20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is oftentimes shortened to Philly, especially by those who live there. It is known as the city of Brotherly Love. But its claim to fame is the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches! You simply cannot create a list of things to do in Philadelphia that doesn’t include a stop for one of those sandwiches. In fact, as you cross off things to do in Philadelphia this weekend, you can easily eat a number of different Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. You can then decide if there is really any other answer to the question, “What to do in Philadelphia?”, besides eating Philly cheesesteaks!

Where is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The city of Philadelphia is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania. You will find Philadelphia approximately eighty miles to the southwest of New York City. This city lies along both the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.

Best Time to Visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The best time to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is during the months of March, April, and May. The snow is disappearing, the temperatures are warming up, and the rest of the visitors haven’t arrived yet. It is a peaceful time to wander along the streets and see all the popular attractions.

Weather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As with the rest of the northeast, the weather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is quite cold during the winter months. It is common for the lows to dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The summer months bring extreme heat and humidity though. During those months, the thermometer hovers between the middle 80s and sometimes the high 90s. Spring and fall offers temperatures in between. As for rain, that is common year-round, with snow being more prominent during the winter.

20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1. See the Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell
Credits: Céline Harrand, Flickr

Of course, we must have the Liberty Bell at the top of our list of free things to do in Philadelphia. You will find the Liberty Bell inside the Liberty Bell Center. You don’t need a ticket to see this Philly attraction. But be prepared, because the line can be quite long, especially during peak season. The wait is worth it though. Most people say that the Liberty Bell is one of the best things to see in Philadelphia.

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2. Wander Through Independence Hall

Independence Hall is another free attraction in Philadelphia. But you must have a ticket to enter. The tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center. We recommend arriving early in the morning to get yours, because there are only so many available each day and they disappear quickly! Inside this building, you will see where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were both signed in the Assembly Room.

3. Climb the Rocky Steps

Rocky steps
Credits Wikimedia Commons.

The Rocky Steps can be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can easily run up and down the steps like Rocky did in the movie. Please take the time to appreciate the views from the top though, because you won’t find that view anywhere else! The Rocky statue is located at the bottom of the stairs, so you can grab a selfie or two if you want. This is one of the best things to do with kids in Philadelphia if you are looking to get some energy out.

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4. See History Inside the Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing

Original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, as well as the Articles of the Confederation can be seen in this Philadelphia attraction. This is one of the top 10 things to do in Philadelphia.

5. Take Pictures at the LOVE Sculpture

LOVE Sculpture
Credits Wikimedia Commons.

The LOVE sculpture is within the John F Kennedy Plaza. This plaza is also known as LOVE Park. Trying to find this via the maps on your phone is tricky, but the locals can point you in the right direction when you are in the general area. This is one of the fun things to do in Philadelphia for couples.

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6. Wander Through the Ryerss Museum

The Ryerss Museum is inside a mansion over in northeast Philadelphia. It is one of the many things to do in Philadelphia for free. Inside this museum, you will find artifacts the Ryerss family collected during their extensive travels. A few of the more prominent items include Native American woven baskets, European art, and statues that are directly from Japanese Buddhist temples.

7. Visit the Fireman’s Hall Museum

Fireman's hall museum
Credits Wikimedia Commons.

One of the best family things to do in Philadelphia is visiting the Fireman’s Hall Museum. No child will be able to resist checking out all the different types of firefighting equipment and fire engines. There is even an interactive kiosk that will allow your children to learn everything about using 911 for emergencies. A favorite part of this attraction is trying on the fire coats and the fire boots.

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8. Spend Time at the Museum without Walls

We all know that kids are not fans of museums or staying still for long periods of time. Thankfully, the Museum without Walls is the perfect solution when you are looking for things to do in Philadelphia with toddlers. This is also one of the cool things to do in Philadelphia, because it allows you to look at different sculptures while spending time outside. You will find this museum along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, as well as in Center City and Fairmount Park.

9. Enjoy Playtime at the Smith Memorial Playground

Smith Memorial Playground - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: Adam Fagen, Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Smith Memorial Playground is one of the best places to visit with kids in Philadelphia. It is also one of the oldest playgrounds in the country. There are more than twenty different pieces of play equipment, as well as a 16,000 square foot playhouse.

