Philadelphia is simultaneously one of the most historic and happening cities in the USA, boasting many relics of Independence, such as the Liberty Bell, as well as a cutting edge modern art and music scene.
I never spent the night here but I had two occasions to see this lovely city. First was when I was on the way to New York and second was when I was heading back to Atlanta. When it comes to visiting Philadelphia, many of the city’s most popular attractions can be explored free of charge. For families and budget-conscious travelers eager to explore the region, there are plenty of fantastic attractions to discover in Philadelphia for FREE.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the birthplace of the United States and the centerpiece of Philadelphia’s Historic Mile. The guided tour of Independence Hall is led by National Park rangers. This tour begins with an orientation in the East Wing followed by a ranger led tour of the first floor of Independence Hall. You cannot wander around on your own.
The group were first led up to the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides shared tables and law books. In the adjacent West Wing, the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration and an original draft of the Constitution are displayed. George Washington’s rising sun chair dominates the Assembly Room which is arranged as it was during the Constitutional Convention.
The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days, but has extended hours at some times. Tickets, available for free at nearby Independence Visitor Center, are required before 5 p.m. from March through December.
THE LIBERTY BELL
The original symbol of American freedom and perseverance. One of the world’s most famous bells, the Liberty Bell is an American icon. Having once hung from the bell tower of the nearby Independence Hall, the bell already had a prominent place in American history.
However, what’s made the bell so famous is its large crack that, somewhat ironically, made it unable to ring. While the queue might be long, seeing the Liberty Bell in person is a must for any visitor to Philly.
Tickets are not required for entry and the Center is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with extended hours in the summer.
THE CITY HALL
Centered in the heart of downtown Philadelphia stands the nation’s largest municipal building (larger than the U.S. Capitol), serving the city’s government and politics for over 100 years. It is situated in the exact geographical center of William Penn’s original 1682 plans for the city, now known as the intersections of Broad and Market Streets, Center Square.
A favorite destination for tourists and locals alike, John F. Kennedy Plaza gets its famed nickname “LOVE Park” due to its famous sculpture. Located near City Hall, LOVE Park serves as the grand entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Along Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Rodin Musuem. It contains the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works outside Paris. Many of the sculptures are enticingly displayed outdoors in a formal garden or near the reflecting pool — offering one of Philadelphia’s most romantic settings and a true hidden gem. Admission is “Pay What You Wish” every day and the garden is free year-round.
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
Like Philadelphia’s own Parthenon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits majestically on a rise at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The vast collections of this temple of art make it the third-largest art museum in the country, and an absolute must-see on the city’s cultural circuit.
On Wednesday nights starting at 5 p.m. and the first Sunday of the month, budget-conscious art lovers can pay-what-they-wish at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Explore incredible works by Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, Himalayan artists and local luminaries such as Thomas Eakins.
The Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Steps” — better known as the Art Museum Steps — are two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia. Visiting the statue, running up the steps and taking a picture at the top is pretty much a must on your first visit to Philadelphia. It’s a rite of passage.
Logan Square, which sits between Broad Street on the east, the Schuylkill River on the west, Market Street on the south and Spring Garden Street on the north, is home to a number of iconic Philadelphia attractions. The center of the city government’s daily business, City Hall is a natural focal point. Its elaborate architecture and ornamentation make people stop and take notice — and photos.
30TH STREET STATION
Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station is one of America’s finest transportation hubs. It is noted for it’s neoclassical structure and it’s intricately patterned high ceilings, travertine walls and marble floors.
Philadelphia is very walkable, with a compact city center composed of 25 blocks. The destination is also home to North America‘s largest comprehensive pedestrian sign system called “Walk! Philadelphia,” which features maps and directional signs on every street corner to help visitors explore the sites without getting lost.
Have you been to Philly? Which FREE or cheap attractions did I miss? Drop your comment(s) below.