Best Museums for Kids in Philly: Children’s Museums and Family-Friendly Museums

Explore Franklin's life and character in the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Photo courtesy of NPS
Explore Franklin's life and character in the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Photo courtesy of NPS
11/10/23 - By Hillary Moses Mohaupt

Museums are some of the best places for kids to learn more about the world around them, practice new skills, and have a safe place to play during wintry or rainy weather. Luckily, Philadelphia is home to a host of museums that are sure to entertain any child, no matter their interests. From history to science and nature to art to cars and trucks, there’s something for everyone and for every budget. Check out our favorite children’s museums and family-friends museums in the Philadelphia area.

Don't forget to check out our Museum Guide for reviews and more. Our Indoor Activity Guide also has tons of great indoor fun for days when the weather has you down.


Located in the heart of Philadelphia's Museums District, the Academy of Natural Sciences brings science to life through a world-renowned collection of specimens and living animals. Photo courtesy of the 

1. Academy of Natural Sciences—Center City

The Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest natural history museum in the United States, and it’s full of interesting things for your youngest family members. Learn about the Delaware River, food chains, archeology, and more, plus there are always special exhibits to explore. Don’t miss Outside In or the residents of Dinosaur Hall - two great opportunities to get up close and personal with the world around us, past and present.

2. Benjamin Franklin Museum—Old City

Go back in time to learn about one Founding Father’s life in Philadelphia and around the world and the impact he had on politics, science, and much more. Plus, head outside to visit the ghostly outline of his house and pay a visit to his post office around the corner.

3. Edgar Allan Poe House—Northern Liberties

The Edgar Allan Poe house is the perfect quick (and free) trip to learn more about this literary legend and his life in Philadelphia.

RELATED: More rainy day activities for families in Philadelphia

4. Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center—Fairmount

Take your budding engineers and scientists to the Water Works, which used to be the Philadelphia’s only water pump to make sure the whole city had clean drinking water. The free museum features lots of hands-on exhibits about water turbines, mussels, other wildlife, and more in the Schuylkill River. 

Fireman's Hall Museum
Stop by the small (and free!) Fireman's Hall Museum on your walking tour of Philadelphia.

5. Fireman's Hall Museum—Old City

Calling all firefighters! Fireman's Hall Museum is a free, must-visit museum for any kid who’s interested in trucks. Kids can dress up in firefighting boots and coats, steer a fire boat, and try out other interactive activities. 

Franklin Institute
Explore the giant heart at the Franklin Institute.

6. Franklin Institute—Center City

Franklin Institute might be the beating heart of Philadelphia’s museum scene, and that’s partly because there’s a giant heart on display for kids (and grownups!) to explore. The museum also features a planetarium, exhibits about electricity and other important inventions, plus lots of temporary visiting exhibitions. The museum can be overwhelming for some visitors, which is why the museum offers sensory alert maps and other support for visitors with sensory differences.

7. Independence Hall—Old City

Independence Hall is a great place to introduce your kids to Philadelphia’s history. Artifacts include George Washington's "rising sun" chair and the inkstand used by Jefferson. Timed tickets are required from March through December. 

RELATED: Find more free museums and free museum days in Philadelphia

8. Independence Seaport Museum—Old City

Avast, ye hearty land-lovers! If you want to learn more about the waterways that make Philadelphia unique, start with the Seaport Museum. Featuring historic boat tours and exhibits about pirates and others who have lived and worked along Philadelphia’s rivers, this museum offers hands-on activities to learn more about the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.

9. Liberty Bell Center—Old City

Most people think of the Liberty Bell when they think of Philadelphia, and there are two great options for families to check it out. You can trek through an informative interpretive center that includes lots of history about the bell and how it got here. Or, you can sneak a peek at the bell through a handy viewing window, and then run around the green to burn off little-kid energy.

RELATED: Check out how to get free museum passes through the library!

10. Museum of the American Revolution—Old City

Discovery carts and costumed living history interpreters help bring history to life at this blockbuster museum in Old City Philadelphia. The museum’s permanent exhibit also includes a replica pirate ship (with cannons!) and a family-friendly interactive discovery center called Revolution Place that gives visitors hands-on opportunities to learn more about the American Revolution. Note that the museum estimates that it takes about two hours to visit the whole museum, and welcomes breastfeeding and bottle-feeding throughout the museum.

11. Please Touch Museum—Centennial District

The Please Touch Museum is one of the most famous and best children’s museums in the region, and it’s easy to see why. The museum boasts kid-friendly exhibits that help children of all ages explore the world around them, including a fairy tale garden, camping, a grocery story, imagination playground, and so much more! Note that online reservations are required. 

12. Science History Institute—Old City

The Science History Institute is the perfect place for budding scientists (and their grown-ups) to learn more about how chemistry and other sciences have created our world. The digital Object Explorer helps visitors learn more about the science behind things in their lives, and exhibits feature fashion, toys, and more. Don't miss the monthly Family Days for special storytimes, water activities, and more.  

RELATED: Find more places to learn about science and nature in Philadelphia

13. Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum—Eastwick

Many kids are fascinated by cars, trucks, and things that go, and this is the perfect place to help them learn more about the world’s most interesting race cars. Be sure to check out Demo Day, when the museum takes some of the cars for a spin!  

14. United States Mint—Old City

Learn how coins are made at the United States Mint, view the first coin press, meet Peter the Mint Eagle during free tours, and see the money-making machines in action. 

15. Wagner Free Science Institute—North Philadelphia

The Wagner has been providing free science education programs to the public for more than a century. Minerals, fossils, and more (like the first American saber-toothed tiger!) are displayed in a 19th-century style, but special programming and events help make the museum interactive and interesting for kids of all ages.

RELATED: Check out these great ideas for indoor snow day activities

Delaware Children's Museum
There are worlds of wonder to explore at the Delaware Children's Museum.

Best Children's Museums in the Philadelphia Suburbs

16. American Helicopter Museum—West Chester

This West Chester museum is home to one of the largest helicopter collections in the world and is sure to dazzle the vehicle lovers in your family. 

17. Bucks County Children’s Museum—New Hope

Bucks County Children's Museum is the perfect place for toddlers to have fun in a giant STEAM exhibit, Operation table, supermarket, and more. It’s best to book tickets online in advance to ensure you’re able to get it.

18. Delaware Children’s Museum—Wilmington

A short drive from Philadelphia, the Delaware Children’s Museum is a small but mighty museum on Wilmington’s riverfront featuring a huge water table, train set, sports exhibition, and much more, plus there’s mini golf available right outside the museum. 

19. Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle—Doylestown

The Mercer Museum is a six-story concrete castle full of over 17,000 pre-industrial tools. Head a mile down the road to Fonthill Castle where you can tour yet another castle built by Henry Mercer. Fonthill features forty-four rooms, over two hundred windows, and eighteen fireplaces. Fonthill Castle’s interior features Mercer’s renowned, hand-crafted ceramic tiles designed at the height of the Arts and Crafts movement. 

Unless noted, photos courtesy of the museums

Places featured in this article:

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

Museum of the American Revolution