My husband Eric and I sat down early this year trying to figure out what we were going to do for our family vacation. We tossed around ideas of going to New York City or to Washington DC. We decided on Philadelphia. We discovered that there are quite a bit of things to do within the surrounding area for our 3 year old. For me the selling point was Sesame Place. I knew my daughter was going to nuts over meeting Elmo and the other characters. To save on a car rental (and from having to haul a car seat around) we decided to use the public transportation.
We left on Independence Day, upon our arrival at the Philadelphia airport. We claimed our luggage and made our way to the train stop. Adalynn (my daughter) was over the moon to ride the train. We hopped on the train and then walked a few blocks and arrived to our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard Downtown which is under a rebranding. The hotel was right across from City Hall in a beautiful historic building. The Reading Market was a short 2 block walk. Our room was not ready so we made our way down to the Reading Market but it was closed for the day. We had a quick light lunch at Burger Fi and walked back to the hotel. The room took a little longer but it was completely worth it! The room itself was a 1 bedroom suite with a king bed. It was perfect because Adalynn slept on the pull out couch and we slept in the main bedroom area.
That evening we took the train and walked to the Independence Hall area. I made reservations at City Tavern. City Tavern is a historic eating experience. The staff dresses in period clothing and the menu reflects dishes enjoyed by our forefathers. I highly recommend the turkey pot pie, it was to die for!
After dinner, we walked down to view the fireworks but due to a cranky toddler and even more cranky parents, we decided to go back to the hotel. We had an early morning and it was going to be another early morning the next day because we were going to Sesame Place!
We woke up bright and early and made our way to the train station. My husband, Eric is a public transportation genius. He is very savvy when it comes to taking this train to catch that bus. We took the train to Levittown and hung out at Dunkin Doughnuts for about 30 minutes until it was time to catch the bus that dropped us off at the front door of Sesame Place.
We arrived about 20 minutes after opening and had reservations to dine with Elmo at 11:30. The park was surprisingly not crowded for the day after Independence Day. We didn’t wait longer than 15 minutes to get on a ride. The park was a bit smaller than for example, Disneyland, which I think was very nice.
The lunch with Elmo was great! It is set up buffet style and you are assigned a table. The characters come out and perform a little show then come around to the tables to greet the children and take photos with them. The one disappointment was that the food was not very good. Now of course, I am not expecting 5 star gourmet food. However, I would have hoped for something a little fresher. The nice thing is that if you do wish to bring your own food into the park, you can. Also, you’ll want to bring swim gear because half of the park is a water park. We only spent about an hour in the water park area. We enjoyed the park for about 6 hours and took the bus back to the hotel.
We slept in and took it a bit easier today. I looked up a great place for breakfast and The Dutch Eating Place was calling my name. We walked to the Reading Market and got in line to eat. The Dutch Eating Place is catacorner to Beiler’s Doughnuts. Well of course we had to sample the doughnuts. I picked up a blueberry fritter and a caramel glazed doughnut for us to split between the three of us while we waited in line. I unfortunately did not take any photos of the doughnuts we ate because they were so delicious, we devoured them. I do have to say though, the blueberry fritter was one of the best doughnuts I ever enjoyed. We were seated at the Dutch Eating Place and Addie and I shared the blueberry pancakes special and Eric got the apple cinnamon french toast. Everything was amazing.
We made our way down to the Please Touch Museum. The museum is 2 floors of fun for kids of all ages. There is a giant indoor water table area (with smocks, so your child’s clothes wont get soaking wet), a mock city area complete with a garage for kids to ‘work” on cars, a little grocery store, an area with trains (which Adalynn adored) a Carousel and an Alice in Wonderland maze. We spent about 3 hours here and then when a storm blew in, we decided to head back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the room.
That evening we decided to go back to the Reading Terminal Market for dinner. A friend had recommended DiNic’s roast pork with broccoli rabe and provolone cheese and it was one of the best sandwiches ever!
Today we made our way to the Liberty Bell. It was great to get there first thing in the morning, it was not crowded at all. I had never been to Independence Hall so we went to the convention and visitor’s bureau to pick up tickets. Tickets are free and I do recommend to get there early to pick up your passes. Our tickets were for 4:30 so we decided to visit the Franklin Institute. We spent a few hours there, seeing trains, and playing with a few different science related exhibits. We made our way back to Independence Hall. We enjoyed our tour and then made our way to the Italian Market in search of a cheesesteak. We werent in the neighborhood of Jim’s Steaks which was recommended to us by a lot of friends. We had to settle for Pat’s Steaks across the street from Genos. I was not hungry but I did have a couple of bites and it was pretty good but nothing to write home about.
We picked up our luggage from the hotel and walked to the front of city hall. City hall has a wonderful fountain area for kids to play in. We had about 30 minutes to kill so Adalynn played around in the fountains until it was time to go. After a quick change, we made our way to the train for our final night at a hotel by the airport. We switched from the train to a bus and stumbled upon a cute Italian Ice place. I grabbed a small seasonal peach Italian ice and it was delightfully refreshing on a hot day. We checked in to our hotel by the airport, which was a very nice Aloft property.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8am. We woke up at 5 to get to the airport in time. Our flight was delayed until about 12:30 due to some mechanical issues. It was pretty challenging trying to keep Adalynn entertained in a busy airport but we made due with her Ipad and some walking around.
Overall, Philadelphia was a fantastic place to take a 3 year old. Familiarize yourself with the public transportation system and you can save some cash on Ubers or a rental car. Enjoy the fantastic sites and food this historic city has to offer!