Cheap and Free Attractions in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a great city– if you haven’t been there yet, I don’t know you are waiting for! It has everything: history, culture, art, delicious food, SO MUCH! You can read more about the reasons why I love Philly here. Philadelphia is a good choice to get away from NYC. You can go in family, or for a “girls weekend” or a romantic stay, or to follow in the footsteps of Rocky Balboa.
When it comes to visiting Philadelphia, some of the best things to see and do your kids or almost free, as my mom would say “bueno, bonito y barato” = “good, nice and cheap”. That’s good news for families and budget travelers who are interested in exploring the city.
Benjamin Franklin Museum – 317 Chestnut Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
Next to the site of the Founding Father’s home, this museum celebrates Franklin’s legacy with artifacts, computer animations and interactive displays that explore the inventor-statesman-philosopher’s life.
Tickets: Day-of tickets are available at the door and cost $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 4 to 16. Admission is free for children three and under.
Betsy Ross House – 239 Arch Street, (215) 629-4026, betsyrosshouse.org
At the pint-sized Colonial home of Betsy Ross, who is credited with sewing the first American flag at the request of General George Washington, visitors meet Ross herself as she works in her upholstery shop. In summer, visitors can start every day in the house’s courtyard with a free colonial flag-raising at 10 a.m.
Tickets: Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children, plus $2 for the optional audio tour.
City Hall Observation Deck – City Hall Visitor Center, Broad & Market Streets, E. Market Street Portal, Room 121, (215) 686-2840, phlvisitorcenter.com
Those brave enough to journey to the top of the world’s tallest masonry building enjoy bird’s-eye views of Philadelphia just below City Hall’s William Penn statue.
Tickets: City Hall’s tower hosts four-person visits weekdays, every 15 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and select Saturdays. The cost is $8.25 for adults, $6.25 for seniors and $4.25 for students and children.
Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site – 532 N. 7th Street, (215) 597-8780, nps.gov/edal
At the home of the legendary author, who wrote short stories such as The Black Cat in Philadelphia, visitors explore Poe’s fascinating life and modern-day impacts.
Tickets: Tours are self-guided or led by a park ranger from Friday through Sunday. Free.
Elfreth’s Alley – Between Front & 2nd Streets and Arch & Race Streets, elfrethsalley.org
The oldest continuously occupied residential street in the U.S. is a quaint cobblestone alley located in the Historic District.
Tickets: The museum is closed during winter months; open Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons the rest of year. Admission for a guided tour of the museum and alley is $5 per person. Family rates are available and vary depending on size of family. Children under six get in for free.
Independence National Historical Park (INHP) – INHP attractions, between 5th & 6th Streets and Market & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde; Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, phlvisitorcenter.com
The birthplace of our nation includes the Liberty Bell Center, The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation and Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Tickets: Timed tickets for Independence Hall are available at the Independence Visitor Center on the day of the tour for free or reserved in advance online for a $1.50 reservation fee per ticket. No tickets are required in January and February. All other attractions are free, and no tickets are required. FREE!
National Museum of American Jewish History – 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
The ground-level Only In America® Gallery/Hall of Fame celebrates the lives and achievements of 19 Jewish-Americans. The space boasts some big-name artifacts: Albert Einstein’s pipe and Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 camera, among others. Free.
United States Mint – 5th & Arch Streets, (215) 408-0112, usmint.gov
See how coins are made at the US mint! coin production from 40 feet above the factory floor and the nation’s first coining press. Audio and video stations explain coinage history. Free.
Valley Forge National Historical Park – 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (610) 783-1099, nps.gov/vafo
The site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army offers a glimpse into the Revolutionary War 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, obtained by calling (484) 396-1018. Free.
Please Touch Museum® – 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
Philadelphia’s children’s museum offers families discounted admission the first Wednesday of every month. From 4-7 p.m., admission to this little kid heaven is only $2 per person and includes access to all permanent and feature exhibits.
Barnes Foundation – 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
The home of one of the most important collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings in the world offers free admission and programming on the first Sunday of every month for its Free First Sundays, presented by PECO.
It also has Family Tours on the second and third Sundays of the month, which are free with collection admission, and free ArtTime Storytime programs that are best for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers.
The Barnes also offers free weekday admission for college and graduate students, and free admission on Sundays for K-12 educators in Philadelphia city and parochial schools.
Rodin Museum – 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, rodinmuseum.org
In Philadelphia you will find the largest collection of works by Auguste Rodin outside of Paris. You will be able to see treasures such as The Gates of Hell and a bronze caste of The Thinker. The surrounding gardens are also a great place to find artistic inspiration.
Tickets: pay what you wish!
Philadelphia Museum of Art – 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
Every Wednesday night starting at 5 p.m. and on the first Sunday of every month, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s crowned jewel offers pay-what-you-wish access to the entire main building, showcasing works by Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, and many others. Many special events are free with museum admission, and the museum offers free cell phone tours that add perspective to the collections.
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