Bucks County, PA, with Kids

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letters B and P. That would be B for Bucks County and P for Philadelphia, where I spent a kid-centric Memorial Day weekend. In less than 48 hours, we got multiple hugs from Elmo and friends, fell into the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland, rode two different antique carousels and a double-decker bus, and finished off a homemade hot fudge sundae.

Tip: To avoid standing in long lines in the heat with wilting youngsters, invest in Abby’s Magic Queue, a $15 pass that lets you bypass lines on some rides.

Here’s how we did it: Devote one day to Sesame Place, about half an hour outside Philadelphia in Bucks County. Opened in 1980, Sesame Place is a mecca for the seven-year-old and under set. New this year is a swing ride called Elmo’s Cloud Chaser and a “Neighborhood Street Party” parade that features 11 colorful floats and some energetic dancers who seemed remarkably unfazed by the heat and humidity. We beat the heat with repeated rides on inner tubes at Big Bird’s Rambling River and during an air-conditioned performance of Elmo’s World Live.

For some extended face time with Sesame Street characters, reserve one of the meals—breakfast, lunch, or dinner—with Elmo and friends. They visit every table so you don’t have to stand in line. My 1.5-year-old started off shy around the characters, but by the end of the dinner he had become a very pushy stalker, demanding hugs constantly from Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and the rest of the gang, even when they’d moved on to other diners.

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Sleep nearby. We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Bensalem (free Wi-Fi and a fridge and microwave in the room)—then head in the morning to Peddler’s Village, a collection of locally owned shops, restaurants, and an inn in a bucolic setting with gardens and an antique waterwheel. The 42-acre grounds include Giggleberry Fair, an indoor play area featuring a 1922 carousel, a multi-story net-climbing structure, and a exploratory play area for toddlers. Even though my five-year-old also liked the noisy arcade games, I thought it didn’t quite fit the general quaint tone of Peddler’s Village.

In the afternoon, head to Philadelphia and the Please Touch Museum. (It’s about an hour’s drive, so it’s a good time for a nap.) Please Touch is like the Louvre for little kids—there are so many things to look at and do, you don’t know where to start. It’s even housed in a grand Beaux Arts building that wouldn’t be out of place in Paris. My kids especially enjoyed the antique carousel and the Alice in Wonderland exhibit where they navigated the garden maze and sat down to tea with the Mad Hatter.

After a couple hours, you will be looking for an escape route, so tell the kids you are going on a double decker bus ride. Double-deckers as well as trolleys make a stop at the museum during their narrated tour of the city. The round-trip tour takes about 90 minutes and makes stops at Philadelphia landmarks such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky statue, Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley (known as the nation’s oldest residential street), and the Betsy Ross House.

Cap off the day with dinner in the Old City (we chose the Old City Asian Bistro for a break from chicken tenders) then dessert at Franklin Fountain, a narrow, old time-y ice cream parlor where you can get hot fudge sundaes and root beer floats.

Photos by Amy Alipio and Eve Gelman.