As I am planning our summer fun and bucket list, it made me realize that the kids haven’t experienced a lot in our city, Philadelphia. While we live in the ‘burbs, we can be in the city in about a haf hour (if we don’t hit traffic) and they are missing out on a lot of things. Liberty Bell? They have never been! I mean how does that happen. How have they not seen the Liberty Bell? It would be a shame if my child’s first experience with all the things that Philly has to offer on his 5th grade field trip.
And the best part? A lot of the things to do in Philadelphia are free! So what am I waiting for?
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you’ll find plenty of free things to do here in Philadelphia! Here are a few of my favorites:
1. The Constitutional’s self-guided tour takes you on a 3-mile adventure through the Founding Fathers’ footsteps, featuring over 30 historical sites in the Independence National Historical Park area. Some of the attractions in the park include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the National Constitution Center. This is a fun and educational tour for all ages, and it’s free!
2. Wissahickon Valley Park’s mostly flat surface is great for walkers of all ages. It’s nestled between two beautiful forested ridges, with trails running from along the distance of the creek. This park has beautiful views from any trail, and would be a great place for a picnic. Make a day of it!
3. Saturdays@SCEE is a fun activity for younger children. Grab your hiking shoes and bring the little ones for a naturalist-led exploration. Then gather in the Discovery Center for story time and then hit the trails for guided exploration and discovery.
4. Wanamaker Grand Court Organ is the world’s largest pipe organ with free daily recitals. The recitals are 45 minutes and you’re welcome to?meet the organist afterwards. This one might not be the best for toddlers and preschoolers, but if they can sit still for nearly an hour, count them in!
5. Rocky Steps: 72 steps at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum, they make a great photo opp for the family – not to mention the exercise potential here. Don’t forget to wear your Fitbit!
6. Spruce Street Harbor Park is free, and open May 22 – September 27, seven days a week. While visiting, you’ll see vendors for drinks, food, and games which are pay as you go. Take in the sights of the floating barges, relax in a hammock under a canopy of lights, and challenge your friends to a life-size game of Jenga. On the weekends, you’ll even spot some circus performers!
7. Movie Night by Schuylkill Banks is sure to be fun for the entire family. New movies every week starting at 8:30pm. Bring some blankets to sit or lay on, and don’t forget the popcorn!
8. Kimmel Center Tours: This one is for the older kids, 10+. One hour free tours are offered daily, at 1pm. The Specialty Art and Architecture tours are offered at 10:30am on Saturdays. You’ll learn about the history of the Kimmel Center, which is the perfect addition to any educational field trip – especially for those interested in performing arts. All tours are on a first-come, first-served basis and limited to 20 persons per tour. You may reserve a FREE group tour for 12 or more people, in advance.
9. Independence Hall is where both the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. Rich in history, this one is a “must see” for everyone. Free with timed entry tickets obtained at the Independence Visitor Center, the tour is available from March through December for all ages.
10. Reading Terminal Market is free, but parking will cost you $4. With fresh, local food served up every day, it might end up costing you more than “free”, but it’s always free to window shop and take in the sights. You’ll browse cookbooks, table items, and foods that are one of a kind. One thing I noticed that was unique about this market is that they have Amish specialties. Now that’s not something you see every day.
11. Love Sign: The Love Sign at Love Park is probably the most famous on this list – if you exclude Independence Hall – and it’s located right across from City Hall, so it’s a perfect photo opp for many reasons. Though it’s illegal to skateboard in Love Park, and has been for quite some time, you might catch a glimpse of a few teens skating on the wild side. Take a few pictures in front of the Fountain, and pack a picnic lunch so you can spend the entire afternoon people watching!
12. United States Mint is a free and self-guided tour that takes about 45 minutes. Here, you get to view the actual coining operations from 40 feet above the factory floor. Another educational trip in the making, you will get to see the first coining press, dating back to 1792.
13. The Thinker Statue is located outside of the Rodin Museum, and is in a lot of photographs! Go snap your own, or plan a scavenger hunt near the museum to make it even more interesting.
14. Head to Dilworth Park. As Philadelphia’s Center Square, it is designed as a high-quality gateway to public transit and as a civic place with on-going programming, amenities, and activities that benefit the public and support the mission of the park
16. Spruce Street Harbor Park is now open and continues to be free to the public. Named one of the best places to visit in Philadelphia by national press, Spruce Street Harbor Park features colorful hammocks, floating gardens, beautiful lights, refreshing craft beer, and food from popular Philly restaurants, making it a summer gathering space for locals and visitors alike.
17. The Fireman’s Hall Museum presents and preserves the history of firefighting in Philadelphia, paying tribute to its firefighters, both paid and volunteer, through the museum’s exhibits, public programs and award ceremonies.
18. One of Philadelphia’s five original squares, Franklin Square is Center City’s favorite playtime oasis. Centered around its beautiful fountain, Franklin Square also features the Parx Liberty Carousel, the one-of-a-kind Philly Mini Golf course, and the renowned SquareBurger.
20. Go bird watching at John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
21. Do one of the seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia. Choose from Fairmont Park, Rittenhouse Square and more.