Heading to Philadelphia and wondering if there are any free attractions to explore? Well, you’re in luck! Philadelphia offers a wide array of incredible attractions that won’t cost you a cent. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking to enjoy some outdoor beauty, this vibrant city has got you covered. From exploring the iconic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to strolling through the charming streets of Old City, you’ll find plenty of free attractions that will leave you in awe. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the City of Brotherly Love, without breaking the bank! Yes, there are many free attractions in Philadelphia that you can explore and enjoy. From historical landmarks to parks and gardens, cultural and artistic attractions, and even outdoor activities, the City of Brotherly Love has something for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best free attractions that Philadelphia has to offer.
Independence National Historical Park
One of the most famous historical attractions in Philadelphia is the Independence National Historical Park. Here, you can explore iconic landmarks such as Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted. You can also visit the Liberty Bell Center and see the famous cracked bell, which symbolizes freedom and independence.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is not only a world-renowned museum but also an architectural marvel. While there may be admission fees for special exhibitions, the museum offers “Pay What You Wish” admission on the first Sunday of every month and every Wednesday evening. So, you can appreciate the impressive collection of art, including works by famous artists like Van Gogh and Picasso, without breaking the bank.
Liberty Bell Center
Another must-visit attraction is the Liberty Bell Center, located within the confines of the Independence National Historical Park. This iconic symbol of American freedom is free to view and is a fascinating piece of history. You can learn about the significance of the Liberty Bell and its association with the American Revolution.
Franklin Institute Science Museum
For science enthusiasts, the Franklin Institute Science Museum is a fantastic destination. While there may be tickets required for some exhibits, the museum offers free general admission days throughout the year. Here, you can explore hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and even participate in educational programs. It’s a great place to learn and have fun at the same time.
Parks and Gardens
LOVE Park, officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, is a popular gathering spot in Philadelphia. Here, you can find the iconic LOVE sculpture, which has become a symbol of the city. The park offers a pleasant outdoor space where you can relax and enjoy the urban ambiance. It’s a great spot for people-watching or having a picnic.
Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban park systems in the country, is a haven for nature lovers. With over 2,000 acres of green space, the park offers a plethora of activities for visitors. You can go for a jog, bike ride, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the park’s many trails. You can also have a picnic, visit the historic houses within the park, or even attend one of the many events hosted here throughout the year.
Bartram’s Garden is another gem in Philadelphia’s park system. This historic botanical garden is the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America. You can explore the beautiful garden grounds, learn about the native and exotic plants, or take a guided tour of the historic house. The garden also hosts various events and workshops, many of which are free to attend.
Schuylkill River Trail
The Schuylkill River Trail is a scenic path that spans over 30 miles along the banks of the Schuylkill River. It offers breathtaking views of the river and connects various neighborhoods and landmarks in the city. You can walk, run, or bike along the trail and explore the different sections, each with its own unique charm. It’s the perfect way to stay active and enjoy the beauty of nature in Philadelphia.
Cultural and Artistic Attractions
Philadelphia Museum of Art
As mentioned earlier, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is not only an architectural wonder but also a cultural and artistic haven. In addition to its extensive collection of art, the museum offers various free programs and events throughout the year. From lectures and workshops to performances and family-friendly activities, there’s always something happening at the museum that you can enjoy without spending a dime.
The Rodin Museum, located near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, houses one of the largest collections of works by renowned French sculptor Auguste Rodin outside of France. The museum offers free admission to its outdoor sculpture garden, where you can admire Rodin’s masterpieces, including his most famous work, “The Thinker.” It’s a peaceful and serene setting to appreciate art and find inspiration.
The Barnes Foundation is an exceptional art collection that spans various periods and styles. While there may be an admission fee for general admission, the museum offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Here, you can see works by artists like Picasso, Renoir, and Cézanne, beautifully displayed in the unique galleries designed by the founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
Mural Arts Philadelphia
Mural Arts Philadelphia is a program that showcases the city’s vibrant street art scene. You can take a self-guided walking tour, admire the colorful murals that adorn buildings throughout the city, and learn about the artists and the stories behind their artworks. Mural Arts Philadelphia also offers guided tours and various community events, many of which are free. It’s a fantastic way to explore the city’s artistic side and support local talent.
Markets and Street Fairs
Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is a bustling indoor market that has been a Philadelphia institution since 1892. Here, you’ll find a vast array of food vendors, artisanal crafts, fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and so much more. While you may have to pay for your purchases, simply wandering through the market and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells won’t cost you a thing. It’s a true sensory experience and a great place to immerse yourself in the city’s culinary scene.
