Top 12 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia

Philadelphia dazzles visitors with an illustrious history and vibrant urban energy. But enjoying all this great city offers need not break the bank thanks to an abundance of fantastic free attractions.

See the Liberty BellIconic symbol of American independence, free to view.
Tour Independence HallHistoric site where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, no cost.
Explore Public ArtDiscover murals and sculptures throughout the city.
Relax in Scenic ParksEnjoy green spaces like Rittenhouse Square and Love Park.
Attend Free ConcertsSeasonal music events in various locations.
Stroll South StreetEclectic mix of shops, art, and food.
Visit the Rodin MuseumHome to over 140 sculptures by Auguste Rodin, entry is free.
See the WissahickonNatural beauty with trails for hiking and biking.
Explore Philadelphia ZooFirst zoo in America, with free admission on select days.
Try Iconic FoodsSample Philly cheesesteaks and soft pretzels from street vendors.
See Historic Elfreth’s AlleyAmerica’s oldest continuously occupied residential street.
Play Games on Independence MallInteractive fun with sculptures and public art, no cost.

From exploring America’s founding history and public art treasures to strolling through landscaped gardens and tasting cheesesteaks, memorable Philly fun awaits without paying steep admission fees. Get ready to save money for souvenirs after checking out these 12 top free things to do.

See the Liberty Bell

Name and Location: See the Liberty Bell

History and Significance: The Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood and is one of the city’s most famous and historic symbols. Cast in 1751, it cracked while first rung after arrival in Philly. Despite the crack, it was used to summon lawmakers and alert citizens for over 90 years.

What to Expect: Visitors can admire the iconic 2,000 lb bell through floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the Liberty Bell Center. Exhibits use photos, videos and artifacts to share more about the bell’s origins and legacy.

Visitor Information: No tickets required. Center is open daily 9AM-5PM, with evening hours in summer. Located next to Independence Hall. Security screening upon entry. Guided tour options available.

Visiting Philadelphia’s monument to freedom won’t cost a penny. Gaze in awe at the iconic Liberty Bell behind Independence Hall that once summoned lawmakers to meetings and now symbolizes American independence. This 2,000-pound bronze bell bears the apt Bible verse: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof.” Learn about the crack and take photos outside on Independence Mall with the tower clock framing the background. Access remains open and free so everyone can be inspired by the Liberty Bell’s powerful message of hope.

Tour Independence Hall

Name and Location: Tour Independence Hall

History and Significance: Independence Hall is located in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood. Originally completed in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State House, it is most famous for being the site where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed.

What to Expect: Visitors tour the Assembly Room, original inkwells and chairs with a guide who discusses the events that occurred there related to the founding of the country. Tours last about 30 minutes.

Visitor Information: Timed entry tickets should be booked in advance online. No bags or food allowed inside. Tours offered on the hour from 9AM–4PM daily, April–November.

Step back in time to the 18th century walking through storied Independence Hall where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and signed. Despite the immense historical significance, entry into the building itself costs nothing. Join one of the National Park Service’s free timed tours led by knowledgeable guides in period costumes bringing the past to life. Stand in the legendary Assembly Room and hear powerful speeches that shaped the nation come alive. Independence Hall remains an architectural beauty and the birthplace of American democracy for visitors to immerse themselves in.

Explore Public Art

Name and Location: Explore Public Art

History and Significance: Philadelphia is home to over 4,000 public artworks, with more added each year through its successful Percent for Art program. Sculptures, murals and mosaics can be discovered across downtown areas like Logan Square, City Hall and the museum district.

What to Expect: Public artworks in a variety of styles and media, with subject matter ranging from whimsical to thought-provoking. The colorful mural series on Market Street and statue-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway are particularly rewarding spots. Free guided tours are available.

Visitor Information: Artworks are accessible 24/7 in public outdoor areas across the city. Locations can be found via visitor guides/maps and public art tours from agencies like Association for Public Art.

