5 Ways to Have Philly Fun With Your Teen
By Rosalind Stefanac
If you’re looking for a walkable American city filled with history, fantastic food and fun, Philadelphia will not disappoint. With some of the most historic sites in U.S. history—and plenty of places to “hang”— Philly proved to be a perfect blend of learning and adventure for a recent weekend with my teenage son.
Where to stay
Stay downtown for easy walking access to a multitude of parks and free historic sites, such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the U.S. Constitution was created), and the infamous Rocky (Balboa) steps and statue (more on that below). We loved the atmosphere at the iconic Notary Hotel, which is located in Philadelphia’s former city hall — a building that dates back to 1926—and features all the modern amenities, including a 24-hour gym and a fully stocked tuck shop for late-night snacking. It’s also a block away from the Reading Terminal Market, a food bazaar sure to please every appetite.
What to eat
You can’t not try a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia. We walked the aisles of the Reading Terminal Market to find these delicious sandwiches topped with thinly sliced steak, caramelized onion, and melted provolone cheese. With more than 80 other merchants there, we also filled up on soft pretzels, tacos, cannolis, cookies and donuts made fresh before our eyes. Open at 8 a.m., the market is a great place for breakfast too. For a memorable dinner, a Mexican-inspired feast at the funky Condesa was also a big hit with my teen (and me).
What to do
#1: Philly fun at Franklin Square
As one of the city’s original open space squares, it centres around a 180-year-old fountain and classic carousel and hosts a variety of events throughout the year. While there we explored the Philadelphia Lantern Festival with more than 30 brilliant displays illuminated by tens of thousands of LED lights and plenty of cool photo ops.
#2: Take a segway tour
Philly offers some fantastic tours by foot, bike, bus and boat, but we opted to see the city’s most iconic spots via Segway with Philly Tour Hub. Following a brief training session, this mode of transport proved to be an exhilarating way to tour a variety of Philly neighbourhoods. If you’ve never ridden a Segway before, go for the shorter, 60-minute tour to avoid sore legs from all that balancing.
#3: Channel the champ
Burn off some steam by running up the 72 steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also known as the Rocky Steps. Made famous by a scene from the 1976 film Rocky where the fictional boxer ended his morning workout with an ascent up the steps, tens of thousands of tourists still can’t resist doing the same every year.
#4: Check out a cool Philly museum
Philly has a whole collection of wonderful museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but we opted to check out one off the beaten path called Magic Gardens. This non-profit mixed-media, immersive space features indoor and outdoor galleries covered entirely in mosaics (even in the bathroom!). To chronicle his life, creator Isaiah Zagar used handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirror, and international folk art.
#5: Chill by the water
After all that exploring, head to the Spruce Street Harbour Park, an urban beach by the Delaware River Waterfront, to relax in a colorful hammock or floating barge. Here we found lawn games and more Philly steaks too. Plus, it’s free to access and open from May right through to September. Right next door is Penn’s Landing, a stretch of parks and eateries along the Delaware River open year-round.