Remembering fallen heroes. Photo: USMC Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva | Public Domain Image | Wikimedia Commons
Photo: USMC Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva | Public Domain Image | Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day is a federal holiday commemorating those who gave their lives in military service defending America. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive a day off, allowing you to celebrate a three-day weekend with your family and friends. Like many places, Memorial Day in Philadelphia means BBQs, picnics, parades, festivals, fireworks or attending or participating in a sports event or two.

In Philadelphia:

What: Memorial Day activities

Where: National Constitution Center, 325 Arch Street

When: Saturday, May 29 – Monday, May 31, 2010

Cost: Free with general admission from $10.50


Throughout Memorial Day weekend, Old City’s National Constitution Center will offer multiple family-friendly activities. In addition to the center’s “The Story of We the People” standard exhibit, visitors can enjoy “Memorials: How a Nation Remembers.” This interactive program lasts 20 minutes and presents information on monuments and memorials throughout the nation. Time: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at 10:00 a.m.; 12:00 p.m.; 2:00 p.m. Other activities include the celebration of the Pennsylvania Liberty Tree dedication, marking a one-year anniversary.

What: Memorial Day Parade

Where: Port Richmond neighborhood, Philadelphia

When: Monday, May 31, 2010, approximately 9:45 a.m.

Cost: Free

Port Richmond is the only Philadelphia community still able to sponsor and support a Memorial Day parade to honor those who gave their lives in service. This parade is funded with donations raised from community members and business leaders. Because the parade is important to the community, they’ve sacrificed their time and money to keep the tradition alive. Consider enjoying this free event and supporting local Port Richmond businesses while you’re in town.

What: Lawn games and family fun

Where: Franklin Square, 6th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia

When: Monday, May 31, 2010 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Cost: Free


Located near the Franklin Mint and the Betsy Ross house, Franklin Square will offer family-friendly lawn games. Most of the historical sites in the area are free or low-cost to tour. If you’re tight on cash this year, consider spending your memorial day in Old City.

What: Paddle Penn’s Landing

Where: Penn’s Landing Marina, Walnut Street and Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia

When: Fridays 3 p.m – 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Cost: $5 per person per activity


Have you ever wanted to check out the Delaware River in a smaller watercraft? Individuals 12 and older can paddle swan boats and kayaks in a supervised marina. Allowing two people per boat, the swan boats make for a cute and inexpensive impromptu date activity.

What: UCSG William Tate 10th Anniversary Celebration

Where: Penn’s Landing Marina, Market Street and Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia

When: Saturday, May 29 – Monday May 31, 2010, daylight hours

Cost: Unknown


Penn’s Landing visitors can snag a look inside the UCSG William Tate. This Coast Guard ship offers tours for this week only. Learn about the history of the ship and the crew’s regular duties including buoy maintenance and retrieval along the Delaware River.

What: Delaware River Day

Where: Penn’s Landing Marina, Walnut Street and Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia

When: Sunday, May 30, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Cost: Free; Riverlink Ferry offers $1 tickets in conjunction with River Day


This family-oriented event is presented by the Delaware Riverfront Corporation and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Families can learn about river safety and accident prevention. Kids can participate in free face painting and kayak rides. The event will also have music and demonstrations. If you’ve ever wondered about what happens in the military during a “man overboard,” you’ll find out—the Coast Guard is prepared to demonstrate.

Pennsylvania Suburbs:

What: Memorial Day Commemoration

Where: Valley Forge National Historical Park Visitor Center, 1400 North Outerline Drive, King of Prussia

When: Monday, May 31, 3:00 p.m.

Cost: Free


Valley Forge is best known as George Washington’s winter camp site. On Memorial Day, the park’s staff honors America’s fallen heroes in a commemoration ceremony. Participate in a national moment of silence with others at the park’s visitor center and view a military salute. You can also picnic at the park and learn about the area’s place in history during the Revolutionary War.

Jersey Shore:

What: Wildwood International Kite Festival

Where: Wildwood, New Jersey

When: Monday, May 30, daylight hours

Cost: Free


Wildwood’s wide beach offers ample room to host kite fleets and oversized kite creations. Take a day trip to Wildwood to observe some floppy and funny kites in action. Adults should stay after sundown to sample the opening of the shore season and the region’s vibrant night life.

If you’re visiting Philly for Memorial Day and don’t want to deal with city driving or expensive cabs, you can now purchase day passes from SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Public Transportation Authority). Google Maps includes SEPTA on public transit directions, too, so you can figure out how to get to your destinations with a mobile connection.

Culture Philadelphia Memorial Day Weekend Guide for 2010