The Top 10 Things to Do With Kids in Philly This May

Fun on the Waterfront

On May 12th, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and its mellower cousin Spruce Street Harbor Park reopen for the season. At Summerfest, you can skate by the river, take in the views on the giant Ferris wheel, eat a bunch of fun-time snacks, play arcade games and mini-golf, and ride the carousel. Then head to SSHP to relax on a hammock, play games and eat even more. Don’t forget to grab a picture on the giant red Visit Philly chair! Later in the month, Paddle Penn’s Landing opens back up, so head to Independence Seaport Museum for tickets for a swan boat (or a dragon or rubber ducky). Be sure to play around in their exhibits, too.

Roller Skate at Dilworth Park

things to do with kids philly

Dilworth Park’s Rothman Roller Rink outside City Hall / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Even more skating! The Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink is back at Dilworth Park with all its checkerboard-floor old-school happiness. There is also on-site food and drink, and the sprayground will be turned on soon enough, too! Plus, on Saturday, May 13th, a Harry Potter-themed Wizards and Witches Skate will bring magical activities, interactive entertainment, themed food, and even roller Quidditch. Dressing up is highly recommended.

Skating sessions are available in one-hour blocks, and advance tickets are highly recommended. Pro tip: Get $5 off admission during matinee skates on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rink will be open daily through July 16th. 1 South 15th Street.

Philadelphia Children’s Festival

Catapult’s Magic Shadows is part of Penn Live Arts’ Children’s Festival. / Photograph courtesy of Catapult

Penn Live Arts’ annual festival returns with a weekend of performances — including shadow puppetry, music, pantomime, theater and more. Plus, there will be a free outdoor “PLAYground” with hands-on activities and even more performances. Arts partners bringing the fun include The Clay Studio, Koresh Dance, and Fleisher Art Memorial; 123 Andrés and the Give & Take Jugglers will perform outside. See the full lineup hereMay 20th-23rd, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street.

More on Stage

A two-actor version of Red Riding Hood at Arden Theatre / Photograph courtesy of Arden

Arden Theatre stages Red Riding Hood with a twist. “This wildly inventive and humorous adaptation puts a spin on the popular fairy tale when a delivery driver calls into question an actor’s production of the ‘true story’ of Little Red Riding Hood.” The two-actor play runs through June 9th.

From May 11th to 14th, the Philadelphia Ballet stages the fantastical romantic comedy Coppélia, in which a “nefarious doctor” tries to turn a life-size doll into the “perfect woman.” Antics ensue. Love conquers all.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Orchestra continues its Sound All Around series for kids. The season concludes on the mornings of May 13th and 15th with “Ensemble.” Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston guides kids through the different instruments that make up the orchestra, with plenty of hands-on exploration, music and dancing along the way. Reserve your timeslot online.

If your kids prefer to rock, head to Brooklyn Bowl on May 13th. The Rock and Roll Playhouse brings the music of The Beatles with a side of fun (think glow-sticks, freeze-dance games and a parachute). Food and drinks will be available during the concert (including beer and cocktails for the grownups). A portion of proceeds benefits the nonprofit Femme House, which helps create opportunities for women and gender-expansive individuals in technical fields of music like DJing and production.

Franklin Square

things to do with kids philly

Franklin Square has so many fun things to do with kids in Philly. / Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Take advantage of the nice weather and extended spring hours to play Philly-themed mini golf, ride on the carousel, climb around the playground, and indulge in a Tastykake shake. And the fountain show is back for the season with dancing water effects (and colored lights at night) choreographed to music every 30 minutes. On May 6th, the square celebrates Opening Day with free carousel rides! 6th and Race streets.

Dinosaurs (and Giant Bugs!) at the Zoo

“Staying Power” at the Philadelphia Zoo / Photograph by Laura Swartz

The Philadelphia Zoo hosts life-size animatronic dinosaurs and super-size animatronic insects in an experience that’s a must-do for any little dino-lover — or budding entomologist — in your family. Walk the “Dinosaur Trail,” with animatronic dinos like the 60-foot-long roaring Giganotosaurus, velociraptors, and even a giant aquatic Spinosaurus. (Of course, there’s also a T.rex.) Then pass through a giant magnifying glass into a larger-than-life “Insect Garden” with massive animatronic bugs. (Big yikes!) You can see the exhibit through September 4th. 3400 West Girard Avenue.

Spring Festivals

It’s festival season! / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Once festival season begins, you can count on them happening pretty much every weekend. They’re great opportunities to get out while the streets are blocked off, discover new neighborhoods, and eat and play all day.

May kicks off with a weekend full of fun. On May 6th, you’ve got a lot to choose from. The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival will shut down Walnut Street, showcasing the neighborhood’s shopping, fashion, food and drinks. There will also be live music, sidewalk cafes, and lots of kids’ activities. And be sure to visit the 1600 block of Walnut, where the Rittenhouse Square Flower Market continues its 100-year tradition of raising money for kids. This year, funds support the neighborhood public school Greenfield.

