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Top Free Things to Do in Philadelphia

Some of the city’s best inexpensive offerings

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Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk Photo by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia
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When it comes to visiting Philadelphia, some of the best things to see and do are entirely free. For families and budget-conscious travelers eager to explore the region, that’s certainly great news.

From must-see attractions for history buffs, including the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, to live concerts for the musically-inclined like the student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music to the numerous pay-what-you-wish opportunities at some of Philadelphia’s top art museums, there are a wide-range of inexpensive experiences on which to embark.

Read on to learn about awesome free things to do in Philadelphia.

01

The Liberty Bell Center

Where freedom rings all around

People taking a selfie at the Liberty Bell People taking a selfie at the Liberty Bell
— Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia

Throughout the expansive, light-filled Liberty Bell Center, larger-than-life historic documents and images explore the facts and the myths surrounding our nation’s most famous bell. The 2,080-pound, mostly copper structure creates a dramatic photo opportunity, too, with Independence Hall standing in the background behind glass-windowed walls.

Where: The Liberty Bell Center, 6th and Market streets

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02

Independence Hall and Congress Hall

Birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

Independence Hall Independence Hall
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

True to its roots, Independence Hall – the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S Constitution as well as one of our country’s greatest symbols of democracy – remains free to the public, although tickets are required. Pick up tickets at the Independence Visitor Center starting at 8:30 a.m. and be sure to check out Congress Hall — home of the U.S. Congress from 1790 to 1800, during the time when Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the U.S. — during your visit.

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

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03

The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps

Run like Rocky and reap a priceless view at the top

A post shared by Jieun Twnsnd (@jieun.t) on

The Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art are two of the most visited attractions in Philadelphia. Running up the steps is pretty much a must on your first visit to the city. Pump your fists in the air as Rocky did when he reached the top and then turn around to cherish the spectacular view of the skyline. As you head back down, find the bronze statue of Rocky at the bottom, just steps to the left, and snap a photo.

Where: The Rocky Statue and Rocky Steps, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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04

LOVE Sculpture

Sculpture captures the spirit of Philadelphia; check out sister sculpture AMOR nearby

LOVE Sculpture LOVE Sculpture
— Photo by J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia

Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture has returned from renovation to Philadelphia’s iconic John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as LOVE Park. Also, just a short walk away from LOVE Park stands the equally grand AMOR sculpture, the Spanish language version of the LOVE sculpture, on display at Sister Cities Park.

Where: LOVE sculpture, 1500 Arch Street

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05

Spruce Street Harbor Park

The hammock-filled haven on the Delaware River

Spruce Street Harbor Park Spruce Street Harbor Park
— Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Facing the Delaware River, Spruce Street Harbor Park creates the ultimate hangout – and hammock-lounging – spot, at absolutely no cost to you. If you have a few dollars to spare, score a bite to eat from one of the many food vendors set up on the boardwalk or sip on a refreshing draft from the area’s beer garden. Arcade games, an over-sized chess board and other activities also fill the space.

Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, Spruce Street and S. Columbus Boulevard

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06

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

A haven of outdoor fun

While the rollerskating at this waterfront hangout comes with a small price tag, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest is an awesome spot to simply hang out and take a breather. A boathouse-styled lodge, a play area for kids, food and drink options and events are all part of its charm.

Where: Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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07

Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches

History that speaks to you

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District, you’ll find 13 Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches featuring free, five-minute tales and secret stories told by uniformed, professional storytellers. Learn fascinating details about some of our nation’s earliest “celebrity” citizens in the places where the history actually happened.

Where: Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches, Various locations including 6th and Race streets

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08

Franklin Square

Carousel rides, mini-golf, burgers and more

— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

There are countless reasons to love Philadelphia’s most family-friendly square. And while most of them require a small fee — including the carousel, mini golf and SquareBurger, burger-and-fries (and milkshake!) outpost — hanging out in the Square is free. It makes for a nice resting point while walking around Philadelphia’s Historic District.

Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street

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09

The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation

Commemorating the lives of nine enslaved Africans at the nation’s first executive mansion

— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Wonder what it was like to live in the first “White House”? President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, an open-air, free exhibit located next to the Liberty Bell Center, explores the paradox of slavery and freedom at the nation’s first executive mansion, where Presidents George Washington and John Adams lived during their terms and where nine enslaved people served the first president.

