Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Get your kids out of the house (finally) with these springtime activities

Trust: No one is readier for spring than cooped up kids.

Charlie, a beloved rescue dog, in BIG APPLE CIRCUS
Charlie, a beloved rescue dog, in BIG APPLE CIRCUSRead moreJuliana Crawford

Trust: No one is readier for spring than cooped-up kids. Get them out early to experience “America to Zanzibar,” a groundbreaking exhibit about Muslim cultures at Please Touch, works by Philadelphia’s own Jerry Pinkney at Woodmere, and unicorns and kraken at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Come May, essentials include the Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square, live arts at the Annenberg Center’s Philadelphia Children’s Festival, and the Big Apple Circus’ first-ever visit to Montco.

America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far (Please Touch Museum, through Sept. 2). Please Touch takes a big step by delving into local and international Muslim cultures and practices to promote understanding that starts with the smallest among us. But not that small. The seven-month exhibit was designed to appeal to toddlers through fifth graders, and includes works by and workshops with local Muslim artists. There’s also a quiet prayer room. (215-581-3181,

» READ MORE: Please Touch Museum stages groundbreaking Muslim exhibit with a place to pray

Family Circus (Woodmere Art Museum, through April 14). An exhibit of works by Robert Riggs, Peter Paone, Alexander Calder, Salvatore Pinto, and Joseph Hirsch celebrates acrobats, aerialists, clowns, and animals. A March 24 festival brings the real thing: mimes, stilt walkers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, and more. (215-247-0476,

American Girl: Live (Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Feb. 14-17). Downside of the musical in which all-heart girls attend sleepover camp: They’ll want more American Girl merch. Upside: Maybe they’ll also want to go to sleepover camp? (215-893-1999,

Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney (Woodmere Art Museum, Feb. 16-May 12). Watercolors by the illustrator and Germantown native include works for children’s books The Old African, Minty: The Story of a Young Harriet Tubman, and I Want to Be. Exhibit-inspired events include a site-specific performance by Philadanco 2 (March 2). (215-247-0476,

Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Feb. 16-June 9). Philly’s rendition of the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York includes unicorn horns (sort of), a kraken model, build-your-own dragon, and legends from around the globe. (215-299-1000,

Cirque Mechanics (Annenberg Center, Feb. 17). A 42-foot ring contains a colorful, Industrial Age-inspired mini-circus where acrobats spin on a German Wheel, trapeze artists go steampunk, and a contortionist backbends over a wooden horse. (215-898-3900,

ORKid Days (Longwood Gardens, Feb. 18 and March 9). Notoriously exotic plants might not ordinarily lure in the youth set, but on two more days during Longwoods’ Orchid Extravaganza, midday art-making and storytelling in the conservatory hold their interest while adults breathe deeply. (610-388-1000,

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Academy of Music, Feb. 22-24). After reading the fairy tale, seeing the movie, and the other movie, and the other, and visiting Orlando, there’s nothing left to do but catch an onstage version of the classic pauper-to-princess story, set to a lovable Broadway score. (215-893-1999,

Ancient Egypt: From Discovery to Display (Penn Museum, Feb. 23-TBD). More than just thousands-of-year-old artifacts and mummies, this exhibit demonstrates the process of an archaeologist, from dig to CT scans, via three galleries. Visitors start in a traditional museum display before heading to the storage area, then a conservation lab. (215-898-4000,

Sundays on Stage (Parkway Central Library, Feb. 24, March 10, April 7 and 28, May 5). Free 2 p.m. performances begin with Drinking Gourd’s tribute to Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson, puppetry by Enchantment Theatre Company (“The Brave Little Tailor”), and, later, Steve Abrams (“Aesop’s Fables”), step dancing by Soul Steps, and Bollywood live. (215-686-5322,

Family Festival: Once Upon a Time (Philadelphia Museum of Art, March 3). The Pennsylvania Ballet II debuts “Fairy Rhymes” with two performances (11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.). The day includes museumwide storytelling and art-making. (215-763-8100,

Meet the Women of the Betsy Ross House (March 3). For four hours on the first Sunday of Women’s History Month, historical interpreters portray three ages of Betsy Ross (24, 26, and 66), a free African washerwoman, boardinghouse owner, and chocolate maker, offering a glimpse of the life and work of colonial women. Timed tickets. (215-629-4026,

Nickelodeon’s Double Dare Live (Merriam Theater, March 28-29). Local man Marc Summers will be there (alas, no co-host Liza Koshy), as will local competitors ages 10 and up who’ve applied and been chosen to play the revived, live version of the 1980s TV game show in which kids answer trivia or take the physical challenge, slime and all. (215-893-1999,

