The Best Family Activities in Philadelphia

When the neighborhood playground isn't cutting it.

Kid playing in a TK at Diggerland. | Photo by Daryl Peveto

Kid trying out a real bulldozer at Diggerland. | Photo by Daryl Peveto

Philadelphia magazine’s chock-full Best of Philly 2015 issue is on the stands just in time for you to begin plotting how to entertain the kids until they return to school in the fall. Here, we’ve culled five Best of Philly winners to help you curate a variety of great, family-friendly adventures in and around town. From roller coaster rides to romps through secret gardens, this should have you scoring all kinds of cool-mom (or dad!) points when the neighborhood playground just isn’t cutting it.

Best Roller Coaster: El Diablo at Six Flags Great Adventure

It’s not the biggest. It’s not the fastest. But this new ride is absolutely terrifying. Your car rolls backward and forward on a 360-degree looped track, slowly building up enough momentum to send you hurtling upside down over and over again. 1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson, NJ,

Best Family Outing: Indoor Children’s Garden at Longwood Gardens

There’s an understandable “Observe in awe, but do not touch” edict at this immaculate Kennett Square destination. Except, that is, in the Indoor Children’s Garden, where wee ones are encouraged to splash in the jumping fountains, get up-close and personal with the whimsical statues, climb through the twisty displays and smell the roses. (That it’s tucked away inside the Conservatory means it’s a great foul-weather destination, too.) 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA,

Best Amusement Park: Diggerland

Some advice: Don’t tell your kids that this year-old theme park is for children, or you’ll have to fight them for the wheels of the real backhoes, dump trucks and excavators that can be driven and operated in a giant dirt pit. Instead, send them off to the rides, through the ropes course or to the stunt show, and catch up with them later. 100 Pinedge Court, West Berlin, NJ,

Best Sprayground: Dilworth Park

Your child might not appreciate the setting now—right there on the front porch of City Hall—but he will in 20 years, when he sees pictures of his younger self running through rows and rows of randomly sprouting water fountains (the spray area is more than 180 feet long) with the bazillion other city kids in this vital new Philadelphia upgrade.

Best Theater: The Arden Theatre Company’s Children’s Theatre

Ask any first-grader: The show that really took the local theater scene by storm this year was the Arden’s production of Beauty and the Beast. The year before that, it was Sideways Stories from Wayside School; before that, it was Cinderella. The truth is, the Arden always nails it, telling wonderful stories in creative ways, speaking directly to pint-size audience members without dumbing anything down, and stacking the stage with real talent that takes its viewing public seriously. 40 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA,

Find more Best of Philly winners here!