Tag: frugal

Old City Philadelphia With Small Children

Adventures & Travel Family Inspiration

Old City Philadelphia With Small Children

I mapped out this itinerary for our family when we had an unusually warm Saturday in February. It’s a bit aggressive yet can easily be modified. We did 1, 5, 6 and 7 on our list and it was perfect! It’s a walking tour concentrated in the Old City section of Philadelphia. We found street parking on N. 3rd street, which was ideal!

 

(1) Start at the Betsy Ross House (on Arch Street between 2nd & 3rd). Sometimes they’ll have demonstrations or storytelling in the courtyard. On the day we went they were demonstrating the making of drinking chocolate and selling/sampling it! They were showing how they broke down the cocoa beans and I was super interested since cocoa butter is my favorite ingredient to work with in my products. It was amazing. I was way more interested than the kids.

Adults are $5 and kids are $4. We didn’t do the audio tour. It’s super tiny in there and very narrow, but beautiful and worth seeing. It’s said to be haunted upstairs. While in the basement, I learned that Ben Franklin’s sister was a soapmaker, awwww, yay! Me too. : ) The historical actor explained that they used to put liquid lye in the laundry as well as urine. Hmmm, made me feel much more grateful for my trader joe’s lavender liquid laundry soap.

Betsy Ross House
Betsy Ross House

(2) Head East on Arch, left on 2nd and you’ll see Elfreth’s Alley on your right. Here you can walk our nation’s oldest residential street. It’s FREE to wander and there are beautiful pictures to be taken here.

(3) Go back the way you came, past Betsy Ross’ House and between 4th &  5th Streets (on Arch) you’ll see Christ Church Burial Ground where you can see Ben Franklin’s grave. You can view from the street for FREE or pay the admission to walk around inside the burial ground.

(4) Continue down Arch and turn left on 5th, walk one block and you’ll be at 5th and Market to visit the National Museum of American Jewish History. I was lucky enough to see this museum as it was being built and again soon after. This page is helpful for families.

(5) From there, head East on Market (away from 5th) towards 4th Street. Here you’ll find Franklin Court – museum and printing office . This is actually my favorite historical attraction in Philadelphia! I discovered it when I had to give a historic tour as a student in college and fell in love. You can stroll through the courtyard and see the “ghost houses” which represent where Franklin’s house stood. You can look through the glass below the ground and see different parts of the basement. There’s also a museum that has a fee but the printing office is FREE. When they are open you can see people demonstrating the printing press and it’s fun to see inside. There’s also a working post office on the Market Street side where you can mail your letter with a B FREE FRANKLIN ink stamp! A friend mailed her wedding invitations from here, I thought that was such a cool idea.

Carpenters' Hall
Carpenters’ Hall

(6) When you exit Franklin Court, exit on the Chestnut Street side (opposite from where you entered on Market Street). Head across the street to Carpenters’ Hall (it’s FREE). A historical building which held the First Continental Congress and Franklin’s Library. I LOOOOVE anything that has to do with a library. I know. Apparently there’s a “treasure hunt” in there – you can tell the kids to find all the Carpenters’ Co. Emblems. Apparently there’s 5. I found 2.

Greenspace Old City Philadelphia
Greenspace Old City Philadelphia

One of my favorite things about Carpenters’ Hall is the path leading up to it and the grounds around it. There’s green space and we just walked down and parked the stroller and let the kids run around in the huge lawn. It’s so perfect. Once that’s done, head across the street to…

(7) The Little Lion– it’s on the corner of 3rd and Market Streets. Super cute, great food and beer and I love the decor. Reservations recommended. I’ve been here 3 times and every time the service was outstanding, as well as the food. All I’ll say is sweet potato fries.

On our walk back to our car this little shop caught my eye and now they are carrying my lip balm! I love it in there and it’s very fun to poke around. I picked up a soap when I dropped off my lip balm to them, I love to support other local makers.

Philadelphia Independents
Philadelphia Independents

So that was our Old City adventure in a nutshell. The Kids loved it and Brady asked for days when we were going back. If you go, enjoy!!

Betsy Ross House Courtyard
Betsy Ross House Courtyard
More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Adventures & Travel Family Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Something I have right now is flexibility. Tons of it. We can fill our days pretty much with whatever we want, working around a small preschool schedule. Adventures are always calling and I’m frequently on the hunt for something fun to discover with the kids, however, whenever I google kids activities, I always feel empty inside. The usual kids museums or activity centers come up in the search and that’s about it. I’m always left wanting more. And frankly, a little baffled. I do love those places, and we’ve been to most of them, but that’s just one small bucket of ideas.

