Philadelphia Has A Bunch Of Hidden Gems, Here Are The Ones That Don't Cost A Thing
Save some money and visit these local freebies
I get it, having an adventure-filled-life and trying to save money is a hard thing to balance. You're tired of being bored and equally tired of being broke. Thankfully, from community gardens to a plethora of museums, Philadelphia is a city full of budget-friendly things to do and sites to see, so put your wallet down and dodge the admission fees, these 20+ places in Philadelphia won't cost you a dime.
Where: University City
Bring your yoga gear or a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise at this unique rooftop park, located on a Philly parking garage. Standing at 95 feet above ground, this well maintained lush green space is open seven days a week — always offering some of the best views of the surrounding city skyline.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
Where: 301 Pine St
Deemed the smallest and fourth-least visited national park in the country, the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is definitely a hidden gem. Not many people have heard of freedom fighter Kosciuszko, the Polish American Revolutionary War hero who designed successful fortifications during the war. He lived in this house while recovering from his battle wounds and was often visited by noblemen including Thomas Jefferson. The site is open April through October, weekends only, from noon to 4 p.m. It's closed from November through March.
Philadelphia Brewing Company
Where: 2440 Frankford Avenue
Need something free to do on a Saturday? Look no further. The Philadelphia Brewing Company offers free tours every Saturday between noon and 3 p.m. While learning about the brewery is completely free, sampling the brews is not.
The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier
Where: Washinton Square
Pay your respects to the thousands of unknown soldiers of the Revolutionary War buried here. This memorial was completed in 1957 to honor the many British and American soldiers who lost their lives during the war's bloody battles.
Public Skating Rinks
Where: many locations throughout Philadelphia
Dust off your skates and lace up to take advantage of this freebie. During the winter months at any of the city's public ice skating arenas, it's totally free to bring your gear and skate. While using the rink itself is free, if you don't have your own skates renting, theirs will cost a small fee.
Where: Curtis Center Lobby
Only a block away from the ever-popular Independence Hall sits one of America's most exquisite glass murals — the Dream Garden. This hidden gem is often overlooked by tourists despite its careful craftsmanship featuring hundreds-of-thousands of small glass pieces.
Edgar Allan Poe House
Where: 532 N. 7th Street
The tragically famous 18th-century writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe spent six of his most productive writing-career years in Philadelphia. He had actually lived in several houses during the 6-year-stretch, but this is the only house still standing. It has since been turned into a museum dedicated to sharing the life, death, and legacy of the critically acclaimed writer.
It's even speculated that he had worked on some of his most famous pieces in this home.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
Check out a wide array of wildlife for no cost at this local wilderness refuge. Established in 1972, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is America's First Urban Refuge. For the purpose of environmental education and awareness, the refuge has made it their mission is to preserve, restore, and develop the Tinicum Marsh area. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails, wildlife spotting opportunities, and even kayak and canoes for rent.
Public Swimming Pools
Where: several locations
If you need to cool down on those hot summer days, do so at one of the many completely free community swimming pools located throughout the city. Check the website link below for a list of locations.
Mount Moriah Cemetery
Where: 6201 Kingsessing Ave, Angora
Explore this mid-18th century abandoned cemetery. Mount Moriah Cemetery was once Pennsylvania's largest and most extravagant cemeteries, overseen by the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association. Unfortunately, after the last remaining members passed away over a decade ago the cemetery was left unclaimed and ultimately, abandoned. Despite the overgrowth and crumbling headstones, many visitors still enjoy touring the graveyards peaceful atmosphere and views of the timeless gothic architecture.
Where: 124-126 Elfreth's Alley
Take a walk down our nation's oldest, continually-inhabited residential street. This historic cobblestone street dates back to 1702 and still contains over 30 homes built between 1728 and 1836.
The Strange and Unusual Antique Store
Where: 523 S 4th St
The Strange and Unusual Antique Store totally doubles as a local oddity museum. From human skeletal remains to funky taxidermy and rare glass-cased insects, there's plenty of weird things to check out here.
