Thursday, July 9, 2009

With Love Philadelphia XOXO Part One

We just returned from a long weekend trip to Philadelphia and we had such a blast, it will take me multiple posts to adequately cover the awesomeness that was our trip! This post will be devoted to my planning and itinerary creation.

A few months back, I started looking at our summer calendar to decide what trips, if any, we would be taking. There were a few criteria that needed to be met in order for a destination to make it on our short list:

-Within 4-5 hours drive from our house
-Science museum or children’s museum close by that participates in the ASTC Reciprocal program
-Plenty of free activities for us to choose from
-Hotel that would have a suite to accommodate our whole family for a reasonable price

From there, I consulted the ASTC Reciprocal Program list to see where there were science museums and children’s museums that we have not been to before. I came up with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as possible choices that met all the criteria. Then I looked at the calendar to see when we would be traveling. Since the 4th of July fell on a Saturday, it seemed logical to take a long weekend during that timeframe. Once that decision was made, the most logical choice was Philadelphia because what better way to celebrate our Nation’s birthday than to go to where it started?

Here’s where the real work began. I knew that one of our activities would be to go to the Franklin Institute. That was a must because we are cheap frugal and like to take full advantage of the ASTC Reciprocal Program.( For those of you not in the know, this is a program that lets you use your membership from your local children’s museum or science museum at other participating museums across the country. Check with your local museum to learn more about the program. ) I did a quick google search for “Philadelphia kids activity” and came up with the Philadelphia tourism site. Lucky me, they had already done the hard work and created an itinerary for a weekend in Philly with kids! I used that as the starting off point to create the following:

07.00: Leave home and head to Philadelphia
13.00: Arrive in Philadelphia and park around Arch St.
13.30: Go to US Mint
15.30: Leave US Mint and head for hotel
16.30: Arrive at hotel and check in
17.30: Dinner in hotel room and swimming afterward

07.00: Breakfast at hotel
08.00: Head to Old Town
09.00: Park around Chestnut and 8th St. and head for the Independence Visitor Center to pick up tickets for Independence Hall (Use bathroom here…no bathrooms in Independence Hall or Liberty Bell Center)
09.30-12.00: Tour Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center and walk to Franklin Square for Storytelling Benches if time allows (public bathrooms on corner of 5th and Chestnut St.)
12.00-13.00: Packed lunch in Washington Square or Franklin Square depending on location
13.00: Walk to Tun Tavern site (Front St. between Chestnut and Walnut)
14.30: Walk to Franklin Fountain for ice cream (116 Market St.)
15.30: Pick up van and return to hotel
16.30: Arrive at hotel and relax in room
17.30: Dinner in hotel room and swimming afterward

07.00: Breakfast at hotel
08.00: Head to Franklin Institute
09.00: Park around Franklin Institute
09.30-11.30: Franklin Institute
11.30-12.30: Walk to Philadelphia Art Musuem and back down to Logan Circle
12.30-13.30: Packed lunch at Logan Circle
13.30-16.00: Academy of Natural Science
16.00: Walk to Sts. Peter and Paul
17.15: Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul
18.30: Dinner at Jake’s Pizza
20.30: Walk back to Ben Franklin Parkway for concert and fireworks

09.00: Breakfast in hotel
10.30: Leave Plymouth Meeting and head to home

Now I know what some of you must be thinking. There’s no way that what’s listed above was our actual itinerary. Yes, I did make it that detailed. With four kids and scarcely a moment to hear myself think, I needed to have this to make sure we got to do what we wanted to and not forget anything. I also wanted to make sure that we maximized the time that we had and did not waste any time backtracking. There were some on the go modifications once we were actually on the trip but for the most part we stuck with it. The Philadelphia website came in handy for researching the individual activities and learning helpful hints like there are no bathrooms in Independence Hall so you should use the ones at the Independence Visitor Center before you head over to the security tent for Independence Hall. Will and I both used the Best Parking website to figure out the cheapest closest parking garage to store our minivan for the day.

Having this backbone in place for our trip freed up my brain to actually enjoy the trip with my family instead of constantly trying to figure out what our next activity would be. It worked out so well that I will use this method again for our trip to Baltimore next month.

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