Family friendly activities highlight holiday weekend in Northwest Philadelphia and beyond

 Scenes from Chestnut Hill's Fourth of July celebration on 2013. (NewsWorks, file art)

Scenes from Chestnut Hill's Fourth of July celebration on 2013. (NewsWorks, file art)

When Philadelphia celebrates the Fourth of July, it celebrates big!

Here are some options for families looking to celebrate in or around Northwest Philly, or head downtown for even larger celebrations:

Fun and games at the Water Tower

This year marks the 98th annual Fourth of July Parade and Celebration at the Water Tower in Chestnut Hill Recreation Center.

Revellers will gather at the intersection of Devon Street and Hartwell Lane for a 9 a.m. Pledge of Allegiance recitation and flag raising followed by the bike parade which heads down Hartwell Lane to the Water Tower Center (a nice short route for the littlest ones).

Contestants are encouraged to arrive in costume and on floats, decorated bicycles, tricycles or wagons. There are divisions for best-decorated trikes, bikes and floats, with multiple winners in each.

Following the parade, the Water Tower’s ball fields are filled with games and contests for kids. Also look for pony rides, face painting, a giant moonbounce and a magician.

Free lunch (hot dogs, lemonade and ice cream; sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Bocce Club) will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Ring Out Freedom and Independence in Germantown

Spend the Fourth of July touring five sites that were actually here in 1776. The schedule of free events is …

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Head to the Johnson House Historic Site (6306 Germantown Ave.), when this amazing Undergrdound Railroad site will be open for tours.

11 a..m to 4 p.m. Tours are also available at the Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground. Bell-ringing ceremony and Martha Washington at 2pm.  

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. At Stenton (4601 N. 18th St.), guests can visit with Benjamin Franklin, eat hot dogs, make their own ice cream, play flag-themed games and enjoy music from the Run of the Mill String Band.

1 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Historic Hood Cemetery (4901 Germantown Ave.) is the resting place of 41 Revolutionary War soldiers. 

12 to 4 p.m.: Head to Cliveden (6401 Germantown Ave.) to tour the Revolutionary War Battleground site, enjoy children’s activities and, at 1 p.m., meet Martha Washington at 1pm.  

Fireworks and Family Fun in Conshohocken

The fireworks downtown are spectacular (albeit spectacularly crowded and late for little ones). Although I fondly remember taking the train back with my two-year-old singing at the top of her lungs at 1 a.m, I’m not sure the rest of the train felt the same way. So, check out the family-friendly light show at Sutcliffe Park, 10th Ave. and Freedly St., on Thursday. Lots of family activities start at 5 p.m.

Head downtown for the Welcome America festivities

There’s a reason why you decided to live in the city, right? Why not take advantage of the proximity and head downtown for an event, off-the-hook celebration, concert and fireworks?

Wawa’s week-long Welcome America Celebration includes fun things for kids and their grownups like ice-cream tastings, multiple concerts, historical events, The Roots (with Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande), a parade and party on the Parkway.

Family-friendly highlights include free hoagies on Independence Mall, free admission to the National Constitution Center and a free showing of Rocky on the Art Museum Steps on Wednesday; the Philly Pops Concert at 8 p.m. Thursday on Independence Mall; the Independence Day Parade at 10 a.m. Friday followed by the 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Party on the Parkway with music, food, activities and games followed by fireworks.

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