Just Try to Be Bored in Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront District

It’s impossible to be bored in Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront District. That’s the verdict from my youngest daughter after we returned home from a four day visit to Philadelphia. History lessons, outdoor spaces, public art, good food, and learning experiences are around every corner and we were both amazed at how family friendly Philly’s museums and attractions are. This is a city meant to be explored.

This summer Ainsley and I headed to Philadelphia for a mother daughter trip. We spent our first day exploring Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront District and it was a treat.



After checking in at the Wyndham Historic District hotel, we immediately went for a walk down Market Street to see what was nearby. The Wyndham concierge was helpful several times during our stay and he directed us to restaurants when we asked for something specific. Immediately we felt at home and safe in Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront District. The streets were well lit and there were plenty of people out and about.

Friday was our first full day and we planned to explore as much as possible. After brunch at the Wyndham we started walking and taking pictures. Philadelphia is a very walkable city, but if you are not extremely mobile then you can opt for easy transportation options with the PHLASH or The Big Bus Tour Company. We did a mixture of both but that first morning we just set out on foot.


Easy and Affordable Family Friendly Sites:

First stop and a really short walk – Independence National Historic Park. Just past the Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Centre, this National Historic Park in Philadelphia’s Historic Waterfront District is open to explore and enjoy. Take photos here. Of course you should take the time to see the Liberty Bell Centre (line ups are long so get there early) and explore Independence Hall too. This is the building where the declaration of Independence was adopted and the US Constitution was debated. It’s an iconic Philadelphia landmark.


Once Upon a Nation

Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches were a hit with us. There are 13 storytelling benches throughout the city. This caught my eye immediately because it’s free entertainment and fun for all ages. Look for the signs and sit down on the bench by the Story Time sign. Then wait for the storyteller to enact a dramatic piece of the city’s history. Extremely theatrical and also educational. I learned something about revolutionary Philadelphia and its history makers. LOVED it.


After our story was over we walked down to South Street and stopped in a coffee shop, then on to the waterfront. It was a good hike, so when we got there and spied the hammocks in Spruce Street Harbor Park, we were all in! My teen happily chilled in a hammock for at least half an hour.


Summer time in Philly

Summer time in Philadelphia is the best of all worlds. Not only can you hit the museums and historical landmarks throughout the city, but you can also join in on all the outdoor activities near the waterfront and in the city’s many green spaces.


Spruce Street Harbor Park

There’s so much to see along the waterfront by the Delaware River. This was one of my favourite spots to be. On a beautiful sunny day the waterfront is glorious. Day campers were having lunch in the park and multi-coloured changing lights hung from the trees. Great relaxing atmosphere.

After resting in the hammocks at the park, we went walking again. Down the boardwalk there are dozens of small restaurants. Franklin’s was calling us, so we had to stop and sample something sweet at their ice cream shop and confectionary.

There are dozens of Instagram photo spots all along the walk to the Independence Seaport Museum, which was our next destination. We stopped at several and took photos.


Independence Seaport Museum

Want to learn a bit about boats? Well, this is the destination for you. Outside there’s a World War II submarine Becuna and historic steel warship named the Olympia docked on the Delaware River. Kids can easily squeeze into the submarine and warship and then wander down the road to the indoor museum. Inside there are all sorts of exhibits of various vessels as well as a life-sized pirate ship. The pirate ship was capturing the imaginations of every child we saw in the museum. We took some time to explore it and see what we could do. Very hands on, like so many of the museums throughout the city.



Later that day we hit Shane Confectionary on Market Street because we heard it was a Philadelphia icon. From the moment you walk through the door you feel like you stepped back in time to an era with old fashioned candy shoppes. Shane’s is America’s oldest continuously operated candy shop. Highly recommend the caramels and the hot chocolate made with real chocolate.

Franklin’s is also a Philadelphia institution. You simply have to have something from Franklin’s when in the historic waterfront district. They are mostly known for ice cream and treats.


One evening our entire group dined together at Moshulu Restaurant off of Delaware Avenue.

Moshulu offers world class cuisine and an incomparable atmosphere. The restaurant is on a boat and this venue also does weddings and events. The scallops were huge and really beautifully done. Menu is varied and substantial – dramatic soups are a great choice for your starter course because they are served so elegantly. There is an octopus appetizer worth trying and the tuna steak (shown above) the writer beside me ordered was huge. Portions are large but you HAVE to save room for dessert because the desserts here are stunning.


Other Notable Mentions:

Don’t forget to visit Elfreth’s Alley, and Betsy Ross House as well as Franklin Square and Washington Square. If you are traveling with young children Franklin Square is a must. And Christ Church Burial Ground and Franklin’s Grave is worth a is it. Hop on Philly Phlash to see all the sites city wide.

There’s so much to do see and experience here I’d have to agree with Ainsley. It’s not possible to be bored in Philadelphia. We’d happily return to explore even more of beautiful historic Philly.

Need Ideas on where to Stay if Visiting Philadelphia’s Historic District?

This is the spot we liked. It was affordable and family friendly and a good location from which to explore this district. Wyndham Historic District. 

Want to Read More about Philadelphia?

Don’t Miss this post about the Eastern State Penitentiary.

And my first post about Philadelphia is here –  Mother Daughter Trip to Philadelphia.

We were guests of Visit Philly while in Philadelphia. Our accommodations, flights, activities and some food was covered. My opinion is my own and it is also truthful. There are also affiliate links in this post.  

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.