When my wife and I started to tell people that we were expecting, many of our friends and family assumed that we would stop travelling. They figured that with a little one on the way, we wouldn’t have the time or interest to travel anymore.
That was quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. There was simply no way we would give up travel. In fact, we couldn’t wait to travel with Scarlett. The question was, where we go first?
After some debate (and help from the tourism board), we decided to head to Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love was just a 90-minute flight from Toronto and in the same timezone so we figured it was the perfect city to take Scarlett on her first vacation.
After returning from our trip, I’m happy to report that Philly is the perfect city to visit with a baby. Here’s why:
Philadelphia’s public transportation
I would argue that public transportation is one of the biggest things to deal with when you’re a parent with a baby under 12 months of age. Scarlett was just 4 months old when we travelled which meant she needed to be in a car seat if we were in any vehicles. With car rentals and Uber, you can get vehicles with a car seat but those are for kids 12 months or older.
We did not want to bring our own car seat so we were thrilled to find out that there was direct train access from the airport to the city centre. In addition, the Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop bus stops at many of the city’s top attractions which meant getting around the city was easy. That being said, since we stayed at the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square which is located in the city center, we were able to walk to all the major attractions in 30 minutes or less. This was especially convenient since we knew that we would have to take multiple breaks throughout the day so the baby could rest while we took a break.
Seeing Philadelphia with a baby is doable as long as you have realistic expectations. My wife and I decided to limit the attractions we would see so for our full day we started with the historic area. When we arrived, we found out that the Liberty Bell had one-hour lineup while the Independence Hall had a similar wait with a timed ticket. This normally wouldn’t have mattered, but with a baby, we decided to just take a few pictures before we stopped at the National Constitution Center for a quick break.
After a diaper change and feeding, we headed for the Reading Terminal Market where we had lunch. The market was obviously packed, but the lines were worth it once we had Philly’s famous roast pork sandwiches and soft pretzels. Even though we had a stroller, things were still manageable. With full bellies, we walked to the Magic Gardens but found out there was another 1-hour wait to get in. We didn’t bother waiting and just spent the rest of the day at our hotel and the Rodin Museum.
Despite the slow pace, when we woke up on day 2, we were exhausted. Carrying a baby and pushing her around all day is exhausting. It’s like going to the gym but you don’t feel sore until the next day. Since we were so tired, we decided that the only things we would check out would be the Franklin Institute and Rocky statue. With such modest goals, we weren’t disappointed.
Before you ask, I did not have a single Philly Cheesesteak. Every local told us that only tourists order it and the roast pork sandwiches were better. As mentioned, we had one in the Reading Terminal Market and can confirm that it is delicious.
Like every major city, Philadelphia has a mix of cheap and high-end eats. We always book one “fancy” restaurant whenever we travel so we chose Alma de Cuba which serves fusion food with Cuban influences. The appetizers we had were absolutely outstanding but we were a touch disappointed with the mains. The staff were excellent and very accommodating considering we had a 4-month-old with us.
Other things we ate included Shake Shack and Pizzeria Vetri which were both excellent. My wife loves coffee so she tried a few different local shops which were all fantastic.
Seeing Philadelphia with a baby was incredibly easy. Although we didn’t get to explore as much we would have hoped, that’s just a reality we need to accept now that we have a little one. If you have a baby and are thinking about travelling, do it! You won’t be disappointed.