As the largest city of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia attracts thousands of tourists each year. And Philadelphia offers something to every traveler - bustling neighborhoods, over 1000+ restaurants in Centre City alone, a varied range of public and performing arts, markets, museums, history, shopping and so much more.
Everything can be found in this major metropolitan city with the ease of a small town. The fact that it is ranked as the 4th most walkable city in the United States makes it easier for visitors to explore the city.
Hop on a bike, bus, or train to navigate the city. And to begin with, experience the range of free and budget-friendly attractions that Philadelphia offers. No wonder then that you can spend several days in this City of Brotherly Love without spending a dime.
Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is two pence clear.” So, without further ado, here are some fun yet budget friendly things to do and places to visit in Philadelphia for all kinds of travelers.
Free things to do Outdoor
With over 100 parks, squares, and recreation sites, Philadelphia’s green spaces present ample opportunities for visitors to spend time exploring outside, while also not venturing far from the heart of the city.
Visit Philadelphia’s picturesque five squares that serve as recreation and community spaces including Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Logan Square, Centre Square - the home to City Hall and the Franklin Square which is one of Philadelphia’s five original squares and is easily accessible, right in the historic part of the city. Head to the LOVE Park, one of Philadelphia’s favorite photo ops with the LOVE statue and maybe click a selfie or two.
Or go biking or hiking in Fairmount Park on more than 270 miles of recreational trails. The Park connects with the greenways of the Schuylkill Banks and Boardwalk – named one of the best river-walks in the nation. Be sure to visit the Bartram’s Garden which is America’s first botanical garden that spans over 45 acres along the Schuylkill River.
Also, a must visit is the Spruce Street Harbor Park which is just one of the many free outdoor experiences found along the Delaware River waterfront. Two most beautiful outdoor spaces are the Race Street Pier and Cherry Street Pier, which not only offer a relaxing space for picnics and pop-up dining experiences, but also offer breathtaking views of the Delaware River.
Then head to one of Philadelphia’s newest green spaces is the Rail Park where you can swing on a bench and walk the paths or head to nearby Chinatown for a bite to eat or a sweet treat afterwards.
Free things to do for History Lovers
Relive the birth of the United States with tours of the Historic Mile in Philadelphia. The Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center and the President's House Historic Site where both George Washington and John Adams spent most of their presidencies before the White House was built in Washington, D.C. are all free experiences available in Independence National Historical Park.
Carpenters' Hall is another free-to-visit historic site within the park and don’t forget to relax at 13 teak benches at the park to enjoy true stories from Philadelphia's past shared by the storytellers.
Tucked away from the main city hustle bustle is the Elfreth's Alley, where you can explore the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the nation. Did you know Philadelphia is the birthplace of the first volunteer fire company? Created in 1736 by Benjamin Franklin, you can visit the Fireman’s Hall which is a unique museum of firefighting and fire-safety tips, and more, located just steps from Elfreth’s Alley.
Visit the United States Mint, one of the most exciting historic sites, where you can embark on a self-guided tour understanding the whole process of stamping coins, from the early start to finish.
The American Philosophical Society Museum is the oldest learned society in the United States, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.”
Here you can see the collection of manuscripts, rare books, photographs, and more. You can also visit the National Museum of American Jewish History, the only major national museum dedicated to telling the story of the Jewish people in America from 1654 to present.
Be sure to visit the African American Museum in Philadelphia, to explore the history and stories of African American people and those of the African diaspora.
Free things to do for Art and Culture Lovers
Enriching art experiences don’t necessarily carry a high price tag. With digital maps provided by Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Association for Public Art and Architecture, you can grab your snacks and hit the pavement to view the Philadelphia Mural Mile, which boasts some of city’s best artwork and over 4,000 murals and cherished pieces of public art in every area around the city. Not a surprise here that Philadelphia is also called the Mural capital of the World.
Also located right in the heart of Center City Philadelphia is the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts that offers free indoor and outdoor concerts and workshops. If you are a music lover is the Curtis Institute of Music that offers free admission to their student recital series. You can enjoy concerts by some of the most talented young musicians in the world in this historical, and inspiring setting.
If you’re in the city on the first Sunday of the month, take the iconic run up the Rocky Steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art just like Rocky Balboa did. The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a “pay what you want” deal and don't forget to pose with Rocky's statue once you've cooled down. A short walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is also the Barnes Foundation, which also provides free entry on the first Sunday of each month.
You can also visit the Fabric Workshop & Museum, a free contemporary art museum across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center that features textile and other material-based pieces. A short walk from this Museum is The Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design that highlights the work of notable regional, national, and worldwide artists with unique exhibitions and educational activities. You may also be eligible for free entry to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania, which has established a worldwide reputation as a leading venue for contemporary art and culture.
Free Science Attractions in Philadelphia
And the science lovers must visit the Wagner Free Institute of Science in North Philadelphia where more than 100,000 natural history specimens can be found. Another must visit is the Franklin Institute which is a massive interactive science museum where kids can get a firsthand look at the inner workings of everything from the human body to weather. You can channel your inner scientist at the Science History Institute Museum and don’t forget to check out the Object Explorer which is an interactive exhibit that unlocks stories of an object’s history, materials, and more.