Philadelphia was the heart of the American Revolution, the location where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. There is so much to this city for traveling families to experience, even aside from its historical value. Here are our best destinations in Philadelphia for families with autism.
This zoo is most known as America’s first zoo ever, located in the Centennial District of Philly. The zoo opened on July 1, 1874, with 1,000 animals. The city of Philadelphia takes pride in their zoo for being one of the premier zoos in the world for breeding animals that are difficult to breed in captivity. With forty-two acres, home to more than 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo welcomes visitors to explore and learn about endangered animals and how we can help them.
This zoo features a total of fifteen permanent exhibitions. One of these is the much loved First Niagra Big Cat Falls. Here, guests can walk through a naturalistic habitat and come face to face with endangered big cats around the world like Snow Leopards, pumas, lions, and jaguars. Visitors can also experience the Treetop Trails which is the first component to the zoo’s zoo360 animal exploration system. The Treetop Trails is a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that allows animals to leave their traditional enclosures and explore more of the campus.
Parents looking for something fun for the kids to do outdoors should head to the Franklin Square. William Penn planned Franklin Square along with five other open-spaced parks when he laid out the city in 1682. Also, this location is called Franklin Square to honor the founding father, Benjamin Franklin. In the beginning, the square was used as an open common use for grazing animals, storing gunpowder during American Revolution and drilling soldiers during the War of 1812. Local legend also states that this square is where Benjamin Franklin performed his famous “kite and key” experiment in 1752. While there, guests can take a ride on the Liberty Carousel, play a round of mini golf, visit the Franklin Square Fountain or run around at one of the two playgrounds.
Independence National Historical Park
At Independence National Historical Park, visitors can see the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the Ben Franklin Museum. The park comprises much of the Philadelphia’s most-visited historic district. Visitors can also stop at the Liberty 360 3D show. The show is located in the PECO Theater inside the Historic Philadelphia Center. The screen is 360 degrees and stands fifty feet in diameter and eight feet high. The show is about fifteen minutes and uses the most modern technology to tell a story led by Ben Franklin about our nation’s symbols of freedom from the bald eagle to the Statue of Liberty.
Betsy Ross House
Travelers who have the chance should go on over to the Betsy Ross House. At this house, visitors get to see where the seamstress lived and sewed the first American Flag. Guests can tour the house and learn about Betsy and her life or meet her themselves in her upholstery shop. There, visitors can ask “Betsy Ross” in person about her life and work as well as learn firsthand how to use the upholstery tools she used herself.
This art museum features the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works. It was originally founded by Jules Mastbaum, who started collecting Rodin’s works in 1923. While Mastbaum didn’t live to see the museum’s opening, it opened in 1929. Here, travelers can see Rodin’s most famous work, The Thinker, sitting in the entry courtyard. Other works such as The Kiss, The Age of Bronze, and Eternal Springtime can be found here.
The Franklin Institute
This museum, named after Benjamin Franklin, is one of the oldest centers of science education in the United States, having been founded in 1824. Here, visitors can see many of the interesting permanent exhibits. These include Electricity, showcasing Franklin’s discovery of electricity and how it is used today, The Giant Heart, a replica heart built in 1954, and The Train Factory with a real, moving Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. The Franklin Institute sits at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Please Touch Museum
One of the best museums in Philadelphia for kids has to be the Please Touch Museum. The Please Touch Museum has been opened since 1976. It was the first museum in the nation that intentionally targeted families with children seven and younger. The mission of the foundation is to “enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play” as stated on their website. The museum is famous for being an area where children can freely play and touch whatever they like. Meaningful interactive play-based experiences encourage imaginative thinking.
Autism Travel Tips:
- In 2013 the zoo opened the KidZooU for the special needs communities. KidZooU includes Braille, sign language and a picture exchange system for children on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, on selected days the zoo has autism awareness days so parents should check the zoo website for the dates.
- The Please Touch Museum is a highly interactive museum that kids will love.The museum offers a quiet Space for children and families who need a break , Quiet Kits containing items and special events for families with autism.
- Kids on the spectrum interested in science will enjoy the Franklin Institute particularly on Sundays when the venue offers their sensory friendly Sundays.
- Franklin Square Na Independence Park are great outdoor places to take kids to burn off some energy.