50 Free Things To Do In Philadelphia

Both visitors to Philadelphia and our local community are always looking for free activities in Philly, and we've got a comprehensive list of 50 free things to do in Philadelphia. We've even broken them down into categories for you -so whether your interests lie in the Historic, Green Spaces, Museum, Music, or Activities you'll be able to find something exciting (and FREE) to do in our great city. Get out your bucket list; you'll be wanting to add some of these. (Locals, scroll through to explore Philly green spaces, free classes and events you've never heard of).

Elfreth's Alley
Photo Credit: Elfreth's Alley
HISTORIC

Independence Hall - It's where it all started. You'll experience the room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were each signed.

Congress Hall - Built as the Philadelphia County Courthouse, Congress Hall was home to the U.S. Congress from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States. Presidents Washington and Adams were both inaugurated in this building.

The Liberty Bell - Fun Fact: No one recorded when or why the Liberty Bell first cracked, but the most likely explanation is that a narrow split developed in the early 1840's after nearly 90 years of hard use. In 1846, when the city decided to repair the bell prior to George Washington's birthday holiday (February 23), metal workers widened the thin crack to prevent its farther spread and restore the tone of the bell using a technique called "stop drilling". The wide "crack" in the Liberty Bell is actually the repair job!

Carpenter's Hall - Continuously owned and operated by The Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, the oldest trade guild in America, since 1770, this historic building has also been home to Franklin's Library Company, The American Philosophical Society, and the First and Second Banks of the United States.

The President's House - See the site of the original "White House" which served as the President's home from 1790 to 1800 while Philadelphia was the capital of the United States.

The U.S. Mint - When the framers of the U.S. Constitution created a new government for their untried Republic, they realized the critical need for a respected monetary system. Soon after the Constitution's ratification, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton personally prepared plans for a national Mint. On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act, which created the Mint and authorized construction of a Mint building in the nation's capital, Philadelphia. This was the first federal building erected under the Constitution.

Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum - In addition to learning about the science and chemistry all around us, this renovated facility employs ecologically sensitive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles, including new insulation, wall tile made of recycled glass, and bathroom floors made of recycled cans. Pro Tip: visit on First Fridays, when the Museum at CHF hosts special guest speakers and hands-on activities, (still free).

Laurel Hill Cemetery - Laurel Hill is the final resting place of countless individuals who shaped the history of our city and nation - nestled on a scenic bluff high above the Schuylkill River.

Edgar Allen Poe House - The six years Poe lived in Philadelphia were said to be his happiest and most productive. In Poe’s humble home, you can celebrate Poe’s creativity and enduring writings.

Mount Moriah Cemetery - Mount Moriah is the final resting place for 1,000s of veterans from the Revolution, Civil War, Spanish American War, War of 1812, World Wars I & II, Vietnam, and Korea.

Elfreth’s Alley - Representing three hundred years of history, the thirty-two buildings along Elfreth’s Alley were built from 1720s–1830s, and reveal the fascinating stories of everyday life in the spaces that America’s founders knew. You can learn the house-by-house story of the Alley’s early residents through their available guidebook.

Jefferson’s Walking Tour of Philadelphia - Offered through the American Philosphical Society, you can download Jefferson's Walking Tour for a self-guided peek into America's early history.

Christ Church - Founded in 1695, Christ Church boasts Benjamin & Deborah Franklin, as well as Betsy Ross as former parishioners. Later, George Washington and John Adams attended services while they were the nation’s Chief Executives.

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul - The largest brownstone structure in Philadelphia and the largest Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, this beautiful cathedral is truly a work of art and fine architecture worth seeing.

Declaration House - The Declaration House exhibit includes a recreation of the two rooms Jefferson rented on the second floor.

Biking the Wissahickon Valley Trails
Photo Credit: Friends of the Wissahickon
GREEN SPACES & PLAYGROUNDS

Franklin Square - Franklin Square is one of the five original open-space parks planned by William Penn when he laid out the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1682. With a playground, mini-golf, a carousel, and a cafe on site, (serving up SquareBurger, authentic Philly foods like TastyKake, and complete with ice cream available!), children and adults alike enjoy this space.

Schuylkill River Drive - A multi-use trail with a projected length of almost 130 miles when complete, there already over 60 miles of finished trail, including a stretch from Philadelphia to Parkerford measuring over 30 miles. The Kelly Drive section is especially scenic, with views of the skyline and the scenic Boathouse Row.

West River Drive - On Saturdays and Sundays, April through October, the city closes a section of West River Drive/MLK Jr Drive to automobiles, allowing cyclists, runners, and families to enjoy the path from 7AM to 5PM during these months. Directly across from Kelly Drive, running from the Falls Bridge to Sweet Briar Drive, this is a delightful way to enjoy recreation in Philadelphia.

Wissahickon Environmental Center - Located at the northern end of Wissahickon Valley Park, the Wissahickon Environmental Center is also known as the "Tree House," named for the giant sycamore tree that once grew through the porch of this charming century-old farmhouse. Or, just explore the 1,800 acres ofWissahickon Valley Trails.

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum - The history of Tinicum Marsh, the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetland in Pennsylvania, goes back to 1634 and the region's first settlements. Today, it remains as 1,000 acres of wildlife refuge, even with the Philadelphia skyline easily visible from within. Awbury Arboretum - Awbury Arboretum is an extraordinary 55 acres of green space in the historic Germantown section of Philadelphia, and is the largest remaining island of open space in this part of the city.

Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden - The Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) established and maintains the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial. The Memorial includes three terraces and seventeen sculptures that were commissioned over a period of thirty years.

