The Greatest Summer Activities in Philadelphia

The Mann Center

How will you spend a summer day in the City of Brotherly Love? With so many activities packed between the banks of the Schuylkill and the banks of the Delaware—and beyond—one activity certainly doesn’t fit all. But whether you have the kids in tow, you travel with an entourage of your best pals, or you’re looking for a weekend alone with your sweetie, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to celebrate summer as only Philadelphia can.

Adventure On

With Kids: Dazzle the kids with the fascinating history of the legendary conqueror Genghis Khan at The Franklin Institute. Don’t miss the permanent exhibits, like the Giant Heart, or The Train Factory.

Adults Only: Leave the sizzling streets and venture into the wilds of Fairmount Park to The Mann Center, where summer brings a packed lineup of outdoor performances. Spread a blanket on the lawn and enjoy fantasitc events like Wait Wait… don’t tell me, Christina Perre & Colbie Caillat, Seth MacFarlane & the Baltimore Symphony, Diana Krall with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Of Monsters and Me, all framed by a view of the Philly skyline.

Get Artsy

With Kids: Get creative at Art Splash, a series of five family-friendly exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building where young visitors can take part in art-inspired hands-on activities and workshops. Kids twelve and under are free, while adults are free with museum admission.

Adults Only: Pack a lunch for a romantic picnic at the Rodin Museum. When you’re satisfied, stroll the gardens and head indoors to contemplate over 140 Rodin bronzes, marbles and plasters in the newly renovated galleries.

Be a Foodie

With Kids: If the kids eat their veggies, treat them to a sweet splurge at The Franklin Fountain, an authentic soda fountain and ice cream parlour. Or head next door to Shane’s Confectionery, an old-timey candy store where the sweets of yesteryear share shelf space with the candy fads of today.

Adults Only: In this city of good eats, let the pros at City Food Tours be your culinary guides. Snack your way through the Flavors of Philly tour, complete with cheesesteaks and tomato pie, or go highbrow (on the down-low) with the Prohibition Cocktail Tour, a two-hour adventure complete with a mystery drinking spot.

Go Green

Love Summer in PhillyWith Kids: After checking out the new Summer Garden Railway exhibit at the Morris Arboretum, kids can explore the Tree Adventure by climbing in and out of treetop nets and a giant bird’s nest. Beyond that, you’ll have 92 acres of trees and flowers to discover.

Adults Only: While away an afternoon in Philly’s back yard, at the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Pop-Up Garden. The lush gardens—in South Street and now East Passyunk—includes a mobile beer garden and a summer picnic-style food menu, perfect for enjoying in the shade of trees and twinkling lights.

Spend the Day Outdoors

With Kids: Go where the animals are, to the Philadelphia Zoo, and the zoo’s new Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center, a LEED-certified wildlife academy called KidZooU. Interact with goats, sheep, ducks and miniature horses at the academy, hike the Treetop Trail, and learn about environmental conservation before you head to the main zoo for time with the hippos, lions and giant tortoises.

Adults Only: Wander among manicured hedges and fountains, wild gardens and ponds, vegetable plots and vibrant flowerbeds at the sprawling Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, an easy 45-minute drive from Center City. Purchase a glass of wine or a local beer from an outdoor vendor, and experience a strolling happy hour as Mother Nature intended it.

Get Eclectic

With Kids: Don’t be surprised if the kids want to redecorate their rooms after a walk through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a winding outdoor mosaic sculpture garden created by local mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The glittering, colorful walls, floors and ceilings will set kids’ imaginations afire, and leave adults with wide eyes too.

Adults Only: Now until August 3, check out three large scale installations by world renowned artists at The Barnes Foundation’s The Order of Things exhibit. While you’re there, don’t miss the museum’s one-of-a-kind collection featuring extensive works by Renoir, Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne.

Photos: M. McClellan for GPTMC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Mann Center, mytoenailcameoff