Free Things to Do in Philadelphia

March 18, 2013 by

Free Things to Do, Local Recommendations, Sightseeing, Suggested Itineraries, Things to Do, Top Attractions, Travel Tips

liberty bell

Liberty Bell. Photo courtesy of Racheal Grazias /

One way to keep a vacation on budget is by exploring a destination’s free attractions. Along with being home to rich history, vibrant art and delicious cheesesteaks, Philadelphia offers a range of worthwhile and complimentary attractions. Here are some recommendations on free things to do in Philadelphia.

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Go back in time

Philadelphia has a rich colonial history, much of which can be explored for free. Start with Independence Hall, a place where many important moments occurred for the country. Some of these include the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the designing of the American flag’s design, the adoption of the Articles of Confederation and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Across the street, the Liberty Bell allows you to view this iconic symbol of American Independence up close. The 2,080-pound bronze bell was originally ordered in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original constitution. The charter defended global human rights and was adopted by abolitionists as a symbol when fighting to end slavery. On July 8, 1776, it was rang to declare the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. Nearby, you can take a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest continually occupied residential street.

Wander the museums

Philadelphia is home to many free museums. The Polish American Cultural Center celebrates Polish history and culture, the Woodmere Art Museum showcases world-class paintings and sculpture by local artists, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation explores chemistry through permanent and rotating exhibits. A few other no admission museums include the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Wagner Free Institute of Science and the Philadelphia Wood Turning Center.

Even museums that charge admission often have free-to-enter dates and times. For example, The Institute of Contemporary Art is free on Thursdays from 5pm to 9pm while the Philadelphia Museum of Art is pay-what-you-wish the first Sunday of each month and Wednesdays after 5pm.

Explore the city’s mural culture

Along with a rich colonial heritage, Philadelphia is home to a vibrant mural culture. One free way to experience this is by walking the “Mural Mile,” a walking route in downtown Philly showcasing 17 of the city’s most impressive murals. For example, the first stop is at 707 Chestnut Street and features a piece called “Legacy” that represents the African fight to end slavery. The route proceeds to the last stop located at South 6th Street and South Street titled “Mapping Courage,” which honors W.E.B. DuBois and Engine #11, Philadelphia’s de facto African American firehouse until the Philadelphia Fire Department desegregated in 1952.

-Jessica Festa

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