Secrets to a Successful Philadelphia Mother Daughter Trip

Our Mother Daughter trip to Philadelphia was sponsored by Visit Philly. Accommodations, flights, meals and attractions were covered. My opinion is truthful and all my own. 

Recently, we returned from a wonderful Philadelphia Mother Daughter Trip. My youngest daughter Ainsley and I went together. It was our first time seeing the city and we loved it. Philadelphia is a city full of stories and this is one is ours. Consider it a guide to how to do a successful Mother Daughter Philadelphia Trip, especially relevant if your daughter is a teen.


My younger daughter has missed out on a few trips because of her active sports and theatre schedule. And to be honest, until she turned 13, she was just too young to do a one on one trip with me. But I’ve been wanting to see Philadelphia for awhile so when the opportunity came up to make this a mother daughter trip we jumped at the chance to visit Philly together.

How to Have a Mother Daughter Philadelphia Adventure

Family travel at every age and stage is unique and there are merits to getting away together at all the unique stages. While travelling with teens can require extra patience, it is also truly rewarding. Philadelphia is a perfect city to do with a teenager, because they can keep up in terms of time and energy. There’s a lot of walking and exploring to do, but I promise you it is so worth it.


Building Excitement

Preparation and anticipation are a huge part of the joy of travel. Counting down the days before you go makes it so much sweeter when the departure day arrives. At least that’s how I always feel. This time I prepared more than I would when travelling solo or going on a girlfriends’ trip. Philly was our summer adventure, so I really wanted Ainsley to have fun and learn something too.

One on one time is important for both of my girls. My older daughter and I went to Puerto Vallarta on a mother daughter trip in 2014 and my entire family often travels with me. But Ainsley and I had yet to do a trip together, just the two of us. Ainsley had a week free from all of her activities and camps so timing was perfect. For two weeks before the trip we talked a lot about visiting the city of Philadelphia. Ainsley likes to have details and talk them through with me so she knows what to expect. It helps to lessen anxiety when she also knows flight times and and what to anticipate at each step of the journey.


Brainstorm Some Ideas

Before we left home we had a gigantic list of family friendly museums, restaurants and attractions printed out. It was overwhelming. There’s so much to do in Philadelphia! I gave Ainsley her own copy of the itinerary so she could decide what was important for her during the trip. After all it was our mother daughter trip together and I wanted her to be excited about it too.

One afternoon she sat down and highlighted all of the attractions and museums she wanted to see, along with a few restaurants and foods she hoped to try. Together, we prioritized a few museums like The Franklin Institute and the Drexel University Museum of Natural Sciences because they have dinosaurs and a bug exhibit too. The Philadelphia Zoo was on the list and we also wanted to see some American History Museums. Reading Terminal Market sounded like a must see. I also wanted to do a Phlash tour or a Big Bus tour of the city. Happy to say we saw and did almost everything on our list and then some.

When we discovered that there was a dinosaur exhibit at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia in the arts and museum district well we were all in of course.

Honestly it was pretty satisfying on the last day to be able to say wow we saw everything we had planned to see. And I loved hearing Ainsley say she was really happy she crossed off everything she had on her list. Of course souvenir shopping was one of the last things on her list. She came back with multiple souvenirs. In fact if you have seen her around town or on my Instagram feed since the trip you now know why she’s wearing a purple hoodie that says PHILADELPHIA on it. ALL. THE. TIME.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Flight delays. No problem. Lost a camera? Not going to wreck the trip. Well to be honest I did lose my camera and I lost my mind for about 10 minutes then realized I couldn’t easily fix the issue. (Left it in an UBER.) So I made the calls and sent the emails quickly from the parking lot of the Philadelphia Zoo and then we moved on to see the rest of the attractions we had slated for that day. Couldn’t change it and really didn’t want to spoil our day together.


At the end of our trip one of our flights home was cancelled. So we had a choice of leaving earlier the next day and staying over in Toronto before heading home to London. Or we could take one more day to explore Philadelphia. UM….easiest choice ever. This was a happy cancellation because we hopped on The Big Bus Tour open air double decker hop on and hop off bus and it was one of our favourite things from the entire trip. We originally had no plans to see the Eastern State Penitentiary, but we were both captivated by the audio tour there and the magnificent job done maintaining the integrity of this historical penitentiary. More on that soon. It was truly that good.


Build in Breaks

Travel with teens means adjusting to their pace a bit. Teens can keep up with you on days when you walk for miles, and they get a lot out of seeing new places. But you also don’t want to stress them out too much. My teens need breaks. They are simply built that way. When we cruise, the breaks are kid’s lounge or swimming pool/ hot tub. They have been known to fall fast asleep on a lounge chair. It’s all good. Here in Philadelphia we found the most amazing spot to chill in public at a park!!

Spruce Street Harbor Park ended up being one of our favourite stops. The park is beautiful. In fact, I found Philadelphia with its cobblestone streets and public art, as well as numerous summer activities and green spaces simply lovely. Summer in Philadelphia is more than worth experiencing. Spruce Street Harbor Park has container style arcades and food trucks and the park itself is lively with tree-strung hammocks and multi-coloured lights.