Philadelphians love their public art, with colorful murals and intriguing sculptures adorning plazas, parks and street corners across the city’s neighborhoods. One stellar example is Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens, a whimsical labyrinth covered in mosaics made from old bottles, tiles, mirrors and trinkets spanning three lots in Bella Vista. Or check out Frank Rizzo’s 10-foot-tall bronze statue controversially relocated in 2020 to Packer Park Naval Square. Search online neighborhood art guides or just wander different areas to uncover artistic gems like South Philly’s creative alleyways.

Relax in Scenic Parks

Name and Location: Relax in Scenic Parks

History and Significance: Fairmount Park is one of the oldest and largest urban park systems in the U.S., offering over 9,200 acres of green space for Philadelphians and visitors to enjoy year-round. Scattered across 63 neighborhood parks are walking trails, memorials, gardens, sculptures and historic mansions.

What to Expect: Favorite activities include walking, running, biking scenic trails, picnicking, attending outdoor concerts and events, golfing, visiting historic homes like Strawberry Mansion and Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, and of course, relaxing on the grass or a shady bench.

Visitor Information: All city park areas are open daily from 6 AM to 9 PM unless otherwise posted. No admission fees. Some historic homes require paid entry or tour reservations. BYO blankets/chairs for events.

Philadelphia balances its urban jungle among lush oases perfect for picnicking, reading a book, tossing a Frisbee, or simply contemplating life while soaking up nature. Rittenhouse Square offers central green space where kids laugh chasing ducks in the pond and locals play chess under shady trees. Love Park by City Hall features Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture among personalized public art tiles. Fairmount Park spreads over 9,200 acres along the Schuylkill River providing trails, gardens, ball fields, & scenic East/West River Drives.

Attend Free Concerts

Name and Location: Attend Free Concerts

History and Significance: Outdoor summer concert series held in public parks and plazas across Philadelphia provide free access to a variety of musical performances for locals and visitors. Series like Penn’s Landing’s RiverStage and Fairmount Park’s Performances in the Park have offered entertainment for decades.

What to Expect: Pack a blanket or bag chairs, snacks and refreshments then claim your space on the grass or benches. Arrive early on weekends for popular acts. Shows generally last 60-90 minutes. Kids welcome but may require ear protection for loud rock acts. Rain cancels.

Visitor Information: Schedules vary at each location from May-September. Garage parking fees may apply at some spots. Smoking, pets and alcohol prohibited. Exact locations vary but all are outdoors and easily accessible.

Music fills Philly’s summer air thanks to abundant outdoor concert series that won’t break the bank. Relax to jazz, folk and funk bands at Parks on Tap locations citywide with rotating food/drink vendors. Catch indie rock and soul singers at Spruce Street Harbor Park along the Delaware River decorated with hammocks and twinkling lights. The iconic Mellon Jazz Festival schedules both local rising stars and legendary jazz musicians for dozens of shows in the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

Stroll South Street

Name and Location: Stroll South Street

History and Significance: Known for its bohemian vibe and diversity, the South Street district covers six blocks packed with unique shops, art galleries, theaters, restaurants and nightlife west of Philadelphia’s historic district. Originally society’s southern border, South Street became the city’s alternative culture hub in the 1960s.

What to Expect: A lively mix that represents many Philadelphia subcultures. Funky boutiques, head shops, used books/vinyl, piercing/tattoo parlors contrast with upscale antiques and craft cocktails. Buskers, performers and creative personalities populate the bustling area. Architecture provides visual intricacy.

Visitor Information: Located in Center City along South Street between Front and 8th. Always buzzing but especially lively on weekends. Parking garages available. Cash preferred for street parking. Well lit with plenty of dining and transport options for safe nighttime strolls.

Funky shops, colorful murals, piercing parlors, vintage boutiques, dive bars, and music venues fuse together creating the quintessential Philly scene along South Street. People watching here provides endless amusement as tourists, buskers, students, punks and more mingle on the iconic street that celebrates counterculture. Grab a quick bite of falafel or philly cheesesteak, get a henna tattoo, check out unique jewelry, and try on cowboy boots or retro clothing as you explore eclectic South Street.

