As the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is also one of the major tourist destinations in the state. The city is known for its cuisine, culture, and history, and these are some of the main reasons that people flock to this city. It is also known for its outdoor spaces and for having more murals and outdoor sculptures than any other city in the United States. This city has something for everyone as there is a diverse range of activities and attractions to enjoy. Even if you have a limited budget, you can have a jam-packed vacation itinerary as there are plenty of things that you can do for free. Here are 20 awesome free things to do in Philadelphia during your visit.
1. See the Liberty Bell
One of the most famous attractions in Philadelphia is the Liberty Bell at the Liberty Bell Center. It has become a symbol not only of Philadelphia but also of independence in the United States. It is the nation’s most famous bell, and there are many myths associated with it. You can learn more about these myths and discover true facts during your visit to the center. The bell is an impressive sight as it is made predominantly of copper and weighs a whopping 2,028 pounds. A visit to the bell is an important photograph opportunity to commemorate your trip to this amazing city. The bell is set against the backdrop of Independence Hall with its magnificent glass-window walls.
2. Visit Christ Church Episcopal Philadelphia
You must walk through Franklin Court to get to Christ Church Episcopal Philadelphia. This was the first parish in Pennsylvania of the Church of England. Colonists including Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and George Washington all used this building as their place of worship. Built in the 1700s, this landmark is considered by many as one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the United States. There are free tours of the church and the ground held daily, and you will learn a lot about its history. You should also take the time to enjoy a respectful stroll through the church’s graveyard and to admire the views across the city.
3. Walk Down Elfreth’s Alley
Although it is a residential street, Elfreth’s Alley has also become a free tourist attraction because of its historical significance to the city. It is one o the original streets included in the plans for Philadelphia, and it is the only one of the original streets that have consistently been inhabited since. The street was built in the 18th-century and was originally where artisans and tradespeople lived. There are two adjacent houses that were built in 155 that are now a museum.
4. Take a Tour of Independence Hall
Independence Hall is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, this historic landmark is not only significant to the history of Philadelphia, but also to the history of the United States. You will need a ticket from the Independence Visitor Center to visit, but these are free. Also part of the Independence Hall complex is the Old City Hall, the West Wing, and Congress Hall. These are also free to visit, so you should set aside a full morning or afternoon to give yourself time to see all these free visitor attractions.
5. Spend Time at Spruce Street Harbor Park
Located along the Delaware River, the Spruce Street Harbor Park is open from spring through to fall. There are hammocks for relaxing, arcade games, over-size games, and a range of other free activities o enjoy. There are also a beer garden and some food vendors if you take along some cash to enjoy a refreshing drink and a bite to eat.
6. Go to Franklin Square
Franklin Square is a family-oriented space that was one of the original five public spaces in Philadelphia. Many aspects of this beautiful urban space are completely free. However, there is a small fee if you want to play mini golf or ride on the carousel.
7. Tour the United States Mint
An interesting tour to take during your visit to Philadelphia is a tour of the United States Mint. This interesting tour will give you the chance to learn about the fascinating coin-making process for free. The United States Mint is located inside Independence Mall, and the facility produces in excess of two million coins every hour. This facility also prints paper money. Visitors take a self-guided tour of the building, although there are audio stations to help guide you along the way and to give you further information about the sights inside the facility. Another highlight of the visit is the large display of important coins. The display also includes the first coining press and the key to the very first mint. A tour will usually last for around 45 minutes.
8. Run Up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Just outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will see the Rocky Statue by the steps leading up to the museum. These have become a surprising visitor attraction in the city as they featured in the Rock film and Rocky used the steps as part of his training routine. People now go to have their photograph taken with the statue and to have a go at running up and down the steps themselves. If you visit on the right day, you can also get into the Philadelphia Museum of Art for free, so check when there is free access when planning your visit.
9. Spend a Day at Valley Forge National Historical Park
One of the best parks in Philadelphia to visit is the Valley Forge National Historical Park, which is located on North Outer Line Drive in the King of Prussia district of the city. This park is on the site of the winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army from 1777 to 1778. A tour of the park allows visitors to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and to see the fascinating historical structures.