Make New Friends

Summer is an easy season in which to make friendships. Blue Cross River Rink Summerfest was so much fun and after a wonderful dinner at Moshulu one night we walked over to Summerfest with Mary of Flying Couponer and her kids. Together we had a fun night riding rides, sampling treats and trying roller skating. Ainsley adored Mary and her sweet girls.


Do Something Different

I tried my first ever ferris wheel at Summerfest. THE VIEW from above of Penn’s Landing and the Delaware River Waterfront was breathtaking. As for Ainsley, well she tried old school roller skating at the Blue Cross RiverRink.

Go for a Swim

When it’s hot, tempers can flare up and irritability can occur with any travel companion, family or not. Go for a swim and cool off if you have a pool or beach nearby. I have always found swimming to be great exercise and an excellent activity to help bond with your kids. Happily on the last night of our trip we made it to the rooftop pool at the Wyndham Historic District. A great end to the evening.

Always Remember to Laugh

Laughter builds memories for life. That first night dining at Jones after taking two flights and an Uber to get from our house to the Wyndham Historic District in Philadelphia we were spent and hungry. We took a short walk together after asking for the concierge’s input on the distance on foot and we enjoyed a pub style meal. Apparently my teenager was starving. She consumed a giant meal and root beer and then burped unceremoniously, excused herself and said – “Boy I am quite a catch for some lucky future partner. Can’t wait to start dating” Our first giant belly laughs of the trip and definitely not our last.

Remember the FOOD

When I travel by myself I skip meals. Often I am so into running around and seeing all the things that I am fine with grabbing something small to go or skipping lunch in favour of a large dinner. Travel with teens is not like that. THEY need all the meals and even then will sometimes still be hungry. We ate often and well. The breakfast buffet at Coins kept us going for the mornings and by lunch Reading Terminal Market was a good choice because of the variety of meals offered. Dinner is good here too for the same reasons. Moshulu was incredible. Highly recommend making a reservation and dining there regardless of who you travel with to Philadelphia.

Compromise Occasionally

Our snacks took us to Franklin’s and Shane Confectionary, the oldest continuously functioning candy store in America. Yum. We all love ice cream and sugary treats. I enjoy exploring the restaurants and foods that an area is known for. But, I am also willing to compromise. After racing through the rain to get back on the path towards our hotel she was craving Subway so so we stopped. And on our final night we both agreed we had to try Philly Cheesesteak.



Embrace spontaneity. I like to keep the game plan fluid and go with the flow a bit when travelling, but I also didn’t want to miss any of the sites we agreed on together. Our last day was spontaneous because suddenly we had an extra day and it was a beautiful one. So we were up early and on the go. Together we agreed to jump on the hop on hop off double decker bus tour and we snapped dozens more pictures. This was the day we discovered Liberty One Observation Tower and Eastern State Penitentiary (shown above )as well as the Museum of the American Revolution.


Take all the Photos

I hope you can use some of these general tips and apply them to any mother daughter trip you do. We saw so much and did so many things in Philadelphia that I have broken this up into a couple of posts here to do it justice.

Here’s where to stay when in Philadelphia: Wyndham Historic District.

Our trip to Philadelphia was sponsored by Visit Philly. Thank you to the city of Philadelphia and to Visit Philly for making this adventure memorable. Post may contain affiliate links too. 

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


  • Stacie

    It looks like you guys had so much fun! I love Philly. It’s such a great city. I’d love to make it a girls’ trip with my daughters the next time I go.

  • Sarah Bailey

    Oh wow it sounds and looks like you had an amazing and successful trip to Philadelphia! You seemed to manage to get to see and do so much while out there! I would love to go on the penitentiary tour myself that sounds amazing!

  • Teresa

    I SO want to take mother-daughter trips but my husband gets so jealous!! He gets really mad if I even suggest it – haha! I think I should just do it! THis one sounds like so much fun!

  • Trina

    Philadelphia is on my travel list, I drive the east coast almost every year and I’ve never turned into explore Pensylvania so hopefully, I’ll be able to on our next trip!

  • Denay DeGuzman

    What a fabulous mother/daughter trip with your youngest in Philly! And I love that a few years back you traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with your oldest. PV is where I have a second home and spend about three months a year, so it’s close to my heart!

  • sara lafountain

    I took my daughter to NYC with me this summer. We had so much fun together for a week. I cannot wait to plan another trip with her soon! Thank you for sharing your tips.

  • Ruth I.

    Sounds like a fun trip! I’ve been wanting a trip with my mom alone but my dad always loves to tag along. lol! I bet it was a fun, lovely and full of memories trip!

  • Lynndee

    What a great mother and daughter bonding. We’ve never been to Philly, but it sure is on our bucket list of cities to visit. I can’t wait to explore Philly with my boys.

  • Up Run for Life Healthy Lifestyle Blog

    That is neat that you and your daughter were able to go on a trip together..I wish that I could do this with my daughter. I don’t get to travel very often due to my health though. I haven’t had the chance to go to phillidelpha. I was so close too. I lived in NC and it would have only been a drive up the coast.

  • Rachel

    I think it is so fun that you two got to a trip together. I would love to do one on one weekends with kids, just not sure how to make it fair.

  • Natalie

    This looks like an amazing trip, I’ve always want to go to Philadelphia, one day. That Eastern State Penitentiary looks like an awesome place to go to, i love places like that.