Visit the Rodin Museum

Name and Location: Visit the Rodin Museum

History and Significance: Located on Philly’s museum mile, the Rodin Museum contains the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works outside of Paris thanks to movie theater magnate Jules Mastbaum. Opened in 1929, the Beaux-Arts style museum and surrounding formal garden display many of Rodin’s most famous masterpieces.

What to Expect: See The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, Monument to Balzac, The Three Shades and more among the 136 Bronze and marble figural works on display, including pieces never shown before in the U.S. Audio guide provides context. Garden has a view of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Visitor Information: Located near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Timed tickets encouraged, $10 adults. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10AM–5PM. Free on the first Sunday of each month. Groups require reservations. Free daytime and evening tours available.

Philadelphians adore civic planner Fairmount Park, and one cultured corner near the Schuykill River houses the stunning Rodin Museum with its magnificent gardens. Here visitors admire over 140 seminal sculptures from renowned French artist Auguste Rodin in a serene setting perfect for quiet contemplation and inspiration. Marvel at The Thinker and The Gates of Hell overlooking tranquil lily ponds and fountains without paying a penny. The Rodin Museum stands out as one of the city’s most treasured cultural attractions completely free to enjoy.

See the Wissahickon

Name and Location: See the Wissahickon

History and Significance: Located within Fairmount Park, the Wissahickon Valley provides 57 miles of trails following the wooded gorge carved by Wissahickon Creek amid the hills of Northwest Philadelphia. Long a retreat for Lenape tribes and early settlers, it became one of America’s first protected green spaces in 1868.

What to Expect: Walkers, joggers, bikers and horseback riders share the trails passing historic mansions, dramatic rock outcrops, forests and the creek. The lush scenery provides a tranquil escape from city streets with the sound of rushing water and area wildlife all around.

Visitor Information: Miles of trails suitable for all skill levels. Parking available at various trailheads. Maps at kiosks and online. Restrooms at historic sites like Valley Green Inn. Prepare for variable trail conditions with proper footwear.

Nature envelopes hikers, bikers, birders and horseback riders along the Wissahickon’s 57 miles of trails following gorgeous creeks through Fairmount Park. Gaze at the Valley Green Inn, a country pub built in the 1850s nestled beneath dramatic rock formations carved by the creek’s rushing waters. Spot herons fishing in the Wissahickon as the trail passes ruins from America’s first waterworks dam built in 1822. Pack a lunch or snack to restore energy hiking iconic Forbidden Drive to experience wilderness and wonder right in Philly’s backyard.

Explore Philadelphia Zoo

Name and Location: Explore Philadelphia Zoo

History and Significance: The first official zoo in the U.S., the 42-acre Philadelphia Zoo opened in 1874 and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Home to over 1,300 animals, the Victorian-themed campus supports global conservation and education initiatives for endangered wildlife.

What to Expect: Visitors of all ages enjoy seeing big cats, small mammals, primates, bears, reptiles and birds of prey that live in naturalistic habitats meant to resemble native environments. Special experiences like giraffe feedings and camel rides are available.

Visitor Information: Located in Fairmount Park, West Philadelphia. Reserve timed tickets online in advance. Packages add meals, parking, tours and animal encounters. Strollers and wheelchairs can be rented inside. Multiple dining locations on-site.

Lions, tigers, bears, and monkeys await outside the bars of their enclosures ready to delight visitors with silly antics when entering America’s first zoo established way back in 1874. Observe pygmy hippos drifting through ponds, howler monkeys swinging from limbs overhead, and even Zoa’s adorable baby sloth nibbling leaves. Interactive kid zones let youngsters identify animal tracks and enter an eagle’s nest built 60-feet up in the tree canopy. Summertime strolling on shaded pathways smelling hay and watching furry creatures lounge makes Philly Zoo a fantastic free option.

Try Iconic Foods

Name and Location: Try Iconic Foods

History and Significance: Iconic Philly foods like cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, hoagies, water ice, scrapple and Shoofly pie have each become famous in their own right. They represent the city’s melting pot development fed by colonial English, German, Italian and other immigrant cuisines that blended over time.

