Growing up in a small rural homogenous town in Virginia, opportunities for cultural experiences were pretty limited, although my mom did her best to get me out of town to experience everything from theater to museums, to urban life. In fact, I left my small town life largely for this exact reason–I fell deeply in love with Met on our trip to New York, and was in awe at the musical performances on Broadway. I was exposed to history and archaeology on trips to Washington, D.C.. and had my world changed when we went to Europe when I was only 12.
I am beyond grateful that my mom made such a big effort for me. Her efforts to expose me to more is probably what makes me the odd bird in my family (who still all live in that same small town), and it is what creating this website is all about for me with my own children. For although we live in a culturally rich and diverse urban community, it still requires a little bit of effort to make sure the kids actually get to experience.
Meeting my kids where they are in this moment in their lives, at the ages of 2 and 6, exposure is more of an effort of making it a seamless integration into our “play.”
Catch a Live Theater Experience in a Park
We are pretty lucky to have a thriving arts and theater scene in Philadelphia that is committed to making art accessible. A few great places to catch this in action is Shakespeare in the Park at Clark Park each summer; various musical and dance performances hosted at the Woodlands, and pop-up performances across the city by BalletX.
Bask in the Public Art All Around
Philadelphia is the city of Murals. With an incredible Mural Arts program, approximately 60-70 new murals enter our landscape every year. With young kids we take advantage of the public art scene every time we go out, using it as a point of conversation or just admiration.
Participate in the Free Little Library Project
There is something so beautiful and simple about this project that I can’t believe there isn’t a free little library on every street corner. Free books for all! I’m such a book nerd and have always appreciated the magic of a good story.
Try New Foods
Contrary to popular belief, kids will eat more than chicken tenders and fries (although they obviously love those too). Sometimes I joke that our children won’t be able to live just anywhere when they grow up because the food in Philadelphia is out of this world. In our neighborhood alone we have some of the best Lebanese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Indian, Mexican, and Italian food I have ever had. Experiencing new foods with my littles is one of my great joys.
Visit a Real Museum, Not Just Children’s Museums
Let me start this by saying that I love the Please Touch Museum, our local children’s museum so much. But it’s not the only game in town. In fact, most museums are incorporating kid-friendly activities and opportunities to touch and interact with the exhibits. So go to the kid museums, of course, but also go to art museums and history museums. Challenge them and challenge yourself as well.