Happy Independence Day! While your holiday week may be full of backyard barbecues, beach trips and splashing in the pool, make sure to schedule some time for the local festivities. As Philadelphia is the birthplace of the nation, it’s fitting that its July 4th celebration is among the biggest and best in the nation—and Wawa Welcome America delivers! The annual programming features dozens of events and activities throughout the week, most of which are family-friendly, if not kid-centric. The best part? It’s all free!
Most of the festivities are headquartered in Center City Philadelphia, so it’s easy to get from one stop to the next on foot. Make sure the youngsters are wearing shoes that are made for walking but that are also breathable, given the summer heat. And don’t forget to pack the sunblock!
Who said learning has to stop for the summer? Welcome America will be offering free admission to a number of local museums on rotating days throughout the festival. Little ones who are into the wacky and weird will love the Mutter Museum, full of medical mysteries from the past several centuries. A short walk from there is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a haven for art lovers of all ages. From 10 a.m.-noon that day, bookworms can head to Germantown’s Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books for PECO’s Go 4th & Learn, featuring crafts, storytime and more. If your youngster is a fan of musicals, don’t miss the Broadway on Independence concert at 7 p.m. outside of Independence Hall, where the Kimmel Center will present performances from its upcoming season, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Miss Saigon, “Cats, “Anastasia” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The show will wrap up with a special performance of songs from “Hamilton” by Kimmel’s ShowStoppers, an after-school theater program for pre-teens.
Mark the eve of the big day with free admission to National Liberty Museum, which is a fitting find for the holiday week. NLM highlights the people, places and events that have shaped American freedoms and features lots of kid-friendly programming, including interactive exhibits and crafts meant to spark discussions. The museum is located in Old City, so lace up the sneakers and take a stroll past historic sites like Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House on your way to the day’s other free museum: the Rodin, which celebrates both art and horticulture—a great way to celebrate the great outdoors while still enjoying the air conditioning!
Head back down to Old City for the Historic Philadelphia Block Party from noon-7 p.m. at Independence Mall. The Kids Zone lets little ones get into the historic spirit of the holiday with the opportunity to dress in revolutionary clothes, or they can take part in modern activities focused on everything from fitness to science. Several stages will feature family-friendly musical acts, local vendors will provide a taste of Philly’s favorite foods and live performers like stilt walkers will wander the crowd—so this is definitely an event not to be missed!
There’s no better spot to celebrate July 4th than Philadelphia!
Start the day off with the Independence Day Parade, stepping off from Independence Hall at 11 a.m. and featuring a good mix of historic reenactors, musicians and more. Stick around Old City for the American Birthday Party at 1 p.m. at Independence Visitor Center, featuring a rendition of “Happy Birthday” led by Betsy Ross and a massive five-tier American flag cake comprised of 2,500 cupcakes—which are free to the public!
Until 7 p.m., the Party on the Parkway is the place to be. Five blocks of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be shut down for family-friendly fun, including ziplining, live music, arts demonstrations and a special Kids Zone in Aviator Park featuring crafts led by the Clay Mobile and much more. More than 40 of the city’s best food trucks will line the Parkway, including a number of ice cream vendors that will be a hit with both kids and adults alike!
If you’re letting your little ones stay up for the fireworks, the festivities are set for 10 p.m. behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Parkway is sure to get packed throughout the night, so make sure to find a good viewing spot, and park the family there for the big show!