There’s no denying the Philadelphia area is chock full of intriguing historic sites, but sometimes you just need to do something a little different. How about fighting zombies? Or would you prefer speeding around in go-karts? Or how about checking out what is likely the world’s largest collection of Americana on the planet? Our Globetrotting Grandmom recently spent the weekend doing exactly that in the Philly suburbs. Here’s her story about some unusual family activities near Philadelphia.
Head to the Suburbs of Philadelphia for Treasures, Zombies and All Kinds of Family Fun
I’ve been to Philadelphia many times. I love the history, the murals and, of course, the Philly cheesesteaks. I’ve spent some time at Valley Forge learning about the American Revolution. But as I was walking in the footsteps of George Washington, I had no idea I was less than 30 miles from zombies. I would have never imagined the treasures waiting for me inside the American Treasure Tour. On a recent weekend, I discovered all of this and more right outside the city. Check out these wonderfully different family activities near Philadelphia.
Discovering the Mind-Blowing Collection at American Treasure Tour
To say the exterior of American Treasure Tour is nondescript is an understatement. Located in a former B. F. Goodrich Tire plant, the American Treasure Tour occupies 100,000 square feet of factory space. And almost every square inch of it is filled with the most eclectic collection of memorabilia I’ve seen anywhere…EVER. We knew something was up with this former factory when a massive chandelier that formerly hung in the Old Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia was the first thing we saw. And that was only the beginning.
Step into the Past in the Mechanical Music Room
The tour begins in the Music Room, where we were awed by one of the world’s largest collections of mechanical musical instruments. Primarily from the early 20th century, there were stunning Nickelodeons, music boxes and dance hall organs—just to name a few. A massive miniature display depicting scenes from movies and random other things occupies another section of the space.
We spent a little time seeing what scenes we recognized and discovered hundreds of familiar movies: Star Trek, the Gremlins, Towering Inferno. I could go on for days. And then at one point there was a bear playing a banjo…because, why wouldn’t there be? As for housekeeping, kudos to Woody, age 84. He works Tuesday through Friday continually dusting the collection from one end to the other.
This is One Toy Box You Will Never Forget
The second part of the tour is a tram ride through the Toy Box. Imagine the largest garage sale you’ve ever seen multiplied by about 1,000. Throw in a collection of vintage autos, movie poster memorabilia, holiday decorations and numerous creepy clown dolls for good measure. That might get you close to what awaits in the Toy Box. As we rode through the collection on the tram, I nearly gave myself whiplash trying to check out everything. I’m certain you could take the tour every day for a year and discover something new every time. And what’s amazing about this collection is that it belongs to one anonymous person.
The American Treasure Tour offers private guided group tours Monday through Friday. It’s open to the public on Saturday for self-guided tours in the music room and tram tours through the Toy Box. And it is a delight for all ages—even with those creepy clowns lurking about.
Fighting Zombies and More Creepy Clowns at Area 2200
Our adventure continued nearby at Arnold’s Family Fun Center where our first stop was Area 2200. This permanent indoor laser tag experience is anything but typical. We were outfitted with laser guns (yes, sometimes people do give me weapons) and directed to a rickety elevator which transported us to a dark room. It was filled with old lockers and all manner of other things that were about to make their presence known.
I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of things jumping out at me. So when the zombies started appearing and my task was to shoot them before they shot me, I pretty much just screamed and ran ahead, leaving my husband to take care of the monsters. Things got even more creepy when I realized that a live clown had entered into the mix. I survived, but only because the zombies didn’t have real ammo.
After the Apocalypse, Check Out all the Other Fun and Games at Arnold’s Family Fun Center
After you survive the apocalypse…assuming you do…you’ll find plenty of other options to keep you entertained at Arnold’s. Occupying 200,000 square feet of space, Arnold’s has a second laser tag attraction, black light mini golf, bowling alley, a massive arcade, bumper cars, Krazy Kars and go-karts.
When you’re ready to re-fuel stop by Arnold’s Bistro & Bar. I highly recommend the Philly cheese steak but there’s plenty to choose from. And there’s even a special Kids Corner menu for ages 10 and under for just $6.00 per meal. If you happen to visit on a Tuesday, kids eat free.
The Case for the Suburbs
While I’m a city Grandmom, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all the suburbs have to offer when it comes to family friendly getaway. Suburban Philadelphia is a prime example. In addition to the American Treasure Tour and all the fun, games and creepy zombies at Arnold’s Family Fun Center, this area has numerous restaurants, hotels and oh so much shopping. I’ll be back with the grandkids in tow!
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