Where: The President's House, 600 Market Street

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10

Elfreth’s Alley

The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street

— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th-century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. While a modern city has sprung up around it, the alley — the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street — preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details, along with houses still occupied by Philadelphia citizens. Two adjacent houses, built in 1755, are now a museum and are open to the public (for a small fee).

Where: Elfreth's Alley, 126 Elfreth’s Alley

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11

Carpenters’ Hall

Meeting place of the First Continental Congress

Carpenters' Hall Carpenters' Hall
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Before the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, there was the First Continental Congress. In 1774, delegates from 12 colonies gathered at Carpenters’ Hall and voted to support a trade embargo against England, one of the first unified acts of defiance against the King. The building still stands tall, showcasing its gorgeous Georgian architecture, and free exhibitions inside educate visitors on the events of 1774 and the building’s history.

Where: Carpenters' Hall, 320 Chestnut Street

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Independence Visitor Center

All-in-one center for info, tickets to Independence Hall, tips from experts and more

— Photo by J. Fusco for IVCC

Located on Independence Mall, the Independence Visitor Center is the perfect place to begin your visit to the Philadelphia region. Just a stone’s throw from some of Philadelphia’s most popular attractions, you’ll get a free comprehensive orientation to the culture, history, shopping and dining options available throughout the Greater Philadelphia region from the friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Where: Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street (Corner of 6th and Market streets)

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13

United States Mint

Where pocket change and commemorative coins are made

United States Mint building exterior United States Mint building exterior
— Photo by J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia

At least half of the nation’s circulating coins are made right here in Philadelphia at the U.S. Mint. Take a trip to the facilities and you’ll get to see the process in action (from high above and behind protective glass). Interactive displays depict the many presidential and honorary commemoratives designed here, and early coining equipment and rare and historic coins are also on view.

Where: U.S. Mint, 151 N. Independence Mall East

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14

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Where the spirit of the Revolution received its sternest test

— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

The site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army, Valley Forge National Historical Park offers a glimpse into the Revolutionary War with historic structures such as Washington’s Headquarters and commemorative monuments such as the National Memorial Arch. Visitors can explore the park by car, by bike or on foot guided by the park’s cell phone tour.

Where: Valley Forge National Historical Park, 1400 N. Outer Line Drive

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15

Institute of Contemporary Art

Museum introducing provocative contemporary artists for more than 40 years

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Ever since Andy Warhol and his entourage caused a near-riot here in 1965, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has been shaking up the city with shows revealing the hottest and coolest trends in contemporary art. The ICA has led the way with the first-ever museum shows of Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana and other influential artists, and continues to host distinctive exhibitions for visitors to explore, free of admission.

Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street

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16

Bartram's Garden

America’s birthplace of gardening

Join a morning bird walk or stroll through the fragrant flower gardens and riverside meadows at Bartram’s Garden, the place where gardening first took root in America. With its riverfront location and beautiful view of the Philadelphia skyline, Bartram’s Garden creates a fielded oasis, rich in history and outfitted with 18th-century farm buildings. Tours are available of this 45-acre National Historic Landmark from April through October.

Where: Bartram's Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard

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17

Christ Church

Where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England

Christ Church in Philadelphia Christ Church in Philadelphia
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Christ Church, the first parish in Pennsylvania of the Church of England, was the worshipping grounds for notable names including George Washington, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin. Considered one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture, the 18th-century building is open daily and tours are offered of both the church and the nearby Christ Church Burial Ground, where you can toss a penny on Franklin’s grave for good luck. While visits are free-of-charge, donations are appreciated.

Where: Christ Church, 20 N. American Street

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18

Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site

The house where Poe wrote and published some of his greatest tales

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site was once home to the legendary writer who wrote short stories such as The Black Cat here. Visitors can explore his fascinating life and learn how Poe influenced today’s literary heavy-hitters. Tours are self-guided or led by a park ranger.

Where: Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site, 532 N. 7th Street

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19

Science History Institute

Exploring the impact of science and technology

— Photo courtesy Science History Institute

Located in a former Civil War-era bank building, the free museum at the Science History Institute houses permanent and rotating exhibitions, showcasing hundreds of 18th- to 20th-century artifacts that tell the stories of the successes, astonishing failures and strange surprises behind the scientific discoveries that changed our world.

