While in Philadelphia, you cannot miss the Museum of the American Revolution. It is located just blocks away from the Independence National Historical Park area and is a must-see for children and adults.
Tickets are date and time specific so I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time for the museum. This is especially needed during the busy spring and summer months.
When you enter on the main floor, skip the gift shop (for now!) and enter directly into the theater behind the stairs to begin your visit with a 15 minute film on the origins of the American Revolution. Then take the stairs to the second floor to begin your tour of the museum, reserving the remaining temporary exhibit on the main floor for the end of your tour.
The first stop on this floor should be another theater but this one has a surprise! Not only is it a great film about George Washington and the Revolution, at the end, the actual field tent used by George Washington is revealed! It is a very meaningful presentation to highlight this important artifact from America’s beginning.
Now you can head to the galleries, which do a great job of using hands-on activities, movies, maps, and mannequins to explain the Revolutionary War to kids (and adults!). The first gallery has a huge, interactive map of the colonies that kids like to use. You will get to sit in windsor chairs in a theater and feel like you are in Independence Hall while the Declaration of Independence is being debated.
You can walk under a “Liberty Tree,” which was an important place of debate, and you can even touch a piece of an actual Liberty Tree! As you continue to wind your way through the exhibit, there are lots of immersive experiences to listen to, read, and explore. More interactive theaters await with the sites and sounds of battle. For younger kids, it is probably best to skip the Battlefield Theater although kids 8 and up will love it (if they don’t mind loud sounds).
To my kids, the exhibit that is the most fun is the privateer ship that they could climb aboard and explore. The museum staff does a great job of explaining the ship and its significance to kids while encouraging them to look in the barrels and participate in activities on the ship’s deck.
Finish the exhibits and head back downstairs to the temporary exhibit gallery. During our visit, there was an exhibit on Hamilton here! Be sure to let your kids spend their souvenir money in the expansive bookstore. There is a great kids’ section, full of books, toys, costumes, and apparel. My son bought a Liberty Tree t-shirt that he loves to wear. The shop is quite extensive and you could easily spend 30 minutes there.
- Cost: $21 adults/$13 youth (6-17); free with the City Pass or the Sightseeing Pass
- Recommended for: Kids ages 8 and up
- Plan to spend at least 1.5-2 hours at the museum. Depending on the film schedule, you might need to allot for more time.
- Great gift shop and cafe onsite
- Public transportation: SEPTA 5th Street stop
- Parking is available at several lots nearby. See the Museum’s web site for a listing.
- Dining options nearby: The onsite cafe, Cross Keys Cafe, is convenient and an easy stop for a snack or meal. Nearby options include: Cosi, City Tavern (fun 18th century experience with a children’s menu), and the Franklin Fountain (dessert only).
- Nearby attractions include: Independence National Historical Park and Liberty Bell, President’s House site, Dolley Todd House, Benjamin Franklin Museum, National Constitution Center, and Betsy Ross House
Books to read:
- 14 and up:
- 10 and up:
- The American Revolution for Kids: A History with 21 Activities
- A Kids’ Guide to the American Revolution (Kids’ Guide to American History)
- Guts & Glory: The American Revolution
- George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
- I Survived the American Revolution, 1776
- George Washington’s Socks (Time Travel Adventure)
- King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About the American Revolution
- Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution
- Johnny Tremain (also check out the Disney movie of this book!)
- Susanna’s Midnight Ride
- 6 and up:
Have you been to the new Museum of the American Revolution? What was your favorite part? Comment below!