Free (or Cheap) Things to do in Philadelphia This Summer

Philadelphia is an incredible city with lots of amazing things to keep you busy all summer long. But what if you’re young and trying to save money for your future? Even if your bank account is a little light, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience everything that Philadelphia has to offer.

Looking for ideas? Whether you’re a city resident or are thinking of taking a day trip, here are some incredible free (or really cheap) things to do in Philadelphia this summer.

1. Get Walking

At only two miles across, Philadelphia is a surprisingly walkable city. This means that there are plenty of amazing places to explore on foot. As the city has grown, it’s created walkable areas with attractions, food and shopping that you can enjoy for hours.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Named one of the best places to visit in Philadelphia by national press, Spruce Street Harbor Park features colorful hammocks, floating gardens, beautiful lights, refreshing craft beer and food trucks from popular Philly restaurants, making it a summer gathering space for locals and visitors alike.

South Street

Home to over 400 independent retail shops, restaurants and taverns with tastes from around globe, salons, body art parlors, fashion boutiques, live music and theatre, fun classes and art galleries—including Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, discover why South Street is still one of the hippest streets in town.

PECO Multicultural Summer Festival Series

What could be better than enjoying some amazing salsa performances on the banks of the Delaware River? Or how about savoring authentic dishes from the Caribbean, Ireland or Mexico? The PECO Multicultural Series features free events at Penn’s Landing throughout the summer.

Experience Great Art

Philadelphia is home to some of America’s greatest museums, and many of them open their doors to the public for free, if you know when to go.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Home to priceless works of art, sculpture gardens and the iconic Rocky steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the city’s most recognizable locations. Even better, you can enjoy everything the Museum has to offer at your own pace and price with pay what you wish every Wednesday night from 5:00 to 8:45 p.m.

The Barnes Collection

Once a private collection, the Barnes Collection holds one of the finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings. It’s eclectic arrangements of paintings have made it one of Philadelphia’s most vibrant museums, and they offer free admission and programs on the first Sunday of every month. Visitors are welcome to attend talks, performances, and hands-on activities throughout the day.

Institute of Contemporary Art at University of Pennsylvania

Tired of oil paintings and old masters? Experience art at its most modern at controversial at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Admission is free year-round for everyone.

3. Catch A Movie

Prices at the multiplex making you cringe? There are plenty of ways to catch a movie this summer without paying a fortune.

There are free movie screenings in parks and public areas throughout the city. To learn more visit Visit Philly’s listing of outdoor movies.

4. Enjoy a Free Concert

The Kimmel Center is Philadelphia’s center for music, theatre, dance and the performing arts, and there are lots of concerts and events that are free to the public.

Want to take in all the passion, angst and grandeur of the opera? Let Opera Philadelphia be the fat lady that sings out the end of the summer. Opera Philadelphia offers a free simulcast of one of its operas on the mall at the Constitution Center and Independence Halls. Bring a lawn chair and your favorite diva and enjoy great opera under the stars.

5. Explore History

As one of America’s oldest cities, a lot of history happened in Philadelphia and most of it is free to visit. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, the Betsy Ross house and many other places are on the National Registry of Historic places are all open to the public over the summer.

The park rangers who work these locations are all incredibly knowledgeable and many locations feature costumed storytellers who will bring many new stories of the American Revolution to life right in front of you.

Looking for a different perspective on the American experience? Check out the National Museum of American Jewish History. The museum offers free passes on the first Friday of every month from April through July, and a rotating series of exhibits mean that you’ll never have the same experience twice.

6. Go Stargazing

Want to explore the heavens or at least be as cool as Neil DeGrasse Tyson?  There are lots of free opportunities for scientific exploration over the summer.

On the third Wednesday of the month from 5:00-8:00 pm, The Franklin Institute offers Community Nights! Everyone is welcome to join in the fun at these FREE educational and fun-filled science extravaganzas that include The Franklin Institute’s famous exhibitions, special programs, and themed activities.

7. Go to Prison

You can spend a day in prison by visiting Eastern State Penitentiary, America’s oldest prison. Behind the high stone walls and forbidding bars, there are lots of featured tours and activities, many of which are free to the public.

8. Get a Stamp Pass

For students ages 14-19 there’s an amazing program that lets them experience the best of Philly’s museums and attractions for free. The Philadelphia Stamp Pass grants access to many of the places mentioned previously as well as the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden, Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, National Constitution Center, Penn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Zoo.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, there are plenty of amazing things to explore in Philadelphia that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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Looking for more advice? Come talk with us today! We can help you figure out even more ways to save money and build a strong financial future.