Plan your visit to Philadelphia well and you'll find you'll be able to fill your days with amazing things to do that won't cost you anything more than your transport fees to get from one to another.
You'll be totally surprised at just how many free things to do in Philadelphia there are. No matter what your interests might be, whether it's browsing contemporary art or exhibitions in museums, snapping selfies in front of well-known landmarks for your social media, or just enjoying some outdoor time while still being in the inner city, you'll find it and for free in Philadelphia.
Free activities or not, you won't want to be dragging a suitcase behind you while you're doing them. Make the most of your time by storing any baggage you don't need at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Philadelphia. Your bags will be safe in a tagged and insured locker leaving you to make the most of every free opportunity you come across.
Best Free Things To Do In Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a city with a long and fascinating history, incredible art in galleries and in public spaces plus great parks. And the bonus is, go to the right places and they won't cost you a dime.
Independence National Historical Park
The Independence National Historical Park tops the lists of free things to do in Philadelphia for many people whether they're history fans or not. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the historic district of Philadelphia which contains the Independence Visitor Center, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell.
The Independence Visitor Center and the Liberty Bell are free of charge. Tours of Independence Hall need to be pre-reserved online via the official website and there is a $1 handling charge per entrance ticket.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum is also part of the Independence National Historical Park but it's not a free museum and has a $5 admission fee.
Self Guided Tours
When you visit Philadelphia you'll find it is one city that's keeping right up with the times. You don't need to go on an expensive guided tour of the city unless you particularly want to, as you'll find there are some great official apps that you can download onto your phone that will take you on a self-guided tour and impart all the information you could ever want to know.
Best Self Guided Walking Tours And Where To Get Them
Independence National Historical Park – There are five audio tours and a map of the Historic Square Mile which are provided by the National Parks Service on their website. There's a special app just for kids too which lets them digitally explore Independence Hall, ring the Liberty Bell, and sign their own copy of the Declaration of Independence. That makes history more real and is a super thing to do with kids in Philadelphia.
Faith And Liberty Trail – Provided by the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, this app will guide you around thirteen different trails which include more than eighty historic sites in total.
Anti-Slavery Walking Tours – The Philadelphia Inquirer offers two downloadable audio tours that will let you follow the footsteps of those who traveled with the Underground Railroad through Philadelphia.
Mural Arts Philadelphia – If you love street art then you'll love these two self-guided tours by Mural Arts Philadelphia. The app will lead you to over eighty different murals via two different routes, some in the city center and others in West Philly.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art doesn't have free admission as a general rule unless you're eighteen or under, but that changes once a week on Friday evenings and on the first Sunday of every month.
On Fridays between five in the afternoon and eight forty-five at night you can enter the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a pay what you can scheme. The first Sunday of the month follows the same scheme all day.
If your visit to Philadelphia doesn't coincide and you don't want to fork out the entrance price, you can still make the most of the moment by getting a selfie with the museum's Rocky statue on the grounds of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and take a run up the steps that were used in the making of the film.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park is one of the free things to do in Philadelphia that's hard to beat. The summertime-only park is located by the Delaware River in the Penn's Landing district of the city and is somewhere to escape to for a real chill-out session.
While you can't relax on the beach in the wintertime, it's still worth heading in the direction of Spruce Street Harbor Park as you can use it as a starting point to explore Penn's Landing. Unless you're happy to pay the admission fee, you may want to skip the Independence Seaport Museum and make the Penn's Landing Historic Walk instead. You can join the walk a few minutes from Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Another great spot to drop by near Spruce Street Harbor Park is Cherry Street Pier. In the century-old renovated pier you can browse around artisan workshops housed in shipping containers, a huge handicraft market, or grab lunch from one of the food trucks and eat it in the garden.
Schuylkill River Trail
The Delaware River isn't the only waterway that winds its way through this Pennsylvania city. It's also not the river with one of the best hikes in Philadelphia either. That honor belongs to the Schuylkill River where it meanders through Fairmount Park, which is where you can join the Schuylkill River Trail.
The Schuylkill River Trail is a paved trail running by the waterside which, when complete, will stretch for a hundred plus miles from Philadelphia through the state and connect several towns along the way. No, you won't want to do all of it when you visit Philadelphia, but you can enjoy part of it and for free too.
