Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Travel Tip: Kids in Philadelphia

Are you tired of doing the same tourist attractions when you visit Philadelphia with the kids? Well, here are two parks in Philly that I visited over the weekend with my kids that left the entire family speechless.

The first playground is in Fairmount Park, one of the world's largest city park systems. The Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse was built, according to their web site, "through the vision and generosity of Richard and Sarah Smith, in memory of their son, Stanfield. It was the Smiths' goal to build a safe place in the country where children from the city could come to play, free of charge."

They didn't just build a place, they built a mansion. The mansion or Playhouse, as it is called, was never used as a residence. It was built exclusively as a Playhouse for the children of Philadelphia. Each room provides a different experience for children ages 5 and under. The main floor houses a wooden train and village while the lower level is set up like a roadway system complete with stop lights and roadway obstacles. Kids ride little bikes and tricycles around the roads. There are over 20 rooms in the house to stir a child's imagination.

After 104 years, Smith's Playground was closed for renovation in May 2003. The centerpiece of the park, the 100-year-old Giant Wooden Slide, was rebuilt first. A giant net climber, seesaw, climber/spinner were added this summer along with 18 swings.

Admission to the Smith Park and Playhouse are free, although donations are accepted. Check out their Web site for directions and hours of operation.

The Skinny: We all loved this park. However, the playhouse is only for children 5 and under our 6 year old was not allowed to enter and play. Although I really appreciated this guideline in order to provide a safe enviornment for my 4 year old, it was very awkward when we weren't allowed to bring her older sister inside.

The second park is located in Franklin Square. Franklin Square, one of the five public squares that William Penn laid out in his original plan for the city, has undergone a dramatic renovation. The park now boasts several all new, family-friendly attractions, including a miniature golf course, a classic carousel, storytelling benches, a picnic area and a fabulous playground. Just a short walk from the Liberty Bell and the Visitors Center, this park is a great place to take a break or eat a packed lunch.

The playground area is brand new, clean and has the latest and greatest in playground equipment. There is a small fee for the carousel and to play mini-golf, but admission to the playground is free. Visit here for directions and more information.

The Skinny: Great park, horrible parking. Park in the garage for the Philadelphia Visitor's Center located less than 2 blocks from the square.

Next time you're in Philly and you're looking for something fun and FREE to do with the kids, think about taking the road less traveled to these two hot spots.

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