Explore Philly Without Putting a Dent in Your Wallet

Nothing says “budget” like “free,” and the good news for families looking for a vacation that won’t break the bank will find a whole list of low- and no-cost attractions in Philadelphia. Here are some of our favorites.

Did you know, for example, a visit to the historic Independence National Historical Park doesn’t cost a cent and this is where you can see the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? The way it works is you can pick up free timed tickets for Independence Hall at the Independence Visitor Center on the day of the tour or reserve them in advance online for a $1.50 reservation fee per ticket. No tickets are required in January and February, and all the other attractions at INHP are free and don’t require a ticket.

Kids aged 3 and under are admitted free to the Benjamin Franklin Museum — it’s $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 4 to 16 — where history comes to life with computer animations and interactive displays that explore Franklin’s inventions and his storied life as a statesman.

Or check out the tiny Colonial home of Betsy Ross, famous for having sewn the first American flag at the request of General George Washington. Kids will meet a costumed actor portraying Ross, and, in summer, there is a free flag-raising every day at 10 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children.

Fans of scary tales can visit the Edgar Allan Poe and National Historical Site for free, where the author is said to have written many of his most notable short stories, including “The Black Cat.” You can opt for a self-guided tour or join one led by a park ranger from Friday through Sunday.

For a glimpse into Colonial life, take a stroll along cobblestoned Elfreth’s Alley in the Historic District, billed as the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the United States. Or take your children to the Johnson House National Historic Site, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children 12 and younger.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day your family can enjoy Once Upon A Nation story-telling benches at 13 locations around the Historic District historicphiladelphia.org. Kids collect a story flag at any bench from each storyteller, and once they have all 13, they can exchange them for a free ride on Franklin Square’s carousel.

Even little travelers are probably familiar with George Washington and might enjoy a visit to Valley Forge National Historical Park, famous for its role in the Revolutionary War. Visitors can explore the park by car, by bike or on foot guided by the park’s cell phone tour, available for free at 484 396 1018.

For more ideas, check out Visit Philly and more here.

Springtime predawn moonlight at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Photo: Delmas Lehman | Dreamstime.com

Springtime predawn moonlight at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Photo: Delmas Lehman | Dreamstime.com