10. Have Fun at Blue Cross RiverRink
This is a fun place to visit at any time of the year, even though what is on the site changes depending on when you visit. During the summer months, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest transforms the space into a place to hang out both day and night. The attractions include an arcade, an outdoor roller rink, playful spaces, and food stands. During the winter months, it becomes the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. This boasts festive landscaping, fireplaces, twinkling lights, an ice-skating rink, arcade games, and food stands.
11. Go to Schuylkill Banks and Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
One of the best places to take a walk and admire the city views is the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. This is a 2,000-foot long pathway that runs from Locust Street to South Street to extend the popular Schuylkill River Trail. Walker, runners, and cyclists can walk along this scenic route for free. There are plenty of benches along the way if you just want to relax and take in your surroundings.
12. Go to the President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation
This open-air exhibit is completely free to visitors. Located next to the Liberty Bell, The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a new Nation allow visitors to learn more about slavery and freedom outside the executive mansion that was once home to several presidents. It is also where nine enslaved people served the first president.
13. Admire Art at the Institute of Contemporary Art
For art lovers, the Institute of Contemporary Art is one of the top attractions to visit. This venue has established itself as the place to visit to see the hottest trends in contemporary art. This began after displaying Andy Warhol’s work at the museum in 1965, which nearly caused a riot. Despite the free admission, this art museum is home to the works of some of the most famous contemporary artists in the world, including Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, and Laurie Anderson.
14. Go to Carpenters’ Hall
Carpenters’ Hall is one of the most historically significant landmarks in Philadelphia. It is where delegates from 12 colonies gathered in 1774 to support the trade embargo against England. Visitors can admire the magnificent Georgian architecture and enjoy the free exhibitions.
15. Relax in Bartram’s Garden
If you want some peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then Visit Philly recommends spending some time at Bartram’s Garden. Located on Lindbergh Boulevard, this 45-acre National Historic Landmark is a pretty place to visit. The riverfront location is picturesque, and ideal for taking a stroll or birdwatching. It is also a fantastic place to admire the views of the Philadelphia skyline.
16. Have an Interactive Experience at the Science History Museum
For an activity that is fun, interesting, educational, and interactive, head to the Science History Museum. This is a free museum at the Science History Institute that boasts both permanent and rotating exhibitions. There are hundreds of artifacts from the 18th-century through to the 20th-century. This interactive museum gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the scientific discoveries that have changed the world.
17. Visit the Fabric Workshop and Museum
The Fabric Workshop and Museum is a free attraction with an extensive permanent collection of fabrics and textiles equipment. The museum is devoted to creating work in new materials and new media. Throughout the year, the museum displays touring and temporary exhibitions, and it boasts a comprehensive educational program.
18. Have Fun at the Smith Memorial Playground
If you are traveling with kids, then one of the best playgrounds in Philadelphia to take them to is the Smith Memorial Playground, says Visit Philly. This playground is famous for its Ann Newman Gian Wooden Slide, which was created in 1905. The main playground is for children aged 10 and under. There is also a separate area called Straz Land with age-appropriate play equipment for children aged five and under.
19. Fireman’s Hall Museum
Although there are many museums in Philadelphia, the Fireman’s Hall Museum is one of the more unusual to visit. It is located in the old firehouse, which was built in 1902. The museum is home to some of the earliest firefighting equipment in the United States. Another feature of this museum is the interactive kiosk, which kids love. The kiosk teaches them about the 911 services. Another interactive activity at this museum is the chance to try on old fire coats and boots. Furthermore, visitors are taught about the importance of fire prevention at this free attraction.
20. Take a Sculpture Tour
One of the things that Philadelphia is most famous for is its outdoor sculptures and murals. Therefore, seeing these is an important part of absorbing yourself into the culture of the City of Brotherly Love. The Association of Public Art engages visitors using a free mobile app so that they can go on a self-guided tour. This gives people the chance to see and learn more about more than 70 outdoor sculptures that are located in the Center City, in Fairmount Park, and along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The app has audio downloads so that you can learn more about each of the sculptures.
Written by Liz Flynn
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