The Italian Market, located in South Philadelphia, is one of the oldest and largest continuously operated outdoor markets in the United States. It’s a vibrant and bustling neighborhood where you can find fresh produce, meats, cheeses, as well as specialty Italian products. Exploring the market is free, and you can enjoy the lively atmosphere and immerse yourself in the local culture.
First Friday Events
First Friday is a monthly event held in the Old City neighborhood, where art galleries and boutiques open their doors to the public. You can stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit galleries, and view the latest exhibits for free. Many galleries also offer complimentary refreshments and live music, creating a festive and vibrant atmosphere. It’s a great opportunity to support local artists and discover new talent.
South Street Festivals
South Street, known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, is also home to various festivals and events throughout the year. From music festivals to street fairs, you can often find free entertainment and activities happening on South Street. It’s a lively neighborhood with a vibrant cultural scene, and there’s always something happening that you can enjoy without spending a dime.
Historical Walking Tours
Historic Philadelphia Walking Tour
A Historic Philadelphia Walking Tour is a great way to explore the city’s rich history and learn about its significant landmarks. While there may be guided tours available for a fee, you can also embark on a self-guided walking tour using maps and information available at the Visitor Center. You can visit historical sites such as Elfreth’s Alley, the Betsy Ross House, and Christ Church Burial Ground, where many notable figures are laid to rest.
Self-Guided Mural Arts Walking Tour
If you’re interested in exploring Philadelphia’s vibrant street art scene, a self-guided Mural Arts Walking Tour is a must. You can download a map or use a mobile app provided by Mural Arts Philadelphia to discover the city’s incredible murals. As you walk through different neighborhoods, you’ll encounter impressive artworks that tell stories and celebrate the city’s diverse communities. It’s a unique and visually stunning way to experience Philadelphia’s cultural landscape.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens Walking Tour
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a one-of-a-kind art environment created by artist Isaiah Zagar. The famous mosaicked space spans half a block and includes indoor and outdoor installations. While there is an admission fee, the gardens offer a free guided walking tour that provides insight into Zagar’s artistic process and the history behind the space. It’s a truly enchanting and surreal experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Franklin’s Footsteps Walking Tour
Follow in the footsteps of one of Philadelphia’s most famous residents, Benjamin Franklin, on the Franklin’s Footsteps Walking Tour. This self-guided tour takes you to various sites associated with Franklin’s life, including his former residence, his printing office, and even the site of his kite experiment. You can learn about Franklin’s contributions to science, politics, and the city of Philadelphia as you explore the historic streets.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, also known as the Penn Museum, offers free admission days for Pennsylvania residents. The museum boasts a vast collection of artifacts from around the world, including ancient Egyptian mummies, Native American pottery, and Greek and Roman antiquities. You can explore the museum’s fascinating exhibitions and learn about different cultures and civilizations without spending a dime.
The Wagner Free Institute of Science
The Wagner Free Institute of Science is another educational institution that offers free admission. This hidden gem houses a remarkable natural history collection, including fossils, minerals, and dinosaur bones. You can attend lectures, workshops, and demonstrations on various scientific topics and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world.
The Barnes Foundation
As mentioned earlier, the Barnes Foundation offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. In addition to its impressive art collection, the foundation also provides educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages. You can participate in art-making activities, attend lectures, or join guided tours to enhance your art appreciation skills. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn and engage with art in a meaningful way.
If you’re interested in archaeology and anthropology, the Penn Museum is a must-visit. While there may be admission fees for general admission, the museum offers free admission days for Pennsylvania residents. You can explore fascinating exhibitions and artifacts from different parts of the world, including the famous Sphinx of Ramses II. The museum also hosts various events and cultural festivals, providing a comprehensive educational experience.
Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia is not only a place to borrow books but also a hub of knowledge and learning. You can visit any of the library’s branches and access a vast collection of materials, including books, magazines, newspapers, and digital resources. The library often hosts free events, workshops, and lectures, covering a wide range of topics. It’s a great resource for both locals and visitors who want to expand their knowledge.
Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park, located in the northwest part of the city, offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The park features miles of picturesque trails, lush forests, and a scenic creek. You can go hiking, horseback riding, or even have a picnic in one of the many beautiful spots. It’s a serene and tranquil escape that allows you to immerse yourself in nature without traveling far from the city center.
Boathouse Row and Schuylkill River Trail
Boathouse Row, located along the Schuylkill River, is a historic site that showcases Philadelphia’s rowing community. You can stroll along the riverbank and admire the picturesque boathouses, or watch rowers practicing on the river. The adjacent Schuylkill River Trail offers a great opportunity for walking, jogging, or biking. You can enjoy stunning views of the river and the city skyline as you explore the trail.
