Let’s face it: saving money on vacation is always a good thing. Luckily, when you visit Philadelphia, it’s easy to keep your money in your pocket as some of the best sights and attractions are totally free. From the Liberty Bell to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Independence Hall, the free things to do in Philadelphia let you experience some of the best of the city.
1) The U.S. Mint
Raise your hand if you love money. (Cue, everyone.) While paper money isn’t printed here, millions of coins are made here daily. At the United States Mint, you can go on a self-guided tour that explains the entire coin-making process from start to finish. Kids will really enjoy getting to design their own virtual coins and will get a kick out of discovering what happens to all the money that falls off the conveyor belts. Adults will enjoy displays of important coins, the first coin press and the Key to the First Mint. Plan on spending about 45 minutes on the tour.
2) Mural Mile
Touring Mural Mile is a highlight of any Philadelphia vacation. This project, which began in 1984 by artist Jane Golden. Features murals from local graffiti artists. There are two self-guided walking tours—Mural Mile North and Mural Mile South. On each, you can learn about the history of the project as well as see some truly stunning street art.
3) Rocky Steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art
When you’re in the City of Brotherly Love, you absolutely have to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art a la Rocky from the famous Rocky movies. In addition, there’s a statue of Rocky to the side of the museum you can pose with for an Instagram worthy picture.
4) Philadelphia Museum of Art
Speaking of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, once you’re done running the Rocky steps be sure to pop inside this museum to discover an amazing collection of almost 250,000 pieces of original art. Highlights include works by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, and Cézanne as well as the Great Stair Hall featuring the gilded Diana statue. Keep in mind, this museum is not free. But, it does offer pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday (10 AM-5 PM) of the month and every Wednesday night (5-8 PM).
5) Christ Church Episcopal Philadelphia
One of the more intriguing free things to do in Philadelphia is visit the Christ Church. This place of worship, which dates back to the late 1700s, was attended by the likes of George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Benjamin Franklin. In addition, it was the first parish in Pennsylvania of the Church of England. Spend time admiring the gorgeous Georgian architecture as well as the chandelier which was supposedly lit when Benjamin Franklin’s daughter was married. Historical talks and tours are given of the church and the adjacent burial grounds.
6) Independence Hall
As one of Philadelphia’s most popular attractions, Independence Hall can attract a crowd. Luckily the Hall, which was built in the mid-1700s, is completely free to visit. You do, however, need to acquire a free ticket for entrance. (Go early as tickets are limited.) Included with the free ticket is a guided tour of Independence Hall.
7) Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of Philadelphia. As a result, it’s a must-see for any visitor. And, it also happens to be one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia. To visit this attraction, make your way down Market Street, pass through a security check, and voila: you’re in! There are exhibits surrounding the Liberty Bell detailing it’s significance in history, with the actual bell located at the back of the center. Be sure to get your camera ready! (You didn’t see it if you don’t have photographic proof, right?)
8) First Friday
If your vacation in Philadelphia happens to take place during the first of the month, be sure to include First Friday on your itinerary. This event, which takes place in the Old City Arts District, is an open-house to more than 40 galleries. As such, it’s ideal for art lovers. Spend time strolling through the latest exhibitions the galleries have to offer as well as sip and sample delicious bites to eat at local neighborhood cafes.
9) Reading Terminal Market
Strolling the 200-year-old Reading Terminal Market is totally free. We do warn you, though, you’ll probably be tempted to buy something from the more 100 vendors offering anything and everything from delicious food to fresh-cut flowers. Located in the bottom floor of what was once the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, there’s a distinct historic atmosphere to the market too.
10) Franklin Square
If you have kids, take a time out at Franklin Square. As one of Philadelphia’s five original squares, this historical site is now the place to burn off some that endless kid energy. Centered around a beautiful fountain, Franklin Square features the Parx Liberty Carousel, the one-of-a-kind Philly Mini Golf course, and the renowned SquareBurger as well as a traditional playground. Please note there is a fee to ride the carousel ($3) and to play mini-golf ($10/adults, $8/kids).