Kids stuff doesn’t have to be limited to “Kids only” stuff. Kids are real people that want to interact with the world and be intrigued and challenged. Their brains are literally wired for discovery and it’s my job to provide the path. Here’s three kid-friendly ways to spend a morning or afternoon. These are all local to Philadelphia/Montgomery County, PA.

Abington Art Center

This beautiful campus is super close to our house and it’s always felt a little mysterious because it’s behind large walls. We made our way one chilly February day when everyone was bouncing off the walls. They had an exhibit by Temple University students and an Art trail to walk, all for free. SOLD.

abington art center field
Running off into the field for ninja turtle battles

The exhibit was entitled Surface Tensions Wall Projections by Temple University Graduate Film & Media Arts  and it was a feast for the eyes. When we entered the exhibit hall, the lights were out and projections of lights and videos flashed about on the walls. The looks on the kids faces were priceless. Meadow, holding her baby doll, looked up in wonder. Brady, eyes wide, said, “What the HECK is this place?” “Where areeee weeee?” asked Meadow. I told them and they were fascinated, albeit a bit confused.

We wandered about and took it in. The work was interesting and the kids reaction to it was even more fun to watch. And this is what I love about art! “Who made this?” They exclaimed in wonder? “Why?” The questions were hilarious. We had a blast. Then we wandered around the building and found the fabric workshop and were invited in where Brady asked some questions. The bright and beautiful room was even warmer with the welcoming teacher who didn’t seem bothered by curious children. The bathrooms were great too, big enough for a stroller and clean – that’s how I evaluate most places.

frugal fun with little ones
Little wooden booth we discovered on the trail

We made our way to the art trail where the questions continued. A field large enough for ninja turtle battles, a stage to continue our battle and little wooden houses and huts to tuck our bodies in and pretend we lived in. There was no end in sight for the fun and it was all free. Our moods shifted from being out in February winds and that was part of the goal in discovering that trail.

RyersS Museum

This place is amazing. It’s a FREE museum in Burholme Park (northeast section of Philadelphia/Fox Chase). I have very fond memories of being here while I was a kid and kinda forgot about it until recently. It’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so plan for that but it’s so worth the visit!

It’s both a museum and library full of family heirlooms and collections of the Ryerss Family from their travels around the world. We got a children’s coloring/activity book in the library when we were there and it says, “Visiting the Ryerss Museum is like taking a trip around the world.” I could not agree more!

The first floor has the parlor and dining room setup so you can see what it was like when they lived there. Little dolls and tea sets caught Meadow’s eye and I explained that you can not go under red ropes in museums. Just as soon as the words left my lips she looked and me and proceeded to go right under the red rope towards the Victorian tea set. Note to self: explain museum etiquette more clearly.

Ryerss Museum Dining Room
Dining Room

The back parlor was cozy and dark and explained the family’s Turkish corner. Have you heard of this? It amazed me! The exhibit rooms housed Buddhas, shoes, seashells and swords. Brady was engaged. I commented on how impressed I was that he was behaving so well and he said, rather seriously, “Well I’m busy. I’m doing the scavenger hunt.” We got a scavenger hunt worksheet in the library before we toured the house, it was great for the kids. Nothing fancy, just images of several statues that they had to look for.

Ryerss Museum with Kids
Scavenger hunt, very serious

We ended in the library where there are kids tables and coloring sheets. I had some questions about the dollhouses I saw as a kid but seemed to be missing from the exhibit hall. Apparently Fairmount Park claimed them as they didn’t belong to the Ryerss Family, but to a neighbor. BUMMER – they were my absolute favorites and I could not wait to see them after all these years. The library is a real library and you are welcome to borrow books if you live close by.

They also do kids activity days and flea market events at the museum. Don’t forget to walk around to the front porch and you’ll pass their pet cemetery on your way. Victorian porches steal my heart and they really help me imagine the time period when I’m on one.

They have free parking and a playground as well.

Ryerss Museum Library
Magical Ryerss library – kid friendly

Ikea – Kids eat free on Tuesday

Have you ever heard of Ikea? That’s a joke. Of course you have. Well, it’s a really fun place for kids and not because they have a play area that you can leave your kids at (we’ve yet to utilize that feature but it does look fun in there). It’s literally a HUGE indoor playground. We love to go and wander, stock up on candles and pretend we live in the little fake living rooms.

