Published on : Monday, May 30, 2016
Philadelphia’s historic district—now called Historic Philadelphia—simmers with summer excitement as the city’s oldest neighborhood debuts new activities and exhibitions. Visitors launch their very own presidential campaigns in Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center, and the Independence Seaport Museum mischievously observes sailors’ lives from the 20th century through today. Along popular Penn’s Landing, outdoor hangouts Summerfest and Spruce Street Harbor Park promise more fun than ever, and Fourth of July bash Wawa Welcome America injects fresh components to a good old-fashioned block party.
A two-day Historic Philadelphia Pass makes the must-dos even easier—and more affordable. The pass, $18 for adults—a $37 value—and $13 for children—a $27 value—gives visitors one-time admission to the National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House and Christ Church Burial Ground, along with two days of rides on the PHLASH Downtown Loop. It’s valid for two days and can be purchased at the Independence Visitor Center or at visitphilly.com/historic
Family Fun & Festivals:
Spanning from spring to early summer, the Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square is a sight to behold. Come sunset, thousands of brilliantly colored LED lights illuminate more than 25 towering, brilliant displays—including a three-story pagoda and a 200-foot Chinese dragon—all created with traditional Chinese methods.
As one of Philly’s favorite hot-weather hangouts, Spruce Street Harbor Park just keeps getting better. This go-round, friends and families can lounge together in private waterfront cabanas, enjoy great new dining options from Top Chef Kevin Sbraga and Iron Chef Jose Garces, and snooze in tree-slung hammocks. May 6-September 26, 2016.
The Declaration of Independence is missing, and kid detectives can help find it in the new Colonial Kids’ Quest Puppet Show. Animal puppets lead the investigation as children of all ages track down Thomas Jefferson’s masterwork. Saturdays, May 28-July 23, 2016. Behind Carpenters’ Hall, 320 Chestnut Street. (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
Five minutes. That’s all it takes for visitors to transport to another place and time when seated upon one of 13 free Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches located throughout Historic Philadelphia. Professional storytellers enchant their audiences with true, little-known tales from our nation’s past. This season, new stories and new benches keep the 11-year program fresh and fun for visitors of all ages.
What’s red, white and blue all over? Wawa Welcome America, the Fourth of July celebration so big, it lasts a week. The United States’ birthday bash blasts out fun with free admission to various museums throughout Historic Philadelphia; free concerts and outdoor movies throughout the district; Wawa Hoagie Day, featuring a free lunch from an approximately five-ton hoagie; three spectacular fireworks displays; historical reenactments and parades; and the Liberty Block Party, a truly old-fashioned outdoor celebration.
While Betsy Ross was upstairs stitching flags and upholstery, Phillis, a former slave who earned her freedom, worked downstairs as a laundress. Part of the year’s new Women at Work in Revolutionary America installation, Phillis is hard at work once again at the Betsy Ross House, where visitors can chat with her and learn about her life.
On Penn’s Landing, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest kicks things up a notch this season. An outdoor roller-skating rink remains the centerpiece of the riverfront space. New this year, skaters can cool off in the Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab Shack, get their putt-putt on at a mini-golf course where each of nine artist-designed holes features sculpture made from recyclable materials and an new urban beach comes complete with oversize umbrellas, lounge chairs and misting stations.