While you may not be able to find a free Philly Cheese Steak on this list, navigating the City of Brotherly Love on a budget will help you see as much of Philadelphia as possible, no matter what your travel budget may be. This historic city has plenty to explore, making any opportunity for free fun a welcomed occasion.
The Liberty Bell
A trip to Philly wouldn’t be complete without stopping and seeing the Liberty Bell. This iconic symbol of our nation and its iconic cracked bell has been a mainstay in popular culture. From the characters in the hit show How I Met Your Mother, visiting (and licking) the bell, to Nick Cage deciphering clues with it in National Treasure. Most noteworthy, this piece of American history is free to the public to visit.
As the Liberty Bell is not only an important artifact but one that carries no admission fees. Therefore, you can expect this to be a popular tourist destination. Despite the potential and probably large crowds, this should certainly be on anyone’s list.
Schuylkill River Banks and Boardwalk
Schuylkill River Banks and Boardwalk offers some of the clearest surrounding views of the city skyline. The Boardwalk is located along the Schuylkill River just outside of the University of Pennsylvania. Guests can find a walking path, picnic spots, and watch boats and kayaks float by. Bicycles are also welcome to come, as well as leashed pets. Whether you are looking for a fun picnic outing with a few or simply looking for a better place to get in some cardio, this is the free local place to be. If you think the views are pretty during the day, you should see them lit up at night!
John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
Founded in 1972, the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum has been bringing nature and conservation to the city. One would expect some form of admission into a wildlife refuge of 1,000 sprawling acres of wetlands, marshes, and grasslands, but this park is free to visit. In addition to offering some of the best local bird watching, the refuge is conveniently close to the airport. This allows for one final peaceful look back before you head out of the city.
Residents already know that this refuge is also an ideal way to exercise while reconnecting with nature. 10 miles of hiking trails take guests through the park. Where else in Philadelphia are you going to see deer while you are out for a jog?
The local Dream Garden is a classic local Philly attraction and one that is arguably underrated. Edward Bok, the famous author and humanitarian, and the same figure that Bok Tower takes its name from, commissioned this stunning piece of art in 1916. This large glass mosaic is comprised of over 100,000 pieces of Tiffany Glass. In addition, it stretches 15 feet by 49 feet and was designed by artist Maxfield Parrish.
Famous casino owner Steve Wynn purchased the piece and almost took it to Las Vegas, but local Philadelphia groups were able to raise enough funding to buy it back and keep it home. Because of this, it may be a good idea to check out this unique, and free, art installation before someone else tries to buy it.
Visiting Independence Hall is actually something that would be convenient after viewing the Dream Garden. The Dream Garden is located about a quarter of a mile away, placing the two free landmarks within minutes of one another.
Many assume that the Declaration of Independence was signed in the nation’s capitol, but Independence Hall in Philadelphia is where this important piece of history took place. This important building was originally constructed in 1753, with Alexander Hamilton being one of the architects.
Independence Hall is free to tour; that said, there is a small catch. Like many national monuments, tickets are available free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Arriving early in the day will often be good enough on most days of the year. However, if you are afraid of them selling out before you get there, advanced tickets can be purchased ahead of time. Even if you wind up paying to tour the building, the cost of paid admission is a whopping $1.50 per ticket.
If you have ever wondered why some of your spare change has a “P” on it, it’s because it was minted in Philadelphia. This location of U.S. Mint offers free self-guided tours inside a classic brutalist architectural style building. The first local mint was opened in 1792 a few blocks away, with the current building having been in operation since the 1960s. Other mint locations being found in Washington, D.C., Denver, and San Francisco; despite these other branches printing money daily, as many as half of all circulating coins in the country are from Philadelphia.
Tours may not take you all day, but it is fascinating to see the process of coins and paper bills being created for circulation. The onsite gift shop is also a unique offering in its own right.