The cafe can be accessed via shortcut as soon as you enter (at the Conshohocken location) and it’s right next to the children’s department. We’ll go on a Tuesday, I’ll get a veggie/hummus wrap or whatever and the kids meals are both FREE. And you get a free coffee if you have their “Family” card. Plus they just got a new cafe machine so it makes lattes! I’m not sure if this is permitted but I bring my latte to the children’s area and sip it leisurely while the kids take their shoes off and roll around in the beds. I know. I know. I told them not to but they don’t really listen sometimes so whatever.

Ikea kids fun
Meadow playing at Ikea

By the time we get home, we’re all exhausted from Ikea, we relax and then I make dinner. Day planned. 🙂

Now pick one and go explore!

xoxo

 

 

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Simplicity

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

The possibilities for fun are endless when you’re a stay-at-home-parent. Unless you’re having a bad day, then it feels impossible to plan an adventure (for me, at least). So I keep a list of fun ideas for each season handy for days when we want to go out and about but don’t have much money to spend or for days when we just NEED to get out of the house.

When my oldest was in preschool one morning last week, me and my youngest, Meadow, went over to Be Well Cafe in Bryn Athyn. It’s simply adorable there. They are in a new space, a few doors down from their previous location, and the energy and flow in there are invigorating! I can grab a tea and get a little treat for Meadow for $5 while we sit and enjoy and chat.

be well bakery and cafe
be well bakery and cafe

 

The best thing about the new location is that they have an adorable play space for little ones complete with a wall chalkboard, kitchen, books and action figures. Different toys = happy kids. It gets crowded almost always, but that’s ok. After we had some fun we hopped in the car for a 2 minute drive to the Huntingdon Valley Library where they (obviously) have a beautiful book selection, but OH MY, the toys! Full size wooden kitchen, dollhouse, giant trucks and more. Meadow made me lunch 5 times at the library kitchen and it was delicious. They have all the fun ingredients – wooden jars with removable lids and pretend milk cartons! I sat at the kid table and soaked in the sunshine by the huge window. It made me smile.

The only problem was the not wanting to leave. It was the first time I was late for a preschool pickup! Eeeek.

Huntingdon Valley Library
Huntingdon Valley Library

 

Some of our other local frugal favorites in Montgomery County, PA include:

  • Briar Bush Nature Center – Free for Abington residents, very small fee for others. Live turtles! Snakes! Real bugs! Trails to explore and a bird watching house that is creepy in a fun way (at least to me). Clean bathrooms. They offer affordable camp options and fun looking birthday parties (neither of which we have experienced yet). Of note, I did not find the trails to be stroller friendly, so pack or borrow a baby carrier.
  • Meadowbrook Farm – This tiny little gem is one of my FAVORITE places on earth. I love to just visit and explore the grounds and the garden center. This is FREE, parking is easy and once you park you get a little red plant wagon to pull around for fun! We don’t usually buy plants (more on that later)…well ok it’s later, I need a lot of help keeping plants alive. But we LOVE them! A magical path of wonderful greens and flowers leads you to a crossroad, and you decide your fate. Travel right for the garden center and explore the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse full of hanging terrariums, cute gifts and creative pots and plants OR turn left and explore the historical grounds and see fountains and ferns and statues and lily pads! Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.
  • Meadowbrook Bird Sanctuary – This is across the street from Meadowbrook Fam. This is a slice of peace. Here you find a small patch of earth full of winding trails and cozy benches. Little birdhouses and a children’s garden. The link is old but the pictures look just like I remember. We usually bring a picnic lunch. The kids love to chase each other with the butterfly nets from the children’s garden.
  • Library Cultural Passes – This simply makes me giddy!!! Many of the libraries in Montgomery County have passes to awesome places (that cost a lot of dollars to get in) for FREE! Yep! We are kinda like library groupies. We are ALWAYS at one of our local branches. Lingering. Jumping around. Occasionally we read there but the kids really like to frolic and we leave with huge stacks of books that we read at home. My mom banned me from the library when I was younger because I’d get a million books and apparently lots of late fines. I still get tons of books today but I’m much more organized about renewing them.

I hope this inspires some frugal fun with your little one! Depending on your interests, these could even be fun for a solo-self-care quiet day alone or a sweet date with someone you love.

xo,

Marjorie