The Kids’ Guide to Summer in Philadelphia

Already circled "first day of school" on the calendar? Don't panic: There are (unofficially) 14 weeks of summer — here’s a standout outdoor event for each one.

Dancing is encouraged at Kidchella | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Week 1

Farm Tour at Maple Acres. This sweet farm hosts behind-the-scenes tours on the first Saturday of every month. Feed animals and pick-your-own fruit or cut-your-own flowers. 2656 Narcissa Road, Plymouth Meeting, 610-828-7395. 

Week 2

Beyond the Boards Tours at Morey’s Piers. Tweens and teens will dig this new tour that takes you behind the scenes at the Wildwood boardwalk institution. You’ll see how the rides run, learn how the waterpark works, and end with a bucket of Curley’s fries, Morey’s swag and coupons. Ages 12 and up; meet at Curley’s Fries. 2501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-522-3900.

Week 3

Zoo Snooze at Elmwood Park Zoo. Celebrate Father’s Day by snoozing out in the wild(ish) at the zoo’s monthly sleepover. This one has a Western theme, so you’ll learn about bison, prairie dogs, wolves and more. You’ll eat pizza, s’mores and breakfast and watch a movie under the stars, too. 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, 800-652-4143.

Week 4

Treehouse World. This one-with-nature play zone — where kids can swing 50 feet up in the air, bungee-bounce on a trampoline tire, play archery tag and yes, hang out in themed treehouses — opens full-time in mid-June. Head here on Tuesdays, when it’s quietest. 1442 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, 484-329-7853.

Week 5

Night Market Philadelphia at Spruce Hill. The Food Trust’s Night Markets have quickly become must-dos for Philadelphians, and we say start ’em young. Go right at 6 p.m., when the lines at food trucks and tents are shortest, the crowds are just starting to arrive, and kids’ activities abound. 40th and Walnut streets, University City.

Week 6

Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival. Walk the beach and gaze in wonder at Michelangelo-esque sculptures crafted by professionals and amateurs. There’s also live music, a magic show, beach games and more. Heather Road beach entrance, Wildwood Crest, 609-523-0202.

Week 7

PECO Family Jams at Magic Gardens. Quality art projects (think: mini mosaics, watercolor paintings, printmaking) in the garden, along with kid-oriented tours and maybe even a glimpse of artist and living legend Isaiah Zagar. 1020 South Street, Bella Vista, 215-733-0390.

Week 8

Kidchella Music Festival at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse. Top musicians play on an outdoor stage — bring a blanket and camera. Tickets required; flower crowns optional. 3500 Reservoir Drive, East Fairmount Park, 215-765-4325.

Week 9

Birthday Celebration Fireworks at Sesame Place. Float in Big Bird’s Rambling River, climb on the Count’s Splash Castle, run through the wet mazes at Ernie’s Waterworks in the afternoon, and stick around for the 9 p.m. fireworks show — after dinner with Elmo, of course. 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, 215-702-3566.

Week 10

Princess Tea Party at Storybook Land. Tell Miss Thing to don her best gown, because she can mix it up with her favorite princesses at this adorable throwback theme park. (Don’t forget swimsuits; the Seaport splash area is awesome on a hot day.) 6415 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, 609- 641-7847.

Week 11

Peach Festival and Sidewalk Sale at Peddler’s Village. Devour a bazillion peach-spiked foods (or enter the pie-eating contest, if you dare), hit up the kids’ activities, peruse the sales, then digest while listening to live tunes. The event is free, but pay $25 to get guaranteed parking, priority seating at any restaurant in the Village and more. 2400 Street Road, New Hope, 215-794-4000.

Week 12

Touch a Truck Day. Kids (and adult kids) can climb in and around fire trucks, big rigs, Hummers and more. There’s entertainment and food, too. Chester County Government Services Building, 601 Westtown Road, West Chester, 610-436-9010.

Week 13

Rock ‘n’ Roar Concert Series at the Philadelphia Zoo. With a sweet singer-songwriter sound, local duo Lolly & YoYo take the outdoor stage for the Zoo’s final concert of the year. Bring a blanket. Concert is free with admission. 3400 West Girard Avenue, West Philly, 215-243-1100.

Week 14

Sing at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. Besides having the Delaware River for a backdrop, being steps away from the good food at Spruce Street Harbor Park and showing a kids’ movie that you’ll thoroughly enjoy, this outdoor screen comes with stadium seating. Columbus Boulevard and Chestnut Street, Old City, 215-922-2386.

First published as “The No-Whining-Never-Bored-Kids Guide to Summer” in the June 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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