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10. Watch Coins Being Made at the US Mint

It is possible to see some of the coins made every day in the US when you are vacationing in Philadelphia. Touring the US Mint is one of the top things to do in Philadelphia and it’s free! Your tour guide will have you standing high above the area where the coins are produced. You can even see some rare historic coins and the early coining equipment during your visit.

11. Embrace Your Poetic Side at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site

Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Edgar Allan Poe used to live at this location, and he wrote many of his short stories here too. You can choose to add a self-guided tour to your list of things to do in Philly or you can take a tour led by a ranger. No matter what you choose, you must realize this is one of the must-see places to visit in Philadelphia.

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12. Explore Science at the Science History Museum

As you are searching for things to do in Philadelphia, PA, you will stumble across the Science History Museum. This museum is inside a Civil War era bank building. Every exhibit contains artifacts from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

13. Wander Through Bartram’s Garden

Bartram’s Garden - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: experienceology, Flickr CC BY 2.0

One of the romantic things to do in Philadelphia is wandering through Bartram’s Garden. This garden contains forty-five acres of space. It is filled with gorgeous flowers, riverside meadows, and even 18th century farm buildings.

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14. Visit Carpenter’s Hall

Carpenter’s Hall is where people from the twelve colonies met as the First Continental Congress. Inside the building, you can see different exhibits that share the history of what took place in the building many years ago.

15. Experience Franklin Square

Franklin Square - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Square is the perfect place to spend some time as a family in Philadelphia. You can spend hours hanging out and having fun. The downside is that many of the activities within this square can only be enjoyed after paying a small fee. However, you may be willing to pay that small fee for a chance to catch your breath as your kids ride the carousel or play a game of mini golf.

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16. Relax at Rail Park

Philadelphia is known for keeping people busy during their visits. That’s why one of the unusual things to do in Philadelphia is relaxing at Rail Park. Since you won’t get to relax in many other places in this city, embrace it when you are visiting Rail Park. This park is located where the Reading Railroad used to be. Currently, it is a quarter mile space. However, plans are being made to enlarge it to a total of three miles.

17. Walk Along the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

This boardwalk is 2,000 feet long. While you can simply walk the boardwalk, we recommend walking along the Schuylkill River Trail too. However, if you don’t want to, you can at least enjoy walking over the river from Locust Street to South Street.

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18. Listen to a Story on One of the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches

There are thirteen Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches in Philadelphia. During the warmer months of the year, you can sit on any of them and listen to a professional storyteller. The stories last approximately five minutes. This is one of the unique things to do in Philadelphia and you will learn so much from each story.

19. Play Some Games at Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park - Free Things to Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: kjarrett, Flickr CC BY 2.0

Vacationing in Philadelphia, PA during the summer months will give you the opportunity to spend a lot of time at Spruce Street Harbor Park. There is an abundance of lawn games available at this park. However, if you are tired and need some downtime, you can always claim one of the hammocks by the river.

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20. Visit Valley Forge National Historical Park

One of the best things to do near Philadelphia is visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park. This is a must-do in Philadelphia, especially if you love history. This area is where the winter encampment of the Continental Army was held during 1777 and 1778. You will learn a lot about the Revolutionary War during your visit to this park.

Expert Tips for Traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You can really improve the quality of your vacation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a couple of our expert tips.

Use the Phlash – While you can walk to almost all the places to visit in Philadelphia, taking the Phlash is a must. This bus runs from May through September. You can catch a bus at any of the stops every fifteen minutes between ten in the morning and six in the evening. There is an all-day pass available to save you some cash, as you see all the main sites.

Phlash - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Look for the Signs – As you are finding things to do in downtown Philly, you may forget to take the time to look for signs. There are blue signs throughout the entire city and each one marks Philadelphia attractions. If you are not paying close enough attention, you can miss some of the historical locations in the city.

Take One of the Many Available Tours – Yes, we know that most tours are tourist traps! However, in Philadelphia, they are the best way to learn about the city and learn where everything is located. Plus, most of these tours are considered the best things to do with family in Philadelphia.

Now you have at least twenty free, or almost free, things to do in Philly. Once you add them to our expert tips, you will quickly see why this destination must be on your list for future family vacations. After all, there are so many things to do with family in Philadelphia. And with so many options of fun things to do with kids in Philadelphia, you will never hear anyone say they are bored during your visit.

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