This post was sponsored by Marriott as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. You can read my full Disclosure Policy here.
We live only about 90 minutes west of Philadelphia, and over the years, we’ve been there many times. We’ve gone for one-day visits to hit a convention or other special event, field trips with the kids’ classes, and to see the sights over the holidays. The cool thing about Philly is that every time we visit, we see and do something new.
This summer has been the summer of local weekend trips for us, and we were excited to go back to Philadelphia and make new memories. Of all the times that we’ve been in the city, this was by far our favorite trip. Despite the fact that it was literally 100 degrees during our visit, we enjoyed the weekend getaway so much that we’ve been talking about it ever since.
How to Plan A Family Weekend Getaway to Philadelphia
Why was this trip different? First and foremost, we stayed at the right hotel. Our hometown is very rural, lots of farmland, and I’m not a city girl. To be honest, it makes me a little anxious to be in a big city and not know where I am or how to get anywhere, especially when I’ve got my kids with me. But when your home base is in the perfect spot, it makes it easy to get to and from anywhere you want to go. We walked a TON and didn’t get lost once.
Here are all of my tips to make your weekend getaway to Philly fun and memorable. And bonus tip: Summertime is a great time to go. The locals hit the beach on the Jersey Shore so it’s less crowded and easier to take in the sights.
Choose a Great Hotel: Location, Location, Location
We all have those brands that we just feel comfortable with, brands that we trust. Marriott is one of those brands for me. I know if I book a room at a Marriott it’s going to be a nice hotel and we’ll have a comfortable stay. You’ll find 24 Marriott hotels across 11 brands in Philadelphia.
There’s a Marriott for Every Traveler + Bonvoy Perks
Whether you like to live it up in luxury, or are looking for a family-friendly and budget-friendly hotel, or you are planning an extended stay, there’s a Marriott for that. And if you want to save even more (who doesn’t?) the Marriott Bonvoy program is worth checking out.
Marriott Bonvoy is their loyalty program, and members receive amazing perks, like free WiFi, mobile check-in, and the lowest rates at all times. Members also receive extra discounts when booking direct on Marriott.com, saving an additional 2% on weekdays and 5% on weekends. Love that!
The Westin Philadelphia
We stayed at The Westin Philadelphia, which is a gorgeous Marriott hotel and it’s in the perfect location to enjoy the city. We were easily able to walk right out the front door and do some shopping, get something to eat (lots of options!), stroll through Rittenhouse Square, check out City Hall, and grab the Philly PHLASH bus to some of the more popular Philly attractions.
I would probably not normally wander out into the city at night with my kids, but we were in such a great location near a bunch of shopping and restaurants, that I felt totally safe doing so.
Don’t ask me how many pictures of these Ben Franklin chairs I took. ha! They are in the beautiful lobby of the hotel, along with tons of other Philadelphia-themed decor, and we just loved them.
The hotel lobby is spacious with plenty of seating and a restaurant and bar, too. The staff are seriously SO helpful and friendly. If you have any questions about where to eat, things to do, how to get from here to there, they are an amazing resource.
Our room was on the 15th floor in an executive suite. Ooh lala! I couldn’t get over all the marble in this bathroom. Beautiful! Our room was so comfortable (usually I’m ready to get home to my own bed, but not this time!).
I would highly recommend The Westin Philadelphia to anyone visiting the city. Obviously the hotel is really nice with great amenities and comfortable rooms, but the biggest perk for me was the LOCATION. I loved being in a place that I felt at ease walking around with my family, and that was close to everything we wanted to do and see. It’s a huge perk to just be able to pop down the block and grab a meal, snack, or cup of coffee. One afternoon my daughter and I went out shopping while my husband and son stayed in the room to cool off. Everything is just so convenient from this spot!
Things to Do In Philadelphia With Kids
There are SO many things to do in Philly with your kids. It can honestly be overwhelming to cram into a weekend visit. Depending on how little they are, that can be a recipe for vacation disaster. #beentheredonethat
My kids are older, 10 and 13, so we are good to trek around the city and hit a bunch of different stuff over the course of the weekend. However, it was HOT during our visit, so I followed my own advice for families enjoying a weekend away and just picked a couple of things we really wanted to do, and left lots of downtime in the schedule.
City Hall is a fun place to visit, especially in the summertime because Dilworth Park is right in front of the building and features all of these fun fountains. There were plenty of little ones cooling off here when we walked through, and I half wanted to join them. I kind of love that Philadelphia provides this for free. What kid wouldn’t jump in there and have a total blast on a hot day?
There are some Instaworthy photo opps in Love Park. Be sure to snap a few pics with the LOVE signs, and catch the fountain in the background, too.
If you’re into historic travel, there’s an abundance of that in Philadelphia. We didn’t do any special tours, and actually walked through the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell areas after dinner one night, so we couldn’t go inside. But you can view the Liberty Bell through the glass and that worked for us.
One of the neatest things for us as pretty local people was seeing all the people who visit from afar to take in these pieces of American history. We met a family from San Diego on the PHLASH bus who had never been to Philly before and this was their summer vacation. We take for granted the rich history that is all around us, and I liked for me and my kids to experience some of that ‘wow’ factor through others’ eyes.
Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package
I mentioned above that it can be overwhelming to try to decide what to do and see in just one weekend in the city. The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package took all of the stress of figuring that out out of the equation for me. The Marriott Bonvoy Moments program makes it so easy to browse online and find things to do in any destination.
