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Take a 36-Hour Staycation

You don’t have to leave town for a memorable weekend. During a “staycation,” your family can sleep in their own beds, while exploring and experiencing our area like a tourist.


3 pm: Set the Mood

Kick the staycation off with flair by swooping up your family and checking out a new-to-you ice cream parlor. Try one of these spots in the city, or join this conversation to learn about suburban favorites.


5 pm: Gather at Home

Grab the kids and make a snack dinner together: Lay out cheese, crackers, sliced fruit and berries, vegetables and hummus or dip, sandwiches cut into bite size squares, salami, pigs in a blanket, dried fruit, etc on a huge board, and let everyone go at it. For extra flare, gather the paper products from birthday and celebrations past for an eclectic and fun way to serve up your special dinner.


6 pm: Get Ready to Roll

Hold on tight as you take a spin around a local roller rink. In the burbs you’ll find Marple Sports Arena and the Chester County Sports Arena. If you’re in the city your best bet is Palace Roller Skating Center. If you’ve got a family member who isn’t in to zooming around on shoes with wheels, most of these places have arcade games, moon bounces or even mini golf. You’ll want to visit their websites for exact offerings.


9 pm: Family Campout

Pull the mattresses off everyone’s beds and lay them out in the same room for a family campout. Choose a short novel like “George’s Marvelous Medicine” or “Sarah, Plain and Tall” that you can read and finish as a family during your weekend staycation. If your kids are independent readers, have them take a turn reading out loud.


Still not settled? Play a favorite card game or get out a crossword puzzle, taking turns with each clue.



8 am: Iconic Philadelphia

Start the day with breakfast at one of Philadelphia’s bagel joints like Spread or Philly Style Bagels.  


From there, begin where all the tourists start: Independence Visitor Center. Instead of just hurrying in for tour tickets, explore the exhibits and watch the movie about our city’s role in the American Revolution. Afterwards, choose a historic site that you’ve never explored as a family: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Christ Church & Burial Yard, the Free Quaker Meeting House, Ben Franklin’s House and Museum, or Old City Hall. To make it even more fun, choose the site by having your own family drawing. Have a small prize like stickers, hats or flags to hand out to celebrate the winning site.


12 pm: Lunch & Learn

By now the kids have blown through the snacks you’ve packed, so it’s time for lunch. Incorporate the day’s historical elements by grabbing a bite to eat at the City Tavern or try National Mechanics for that historic feel.


1 pm: What’s Old Is New Again

The Museum of the American Revolution is a great first stop for your afternoon.  If you haven’t yet explored it, head there and don’t miss Patriot’s Gallery, where the kids can try on period clothing, or the replica of a privateer ship.  You could also visit another nearby museum that is more new to you: National Liberty Museum,  National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia History Museum or the National Constitution Center.  


3 pm: Sugar It Up & Mail It In

Your family will be ready for a pick-me-up, so end your day in historic Philadelphia at either Franklin Fountain for indulgent sundaes with historic flavors or Shane and Company, America’s longest continuously operating confectionary. As you walk there, stop by Ben Franklin’s Post Office. You can mail something to yourself or a friend with a stamp cancelled “B. Free Franklin” or visit the small museum upstairs.


5 pm: Hunker Down

You’re all whooped, but screens are not the answer. Instead, gather round the kitchen table for an evening or rock painting. All you need are some paints, something to protect your table, a few brushes and some water. Challenge your family to make rocks that look like themselves or assign them another member of the family to portray. Want a bigger challenge? Have them depict one of the historical characters they learned about during the day’s outing.



8am: Lazy Sundae

Start your day with pajamas and pancake sundaes. Make your favorite pancakes and set out fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, syrup, whipped cream, and more to top them off sundae-style. Extend your time together at the breakfast table with a show n’ tell of the previous evening’s rock art.


10am: Take a Sunday Drive

After your day in the city yesterday, you’ll be ready to slow it down today so head to the Brandywine Valley. You’ve probably been to Longwood Gardens, so choose another of the area’s attractions, depending on your family’s interests. Take sketch pads and colored pencils to the Brandywine River Museum and try your hand at copying art in the exhibit halls.  

If romps in nature and vintage cars are more your speed, drive a little further to the Nemours Mansion and Gardens in Wilmington. You can check out vintage automobiles in the mansion’s garage and explore acres of meadows and forest.



1pm: Fill Up and Head Out

Find lunch on your way home. Boxcar Brewing in West Chester offers delicious brews and radlers for the adults and games like Jenga and table hockey for all. In Kennett Square, you can go to Michoacana to enjoy great Mexican food and then end your staycation as you started it – with ice cream!


3 pm: Summarize It

It’s been a wonderful whirlwind for you and your family, but of course you took lots of photos with your phone. Send all those photos to your local printing spot and swing by to pick them up. When you get home, have the kids caption each photo and either hang the photos on the fridge or put them in an album. You’ll enjoy revisiting your “staycation” for years to come.



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