Pinkalicious: The Musical (Walnut Street Theatre, March 29-April 13). Overindulging in pink cupcakes takes its toll in a rosy musical inspired by the book series. (215-574-3550,

Play-A-Palooza (Smith Memorial Playground, March 30). The annual reopening of Smith’s 6.5-acre playground comes complete with PBS Kids characters, outdoor games, giveaways, bubbles, and, if you’re lucky, homemade ice pops from a truck. (215-765-4325,

Treasure Island (Arden Theatre, April 5-June 2). For every parent — OK, mom — who has wished for more heroines in classic children’s books, once again, the Arden’s got you. The Old City theater’s rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s boy-centric pirate tale turns young Jim into young Emily, keeps Long John Silver, and, as always, promises to keep the telling as engaging for adults as it is for kids. (215-922-1122,

Creatures of Habitat – A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure (Philadelphia Zoo, April 6-Sept. 30). The Lego animals by brick artist Sean Kenney return to America’s oldest zoo after their last visit nine years ago. The idea: teach kids about endangered wildlife, maybe inspire them to build without instructions. (215-243-1100,

Marvel: Universe of Superheroes (Franklin Institute, April 13-Sept. 2). Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain America — via 300 original Marvel comics, costumes, props, interactives, and life-size sculptures — travel from Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture to the Franklin Institute for an exhibit with blockbuster appeal. During its 11 months in Seattle, “Marvel” drew 300,000 visitors. (215-448-1200,

Revolutionary Spring Break (Museum of the American Revolution, April 13-28). American history meets craft when kids make like colonials to ready supplies for a make-believe Continental Army. April 13 and 14, historical interpreters portray artificers repairing equipment and making goods for Lt. Col. Benjamin Flowers. Activities on other days include shoemaking, tailoring, and fencing. (215-253-6731,

PEEPS Throughout the Village (Peddler’s Village, April 17-28). Each fall, Peddler’s Village displays dozens of scarecrows. This spring, it’s doing something similar, except with DIY marshmallow PEEPS displays, with prizes for best entries. So. Much. More. Fun. Than. Scarecrows. (215-794-4000,

Tiny Room for Elephants (Cherry Street Pier, April 19-21). Now in its fifth year, this extra-cool, super-interactive, DJ-driven, hip-hop-infused pop-up arts festival dedicates one day — Sunday — to family-friendliness, then keeps its art on display through April 23. (

Philadelphia Science Festival (April 26-May 4). Nine days of chemistry, technology, biology, physics, and explosive experiments and experiences transform the city into one big science fair. Big-deal event: free finale Science Carnival on the Parkway (May 4). (215-448-1200,

Be an Ornithologist (Wagner Free Institute of Science, April 28). The Philadelphia Discovery Center brings a ring-necked dove, binocular-making, and inspired backyard birding to the amazingly still under-the-radar Wagner. Go once, and you’ll want to go back. (215-763-6529,

Chinese Lantern Festival (Franklin Square, May 1-June 30). Bigger, brighter, and longer than ever, this year’s setup has all-new lanterns, including a 200-foot-long phoenix, interactives to satisfy the tactile set, and a pig honoring the year, as designed by Philly students, along with new TBA performers. Same Dragon Beer Garden; live crafts, great street food.

Philadelphia Children’s Festival (Annenberg Center, May 2-4). Better than ever, the Annenberg’s three-day festival features an ethereal air show (“Air Play”), “Prince Charming” by the Pennsylvania Ballet II (at Iron Gate Theatre), molecular science clowning (SMIRK), Shadow Play storytelling, and a pop-infused Mexican and Cumbia act, “Moona Luna.” (215-898-3900,

Big Apple Circus (Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, May 16-June 16). New York’s vintage-feeling, good-doing, one-ring circus makes its Montco debut at the Expo Center fairgrounds. Look for horizontal juggling, quadruple somersaults off the trapeze, friendly clowns, and dogs and horses who prove rescues are every bit as talented as purebreds. (484-754-EXPO,

Becuna’s Birthday Bash (Independence Seaport Museum, May 23-27). The sub that goes by “Becky” celebrates its 75th with programs, tours, discounts, and cake. (215-413-8655,

Fly Guy: The Musical (Walnut Street Theatre, May 31-June 8). A fly for a pet? Cool, except when the class outing, like so many school trips, heads to a flyswatter factory. Song-filled hilarity ensues. (215-574-3550,

Strawberry Festival (Historic Strawberry Mansion, June 1). Free tours of the fruit orchard, berry picking, beekeeping demos, and crafts bring sweetness to a midafternoon at a Fairmount Park charm. (215-228-8264,