The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, PA

The Franklin Institute’s mission is to “inspire a passion for learning about science and technology” and the museum’s 12 permanent exhibit halls definitely support that mission. The science museum was created to honor America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, and opened to the public in 1934. It’s one of the most popular spots to visit in Philadelphia (and Pennsylvania) with over 400,000 square feet of hands on exhibitions, two auditoriums, an IMAX Theater, and a planetarium. The Franklin Institute offers several Escape Room programs, Speaker Series lectures, workshops, Star Parties (adults only!), and star gazing events. Whether you’re a local or in town for a visit, it’s worth checking out their calendar for special events.


Traveling with Kids:

  • The entire museum of handicap accessible with elevators and ramps. I would bring the stroller.

  • I was impressed by the extent of the Institute’s commitment to sensory sensitivity. From sensory alert maps to backpacks (with noise reducing headphones and sunglasses) guests can borrow, to vouchers for return visits if a child becomes too overwhelmed while visiting, the Institute even offers special Sensory Friendly Sunday programs.

  • There is a parking garage attached to the museum.Restrooms are located on each floor and a coat check is located on the ground level.

  • The museum is part of both the CityPass and Philadelphia Pass tickets.

  • Restrooms are located on each floor and a coat check is located on the ground level.

  • The main floor includes a Sci-Store gift shop and a Cafe which sells snacks and drinks. The FoodWorks Cafe on the 2nd floor offers a more extensive menu including .  The Institute also provides a comprehensive restaurant guide on site.

  • Plan to spend at least 3-4 hours at the Institute, longer if you view an IMAX or Planetarium show.

There is SO much to see and do at the Franklin Institute! If we were locals, I would definitely have a family membership. Even with spending an entire morning exploring we still didn’t get to see everything. However, my family chose these spots as our Ten Can’t Miss Things to Do at the Franklin Institute:

1. Get energized in the Sports Zone- There are over a dozen activities to test endurance, balance, and reaction time.  Adults will love Jump Momentum and Improving Your Baseball Pitch and kids will love Ready to Race and Balancing Forces.

2. Test your strength in Sir Isaac’s Loft- Whether it’s Feats of Strength, Feel the Force, or the Gyro Chair, visitors will love this “playground of experimentation.”

3. Learn about humans’ carbon footprint in Changing Earth- And once you do, take time to figure out ways to reduce emissions and help protect planet Earth!

4. Conduct an electrical charge in Electricity-Check out the massive Van de Graaf generator in the middle of the ceiling that creates lightning from its 1,000+ volt source. Make sure to test conductivity by touching small conductors which will charge and discharge electroscopes (it’s way cooler than it sounds!)  Note: this exhibit does have loud noises.

5. Slide down the inside of a massive human heart in Heart- Literally! Make sure to check out the display of several “hearts”- can you guess the smallest (it’s a canary bird) and the largest (baked whale) sized hearts?

6. Climb the two story neural structure in Your Brain. It looks like a massive climbing structure and kids will love the freedom to explore. Note: this exhibit does have loud noises and very low lighting.

7. Launch rockets in Amazing Machines. You’ll need to use engineering skills and lots of hand and eye coordination to maneuver cranes and pulley systems.

8. Experience virtual reality in Space Command. If the line is too long, try spinning a ball in the gravity well or touching a meteorite while you wait.

9. Pretend to conduct a real 350 ton Baldwin steam locomotive in the Train Factory. The massive train is actually inside the museum and you guests can climb inside one portion. There are also plenty of smaller trains for little guests to play with and race on miniature train tracks.

10. Watch the pendulum swing over the four story staircase. When the museum opens each day, the pendulum begins swinging, knocking down a peg every half hour or so. By the time the museum closes, more than half of the pegs are knocked down.

The museum is located close by to several other educational museums like the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Barnes Foundation. If you’re looking for more family fun in Philadelphia, check out our post about the Please Touch museum here.  And if you would like to receive weekly emails with our adventures, sign up below and follow us on Twitter and Instagram and “like” us on Facebook.

Disclosure: My family was given a media pass to explore the museum. All opinions expressed are my own.