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One of the most historically rich cities in the US, Philadelphia is definitely worth visiting. While you may plan on spending money eating a Philly cheesesteak or attending one of the many professional sports games while you’re there, there are many things that you can do for free in the city of brotherly love.
1. Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is definitely worth a visit and is free! It is located in its own museum across from Independence Hall. Plan your visit carefully since it is a very popular tourist attraction.
2. Independence Hall
Directly across from the Liberty Bell is the infamous building which used to house the Liberty Bell and in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. If you have any history buffs in the family, they will love visiting this place. Tickets are free but you have to arrange a specially timed tour.
3. Elfreth’s Alley
Step further back in time as you wander down this historic cobblestone street. This is the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the United States, built in 1702. It’s definitely a cool thing to see.
4. Rittenhouse Square
A beautiful park planned by William Penn in the 17th century, Rittenhouse Square makes a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Admire the lion and goat statues and the stately beauty of the trees. There are also lots of shops nearby.
5. United States Mint
This is a fun visit for the whole family. Watch money being made behind glass windows and learn about the process of making currency. It’s a great educational trip! They will also give you a free bag of money after the tour… it’s shredded though so don’t get too excited.
6. Philadelphia Museum of Art
On Wednesdays from 5 pm and on the first Sunday of the month, you can get a free pass into the wonderful Philadelphia Museum of Art. It has an impressive collection of Renaissance, American, and Impressionist art and the building itself is designed after the Parthenon.
7. Rocky’s Road
If you’re a big fan of the Rocky movies, you’re right in the perfect spot! The Museum of Art’s steps are the exact location of Rocky’s infamous run and you can imitate it too! It’s also a great place to view the picture perfect Benjamin Franklin parkway and it’s avenues of trees.
8. Free Concerts at Penn’s Landing
Every Friday night during the summer you can go to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and enjoy a free concert. They have everything from gospel to jazz and rock. It’s loads of fun!
9. Free Movies at Penn’s Landing
The same park also offers free movies every Thursday night in July and August. They show all kinds of family friendly films from The Goonies to Frozen. Be sure to bring a blanket or a lawn chair.
10. Fireman’s Hall Museum
This museum is loads of fun for the kids and has fun activities too! It’s a great way to learn about fire safety and the history of firefighting.
11. Fun in the Fountains
Visiting Philly in the middle of a heat wave? What could be better than to cool off in one of Philadelphia’s many spraygrounds! Swann Memorial Fountain, pictured above, is the most notable.
12. Spruce Street Harbor Park
This is a fun area to tour with lots to do. Walk along the riverfront, swim at the urban beach, eat at barge restaurants, rest in the hammock gardens, jump in fountains, and much more in this fantastic park!
13. Mural Mile
Philadelphia is home to many murals as a program to cover up graffiti. 17 of these murals are located right in the heart of the city and there are even podcasts you can download that will help you understand them. It’s a great way to see free art. There are paid walking tours, but you can handle this yourself for free.
14. Franklin Square
This is one of America’s most historic neighborhoods and is another great spot for lunch or hanging out. Although the carousel rides and many food venues are not free, it’s definitely a cool place to be. This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary with many special events.
15. Institute of Contemporary Art
If you are into contemporary art, this would definitely be a great place to visit. It is full of the works of Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana, and many more. The museum is free for kids 17 and under. Also free for two adults per kid on the last Saturday of the month.
16. Reading Terminal Market
For lunch, one of the best places in town is the Reading Terminal Market in the Market East District. They have nearly 100 vendors who sell foods from around the world. They offer free samples so it’s the perfect chance to try new and different food. They also have lots of crafts and jewelry for sale. Even if you don’t go for food, this is a wonderful place to take in the city. This market is located beneath the Reading Railroad’s 1891 train shed.
17. The Barnes Foundation
This beautiful landscaped art gallery hosts one of the world’s great collections of French artwork from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist eras. Admission is free on the first Sunday of the month and there a host of activities and programs for the whole family.
18. Wissahickon Valley Park
Get out of the city for a bit and head to northeast Philly. The Wissahickon Valley Park is a great place to stretch your legs and explore some amazing paths. The park follows an old roadway that was once the principal route of travel two centuries ago. The trails are all sorts of grades, from smooth and easy to steeper and rougher ground. It’s perfect for a little family adventure!
19 . John Heinz Wildlife Refuge
This one-thousand acre park is home to over 300 different kinds of birds and is a major stopover for migratory birds as they head south. It’s open sunrise to sunset and is great place to see all kinds of wildlife. There are many miles of trails and waterways just ready to be explored on foot, by bike, or by kayak. The park is near the airport so could be a great stop off on your way home.
20 . Dream Garden
This beautiful glass mosaic is located right by the historic district but can be hard to miss. It’s in the lobby of an office building, but is a secret treasure we can all see. The “Dream Garden” has more than 100,000 pieces of glass made by Tiffany Studios.
21. Edgar Allen Poe House
The author lived in this Philadelphia house for six years and wrote some of his most famous works there. There is something of interest for the whole family. See the basement that inspired The Black Cat or solve detective stories in the museum. It’s a great insight into the life of this great American author and poet.
22. Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum
This is perhaps one of the most intriguing museums and although it cost a fortune to build, it’s free to enter! The museum displays how science and technology have shaped our modern world. There are exquisite exhibits of all kinds of scientific objects and there is something for everyone to enjoy!
23. Carpenter’s Hall
This building was the original home of the First Continental Congress of 1774 and is a well preserved example of Georgian architecture. Not only did it serve as the first congressional building but Benjamin Franklin used it as a library and it was later used as the First and Second Banks of the United States. It is free to the public.
24. The President’s House
Did you know that the White House was not the first home of the President? For the first two presidencies of the United States, both the government and the president resided in Philadelphia. The remains of the house are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in an outdoor memorial on Independence Mall. It recalls the history of the first two presidents of the US and memorializes the 9 slaves who worked at the house during the presidencies of Washington and John Adams.
25. The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul and Christ Church
Two of the oldest churches in the area, Christ Church was the church home of Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and many others. The cathedral is 100 years newer, but is beautiful. Both are free to the public to tour. The cathedral even has a free audio tour you can download on your phone.