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The 2024 Philly Summer Bucket List

We love Philly in the summer! Bookmark our picks to enjoy everything this great city has to offer.


In 2024, the city is brimming with exciting opportunities. Discover all the best ways to savor every summer day right here.

Outside Pop-Ups and More

From riverside play to teeing off at Franklin Square and enjoying diverse culinary delights, Philadelphia’s outdoor spaces burst with life in the summer, adding vibrancy and fun to the city.

The Delaware River Waterfront returns with their RiverRink Summerfest and the Spruce Street Harbor Park. This year, Summerfest embraces the theme “more is more,” adding exciting new features that make celebrating summer even more vibrant and unforgettable! There is a brand new expansion added to their mini-golf course, an enormous arcade, even more amusement rides, and an expanded menu of culinary delights! If there’s a thrill-seeker in your family, they’ll love the new children’s roller coaster and swing ride, alongside classics like the Ferris wheel, double-decker carousel, and Gravity Storm Moon Bounce.

At SSHP, enjoy the scenic riverside view with floating hammocks, technicolor lights, live music, and diverse food vendors. New this year are the Lazy Hammock bar, The Blue Anchor bar, and Little Fish Outpost for fresh seafood. The Lazy Hammock features a covered bar, a 20-foot stage, and a 16-foot video wall for watch parties and movies. Local beers and handcrafted cocktails are highlights at The Lazy Hammock and The Blue Anchor. The Trading Post offers local ice cream, snacks, and merchandise, while The Grove provides a relaxing spot under lighted trees to unwind.

The Oval returns to the Parkway this summer from Thursday, July 11th, through August 25th, transforming Eakins Oval into Philadelphia’s central park. Offering a vibrant array of family-friendly activities, it’s a must-visit destination for relaxation and fun in the city. This colorful event brings four weeks of food, art, music, entertainment, wellness experiences, and free special events across eight acres of space on the Parkway.

Photo by M. Stanley for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
Photo by M. Stanley for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Enjoy the lively Franklin Square Fountain Show, where dancing water and music create a captivating spectacle. The themed mini-golf course, highlighting Philadelphia’s history, offers 18 holes of fun for all ages. Nearby, a modern playground provides ample space for children to climb, slide, and play. During the Chinese Lantern Festival, the square transforms with beautiful lantern displays. For dining, SquareBurger serves classic American fare like burgers, fries, and shakes, ideal for a family meal or snack. Be sure to check our events posts so you don’t miss a thing.

Museum Exhibits

If you and your family missed visiting museums during the school year, now’s the perfect time to catch up on some exciting exhibits in Philadelphia!

At the Please Touch Museum, from May 31 to September 1, dive into Wild Kratts®: Creature Power®! This interactive experience lets visitors explore the unique behaviors of animals worldwide, from sneaking through forests like jaguars to swinging like spider monkeys.

Over at the Franklin Institute, don’t miss The Art of the Brick by artist Nathan Sawaya. Celebrated globally, this exhibit features stunning artworks crafted entirely from LEGO® bricks, including imaginative renditions of iconic masterpieces like Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After exploring the galleries, unleash your creativity in a massive brick play area.

Art of the Brick at Franklin Institute
Photo courtesy of The Franklin Institute

For a journey into the heart of the rainforest, visit the Academy of Natural Sciences and experience Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest. Encounter live sloths and boa constrictors, learn about rainforest ecology through interactive displays, and discover the vital role these ecosystems play in global biodiversity conservation.

Discover What’s New at the Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo is introducing exciting new attractions this summer. Explore the ocean’s depths, soar above the African plains, and trek through dense forests with the new Wild Explorer Virtual Reality. This immersive 360° experience features a motion seat, VR headset, and audio, making wildlife adventures come alive like never before.

For younger visitors, hop aboard the NEW SEPTA® PZ Express Train, offering a delightful ride through the zoo grounds—a perfect way for little explorers to enjoy the sights.

Families can also embark on the Nature Blazer scavenger hunt using an interactive mobile app powered by TRAKID. Navigate exhibits with a smart compass, complete challenges, and answer trivia questions at each stop, adding an educational twist to the zoo visit.

Drinking Outdoors (with Kids in Tow!)

Summer brings back Parks on Tap, offering a wonderful opportunity to enjoy outdoor drinks with the kids. It’s not just about planning a relaxing evening for adults; it’s also a chance to explore Philadelphia’s beautiful parks and contribute to the community.

There are also great locales like the PHS Pop-Up Gardens (South Street and Manayunk), 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. See our full list of kid-friendly beer gardens here!

More Outdoor Events and Activities

During the summer, outdoor movies and concerts offer delightful ways to enjoy evenings under the stars. At the Betsy Ross House, Movie Nights Under the Stars & Stripes are a highlight every first Friday of the month, where families can gather for screenings in a historic setting. Along the Schuylkill Banks, movie nights are a regular occurrence, providing opportunities to relax by the riverbank and enjoy cinematic classics throughout the summer season. Meanwhile, Dilworth Park hosts Arts on Center Stage each week, featuring a diverse lineup from orchestral serenades to ballet ensembles and jazz performances, ensuring there’s something for every musical taste.

Hike or bike on the Schuylkill River Trail or Forbidden Drive for some incredible scenic paths right inside our city limits. Or, kayak and rowboat at Bertram’s Garden (for free on Saturdays!).

Exploring Philly’s parks under the shade of trees is wonderful, but have you considered climbing and ziplining up in the treetops? Several tree climbing and ziplining facilities have emerged across the city, offering exciting outdoor adventures amidst Philadelphia’s green spaces. One standout is Treetop Quest Philly in West Fairmount Park, featuring 40 obstacles and 18 zip lines up to 60 feet high, catering to both beginners and experienced thrill-seekers alike.

For those with adventurous youngsters, there are a variety of thrilling experiences at nearby amusement parks. These parks not only provide thrilling rides but also host seasonal events and entertainment that make them perfect destinations for family outings during the summer months.

Treetop Quest Philly
Photograph by Gwyneth K. Shaw

Summer Camp

No matter what your kids’ interests or ages, you’re sure to find something to excite them in our Summer Camp Guide, so be sure to check it out!

Cover photo courtesy of Delaware River Waterfront. Original article by Laura Swartz.

Family Focus Media Publishing Intern | Marketing Student at the University of South Carolina