Free Things to do in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a great city to visit on a vacation, even for the budget conscious. Not only is Philly a beautiful city full of public recreation areas and parks but there are also many historical, entertaining and educational activities that are free. That’s right, absolutely free, don’t cost a dime.

Now more than ever, taking advantage of bargains is an important way to stretch the slim dollar a little bit further. The bargains below simply can’t be beat for tourists and locals alike because they’re absolutely free.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall, one of the most historic buildings in the United States, is a great place to go for a day of entertainment and education and a trip through our country’s past. Originally built in 1732 the then known Pennsylvania State House was seen as a very ambitious building, so much so that it took 21 years of piecemeal work to complete. But it’s obviously not the building itself which draws so much attention, its because the building housed this country’s founding father as they adopted the Declaration of Independence and then penned the U.S. Constitution, the oldest federal constitution in existence. Tickets for the Independence Hall are required and are used on a timed basis, you can get them free on the date of your visit at the Hall or you can reserve them in advance for only $1.50 a ticket.

New Hall Military Museum

For military buffs the New Hall Military Museum is a great way to examine early military history and get an in depth look at the army, navy and the marines. The first floor of this two floor museum has a historical look at the history of the marines from 1775 to 1781, right before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The displays include many well preserved artifacts. The second floor of the New Hall Military Museum is dedicated to the Navy and the Army with a larger portion of the displays focused on Navy history.

Liberty Bell

Every child learns about the chime of a bell which signified a phenomenal change that would lead to the birth of the United States of America on July 8, 1776. It was with the bell toll that the locals knew to gather at Independence Hall for the first official reading of the Declaration of Independence. But it’s quite possibly a flaw in the Liberty Bell which makes it most recognizable. On the anniversary of Washington’s Birthday in 1846 the bell was so cracked that it was no longer ringable, but the Liberty Bell actually had problems with cracks for years with several of them being repaired throughout time.

U.S. Mint

There’s just something fascinating about money, especially for those penny pinchers out there, so where else would you go but the U.S. Mint. The Philadelphia branch of the mint is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Tours are free and self guided and you don’t need to make a reservation. A standard tour takes approximately 45 minutes. The highlight of the tour is you can actually view coin production from start to finish.

Gazela and Jupiter

The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild has vowed to preserve the historic ships of Philadelphia, the tall ship Gazela and the tugboat Jupiter. Join the crew every Saturday from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm to learn more about the ships and to help with the preservation efforts in any way you can. It’s a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with this historic links to Philadelphia’s aquatic past. Check the website for upcoming events as there are several throughout the year and it would be a shame to miss one if your trip coincides.

The Rodin Museum

Most people are familiar with Rodin’s great sculpture The Thinker but the artist created so many wonderful works of art that The Rodin Museum is a wonderful and enlightening place to spend an afternoon. Movie theater magnate Jules Mastbaum was a great fan of Rodin and in 1923, three years before his death, he decided to begin his Rodin collection in the hopes of one day establishing a museum for all to enjoy. In the three short years before his demise he had amassed so many works by the sculptor that he owns the largest collection outside of Paris. In 1926 he commissioned the builders but he did not live to see the museum’s fruition, it was through the efforts of his widow that the city received this fantastic gift of art from Jules Mastbaum and Auguste Rodin.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

One of the largest art museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts more than 25 exhibits each year. The exhibits continually rotate and feature some of the museum’s collections and works of art on loan from museums and collectors throughout the world. The permanent collection includes more than 225,000 objects collected from the first century AD to the third millennium BC. Exhibits provide thorough introspection of American art, Asian art, and European art in addition to many other displays. Please note that the museum does charge for entrance every day of the week except Sundays, on Sundays you are asked to make a donation of any amount you wish.

Martin Park Nature Center

Get out and enjoy the day in the best way possible, for free. Martin Park Nature Center is different from your traditional park because it has a much higher purpose, the 140 acre park is not only a recreational are but also a wildlife sanctuary and educational facility. Spent the day enjoying the weather and cataloguing the flora and fauna.

Awbury Arboretum

The Awbury Arboretum is a true delight in the hustle and bustle of big city life. In 1852 Henry Cope built this patch of land for his family as his extended family has already built homes on adjacent parcels of land. At the time this area was not annexed into the city of Philadelphia. More Cope family members followed suit and a small family suburb was established. These grounds and the remaining homes on them form a perfect natural preserve where both historical buildings and plants can thrive and entertain guests from all over. The arboretum is open from sunrise to sunset everyday and is always free to the public.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Paul J Everett