Where: 320 Chestnut St
Ever since its official opening in 1770, the two-story Georgian-style Carpenter's Hall building has served many historic uses throughout the years. From being the site of the First Continental Congress in 1774, a Revolutionary War hospital, the 1st and 2nd banks of America, Benjamin Franklin's first library, it is now a historic site offering the public a chance to visit and learn more about the building's history. Carpenters' Hall is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Science History Institute
Where: 315 Chestnut St
When you've had enough of the local history, you should check out the history of chemistry at the Science History Institue. Formally known as the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum, the focus of the Institue is to reflect on how chemists and chemistry have positively impacted society throughout the years.
Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden
Where: Kelly Drive
This nifty garden showcases 17 sculptures by various artists, each depicting a different look at American life between the 1930s-1960s. While you're here, you'll definitely want to check out one of Philly's infamous whispering benches and test it for yourself. To do this, sit on one side and have someone sit on the opposing side about 50 ft away. If this odd phenomenon works as promised, you should be able to clearly hear each other's whispers.
TUSPM Shoe Museum
Where: 148 N 8th St
What are those!? The TUSPM (Temple School of Podiatric Medicine) Shoe Museum totally sounds like another shoe department store — however, it's actually a really cool museum with a niche for shoes. Some shoes you will find here are from famous celebs, former presidents and first ladies, and ancient civilizations.
The Comcast Experience HD Video Wall
Where: Comcast Center lobby; downtown
Talk about the ultimate TV experience. If you love technology you'll definitely want to see this unbelievable 2,100-square foot HD video wall located in the Comcast Center. This screen is the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world and boasts absolutely amazing-quality picture.
Wells Fargo Museum
Where: 123 South Broad Street
If the Old West is of interest to you, you'll want to pay the Wells Fargo Museum a visit. This free museum features Pony Express artifacts, including an authentic Concord city-style stagecoach, and interactive Wells Fargo Agent, traditional clothing and even an authentic $368 million cashier’s check from 1950, deposited into the Philadelphia National Bank. Just walk in and enjoy.
Self-Guided Mural Mile Tour
Where: Two locations; Mural Mile South will take guests south of Market Street to Lombard Street and back, along the recently revitalized 13th Street corridor. Mural Mile North will take guests north of Market Street into Old City, through Chinatown, and around City Hall.
Over 3,600 murals are painted on buildings and walls throughout the city as part of the Mural Arts Program. The program started in 1984 as a way for the local government to combat graffiti. With so many murals to see they have become a tourist attraction. Currently, there are two self-guided "Mural Mile" tour routes to choose from.
Where: 2600 N 5th St
By showcasing art from Puerto Rican and Latin American artists, this cultural center offers a glimpse into Latin American culture. Exhibits change every so often, so to find out what themes are currently going on or will be upcoming, you'll want to view the website link posted below.
Where: 2313 Frankford Ave
This record-breaking pizzeria is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the world's largest collection of pizza memorabilia. The museum is totally free to check out, but unfortunately, the slices of pizza you'll undoubtedly be craving are not.
Where: Macy's Center City
Perhaps a little out of place but certainly not out of tune, the world's largest functional pipe organ is located in the middle of a Macy's Department Store. The instrument itself is an impressive site to see, but you should consider visiting during one of the two scheduled times every day the organ is played.
Fairmount Water Works
Where: 640 Waterworks Dr
Tour what was once Philadelphia's second municipal waterworks, once considered the most advanced water facility in the country. There's plenty of Philadelphia's water history to be learned here. This location is not open on Mondays; standard hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00-5:00 and Sunday, 1:00- 5:00.
Free Concerts at the Kimmel Center
Where: Kimmel Center
The Kimmel Center hosts free concerts throughout most months. From classical music to reggae and everything in between, there are plenty of concert genres to choose from. Check out the venue's calendar of free concerts below.