Making the Case for SEPTA

Six greats ideas for car-free adventures in Philly. Read more

Philadelphia adventures on trains with kids

This post comes courtesy of My Fabulous Mama owner (and Center City mom of three) Marisa Piccarreto


Call it a combination of stubbornness and wanting to keep life simple, but we have three kids (ages six, five, and three) and do not own a car. In fact, neither my husband nor I have ever owned one. To make life work, we take public transportation and walk everywhere, with the occasional taxi and car share thrown in. Here, some surprising and fun on-foot or SEPTA-powered adventures, and my seven reasons why public transportation rules.

Adventures in Car-free Living

1. Head to…the Main Line. Sometimes SEPTA is faster! (As we all know, the Schuylkill is unpredictable.) We hop on the R5 all the time, because it leads to many places worth discovering that are easy to get to. We love going to Little Gym in Narberth — it takes less than 15 minutes on the train from Center City. Kids over three can be dropped off there, which means I get a whole hour of browsing around the cute little town. (Editor’s note: We love the pastries at Le Petite Mitron, and the Narberth Library has great children’s programming.)

 2. Head to…the Zoo. On foot…seriously. This was one of my all time favorites when my kids were babies and toddlers. Finding time to exercise as a new mom is pretty tough, and walking to the zoo would let me clear my head, get in a workout, and have a great adventure with the kids. The zoo is a 35-minute walk through Fairmount Park from Sister Cities Park, and about 45-minutes from Graduate Hospital or Northern Liberties. Walk along the Parkway, on Kelly Drive, then cross over at the West Girard Bridge. Time the trip for nap time, pop the kids in a jogging stroller (helpful since the city is not quite up-to-date on curb cuts near West Girard Avenue) and go. It’s always a fun thing to do with a friend. (If you want to ride, bus routes 31 and 38 get you close. From May through October, Phlash gets your right there.)

 3. Head to…Bartram’s Garden. Catch the 36 Trolley at City Hill, 19th Street, 22nd Street or 30th Street Station, and take it to 54th Street —it’s about 10 minute walk from there. Make sure to pack lunch or a snack. Check out their winter programs here.

 4. Head to…the woods. My kids love adventures with their Daddy on the weekends, and it satisfies my husband’s love for nature. Try Cobbs Creek, which is a great wooded area for the kids to explore, by taking the El to 63rd Street — the park is right there. The 9, 38, or 125 bus routes all head to the Wissahickon Transportation Center for a hike in that amazing section of the park. Take the El to 52nd Street to go to Malcolm X Park, which has a nice playground.

5. Head to…small walkable towns. Our area is flush with quaint towns, many of which are easy to get to by train. Let SEPTA create your adventure: Stop by Suburban Station, have the kids take a look at the map and choose a town or neighborhood to visit. Doylestown, Media, Haverford, and Chestnut Hill all have lots of things to do — keep it unplanned and enjoy exploring.

6. Head to…Fishtown and Northern Liberties. One of the best parts of public transportation? You can have a few drinks without a designated driver, and Fishtown is an easy trip on the El (Girard stop) or the 5 bus. Frankford Hall is incredibly kid friendly, while still feeling adult, with an incredible beer selection. (Editor’s note: Read our Wee Review on Fette Sau, which is next to Frankford Hall.) Head the other way on second street and go to Dos Segundos for killer margaritas, and stop by Liberty Lands Park off of Third Street so the kids can run around.

And finally…my top seven reasons for getting out of the car


  Marisa’s kids, obviously happy that they bumped into the Rittenhouse Christmas tree lighting

1. When you are on foot you randomly bump into fun things to do. We were walking through Rittenhouse on the way home from school and saw the Christmas tree being set up. We ended up having cookies and cocoa, heard caroling and saw Santa — totally unexpected!



2. No parking tickets.

3. No parking lots.

4. No traffic.

5. Kids love buses and trains. The real adventure for them is in the ride, it doesn’t matter where you go.

6. Kids under five ride free.

7. Babies can stay in a carrier, and toddlers in light umbrella stroller — no car seat needed.

Meets the Wee standards: