13 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia

13 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia

Photo: Philadelphia Museum of Art

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13 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia, also known as the City of Brotherly Love, is the largest city in Pennsylvania. It is known for its museums, parks, beautiful nature, vibrant art scene, and many tourist attractions. Even on a budget, you can find numerous cheap things to do in Philly. You can enjoy the Fabric Workshop & Museum, the late Robert Indiana sculpture in the Kennedy Plaza (Love Park) northwest of City Hall, or walk along the Schuylkill River or through Franklin Square.

Furthermore, many art museums and galleries offer free admission on specific days. Want to spend this weekend in one of the best places in the US? Keep reading to explore 13 free things to do in Philadelphia!

Top 13 The Best Cheap Things to Do in Philly 

You have landed at the Philadelphia International Airport, so what should you do now? Philadelphia is rich in cheap and free events for every taste, allowing everyone to find something for themselves. Even if your budget is strictly limited, you can apply for a $100 loan today and receive the money for your weekend in Philly tomorrow.

In the city, you can walk through the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and find many interesting things in downtown Philadelphia and other city neighborhoods.

Explore the list of cheap and free activities in Philadelphia and spend your best weekend in this amazing city. 

#1. Spruce Street Harbor Park 

Looking for a place for a retreat or completely free fun with your family or friends? Spruce Street Harbor Park is an excellent option both for quiet, secluded weekends and free activities in Philadelphia. Visitors can enjoy many free amenities in the park, like scenic views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge from one of many hammocks, walking or running along the riverbank, or you can buy food from numerous vendors nearby. 

#2. Independence National Historical Park 

The Independence National Historical Park is a significant place both for Philadelphia and the whole US. The Declaration of Independence of the US and the United States Constitution were signed in its Independence Hall. To learn more about US history, you can enjoy a completely free tour of Independence Hall. 

Additionally, the park is home to the Liberty Bell Center, where visitors can view the cracked yet enduring Liberty Bell and learn about its historical significance through engaging exhibits.

Furthermore, the park is available even for people with mobility problems. Visitors can borrow wheelchairs in the Independence Visitor Center and enjoy learning US history. 

Today, you can visit the park for free during happy hour sessions and enjoy its Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. These places symbolize freedom and democracy in the country, attracting thousands of history lovers yearly. 

#3. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Art Museum was founded in 1876 and, since that moment, has been attracting thousands of visitors from the whole world. People come to the museum to enjoy vast collections of paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, and armor. 

In the museum, visitors can find: 

  • Paintings by van Gogh, Picasso, and Renoir; 
  • A one-acre outdoor sculpture garden;
  • A collection of suits of armor;
  • A complete 14th-century Buddhist temple;
  • And many other exciting things. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art manages several annexes, such as the Rodin Museum and the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. Furthermore, it administers two historic colonial-era houses in Fairmount Park: the Houses of Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. 

While adult tickets cost $25, admission for kids is free. Furthermore, you can use a pay-what-you-wish option on the first Sunday of every month and every Friday night from 5:00 through 8:45 p.m. 

#4. Fireman’s Hall Museum 

The Fireman’s Hall Museum is a free museum operated by the Philadelphia Fire Department where visitors can learn more about Philly fire history. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the first volunteer fire company, which was founded in 1736 by Benjamin Franklin.

In the museum, you can see numerous artifacts, such as fire marks and buckets. If you have enjoyed the museum, don’t forget to leave a tip, as it is the main tool for developing the museum. 

#5. The Science History Institute 

Science is everywhere: you have contact with scientific discoveries daily, even if you don’t mention it. The Science History Institute, formerly called the Chemical Heritage Foundation, serves both as a museum and library, allowing visitors to see discoveries made in laboratories and learn the history of scientific success and failures. 

The Institute was founded in 1982 and, since that moment, has been providing its visitors with the history of the people responsible for significant scientific developments. 

#6. Wagner Free Institute of Science 

The Wagner Free Institute of Science was founded in 1855 and is an excellent history museum in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The building is a national historic landmark where visitors can get free education in science. While the museum is especially attractive for students, older people can also find many interesting things for themselves. 

In the Institute, visitors can enjoy more than 100,000 natural history specimens, such as shells, fossils, mounted animal skeletons, dinosaur bones, and others. Furthermore, the museum houses the first American saber-toothed tiger. 

#7. Curtis Institute of Music 

Philadelphia is known as a university city, and one of the best high schools in the city is the Curtis Institute of Music. It is a private conservatory founded in 1924 and considered one of the best free places to go in Philly. It offers more than 100 free recitals a year, allowing people worldwide to enjoy the music of the most talented students in the country and the world. 

The Campus comprises the Gould Rehearsal Hall, Field Concert Hall, and Rock Resource Center. On their territories, many legends were studied, like Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. One of the most known professors of the Institute were Joseph Hoffman and Rudolf Serkin, attracting thousands of visitors to see this historically important place. 

#8. Free Tours and Events 

Philadelphia is rich in events and places requiring no money from visitors. One of the best ways to explore the city for free is to organize a self-guided tour through Philly, including Center City and other neighborhoods. Explore famous Mural Arts in Philadelphia, presenting local poetry, freedom fighters, etc. The city is known for its vast collection of contemporary art, so you can find an outdoor art gallery in almost every neighborhood. Exploring Philly’s graffiti is an excellent way to spend time in the city and a great chance to get to know the city’s walkable communities. 

Furthermore, one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia is to visit the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches program. The program brings history to life through storytelling, interactions, and education and allows visitors to enjoy learning about Philly’s and US's rich past. 

Walking through Philly, remember to visit Race Street Pier. It is a popular destination among runners and tourists. You can both exercise and organize a picnic alone or with your friends or family there. You can get a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and ships swimming through the Delaware River from the pier. It is an excellent place for yoga lovers to enjoy free yoga sessions on the Delaware River Waterfront. 

Furthermore, you can go south from the pier and find an artisans market, studio tours, and exhibitions at Cherry Street Pier every first Friday of the month.

One of the best free attractions for Philly’s visitors is the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk - a 2,000-foot-long pathway that extends the Schuylkill River Trail from Locust Street to South Street, opening the best skyline views for visitors. 

#9. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Edgar Allan Poe House is one of Philadelphia's most worth-visiting places. It is located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood and managed by the National Park Service. The author lived in Philly for six years and wrote several of his most important works in this house, including The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and others. 

#10. Fairmount Park 

Are you a nature lover? Fairmount Park is an excellent place for you! This one of the largest urban parks in the United States, spanning over 2,000 acres, allows you to enjoy greenness even in such a big city as Philadelphia. It offers its visitors numerous hiking trails, green spaces, concerts, festivals, environmental education programs, and other free activities. 

People typically include the Philadelphia Zoo in their plans when going to the park. The best thing is that the zoo offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. 

If you travel with your kids, you should visit the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse - a free children's playground near North 33rd Street and Oxford Street. 

#11. Carpenter’s Hall 

The Carpenters Hall is one of the most important historical buildings in the United States. It is known for the First Continental Congress, which took place there. During Congress, George Washington, John Adams, and Patrick Henry voted on an embargo against England in 1774. Additionally, it was a temporary field hospital during the Revolutionary War, making the building a must-visit place in Philly. 

#12. Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History 

The museum is an excellent place for everybody interested in Jewish history in the US, enabling people to become closer to the challenges and opportunities Jews encountered in the country. The museum is right for you if you are looking for exciting things to do in Philly today for free.

#13. Reading Terminal Market 

This one of the oldest US public markets was founded in 1893 and is an excellent place for buying delicious meat, fresh fruits, vegetables, and other farm products. Furthermore, you can find there dairy cheeses from Pennsylvania Dutch country, fish, crafts, flowers, baked goods, etc. The market works from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, so find time to visit this amazing place!

Bottom Line 

Traveling is not always expensive. Even if you are on a budget, you can still find many free things to do in Philadelphia. For example, you may be interested in numerous museums and galleries with a vast collection of Asian and European art. Or you can visit churches, such as Christ Church or Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Art lovers can enjoy the Rocky Statue in the Museum of Art or the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. All these offers make Philadelphia a worth-visiting city for any budget.

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