The Philly area is filled with incredible museums and attractions for kids, but sometimes tweens and teens need something more offbeat to hold their attention. These unusual museums in Philadelphia have exhibits you won't find anywhere else, going beyond fossils and paintings to explore the weird, dark, and sometimes grosser sides of history. While mostly geared towards older kids, these places can suit younger children as well.
Read on for 10 Philly odd spots with unique experiences that kids are sure to remember. For museums without the admission fees, don't miss our update on Free Philly Museums. To get more stories like this sent straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.
Note: As the circumstances around COVID continue to change, please check directly with each venue's website for the latest updates before heading out. Keep your family and others safe by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing measures. If an event appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our event calendar to find other exciting options.
10 Unique Museums in Philadelphia for Kids
Stroll through the dark, crumbling halls of this old jail that once housed high-profile inmates like Al Capone. The "Prisons Today" exhibit sheds light on the current U.S. criminal justice system, and the "Voices of Eastern State" audio tour includes three former wardens and 25 guards and prisoners. This one is definitely recommended for tweens and teens.
Don't be fooled by the word "fabric"—this contemporary art museum displays works that experiment with the use of many surprising and unusual materials. Internationally acclaimed, you will find sculptures, photography, ceramics, and more at FWM.
The Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion is crawling with exhibits that older kids will love.
The first and largest all-bug museum in the country, the Insectarium is a creepy-crawler lover's dream. This one is certainly appropriate for younger children, and older kids will enjoy seeing the arthropods as well as the 7,000-square-foot butterfly pavilion.
This museum is dedicated entirely to the mysteries of the human body and medical history. Browse the collection of 139 human skulls, the body of the famous "Soap Lady", pieces of Einstein's brain, and more.
Expect big fun and bright lights at the Neon Museum of Philadelphia.
Let your sights be dazzled with neon signage that pays homage to the community. One part American art, another part history museum, the Neon Museum contains historic Philadelphia signs, national commercial signs, animated signs, and more.
Grab a bite and learn the history of pizza at Pizza Brain.
If you've managed to work up (or keep) an appetite during your adventures in odd, head to Pizza Brain, a pizza museum with an artisan pizzeria. Share an award-winning pie while enjoying the largest collection of pizza memorabilia in the world.
The Institute shares innovations in the realms of chemistry, chemical engineering, and life sciences and extends its focus on how science influences society and even art. Distillations share stories, shedding light on science’s role in a world that always changes.
"Mummer Shoes", dedicated to the shoes of Philadelphia's New Year's Day tradition, "The Locker Room", showcasing shoes from legends in the world of sports, and "Shoe Curios", featuring shoes from the world's largest man, are just a few of the over 10 exhibits at The Shoe Museum. Admission is free, but advanced scheduling is required.
With 75 racing sports cars from all over the world, the museum's vast collection is sure to rev up car lovers. The museum also hosts "Demo Days", held two Saturdays per month at 11am where guests can hear the history of a featured car and view its ride around the track.
Science and history meet at this museum that is home to a collection of minerals, fossils, and taxidermy. Kids will gape at the first American saber-toothed tiger and other mounted animal skeletons, skulls, and skins, including dinosaur bones. The museum also offers educational programs for students.
Writer Corrie Stango contributed an update of this article in January 2022.
Photos courtesy of the museums.