The Visit Philly VIP Package that we tacked onto our hotel stay included passes for The Franklin Institute, the Philly PHLASH, the carousel at Franklin Square and much more. Did we do everything on the list? No, we didn’t. And that was okay, because we saved time and money on the things we did do by taking advantage of this promo, and we enjoyed our visit without trying to push ourselves to the edge. Remember, pick a few things that are important to you and allow for some downtime. This worked out PERFECTLY for us!
Get Around Town on the Philly PHLASH
The Philly PHLASH is a bus that hits about 20 popular stops throughout the city: The Philadelphia Art Museum, Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market, Penn’s Landing, and more. If you’re there to sight see, this is the bus you want tickets for. They are affordable, just $5 for an all-day pass per person (or included in that VIP pass I mentioned), and while we were happy to walk a lot, some of these stops are pretty spread out so it’s nice to sit in an air conditioned bus now and then.
The Franklin Institute Marvel Exhibit
The PHLASH stop closest to our hotel was about a block away, so we just walked to that and then got off on our first stop at The Franklin Institute. We are big Marvel fans and you might know that the Marvel exhibit is in town through September 2, 2019. Getting here to check this out was at the top of our list, and it did not disappoint!
There’s a lot of really interesting comic book history included that brings more meaning to all of the movies we love. But the cool part for us was definitely the stuff from the films. All of Iron Man’s suits?! Yaaasssss!
Many of the clothing and accessory pieces worn by our favorite superheros are on display and it was so neat to get up close to them.
We posed with the Black Panther, the Hulk, Spiderman, and more. Tons of great photo opps!
I was just amazed at the intricacy of some of the clothing items. And there are signs to tell you what materials are used in each piece. It’s fascinating how much detail is involved!
Star Lord’s walkman and Drax’s knives were on display, too. So cool to get so close to this stuff!
We explored the rest of The Franklin Institute too, and that is always fun and educational. There’s a whole section devoted to sports science, a heart and brain you can climb through, and an entire room on weather phenomenon, just to name a few things. This is a great place for the entire family, no matter what exhibit is featured!
Philadelphia Food Scene
One of the highlights of the weekend for us was taking in the Philadelphia food scene. Oh my. Soooo many great choices!
We hit this cool little cafe, Saxbys, for breakfast one day and got coffees. My son had a smoothie and my daughter got this peanut butter and banana toast. Delicious and so hip, right?!
Dinner one evening was at this cool Asian restaurant, Inchin’s Bamboo Garden. I Googled it after we ate there and saw that this is a chain, though I’d never heard of it. It’s new to Philadelphia and we absolutely loved it. The Red Thai Curry Chicken is fantastic.
Franklin Social at The Renaissance Hotel Philadelphia Downtown
One evening while we were near the Independence Hall part of town, we hit another one of the Marriott properties in the city for dinner. Franklin Social is located in The Renaissance Hotel Philadelphia Downtown and we had the BEST meal here.
They do have outdoor dining, but I’ve mentioned the heat, right? So we ate inside. This is immediately what I loved about Franklin Social: The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back. You don’t need to dress up (though you certainly could!), and it’s family-friendly. We were totally fine with the kids in here, but it would have been equally as nice for a date night with my husband. In other words, this restaurant is a good fit for any traveler. Win-win.
The first order of business was drinks, and their cocktail menu is awesome. I had the most delicious strawberry margarita, the Busy Body. I definitely recommend that! Even the kids were able to order fancy non-alcoholic drinks, which they love! I was really happy to see something for them on the menu other than soda and lemonade.
Our entrees were fantastic. You can see the kids ordered burgers and fries (told you it was family-friendly) and my husband and I ordered salmon and tuna. There wasn’t a bite left on any of these plates when we were done. Everything was just wonderful!
If you love unique food options (we do!), you’ll want to hit two places in Philadelphia: Reading Terminal Market, and The Bourse. We’ve been to Reading Terminal Market many times and they have the most mouthwatering food stands, produce stands, and seriously delicious baked goods. On this trip, we didn’t get there, but we checked out The Bourse for the first time. LOVE this place.
The Bourse is an indoor food hall, where 30 food and drink vendors come together to create the very best food court you’ve ever stepped foot inside. The options here are amazing. They have everything from pizza to tacos, but this isn’t like fast food pizza and tacos. They are works of art. I mean, look at that pizza!
My son got tacos at this cool Mexican food vendor, and I was pretty sure he was about to climb up on the table to get the best angle on this taco. Hilarious! But when you’ve got a good taco, go for it, man.
Baked goods, coffees, and teas, delicious Asian cuisine, and so much more. This is artisanal food, and it’s a perfect stop for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack.
I asked my friends and Instagram followers for Philly food recommendations and got so many suggestions. There is no shortage of places to eat in this city, something for everyone for sure. Taking in the local flavor is a huge part of enjoying Philly so be sure to stop at some of the local eateries. And if you’ve got fussy kids, Reading Terminal Market and The Bourse have cookies galore. Everyone goes home happy.
Plan Your Weekend Getaway to Philadelphia
We’ve done many, many weekend getaways as a family and this was definitely one of our most memorable. It’s funny to me that we’ve been to Philly so many times, and that this time was such a stand-out experience. I think the major contributor was staying at such a great hotel.
The Westin Philadelphia gave us a comfortable place to take a break from the heat, and to get a really good night’s sleep. It’s also in the perfect location to allow us to enjoy the things we like to do in the city.
And the Visit Philly VIP Pass took the guesswork out of figuring out what to do with our days. We had a bunch of things to choose from, and that made it easy to balance fun and relaxation.
Those are my big tips for making the most of your visit! Ready to get a Philly weekend getaway on your calendar? Start your planning here!
Be sure to follow Marriott on social media for more travel inspiration: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram