We’re just about finishing up here in Philadelphia and packing to fly to Orlando early in the morning.
We’ve had a much more chilled out week in Philadelphia, both catching up on some much needed sleep.
The hotels been perfect, The Cromwell Inn. Everything you need and helpful staff. A light breakfast each morning until 10am, aircon, wifi, huge comfortable bed. Two minute walk to a shop and a brisk five minute walk to nearest subway line and bus stops. The hotel is located on Temple university campus and can be booked out quite far in advance around times like graduation. Again, we paid around £80 per night. The earlier you book, the better the rate.
SEPTA is the transport system. You buy tokens to use it. It’s something like $3.10 for two tokens (a return journey). You can buy day and family passes If you’re going to do a lot of travelling. The SEPTA map is quite confusing as it involves, underground, trollies, regional rail and buses. I felt it was very complicated to use and did not feel comfortable. Something like one in three stations are wheelchair accessible (meaning there’s lifts for pushchairs and wider ticket gates) on stations that aren’t wheelchair friendly there are a lot of steps and I had to lift the pushchair up over my head to get through the ticket barriers, with the ticket lady telling me I shouldn’t be using that station – but why should I walk two more blocks just because I have a child?! Compared to Washington’s Metro system which was clean and easy to use, the SEPTA system was a major downgrade. It smelt of urine, often had homeless people everywhere and the trains are incredibly noisy. On a more positive note was the Philly Phlash, a purple trolley that has around 19 stops in downtown Philadelphia. It stops at all the tourist attractions or very nearby and loops round all day. It is not supposed to be a tour bus, but if you get a good driver he points out all the sights. You can buy tickets on the bus or at one of the visitor centres. It costs $2 a ride so is very cheap. I would use that rather than paying $30 for a sightseeing bus. Children under 4 ride free.
On your first day of exploring go to the Independence Visitors Centre which is next to Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It sells tickets to most attractions in Philly, has maps, leaflets, gift shop, cafe and toilets. Most buses, the Phlash and a subway line are right next to it. Liberty Bell is free and Independence Hall is free, you just need to get a ticket with an entry time from the visitors centre. City Hall is a few blocks up and also has a visitors centre and next to that is Love Park/JFK Plaza which is good to hang out at on a nice day.
The Please Touch Museum is Philadelphia’s children’s museum. $16 per person, under 1 goes free. It was smaller than the Boston one and can be done in a morning or afternoon does not take all day. There’s a cafe there with a variety of hot and cold food. Cost me $14 for our lunch. I take water everywhere with me to save buying drinks, so that helps to keep the cost down. Faye had a wonderful time here, it is set up to let children have ago and doing all things that adults do in the small city of Philadelphia they have recreated. Things like driving a bus, working in a supermarket, putting petrol into a car, working in a hospital, shoe shop and so on. There is also an Alice in Wonderland section for children to explore as well as a big water play section full of rubber ducks. The museum is well worth a visit and can be reached via the Phlash bus.
We also visited the US Mint which Is opened 9-4.30 for free tours. We had a ten minute queue here as you have to show ID. Once inside its a self guided tour to explore the history and the factory where they make the coins. Only took around an hour but Faye surprisingly enjoyed watching the factory making the coins which was nice.
Franklin Square is a good spot for children. Open 7 days a week, from around 10-9 most days. There is a carousel – $2.50 a ride, mini golf – $7 and a large playground as well as a fountain. There is also a well known cafe called Square Burger that serves all sorts of hot and cold snacks and shakes at very reasonable prices.
Smiths Memorial Playground is another spot I wanted to take Faye, however both days I tried to go it was shut due to bad weather. It is a free in and outdoor park that from the outside looks great.
I also had my first run in with a police officer in Philly. Faye wanted me to take a picture of her in front of Independence Hall but it is right on a road so to get her and the Hall in the shot I had to take it from the other side of the road. So, I crossed Faye over the narrow one way road, told her where to stand then I popped back across the road and turned round to take the photo when a Police Officer came running over shouting at me for abandoning my child. He grabbed Faye by the shoulder and called me stupid so I crossed back across the road and he shouted at me calling me a ‘stupid girl’ for abandoning Faye, when I tried to explain what I was doing he kept shouting so then I got mad and shouted back at him as I didn’t appreciate him calling me stupid repeatedly, he then called the other officers in the area on his radio and gave my description before telling me I was banned from the park surrounding Independence Hall and so I just walked away with him still shouting – and after all that I didn’t even get the photo! So just a word of warning don’t take photos of children in front of Independence Hall!!
The Cromwell Inn