What to Expect: Indulge in greasy, melty cheesesteaks stuffed with thin-sliced beef and fried onions. Enjoy sweet Italian water ice on summer days. Grab a freshly baked soft pretzel with spicy mustard from street vendors. Savor Amish-style scrapple as a breakfast side. Let your taste buds delight in Philly!

Visitor Information: Ask locals their favorite places to sample different specialties, as quality can vary. Historic venues add to the experience but don’t limit yourself. Food carts provide easy access across the city. Cash preferred at some spots.

Visitors must sample two quintessential Philly foods during their stay, both easily sourced from street vendors and hole-in-the-wall eateries without breaking the bank. First bite into a classic Philly cheesesteak layered juicy steak sizzling with melty cheese whiz and grilled onions stuffed into a long crusty roll – preferably from historic neighborhood favorites Pat’s or Geno’s. Next munch down on a soft Amish pretzel coated in salty goodness that hits the spot. These tasty iconic Philly treats promise delicious free fun.

See Historic Elfreth’s Alley

Name and Location: See Historic Elfreth’s Alley

History and Significance: Located in Old City Philadelphia, Elfreth’s Alley claims to be America’s “oldest residential street,” with homes dating back to 1702 along the cobblestone alley, named for 18th-century blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth. Today 32 attached rowhomes retain their 18th-century appearance preserving everyday colonial life.

What to Expect: Walking tours discuss the homes’ architecture and modest colonial furnishings inside two period museum houses. Visitors stroll the alley to admire private homes and appreciate everyday life for early Philadelphians – tradesmen, craftsmen and working class citizens and immigrants.

Visitor Information: Self-guided alley access daily. Ticketed museum house tours run Fridays-Sundays. Closed major holidays. Groups of 10 or more require reservations. Near the Betsy Ross House on Arch Street.

Cobbled Elfreth’s Alley running behind South 2nd Street between Arch and Quarry Streets transports visitors back in time as America’s oldest continuously occupied residential street. Thirty colonial row houses built from 1720 to 1830 feel quaint yet wonderfully preserved amidst Old City. Admire Federal and Georgian architecture styles mixed among the brick buildings and let mind wander imagining life here over 300 years ago. Costumed guides provide in-depth looks at Elfreth’s Alley revealing its cultural heritage during popular weekend walking tours.

Play Games on Independence Mall

Name and Location: Play Games on Independence Mall

History and Significance: Independence Mall spans three city blocks between 5th & 6th Streets in Old City Philadelphia, home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Managed by the National Park Service, wide lawns bookend the brick walkway offering space for recreation amid historic sites.

What to Expect: Giant board games painted on the mall lawns like four-in-a-row, Nine Men’s Morris and hopscotch provide free interactive fun for kids and adults. Pick up bean bags to toss or bring your own toys and activities to enjoy the green city oasis.

Visitor Information: The mall grounds are open daily from 5 AM to 10 PM. No admission fee to access the area. Food carts can provide snacks and drinks. Most game sets are available on a first come, first served basis from on-site booths.

Independence Mall contains much more than just Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell to engage visitors of all ages. The long greenway also invites families, students and kids to get playful by running through dancing fountains spraying from the ground, testing hand grip strength with interactive sculptures, and posing by giant LOVE letters perfect for photos. Swing the giant paintbrush sculpture to activate the light tunnel or help create chalk masterpieces on the sidewalks. Independence Mall delights everyone with interactive public art and play spaces at no cost.

Philadelphia impresses visitors with history and culture shared freely across so many vibrant districts. Tour Independence Hall where the nation began without paying steep fees. Immerse in nature along Schuykill River trails or get playful at Whispering Benches. See world-class art at Rodin Museum sculpture gardens and Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens mosaics. And indulge in cheesesteaks, soft pretzels plus free summer concerts galore. Sampling Philly’s spirit won’t drain wallets thanks to these 12 fantastic freebies waiting to inspire.

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