Philadelphia Bus Tours: a KidsOutAndAbout review
Philadelphia Bus Tours: a KidsOutAndAbout review
by Kathleen McCormack
There’s a clever commercial that’s been playing recently and the tag line goes: “In a world that revolves around your kids, how about a little something for you?” On our recent family vacation to Philadelphia, this is exactly the point my husband made as we planned our activities. How can we go to such an historic city and only visit the kids’ attractions? So we purchased tickets for the Philadelphia Bus Tours, hoping that the thrill of sitting on top of a double decker bus would entertain the kids so that Mommy and Daddy could enjoy learning about the important sites and history of the city. It was a roaring success!
How did you choose Philadelphia Bus Tours in a city filled with tourist options?
First, we found a discount for this particular company. Sure, Groupon might have a deal available at the time you’re going, but try one of the lesser known discount sites as well. We got half off tickets through Goldstar, saving us $27. Kids under 3 are free, children 3 – 11 are only $10. We paid $37 for our family of four (one child under 3) to enjoy a 2-hour, hop on hop off tour of the city. Not only did we learn everything we wanted to know in a compact time frame, we were able to use the bus as free transportation through out the day (10am – 5pm) saving us long walks or cab fare (our hotel was near one of the stops on the tour).
We also considered the Duck Tours, knowing the amphibious vehicle and the squawking duck toys would be a hit with our young daughter. However, the Duck Tours were a continuous 1.5 hours, and we didn’t want to risk the little one needing a break to stretch her legs or use the potty. Plus it did not allow us the opportunity to use the transportation throughout the day.
Do you have to be a history buff to enjoy the tour?
When our guide, Jo, began with a history lesson about immigrants settling in Philadelphia for religious freedom, I gulped, fearing that the commentary would be dry. Not so. Jo was hilarious without affecting that overzealous amateur comedian demeanor. She really knew her stuff and made it so fascinating that I wished I had brought a notepad to write down everything I was learning.
It seems the city is obsessed with Benjamin Franklin, who wasn’t even born there. But rightly so. Is there anything that man didn’t invent? The public library system, the fire department, insurance, public education, to name a few. I’m telling you, if you want all those Social Studies lessons to finally feel relevant, this is the tour to take.
I would highly recommend that you begin a visit to the city with this tour. Our guide pointed out so many fantastic sites that we hadn’t planned to visit, we would have rearranged our schedule if we’d known about them at the beginning of our trip. For example, you can do free tour of the US Mint and learn about how money is made; they even hand you a bag of money at the end ($100 worth of shredded money to clarify)!
Perhaps one of the highlights of the trip was seeing the basketball court where the opening credits to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was filmed; of course, they played the theme song as we drove by, and I sang along with great enthusiasm!
With really little kids? Are you sure?
If you were attempt to hop on and hop off frequently with a stroller it may be a bit of a pain, but we stowed away the stroller once, climbed to the top to get comfortable, and had no trouble finding room for the diaper bag.
Even though my young daughter didn’t pick up on most of the history we learned, she was still highly entertained by sites like the dragon statue (the mascot of Drexel University) and the stunning and colorful gateway to Chinatown. Plus there’s the sheer novelty of sitting on top of a moving bus. But most of all, my daughter never tired of Jo yelling, “Duck” as we dodged low-hanging tree branches!
Plus, a word about their customer service. The Philadelphia Bus Tour booth was easy to spot outside the Bourse building. We were greeted by the most enthusiastic, smiley greeter. She spoke warmly to my young daughter (something that always scores major points with me), then personally escorted us into the building to get our wristbands. When we boarded the bus later at the beginning of our tour, she helped us on then told us to grab the best seats in the top right spot of the top deck. Her genuine care, exuberance, and professionalism set the tone for the whole experience.
Click here to see KidsOutAndAbout’s other suggestions for a vacation to the Philadelphia area with kids!
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Kathleen McCormack is editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com and lives in the Rochester, NY area. She is the director of tours all over her town including highlights like preschool, the grocery store, and several libraries.