11) Elfreth’s Alley
When you tour Elfreth’s Alley, with its cobblestones and colonial-era architecture, you’re taking a literal step back in time. After all, this is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the U.S.A. The street itself opened in 1702 and the buildings and homes lining the block date back to the early 1700s and 1800s. There’s a free cell phone tour that’ll guide you through this residential street. In addition, you can stop inside the Museum House and Chairmaker’s House for a public tour for a small fee.
12) Spruce Street Harbor Park
For a park that has more of an adult vibe, visit Spruce Street Harbor Park. This pop-up park on Penn’s Landing is free to enter and offers amenities like hammocks, lawn games, wonderful views of the water, and food and drink as well as happy hour specials. A lovely boardwalk and plenty of twinkling lights make this a charming place to spend any summer (May-October) night.
13) The Barnes Foundation
With a mission of making art more accessible to all, The Barnes Foundation opens its doors free to the public on the first Sunday of each month. This free admission provides access to a stunning collection of artworks by the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, and Picasso among others.
14) Bartram’s Garden
One of the more beautiful places to visit on our free things to do in Philadelphia list is Bartram’s Garden. This 45-acre botanical is the oldest in all of America. As such, it has been designated a National Historic Landmark. During your visit, explore the Bartram House, walk through the 8-acre garden and take a relaxing walk along the riverside meadow.
15) Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
During a visit to Philadelphia, bibliophiles will want to take a free tour of famous author Edgar Allan Poe’s home, which is now a National Historic Site. Located in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, guests to this site can enjoy self-guided tours or embark on a ranger-led tour of the three-story, red brick home.
16) Institute of Contemporary Art
At the University of Pennsylvania, you tour the Institute of Contemporary Art totally free. This museum hosts the best in contemporary art, a mission it has been dedicated to since it’s open in 1963. In fact, it hosted Andy Warhol’s first-ever solo museum show in 1965. Today, you can expect to see works by Damian Ortega, Laurie Anderson, and Agnes Martin, among others.
17) Sister Cities Park
A beautiful place to take a break, Sister Cities Park is located in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Named for Philly’s sister cities across the world, this park is a great place for kids to play. The Children’s Discovery Garden has a running stream and scalable rocks while kids can also splash in the Sister Cities fountain and sail miniature sailboats on the boat pond.
18) Boathouse Row
For a truly enchanting treat, visit Boathouse Row at dusk. This stretch of 19th-century boathouses along the Schuylkill River are beautiful during the daytime but become even more charming at night once their twinkling lights sparkle across the waterfront. When you visit at dusk, you’re bound to see both beautiful sights.
19) Yards Brewing Company
If you’re a beer connoisseur, stop by Yards Brewing Company to sample some of “Philly’s Hometown Brewery’s” best local libations. Free tours are offered to visitors 21 years+ Saturday and Sunday between noon-4 pm.
20) Curtis Institute of Music
At the Curtis Institute of Music, you can catch a free musical performance Monday, Wednesday, and Friday October-May at the Field Hall. These student-led performances feature everything from opera to orchestra to family shows. Be sure to check the schedule of this performance series before you go.
21) Fireman’s Hall Museum
Take a trip to the Fireman’s Hall Museum to get an up-close view of vintage fire trucks, antique fire extinguishers, artifacts from well-known fires, and more. The more than 100-year-old Fire Station is a remarkable sight to see and especially fun for little ones.
22) Benjamin Franklin’s Grave
Is there any man more synonymous with Philadelphia than Ben Franklin? In a word, no. As such, it’s important to make a trip to the cemetery where this historical Philadelphian is buried at the corner of 5th and Arch Streets. While there is a $3 fee to enter the cemetery, you can walk by the site and easily see his grave for free.
23) Wagner Free Institute of Science
Discover three stories of natural history at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, which is located in an original Victorian-era building. In fact, the museum was founded in 1855. It is a rare surviving example of a Victorian-era scientific society, with a museum, research center, library, and educational facilities. Admission is free but donations are suggested.
Fun & Free in Philly
As you can see, there are plenty of fun and free things to do in Philadelphia. With that in mind, you can easily visit the “City of Brotherly Love” and rest assured you won’t have to break the bank doing so!