With historic landmarks like the Liberty Bell, educational museums like the Franklin Institute and kid-centric play areas like Smith Memorial Playground, Philadelphia thrills children and their parents all year long. In August, some of the best spots in the city offer special programming geared towards pint-sized visitors of all ages and interests.
For science-minded kids, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215.299.1000) presents two exciting exhibits this month. Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution, a National Geographic traveling exhibition, celebrates the beauty of some of nature's most brightly colored creatures with mesmerizing photographs, videos, soundscapes and artifacts. The exhibit's highlight is undoubtedly its interactive installation "Dance, Dance, Evolution," where guests can show off their moves alongside virtual birds.
ANSP visitors will see creepy crawlers in a whole new light when Pinned: Insect Art, Insect Science opens on Saturday, Aug. 9. This exhibit showcases the work of Christopher Marley, an artist who makes intricate mosaics out of non-living insects. To kick off the exhibit, the museum's popular Bug Fest returns on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9 and 10, with live insect demos, bug-themed games and unusual cooking classes and tastings.
For Picassos-in-training who want to explore their creative sides, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215.763.8100) brings back its popular family-friendly summer-long program Art Splash. Now in its second year, Art Splash 2014 highlights ten of the museum's most important masterpieces by greats like van Gogh and Monet. For self-guided experiences, families can pick up an Art Splash map, which directs them to kid-friendly activities in the galleries. Visitors can also participate in hands-on workshops and guided tours.
With year-round crowd-pleasers like the storybook-themed Wonderland, the life-sized replica of the Statue of Liberty's hand and torch, and the stunning Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, the Please Touch Museum (4231 Avenue of the Republic, 215.581.3181) is a perennial favorite. This month the award-winning attraction offers a slew of special draws, including From the Sea to the Sky, an interactive theater show based on Japanese folk tales (performances all month); appearances by the Berenstain Bears (Aug. 2 and 3) and Olivia the Pig (Aug. 25); and Star Wars Day (Aug. 24).
At Penn's Landing (101 S. Columbus Blvd.), August is chock full of family-friendly festivals that showcase Philadelphia's international heritage. On Saturday, Aug. 2, the Southeast Asian Dragon Boat Festival celebrates these traditional and artful water vehicles along with Southeast Asian-inspired entertainment. The ACANA (African Cultural Alliance of North America Inc.) Festival takes over on Sunday, Aug. 3 with artists, dance troupes, musical performances, cuisine and crafts from all over Africa. For India's Independence Day, the Festival of India arrives on Saturday, Aug. 16. The following day, guests can experience the culture, food and music of fourteen Caribbean islands during the Caribbean Festival.
Finally, Philly's popular al fresco play land Franklin Square (200 N. Sixth St., 215.629.4026) is the perfect place to say goodbye to summer. Carnival games and a Lightning Bolt Express Train are among the exciting entertainment options slated for the park's Labor Day Celebration on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.