by Erica Barker
Alexandria, VA – Looking to get out of town for a change in scenery? I highly recommend heading to Philadelphia with your little ones. It’s a do-able drive from Alexandria at two and a half hours (with lots of nicely spaced rest stops, if you need them) and there’s a ton of family-friendly lodging at great rates during the winter. Not only is Philly an incredibly walkable city (and double-stroller friendly, may I add!) but it has one of the best children’s museums we’ve been to yet, The Please Touch Museum.
The Please Touch Museum is housed in an impressive and beautiful building, and you would never know from the outside that inside is a child’s wonderland. The museum is organized by themes, with a water world (think splash tables, not Kevin Costner), tree house, outer space, vehicles, and more.
My favorite area was Alice-in-Wonderland themed, complete with a Queen of Hearts maze and designs that both kids and adults will appreciate. My son was running from land to land, so excited to interact with everything. It was a nice change from our usual outings, which are often full of “No” and “Don’t touch that” and “Put that back.” At this spot, my son could touch anything and everything. To end our day at the museum, we took turns taking rides on the carousel. Be forewarned: getting my son to leave the museum required a bribe, I mean, purchase of chocolate milk from the café.
The Please Touch Museum is located in Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA, pleasetouchmuseum.org. The museum is stroller and ADA accessible throughout, has a café with kid-friendly foods (think pizza and chicken tenders), and a baby-feeding room (which came in handy for my two-month-old). You can bring in your own food and there are plenty of tables to eat lunch.
I recommend dressing your little ones in play-friendly clothes (and bring a change of clothes), as there are water and paint areas where kids are encouraged to get messy. Admission is $20 for anyone over one year old, and I had no luck finding discounts online. Pro tip: Park on the street outside of the museum to avoid the $16 parking fee.
Here are my local picks for your upcoming weekends:
February 8: It’s back, the cutest event of the year, the Animal Sweethearts Dance at the Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield. The short drive will be worth it for all the dancing, crafts, and animals. Cost is $10 per child and the dance runs from 10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
February 17: This year’s annual birthday parade celebrating George Washington features music and performers and is entertaining for the whole family. Both Gadsby’s Tavern and the Friendship Firehouse have free open houses as well.
February 22: Head to the Wharf in D.C. for a spirited parade down Wharf Street, a dance party with live music on District Pier, and a special finale. There will be special activities and crafts for kids.
Erica Barker is the founder of littleoldtown.com, where she shares fun activities in the Alexandria area for parents and kids and she enjoys exploring the local area while keeping her toddler and infant entertained.