Beach and Boardwalk at Jersey Shore
While not technically in Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore is just a short drive away and offers a perfect escape during the summer months. You can visit various beaches and enjoy the sun, sand, and surf without spending a fortune. The famous boardwalks of Wildwood, Ocean City, and Atlantic City offer free entertainment, including live music, street performers, and fireworks. It’s a great way to have some fun and relaxation by the sea.
Galleries and Exhibitions
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, mentioned earlier as a walking tour destination, is an art gallery in itself. It showcases the unique work of Isaiah Zagar, who has transformed a series of vacant lots into an extraordinary mosaic wonderland. The majority of the gardens are outdoors and visible from the street, making it a free exhibition you can enjoy at any time.
Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is one of the country’s leading contemporary art institutions. While admission is typically free, donations are appreciated. The museum holds innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions, featuring works by both established and emerging artists. Visiting the ICA is a great opportunity to experience cutting-edge art and explore new artistic visions.
Space 1026 is a collaborative artist workspace that also doubles as an art gallery. You can view works by local artists and attend exhibition openings and events for free. Space 1026 is known for fostering a thriving artistic community and supporting alternative forms of expression. It’s a great place to discover new talents and immerse yourself in Philadelphia’s vibrant art scene.
Bridgette Mayer Gallery
Bridgette Mayer Gallery represents a diverse group of contemporary artists and hosts regular exhibitions throughout the year. While some exhibitions may require admission fees, checking out the gallery during non-ticketed exhibitions allows you to see an impressive collection of contemporary art for free. It’s a great way to discover emerging artists and immerse yourself in the city’s dynamic art scene.
Music and Performances
Penn’s Landing Summer Concert Series
Penn’s Landing hosts a series of free outdoor concerts during the summer months. The annual Summer Concert Series features a wide range of musical genres, from jazz and blues to rock and pop. You can bring a blanket or a chair, sit by the waterfront, and enjoy live performances by local and national artists. It’s a fantastic way to spend a summer evening with friends and family.
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts offers a variety of free events throughout the year, including concerts, rehearsals, and community programs. You can check their schedule and attend open dress rehearsals by the Philadelphia Orchestra, or enjoy free concerts and performances in collaboration with local cultural organizations. The Mann Center provides a beautiful outdoor setting where you can experience world-class music and performances without spending a penny.
Rittenhouse Square Summer Concerts
Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia’s beloved parks, hosts free summer concerts featuring local musicians. You can bring a picnic blanket, relax under the shade of the park’s trees, and enjoy a variety of musical genres, from jazz and folk to classical and indie. The concerts create a welcoming and festive atmosphere, allowing you to connect with the local community through the power of music.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park, a seasonal pop-up park located on the Delaware River, offers various free events and performances throughout the summer. From live music and dance performances to family-friendly activities, there’s always something happening at the park. You can unwind in a hammock, play lawn games, or simply enjoy the scenic views of the river while listening to free concerts. It’s a vibrant and lively place to spend a summer day or evening.
Local Events and Festivals
Philadelphia Flower Show
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running indoor flower show. While there may be admission fees, the flower show often collaborates with local organizations and sponsors to offer free or discounted admission days for specific groups or during certain hours. The spectacular displays of flowers, plants, and landscape designs create a breathtaking experience and inspire visitors of all ages.
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is a biennial celebration of innovation and creativity in various art forms. While some events and performances may require tickets, the festival offers free programs and activities throughout its run. From art installations and street performances to workshops and interactive exhibits, you can engage with art in unexpected ways and be part of this vibrant and immersive cultural event.
Philadelphia Jazz Festival
The Philadelphia Jazz Festival celebrates the rich history and diverse sounds of jazz music. While some performances may have admission fees, the festival often offers free outdoor concerts and community events featuring local and national jazz artists. You can experience the soulful melodies and infectious rhythms of jazz, participate in workshops and jam sessions, and be part of a community united by a passion for this iconic music genre.
Midtown Village Fall Festival
The Midtown Village Fall Festival is an annual celebration of food, music, and art in the city’s vibrant Midtown Village neighborhood. The festival features live performances, street vendors, food trucks, and local artisans. While you may have to pay for food and purchases, simply being part of the festival is free and allows you to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this diverse and inclusive community.
With so many free attractions in Philadelphia, there’s no shortage of things to explore and enjoy without breaking the bank. From the rich historical landmarks to the vibrant cultural scene, the city offers a multitude of opportunities to learn, relax, and have fun. So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, don’t miss out on the chance to experience the best of Philadelphia for free.