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The 2019 Philly Summer Bucket List

Why sit in Shore traffic when you can have a great time in the city?

Not going away this summer? We don’t blame you. Summertime in Philly is so iconic, it earned itself a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince tribute. There is just so much to look forward to right here in the city. Here is everything you’ll want to do to make the most out of every summer day!

Museum Exhibits

If you and your kids don’t have much time to visit all the great museums during the school year, use your free time to catch up on all the exhibits, and see some new ones too!


In June, the Academy of Natural Sciences will say goodbye to the mermaids, dragons, and unicorns of “Mythic Creatures” (catch it through June 9), and later that month will take you on an animatronic dinosaur adventure and tour of prehistoric earth with “Dinosaurs Around the World” (June 30 through January 20).


If you haven’t caught the Franklin Institute’s “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” exhibit, it’s a must-do for any superhero fan! And the Please Touch Museum’s “America to Zanzibar” special exhibit on Muslim culture around the world is on view through September 2.


Hamilton is coming to the Kimmel Center at the end of August, and you can get excited learning about our “ten dollar Founding Father” at the National Constitution Center, where “Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nationexamines his rise and fall.


Of course, one of the highlights of the summer is the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Art Splash programming (beginning July 5), with drop-in studio projects and more.

Outside Pop-Ups and More

From skating by the river to splashing and playing at Sister Cities Park, there are some fabulous outdoor spaces that come to life in the summer, making Philly that much more vibrant and fun. Who needs to sit in Shore traffic when we’ve got a boardwalk right here, and a waterfront with so much to do? Check out our guide to these special outdoor spaces to plan where to go!


The Oval opens on the Parkway July 19, bringing a month of free programming including dance parties, movie nights, and a beer garden. And at Franklin Square, you can catch the Lantern Festival through July 14, and then a month of free programming in August celebrating the re-opening of their fountain (complete with nightly illuminated shows).

In addition to our fun pop-up spaces, there are opportunities to experience some natural splendor right inside our city limits. So our outdoor guide also gives you a rundown of all the great public gardens and environmental centers to include on your summer adventures!

Drinking Outdoors (with Kids in Tow!)

Summer means the return of Parks on Tap, the roving beer garden that pops up at a different park every week, bringing food, drinks, and a family-friendly environment (including games for kids). It is not just a brilliant way to plan an adult evening with your kids, but it’s a great way to discover all the amazing parks and neighborhoods in all corners of our city.


There are also great locales like the PHS Pop-Up Gardens (South Street and University City), Independence Beer Garden, Morgan’s Pier, and of course the Delaware River Waterfront attractions, all of which have fun and laidback environments that make room for both craft beers and sippy cups.

Outdoor Music

Live concert series like the Mann Center’s Young People’s Concerts, the Philadelphia Zoo’s Rock ‘n’ Roar concerts, and Smith Memorial Playground’s Kidchella are especially crafted for kids, but parents will love them too! We also love the 40th Street Summer Series in University City, the Clark Park Music and Arts Festival in West Philly, and Pastorius Park Concerts in Chestnut Hill.


On the Delaware River Waterfront, you can look forward to lots of weekly live music, the PECO Multicultural Series at Penn’s Landing, and much more.

Outdoor Movies

Outdoor movie nights are such fun ways to get together as a family (and as a community) and enjoy a movie in a relaxed setting. From the waterfront to parks all over the city, we’ve got the rundown for you. So grab a blanket and start marking your calendars.

More Outdoorsy Fun

Philly pools start to open mid-June on a rolling schedule, and they’re free! Hike or bike on the Schuylkill River Trail or Forbidden Drive for some incredible scenic paths right inside our city limits!


Or for some real outdoor thrills, check out the new ropes course at the Philadelphia Zoo, which also has a new outdoor food court and will be featuring their ‘Creatures of Habitat’ exhibit all summer long, with the return of the Zoo Key!

Street Fairs and Celebrations

A final reason to not participate in the exodus from the city during weekends and holidays: Philly knows how to party, and we take advantage of pretty much any opportunity for outdoor revelry in nice weather.


Highlights include the Odunde Festival, Pride, and Little Friends Festival in June, East Passyunk Car Show and Street Festival in July, and the 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties as summer begins to wind down. You can even brave the crowds at a Night Market if you’re feeling extra ambitious.


Of course the July 4th Welcome America celebration culminating in the Party on the Parkway is uniquely Philadelphian as well—we’re the birthplace of America so you know we do it up right! From a massive Wawa hoagie on Independence Mall to free concerts, movies, and educational experiences all week, it’s the highlight of the summer!


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer

  • Rose July 4, 2019

    Where is the location of the picture of the water statues and kids playing in the water?