Take a time travel trip back to the early 18th century by taking a stroll down Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia's Center City district.
Elfreth's Alley is a complete time capsule that has to be seen to be believed. If anything has changed on this cobbled street in the past three hundred years, it's only the occupants of the period houses.
Walking past the historic buildings of Elfreth's Alley in Center City is one of the more unusual free things to do in Philadelphia. If you want to know what the houses would have looked like inside in bygone days then you'll have to visit the Elfreth's Alley Museum for which there is a nominal admission fee.
Fireman's Hall Museum
The Fireman's Hall Museum is one museum in historic Philadelphia that rings all the bells. Located on North 2nd Street just a few minutes away from the Betsy Ross House and Elfreth's Alley, the Fireman's Hall Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the city's firefighters.
The museum exhibits several vintage fire engines and a wide variety of artifacts related to the firefighting service.
The Fireman's Hall Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. Entry is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Smith Memorial Playground
If you're looking to find something to do with young kids ten years of age or under in Philadelphia that's free, then head for the Smith Memorial Playground.
Smith Memorial Playground, in East Fairmount Park on Reservoir Drive, has been putting smiles on kids’ faces for over a hundred years. As well as the huge outdoor play area, the park has an indoor playhouse too where the young ones can participate in creative activities.
Smith Memorial Playground is open every day except Mondays between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. If you want your child to join in with the playhouse activities you'll need to make a reservation online in advance of arriving.
Institute Of Contemporary Art
Two generous benefactors have guaranteed that admission to the Institute Of Contemporary Art is always completely free to everyone.
The Institute Of Contemporary Art is located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and houses temporary rotating exhibitions of modern art from known and aspiring artists.
Visiting hours vary depending on the day of the week, with the museum remaining closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. To attend any of the ICA's special events you need to make a prior reservation online via the official website.
The President's House
If you're expecting a luxurious mansion when you go to see the President's House in Philadelphia you'll have a big surprise.
The President's House is an open-air monument constructed on the site where both George Washington and John Adams lived while serving their terms in office. Built like a house, only with short walls, this free museum is dedicated to the nine enslaved people who served America's first president.
The President's House is located in the Independence National Historical Park near the Liberty Bell Center and is open for viewing twenty-four hours of the day, seven days a week.
Science History Institute
The Science History Institute is a free museum on Philadelphia's Chestnut Street dedicated to the preservation of the history of science.
At the Science History Institute, you can get an insight into how various sciences have developed over the centuries, learn about inventions and the geniuses that created them as well as how major scientific breakthroughs occurred.
The museum is only open three days of the week from Thursday to Saturday between ten in the morning and five in the afternoon.
Storytelling benches by Once Upon A Nation Storytelling are an integral part of Historic Philadelphia and one way of getting a history lesson on the city totally free while being well entertained. That's a great deal all around.
There are thirteen Once Upon A Nation storytelling benches in Historic Philadelphia in total. If you're visiting Elfreth's Alley, Independence Hall, Franklin Court where the Benjamin Franklin Museum is, the Betsy Ross House, or Franklin Square, you'll be able to take a seat on a storytelling bench while you're there.
The stories are short ones, from three to five minutes in length, and often performed by narrators in period costumes which makes them even more fun.
One of the top spots to head for if you want a free chill out when you visit Philly is Franklin Square.
Franklin Square, in the Independence National Historical Park, has a beautiful early 19th-century fountain, the Franklin Square Fountain, at its heart. There are free to attend dancing water, music, and light shows at the fountain every day which are spectacular to watch. You'll also find one of the Once Upon A Nation storytelling benches in Franklin Square too.
There are many events held in Franklin Square during the year including the Chinese Lantern Festival and the Electric Spectacle Holiday Light Show.
There's no admission fee to go into Franklin Square, but some of the attractions, like the Philly Mini Golf, a model-sized representation of the city complete with the Liberty Bell, and the Liberty Carousel are not free of charge.
Whatever you do in Philly free you'll be guaranteed to enjoy it and may even learn about the city's history. Whether you go on a free self-guided tour using an app, visit any of the free historic sites, take selfies in front of the Love sculpture in John F Kennedy Park, or by Benjamin Franklin's grave, when your visit to Philadelphia is over, you'll definitely agree the things to do for free in Philly are truly world-class.