Wee Ideas: The Double-Decker Bus Outing

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double-decker bus tour philadelphia

To be filed under “stuff to do at the end of the summer when you’ve already done everything else a gazillion times”:

So Luke, who just turned four, has long been obsessed with the double-decker buses that he sees chugging along the city streets. (Who can blame him? They’re huge! People wave to you! It’s like a bus and a convertible had a baby!) I’ve always thought he was a smidge young to appreciate a tour that would cost us somewhere in the range of $30 to $40, but the combination of being a million months pregnant (and tired, and not in the mood to walk, like, AT ALL) and semi-muggy weather and just sort of wanting to sit and let the wind blow through my hair myself made it suddenly seem like the best Friday outing ever. And you know what? It basically was.

We did the Philly Trolley Works Big Bus hop-on, hop-off tour (that’s the one with the maroon buses, as opposed to the red ones), mainly because that was the first one we saw stop in our neighborhood. Adults are $32, kids 4 to 12 are $10. (Luke was still 3 on Friday when we went, for the record, so it cost us $32.) ¬†There are 27 stops all around the city, and you can get off or stay on at any stop. Of course, Luke was not at ALL interested in the tour guide or her stories — to be honest, it would be extremely hard for even an interested a child to follow, because the guides talk so fast and make so many quick references as the bus goes by various landmarks. But it didn’t really matter. He was thrilled to be up so high, enjoying the view. We got to point out the sites he knows (preschool! Comcast! William Penn!) and the whole thing was a pretty fun adventure.

I know $32/$42 is sort of steep for one afternoon outing, but it took up the better part of the day (we left the house at 10 a.m., hopped on the bus, took one lunch break, hopped back on the bus, and got back at 1:15). In fact, you could could really make a whole-day outing out of one tour if you get off the bus more than once. I would actually recommend packing snacks and getting off the bus at at least two or three stops: I think if you were to hop off once near the river (Spruce Street Harbor Park?), once near Old City (Independence Mall!?) and once on the west side of town (Comcast? Art Museum?), you could not only stretch out your trip out a little longer (more bang for your buck), but it would probably benefit most kids to grab some food, run around and see some stuff, get out some wiggles, and then hop back on the bus.

All in all, though, even with just one break, it got the two-thumbs-up from a kid who was thrilled with it for 85 percent of the ride. (By the last couple miles, he was tired, and falling asleep.) It was an adventure, and all I basically did was sit there and ooh and aah over our city. It felt pretty special.