Frequently Asked Questions
Families and Young Visitors
May I bring children?
Yes, absolutely, we encourage families and school groups to bring younger visitors to the houses.
Are there things for kids to do?
Our docents are trained to provide information about the houses to visitors of all ages. Many houses have items for young visitors to touch or other ways to demonstrate life during the past to younger visitors. School groups may request tours to be geared towards a specific age level of subject. We encourage families to include the houses into a fun-filled day at Fairmount Park; see our itineraries page for ideas to engage everyone.
Can I coordinate school groups to visit the Charms?
Yes, we'd love to have your students visit one or more houses. The houses are close enough to arrange multiple site visits depending on your timing for the day. Tour content supports the PA State Standards in history and social studies most specifically, but teachers can also use the homes to reinforce language arts, literacy, comprehension, cultural studies, visual arts and more!
May my school group bring a packed lunch to eat at one of the houses?
Yes, being part of Fairmount Park means that these homes are perfectly situated for your students -- or scout troop, youth group or other organization -- to eat a nice picnic lunch in the Park after a tour. You can also arrange to have students eat their lunches on the covered porch of Lemon Hill for a site with a lovely view. Be sure to call and make your plans in advance for a smooth visit at a specific house, as house staff can advise you more specifically based on the size of your group.
Are the houses physically accessible?
As historic homes from the 18th and 19th centuries, the Charms houses may present some challenges. Be aware that the houses all have steps, including some entries. There may be areas that can be challenging to visitors with mobility issues, particularly the second floors of the homes.
Visitors are encouraged to call each site in advance to ask
about specific needs and what accommodations are possible.
Are there restrooms?
Yes, each house has modern facilities, but please note that the restrooms at the houses are not handicap accessible and are not able to accommodate large groups of visitors.
Is there an accessible restroom close to the Charms?
Yes, we recommend that visitors who need an accessible restroom should go to Lloyd Hall, located on Boathouse Row.
Are the houses accessible for those with vision or hearing challenges?
The Charms houses do not offer specifically designed braille or audio tours, but please call an individual home in advance for information as to how we might best make reasonable accommodations.
Do I have to pay for parking? Where can I park?
NO! Each home has convenient parking areas that are FREE for visitors.
How long is a typical house tour?
Tour times may vary, but anticipate about 45 minutes to one hour to tour each home and learn about its history. Our friendly guides can answer questions and tell you lots of details about each house, so allow time for you to take in the experience.
Can I walk or bike from house to house?
We encourage you to be active and enjoy the beauty of Fairmount Park as a recreational backdrop to the houses. On our directions page, you can check out a few bike and walking suggestions between houses, as well as information on the Boxers' Trail path through the woods from Laurel Hill to Mount Pleasant - a lovely trail to connect these homes in East Fairmount Park.
Can I access the houses via public transportation?
Yes, SEPTA (the Southeastern PA Transit Authority) provides bus service to the greater Philadelphia Region. In our directions page, we've included information on transit options, and downloadable PDFs with this information. Please check with SEPTA for specific service and schedule updates, as times may vary.
Can I visit a few houses in one day?
Yes, the houses are located closely to one another in East and West Fairmount Park. You can visit all the Charms in one day, or over a weekend.
You can walk or bike between certain houses, but as grand country estates, they were designed to sit prominently in their grounds and the distances vary. Today, this means a car makes for the most convenient and fastest trip between each house. Our Charms Pass provides admissions to all the Charms homes for 30 days so you can visit each at your own pace.
See our itinerary section for tips to walk, bike and drive as you plan your day. And don't forget, our Annual Holiday Trolley Tours are a great way to stop by to see all the Charms.
About the Houses
Were there more Fairmount Park houses in the past?
In the late 18th and 19th century, there were more country homes, estates and various structures along the Schuylkill River. The Charms specifically have been preserved as a remarkable representation of this time and are the featured homes open to the public as museums.
Other buildings from throughout the past are still located within Fairmount Park and have been re-purposed over the years; some continue to be used for specific needs, such as offices, meeting spaces, park uses, and other functions. Some buildings were not able to be saved over the years, but we are fortunate that the City of Philadelphia and dedicated community volunteers have valued and preserved so many of the homes.
Why are some houses closed at times?
Each home may have seasonal periods of reduced hours, or times that are closed for renovation projects. At times, we must close certain houses for scheduled work, maintenance, long-range preservation projects, or critical repairs. We strive to keep these times brief and communicate project updates to the public. Visit this website or call a particular home for the latest news on any restoration projects. Preserving and maintaining these homes takes a great deal of effort and continual work, so operating hours may vary. We protect these houses as valuable resources for future generations of visitors and we appreciate your cooperation.
What will I see on a Holiday Open House Tour?
The Holiday Open House Tours provide a warm and inviting welcome to the homes by showing them in their seasonal finery. The Open House is designed to welcome visitors to the beauty of the homes, with brief information about each site. The holiday decor is coordinated through dedicated community groups and garden clubs, who provide themed decorations unique to each home. In addition, the holiday season is the time for the Charms to provide hospitality befitting the character of each home, which can include snacks, greenery sales, artisanal recipes, music, art and a variety of performances and costumed hosts. This annual event grows each year and we invite you to sample the warmth of the Charms as a wonderful tradition during each holiday season. And then return again during the year for an in-depth tour!
Can I host an event at a house?
Yes, many of the houses can be rented for various functions, meetings and catered events, including weddings. Our rental page has general information regarding house rentals as well as other Fairmount Park rental options.
Things to do
What else can I do in Fairmount Park?
There are too many things to list! As the largest urban park in the United States, you can bike, roller blade, visit the Smith Memorial Playground, ride horses, watch a regatta, visit the Shofuso Japanese House & Garden, picnic, visit the Please Touch Museum, stroll through the azaleas to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and more! Visit the area attractions page for informational links for these locations and more.
Are there places to eat near the Charms houses?
There are many dining options in the Fairmount Park area. We've shared a list of fine dining, quick bites and more in our Dining Options list, which can be easily downloaded. And as a grand public park, think about having a nice picnic in Fairmount Park to complement your Charms visit.