one of the seasonal attractions (Santa at Christmas and the Easter Bunny at Easter). One of the best events they hold: A Day Out With Thomas. Nothing steals the hearts of kids more than meeting one of their favorite television characters live and in person.

The Mushroom Festival

Kennett Square is proud to be the "Mushroom Capital of the World," growing more mushrooms than any where else in the United States! To celebrate their crops and showcase all that Southern Chester County has to offer, Kennett Square hosts The Mushroom Festival every September. This small town becomes a thriving metropolis each year during the festival, attracting over 100,000 people. Complete with food tastings, contests, cooking demonstrations (including celebrity guest chefs from The Food Network!), countless vendors and children's entertainment, the Mushroom Festival is worth the trip. Where else can you sample Mushroom Ice Cream?!?

Franklin Institute and The Academy of Natural Sciences

The perfect destinations for budding scientists! The Franklin Institute and The Academy of Natural Sciences sit on adjacent corners in center city Philadelphia. Both offer exciting educational exhibits and hands-on science experiences. Kids (even as young as toddlers and preschoolers) are always wowed by the thirty dinosaur skeletal mounts at the Academy of Natural Sciences, as well as the Butterflies! exhibit, which allows guests to interact directly with beautiful butterflies from around the world. The Franklin Institute appeals to the older child, giving them the chance to explore space in the Space Command exhibit or walk through the famous Giant Heart while learning about health and wellness. The whole family will gain a few brain wrinkles as they spend the day learning at these two museums.

Beaches

One of Philadelphia's greatest attributes is being so close to the beautiful beaches of New Jersey and Delaware. Only a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive, and vacationers can bask in the sun on one of the many coastal beaches of our region. Both the New Jersey beaches and Delaware beaches offer everything from quaint and serene to entertainment and nightlife. There are several boardwalks in both states, complete with rides, arcades, pizza and music right on the water. Many fun events are held throughout the year that appeal to the whole family, including the Atlantic City Boat Show in New Jersey and the World Championship Punkin' Chunkin' in Bridgeville, Delaware. The perfect getaway, year-round, for the whole family!


Local Farmers Markets and Pick-Your-Own

A great way to be healthy and support support local is to check out the local Farmer's Markets and Pick-Your-Own orchards. Philadelphia and it's suburbs have a wonderful assortment of Farmer's Markets, spanning over every day of the week. And you won't find just farmers at these Markets. Cupcakes, artisan cheeses, breads and pastries, loose-leaf teas and locally roasted coffees, homemade soaps, homemade salsa and even gourmet dog foods are brought each week by faithful vendors. Many orchards in the region also boast Pick-Your-Own fruits in each season. Picking a basket of apples with your family is a great way to spend an autumn weekend morning while making lasting memories. LocalHarvest can help you locate a Farmer's Market or Pick-Your-Own Orchard near you.

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