Also on May 6th, a giant, all-ages outdoor block party takes over South Street with food, live music, and artists. South Street Fest is really multiple festivals in one, since it also encompasses the Brauhaus Schmitz annual Maifest (with German beers, music, dancers and a maypole) and Free Comic Book Day with Atomic City Comics and the DreamEerie. There will also be a kids’ zone with fun games and play areas for little ones, including giant chess and Connect 4 from Queen & Rook Game Cafe.

The next day, Sunday, May 7th, the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival features over 150 home and garden vendors, plus food, live music, a Sustainability Hub and kids’ activities. Check out the Jenks Fun Fest kids’ zone featuring games, bouncies, and more.

And who doesn’t want to see a flamingo troupe bike into a pit of mud? The Kensington Derby & Arts Festival is back on May 13th with the craziest, messiest festival in town. The centerpiece of this festival is the derby where teams drive their human-powered vehicles through a three-mile obstacle course that includes challenges like a mud pit. And spills do happen. Prizes are awarded for categories like Best Costume and Best Engineering. The festival also features over 100 local arts and food vendors.

Of course, it’s not spring in Philly (or any major sports victory) without watching a bunch of people climb a pole. You can do that on May 20th and 21st at the Italian Market Festival, which also has saints on parade, every Italian delicacy possible, a half ball tournament, live entertainment, art vendors and more.


“Once upon a dream …” Disney100 continues at the Franklin Institute. / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Celebrating 100 years of Walt Disney magic, Disney100: The Exhibition fills the Franklin Institute with 10 immersive galleries of stories, installations and information detailing Disney’s history, movies, theme parks and more. The interactive world-premiere exhibit includes more than 250 of Walt Disney Archives’ “Crown Jewels”: original artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and other memorabilia. The exhibit runs through August 27th. Timed tickets ($25 to $45) are available online. Note: Despite the Disney theme, and though there are things to do and listen to throughout the exhibit, it may be difficult for the littlest of kids.

Every weekend, the Museum of the American Revolution will host hands-on activities in the Revolution Place discovery center downstairs. The weekends were designed with an eye toward the museum’s special exhibit, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, which tells the stories of the Philadelphia abolitionist and businessman, as well as his family and descendants, with artifacts, walking tours, family activities, theatrical performances and more. (The exhibit itself has its own interactive kids’ section with dress-up and sail-making.) On Saturday, May 20th, Makers of Revolutionary Philadelphia Living History Day, come to see demonstrations of 18th-century skills and trades, and “meet” local historical tradespeople who made the Revolution in 1770s Philadelphia, from sail-making to rolling cartridges to sewing uniforms.

Head to Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum for Kidding Around, an exhibit focused on depictions of children at play. The museum also has activities designed to inspire conversations between children and their adults throughout the exhibit’s run. For example, on May 7th, enjoy Lenape games, crafts and stories with chief of culture Bluejay. And on May 13th, artist Marta Sanchez brings the Mexican tradition of cascarones — eggshells kids fill with confetti and “crack” over loved ones’ heads for good luck!

On Sunday, May 21st from 1 to 3 p.m., head to PAFA for their Spring Family Festival. There will be music, food, performances, an art-making station, and a raffle for a free week of Summer Art Camp.

Parkway Pals Day

things to do with kids philly

Parkway Pals returns this summer with free weekly things to do with kids in Philly’s Sister Cities Park / Photograph by Laura Swartz

This summer, Sister Cities Park will bring back its Parkway Pals series of free weekly kids’ programming. Activities from local partners range from exploration with the Academy of Natural Sciences to creative movement with the Philadelphia Ballet. To celebrate its return in June, Sister Cities Park hosts Parkway Pals Day on Saturday, May 20th. The free day of play includes performances, storytelling, hands-on activities and even a butterfly release. And the pond should be open for the season, too, so schedule some time for splashing. May 20th, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 210 North 18th Street.

Devon Horse Show & Country Fair

devon horse show

The Devon Horse Show returns after two years off. / Photographs by Laura Swartz

Started in 1896, this Main Line institution combines equestrians, family fun, fashion, and tradition over 11 days. In addition to horses, Devon hosts a Midway at the Country Fair with rides, shopping, food, and carnival games with prizes.

Every day is great for families, but there are some special dates to note. This year’s show also has two Family Days on May 25th and May 30th, which feature kids’ crafts and discounts on food and rides. The May 30th date also includes free back-barn tours from 3 to 6 p.m., where you can see the stables and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the participants prepare for the show. In addition to the family days, there is also a children’s tea on Sunday, May 28th. Kids ages 12 and under can come for a tea party and special craft. (The dress code is listed as “Tea Party Special,” so I’m guessing a tiara and glitter shoes?) Tickets are available now for single-day or the whole show. May 25th-June 4th, 23 Dorset Road, Devon.

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