Go Downtown: A Day of Franklin

Day of Franklin

A fun afternoon or early evening with the kids can be had by doing a mini-tour of places in the city bearing the name of Ben Franklin. This past Saturday evening, ready for a shake-up from the neighborhood playgrounds, we headed in town to meet friends at Franklin Square Park, the wonderful mecca of fun visible off 676 at the 6th street exit. Parking can be tough– don’t be tempted to park illegally on the sidewalk near the park, or risk a hefty $76 ticket (the reasoning “everyone else is doing it” bears no weight with the Parking Authority). But once parking has been found a world of fun activities awaits you.

We’ve been to this park before and played on the very large and enclosed playground, which has designated areas for tots and for slightly older kids. We’ve also done the beautiful merry-go-round, with which my son has a love-hate relationship. This night, the agenda included the park’s cute and relatively easy mini-golf course ($6 for a child) where two 3 1/2 year old boys had a wildly successful first stab at mini-golf (if, like me, you measure success by a lack of tears, tantrums, and injuries).

We followed our golf game with dinner from Stephen Starr’s “Square Burger”. Starr has taken over the burger shack in the park, and while the menu is small (think hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers and fries) the items are well-chosen. The veggie burger had well-selected toppings and the meat eaters enjoyed their selections as well. The summer salad I had included green beans and corn, and the buttermilk ranch dressing was so good I found myself lapping up the extra with french fries when my salad was gone! We passed on the yummy looking treats (including, no joke, a butterscotch krimpet milkshake– a whole new reason to love Starr) because our night included desert elsewhere.

After our dinner on one of the many
large picnic tables and a visit to the very clean restrooms, we headed out of the park, past the giant sand-sculpture of the 2009 World Series Phillies, down 6th Street to Arch, and turned left, where we took in Ben Franklin’s grave site at the back of Christ Church. Many visitors throw pennies on his grave, and last time we walked by an impersonator who was lecturing on the life of Ben. You can see all this from just outside the gate at 5th and Arch.

This was a mere pit stop on the way to our next destination–
Franklin Fountain, at 116 Market. A true old fashioned ice cream and soda shoppe. The soda jerks (I love getting to use that word properly) wear old-time costumes and the ice cream and fountain sodas are delicious. Perhaps a bit on the pricey side, but quite large. My son and I split a hot fudge sundae (homemade ice cream and fudge) and were filled to the brim. We happily walked back to the car and drove back home with happy memories of our day with Ben!

NB: We had one unplanned stop on the way to Franklin Fountain because when we walked by the pet store
Doggie Style at 3rd and Market, we found that they had SPCA kittens living in a cat condo in the front window. The cats are all friendly and they let kids walk into the window display and play with the kitties. (By the skin of my teeth I got out of there without a new cat– they are all up for adoption!). I guess, however, Franklin would prefer cats to dogs, since he is famed for reminding us that “He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”

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