Bartram's Garden - Bartram’s Garden is a 45-acre National Historic Landmark, operated by the John Bartram Association in cooperation with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Visit to the grounds are free and open to the public year-round, dawn to dusk, (except on City-observed holidays).

The Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education - ounded in 1965, The Schuylkill Center is one of the first urban environmental education centers in the country. Envisioning an "island of green" where city dwellers could experience and learn about the natural world, sisters Eleanor Houston Smith and Margaret Houston Meigs, along with their families, donated the extensive parcels of farmland and woods that make up the Center’s grounds today.

the barnes foundation
Photo Credit: The Barnes Foundation
MUSEUMS

Institute of Contemporary Art - Founded in 1963 by the visionary dean of the school of architecture, Holmes Perkins, who wanted to expose students to what was “new and happening” in art and culture, ICA has developed an international reputation as a preeminent venue for contemporary art and culture.

Art Museum - The Museum began as a legacy of the great Centennial Exhibition of 1876, held in Fairmount Park, and has remained one of the nation's preeminent art museums throughout the centuries. (1st Sunday of each month & All Wednesdays after 5p are Pay-What-You-Wish)

The Barnes Foundation - The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.”, and still holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings. (Free on the First Sunday of each month)

Dream Garden - Dream Garden is an enormous glass mosaic designed by artist Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966), and executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, for the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building in Philadelphia.

National Museum Of American Jewish History - Established in 1976, and situated on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, the National Museum of American Jewish History is the only Museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. (Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays After 5PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Pizza Brain - The world’s first pizza museum – with an artisan pizzeria attached. Mario Lanza Institute Museum - This museum houses a variety of memorabilia from the career of the legendary tenor from Philadelphia.

Fireman's Hall Museum - 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.

TUSPM Shoe Museum - The museum was created during the nation's bicentennial in 1976, and the collection include Egyptian burial sandals, bridal footwear, salesmen's miniature samples, children's shoes, shoe lasts, Malaysian clogs, Eskimo boots, a circus giant's size 18 shoes, iron diving boots, ballet shoes, and the huge shoe of a young victim of gigantism whose leg and foot weighed 58 pounds.

Polish American Cultural Center Museum - The culture of the Polish homeland and the contributions of its citizens share the limelight at this compact museum. The most colorful displays focus on the traditions that the immigrants brought to America, from Pisanki (painted Easter eggs) to decorative wooden plates.

Fabric Workshop & Museum - Founded in 1977, FWM is recognized as an internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum, uniquely distinguished as the only institution in the United States devoted to creating work in new materials and new media in collaboration with artists coming from diverse artistic backgrounds—including sculpture, installation, video, painting, ceramics, and architecture.

Philadelphia Center For Architecture - The Center provides the public with a place to explore architecture, urban planning, and design, allowing them to understand how these disciplines affect our daily lives. Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Weaver III Historical Dental Museum - This exhibition displays include the recreation of a nineteenth-century Victorian dental office, outfitted with period objects and furniture, as well as a richly varied collection of photographs, dental instrument and equipment displays, and the personal possessions of former dental school students, faculty, and alumni. Rodin Museum (Outdoor Space Only) - While you do need to pay to visit the interior, the garden is free and contains several famous pieces of art, including The Thinker.

yoga at race street pier
Photo Credit: Delaware River Waterfront
ACTIVITIES

Free Yoga On The Waterfront - Daily free yoga is offered along the Delware River.

Outdoor Movies In The Park - Every week this summer, Philadelphia is offering one or more free movies in the park. Thrillist compiled a great list here, and even more are available throughout Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia.

Free Brewery Tours - Several brewing companies local to Philadelphia offer free tours of their breweries, including Victory Brewing, Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia Brewing Company, and Sly Fox, (check their websites for specific times and days tours are offered).

Try Disc Golfing - Sedgley Disc Golf course offers free admission, (outside of the Philly Open).

Try Salsa Lessons - just pay the cover, and you receive free beginner salsa lessons.

Comedy Lessons - Philadelphia Improv Theater offers free beginner lessons. Find dates here.

Cultural Festivals - The PECO Multicultural Series offers 8 free events at Penn’s Landing throughout the summer, spanning cultures from Irish to Islamic to Mexican.

Fitness Classes - Philly Mag compiled a great list of free workouts available daily in Philadelphia.

Free outdoor music concerts Philadelphia MUSIC

Student Recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music - With over 100 free concerts annually, student Recitals are free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required, but they do recommend arriving early to ensure seating.

Radio 104.5 Summer Concerts - Free concerts to enjoy both trendy & up-and-coming bands at Festival Pier.

Kimmel Center Performances - The famous Kimmel Center offers many free events throughout the year to experience premier performing arts groups, as well as free tours of their art & architecture within the center.

Free Kids Activities in Philadelphia JUST FOR KIDS!

Once Upon A Nation Storytelling & Re-Enactments - Their historic storytelling benches are completely free, with frequent days and times available at 13 locations throughout convenient points within the city.

Spray Parks - Any city kid will tell you that in addition to Philadelphia's many green spaces and playgrounds, our many spray grounds are one of the coolest things Philly's got to offer local kids. Metro Kids has got a great list of the spray grounds near to Center City.

Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse - For over 100 years, this has been a destination for Philadelphia's children. With an indoor play area and an expansive and well-kept outdoor grounds, children can enjoy swings, multiple play structures, and the famous wooden slide. Smith operates seasonally, so check their website before planning your visit.

1 Comment on “50 Free Things To Do In Philadelphia

  1. Loved the list . Can we have more walking tours through fairmount park? I would love to visit some of the grand houses.

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