Where: Science History Institute, 315 Chestnut Street

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20

The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Devoted to artists creating new work in fabrics and other materials

— Photo by N. Santos for Visit Philadelphia

A contemporary art museum devoted to creating work in new media and new materials through its Artists-in-Residence program, The Fabric Workshop and Museum boasts an extensive permanent collection, in-house and touring exhibitions and comprehensive educational programming. Holding a community spirit, admission is free-of-charge.

Where: The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch Street

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Bonus Savings

21

Free First Sundays at the Barnes Foundation

One of the world’s foremost collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings

Barnes Foundation Barnes Foundation
— Photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

On the first Sunday of every month, visitors to the Barnes Foundation – one of the world’s leading collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings – can enjoy free admission, family entertainment and informative seminars from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Free tickets can be obtained on-site starting at 9 a.m. for 10 a.m. entrance times and later. Featuring 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes and 59 Matisses, along with works by Manet, Degas, Seurat, Prendergrast, Titian and Picasso, the Barnes Foundation is certainly a museum not to miss out on.

Where: Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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22

Pay What You Wish at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Third-largest art museum in the country and a must-see attraction

Exterior of Philadelphia Museum of Art Exterior of Philadelphia Museum of Art
— Photo courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Every Wednesday night starting at 5 p.m., the Philadelphia Museum of Art is open to visitors who can pay what they wish to explore the entire main building, showcasing works by Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, Himalayan artists and many others. Budget-conscious art lovers can also pay what they wish on the first Sunday of every month. In addition, the museum offers free cell phone tours that add perspective to the collections as you stroll through the galleries.

Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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23

Pay What You Wish at the Rodin Museum

The largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside France

— Photo by B. Krist for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Housing the largest collection of works by Auguste Rodin outside of Paris, the renovated Rodin Museum features treasures such as “The Gates of Hell” and a bronze caste of “The Thinker.” The surrounding serene gardens are also a great place to find artistic inspiration. Guests pay what they wish to explore.

Where: Rodin Museum, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street

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24

Free First Sundays at the Brandywine River Museum of Art

Art and nature come together in a scenic riverside setting

— Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

The Brandywine River Museum of Art offers free admission to visitors on the first Sunday of the month from February through November as well as special hands-on creative art activities designed to engage visitors of all ages. Run by the Brandywine Conservancy on a nature preserve, the museum is a bucolic place to explore, offering galleries of art inspired by the the rolling hills, sometimes snowy drifts and the meandering river that surrounds it. For many, this landscape, at once rough and gentle, has become synonymous with Andrew Wyeth, whose work is exhibited here in abundance.

Where: Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffman's Mill Road

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25

Student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music

Prodigies flock to the world’s most select conservatory

— Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Music lovers can scope out future stars at the free Student Recital Series at the Curtis Institute of Music, where students perform solo and chamber works most Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings during the school year, as well as during many weekends.

Where: Curtis Institute of Music, 2501 Walnut Street

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26

Free yoga classes

Alfresco zen and stretch sessions

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Seeking to stretch your body without stretching your wallet? In Philadelphia, free yoga abounds during seasons that allow for taking your mat outdoors. In warm-weather months, find sessions every day of the week at Race Street Pier and ongoing classes at other alfresco locations during select days and times throughout the summer and fall.

Where: Various locations including Race Street Pier, Race Street and N. Columbus Boulevard

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27

Free outdoor movies

A free movie series at Penn’s Landing in July and August

People watching a movie at Summer Movie Series at Penn's Landing People watching a movie at Summer Movie Series at Penn's Landing
— Photo courtesy DRWC

During the spring, summer and fall in Philadelphia, outdoor movie screenings become a quintessential alfresco activity. You can generally find at least one movie screening per night in parks and other venues throughout the area during the warm weather season, allowing you to see classics, blockbuster hits and family-friendly films, for free!

Where: Various locations including Penn's Landing, 121 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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The Liberty Bell Center
Independence Hall and Congress Hall
The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps
LOVE Sculpture
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches
Franklin Square
The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation
Elfreth’s Alley
Carpenters’ Hall
Independence Visitor Center
United States Mint
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Institute of Contemporary Art
Bartram's Garden
Christ Church
Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site
Science History Institute
The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Bonus Savings

Free First Sundays at the Barnes Foundation
Pay What You Wish at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Pay What You Wish at the Rodin Museum
Free First Sundays at the Brandywine River Museum of Art
Student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music
Free yoga classes
Free outdoor movies
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