If you have kids who love to play, create and explore and live or are visiting the Philly area, then you must stop by The Franklin Institute! Set in heart of historic Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute has been entertaining and delighting children by encouraging them to dive into the world of science. The museum was founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin and is one of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. Today, the Institute continues its dedication to public education and creating a passion for science by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake. This is one mom’s guide to visiting The Franklin Institute, so you can get the most out of your trip next time you are in the area.
The Franklin Institute is one of my kid’s most favorite places to visit and for good reason. It is FULL of amazing exhibits all dedicated to leaving about science, technology, energy and nature. It is the most frequented museum visited in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and helps to inspire kids (and parents!) to get hands on and up close to the amazing world of science and technology.
Before you go
The Franklin Institute is great for any aged kid, but I believed it is more suited for slightly older kids, since it is more science based. It has been open since the 1930’s and is in the heart of Philly, surrounded by parks and near the Philadelphia Art Museum with the “Rocky Steps”. There is a pay as you go parking garage so parking isn’t and issue and two places to eat lunch in the building, so you don’t have to go far for lunch! Admission is what you’d expect for this type of museum and memberships for families are available. There is also two IMAX theaters and additional rotating special exhibits that can be purchased for a few additional dollars per person. Currently they have the Mirror Maze exhibit, which encourages patrons to learn how math is used to unlock the mysteries and majesty of the patterns of our world through a series of engaging interactive elements and immersive experiences, and at the center is a HUGE mirror maze! This was one of our primary reasons of going this last visit because it just looked so fun! I’ll share more about the Mirror Maze exhibit below.
What to bring
The Franklin Institute has everything you could need for a fun filled day, so you don’t have to bring anything but yourselves! There are plenty of quiet spaces with tables so you could bring some water and healthy snacks if your kids need a break form the action- and don’t forget your camera too!
What we did
The Museum has many exhibits for all kid’s interests. It is home to three floors of interactive exhibit zones designed to encourage learning through science and technology. I encourage you to let your child be your guide as you explore their unique environment. We visited every exhibit and had lots of fun in each!
The Franklin Institute is three floors of fun, it doesn’t matter where you start or where you finish, just be sure you check out everything because it’s all super fun! You enter in on floor 2 which has the most exhibits on it. Here are some of our most favorite exhibits from the whole museum:
Your brain is always changing, find out how and why when you explore Your Brain, The Franklin Institute’s newest—and biggest—exhibition. My kids loved all of the interactive sections in this exhibit, especially the two-story tall neural network climbing structure! It’s lined with a with dynamic lighting system and has sound effects that are triggered by your footsteps.
The Giant Heart
For more than half a century, walking through the Giant Heart has been a rite of passage for children in Philadelphia. No visit to The Franklin Institute is complete without visiting the icon that generations love with all their hearts! The Giant Heart tells you all about how to keep your body and heart in tip top shape and you can learn more about the anatomy and physiology of our own bodies.
The best part, is literally the giant heart that you can climb through to learn all about how the heart works. It’s fun to climb though again and again!
The Franklin Air Show
In this awesome exhibit you can put your piloting skills to the test that introduces you to the history, majesty, science, and technology of powered flight! You can hear the roar of planes overhead as you explore the basic principles of aeronautics and explore life stories and artifacts from the earliest aviation pioneers.
My kids LOVED pretending to fly, learning how to make the perfect paper airplane and getting to sit in a real retired Air Force jet! It was great for all of my kids.
Love our planet and don’t mind getting your hands wet? Then your kids will love this exhibit! In Changing Earth, you can learn all about the science behind our weather, natural disasters, and how these powerful forces shape our air, land, water, and weather—and constantly transform our planet.
Sports Zone and Sir Isaac’s Loft
These two exhibits are always my sporty kid’s favorites. They’d spend all day in there if I let them! They are both upstairs and have tons of hands-on activities perfect for kids with lots of energy. You can explore how sport connects the science of the human body, laws of motion, and technical innovation and also about physical fitness, nutrition, equipment, and safety as you prepare to play.
Learn about the science behind your kid’s favorite sports, from running, to baseball, basketball and surfing! Kids and adults can race their favorite athletes in a 40-foot long race challenge and high speed cameras track and analyze your run. You can test your jump in the basketball area and see how high your lift is. Also, you can learn how to pitch like the pros!
Learn about pulleys, prisms, and pendulums in Sir Isaac’s loft. When you enter this “playground of experimentation,” you’ll be fascinated with falling objects, chain reactions, and optical illusions that bring Newton’s laws to life in whimsical and artful ways!
The Train Factory
Downstairs on the first floor, explore all about trains in the train factory! This exhibit has a REAL 350-ton Baldwin steam locomotive the center that you can climb in and imagine it’s taking you anywhere! You can learn how steam and coal powered the first locomotives and discover how diesel, electricity, and magnetic levitation are used to power modern day locomotives to travel longer distances at greater speeds.
Explore Virtual Reality in Space Command
VR and space meet downstairs in the Space Command exhibit. There are multiple VR stations (which my kids just couldn’t get enough of!) where you can imagine you are traveling inside the body or deep under the ocean and then travel deep into space and learn about the planets and stars in the rest of the exhibit.
Now through early September, come be one of the first to explore the traveling Mirror Maze exhibit, that focuses on how math presents itself in nature, in our bodies and how we apply it in the designs we use every day. You can learn how patterns appear everywhere, from the nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds, to the ridges of a mountain range, to the layout of the Universe, and how math plays a role in these patterns.
Mirror Maze teaches us how math is used to unlock the mysteries and majesty of the patterns of our world through a series of engaging interactive elements and immersive experiences. You can get hands on learning about music and how the repeating patterns make sounds, you can learn about your body by taking an “epic selfie” and, of course, travel through the 1700 square foot massive mirror maze!
As you and your kids navigate your way through a seemingly infinite repeating pattern of floor-to-ceiling mirrors, challenge yourself to discover how geometry, tessellations, and repetitions are the building blocks of the world around you—and how they may reveal the world’s most hidden secrets.
The Mirror Maze is as easy to get lost in as it is fun, and great for all aged kids. Mine had a blast searching though each and every corner, trying to find their way through the massive maze.
Be sure to check out this amazing exhibit before it’s gone! It’s only visiting in Philly until the end of September.
Where we ate
The Franklin Institute boasts a beautiful cafe that serves all sorts of healthy lunch options for families so you don’t even have to leave to eat! We were just visiting for the day so we ate at the caferieria before we played. Sometimes we are heading into the city after and eat someplace else, but it’s nice to know there are plenty of food choices inside the building too! There were all sorts of healthy and family friendly options that my kids and I loved! You cannot bring food in to the main museum so be sure to stop by and take a break and eat while you are there!
You can learn more about the Franklin Institute and it’s newest exhibit, Mirror Maze, by visiting them online, on Facebook, twitter and Instagram! If you live near by, consider becoming a member! Members and their families visit for free and receive discounts at the cafe and shop. They have many different membership options. Check out their options here. Also, use the promo code MMYBLOG* to receive $3.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature! To redeem the code, contact the FI at 215-448-1200 or visit fi.edu.
Have you even been to the Franklin Institute? What did you think of it?
Disclosure: Thank you to the Franklin Institute for providing us tickets to experience the museum! As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
*$3 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online or over the phone. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays. Valid through 8/20/17.