Find Plenty Of Fun In Philly For Free—Or For Close To $10 Per Person

In Historic Philadelphia, some of the country’s most significant historic sites—many of which are free or low-cost, perfect for families and educational for all—share the neighborhood with trendy shops, modern restaurants and buzzing nightclubs. Affordable hotel packages with free parking and transportation options, including 50% off Amtrak, make a good deal even better. Here is a sampling of some don’t-miss things to do in Historic Philadelphia this summer that won’t break the budget:


Affordable History Lessons:

  • The Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the New Hall Military Museum, Franklin Court, Bishop White House and the Graff House are just some of the buildings that make up Independence National Historical Park in Historic Philadelphia. All sites are free. Independence Hall requires day-of reservations for free admission and also offers advance tickets for $1.50, available at the Independence Visitor Center. (215) 965-2305, www.nps.gov/inde
  • The Betsy Ross House was the pint-sized Colonial home of Betsy Ross, credited with sewing the first American flag. Visitors can tour the home of the nation’s best known seamstress and enjoy interactive programs and activities. A $3 donation is requested for adults and $2 for children, but the rental of a $5 headset includes admission. 239 Arch Street, (215) 686-1252, www.betsyrosshouse.org
  • Once Upon A Nation’s professional storytellers, found at 13 benches throughout Historic Philadelphia, entertain visitors with tales that summon up the nation’s earliest days—free of charge. (215) 629-4026, www.historicphiladelphia.org
  • An old-fashioned carousel, a Philadelphia-themed miniature golf course, storytelling benches and playgrounds are found within Franklin Square, and a family of five can enjoy it all for just $50. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, www.historicphiladelphia.org
  • Through imaginative interactive exhibitions, the National Liberty Museum reminds visitors of the heroes who devoted their lives to preserving liberty for all by telling their vivid stories. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for students, $2 for children and $15 for families (two adults and children). 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, www.libertymuseum.org
  • Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the U.S., is a quaint cobblestone alley located in Old City. Admission to the museum house is $5 for adults and $1 for ages 6 to 18. 2nd Street between Arch & Race Streets, (215) 574-0560, www.elfrethsalley.org
  • Christ Church, an Episcopal church once attended by Benjamin Franklin and other Founding Fathers, remains one of America’s most beautiful and historic religious structures. Christ Church Burial Ground serves as Franklin’s final resting place, along with four other signers of the Declaration of Independence. A donation of $3 for adults and $2 for students is requested at Christ Church. Burial Ground admission is $2 for adults, $1 for students and $10 for a group of up to 25 people. Church, 2nd & Market Streets; Burial Ground, Arch Street between 4th & 5th Streets, ·         (215) 922-1695, www.christchurchphila.org
  • Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the earliest established AME church, is also the oldest parcel of land in the country recorded as being owned by African-Americans. Mother Bethel also served as a stop along the Underground Railroad. Call in advance for tours. A donation is suggested. 6th & Lombard Streets, (215) 925-0616, www.motherbethel.org


Easy-On-The-Wallet Eats:

  • At Amada, the city’s hottest Spanish tapas restaurant, visitors can enjoy the “Catalan Express,” which includes soup, plus a salad or sandwich and non-alcoholic beverage for just $12.50. 217 Chestnut Street, (215) 625-2450, www.amadarestaurant.com
  • Bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurants offer another great way to eat well without going broke. Old City favorites include Bistro 7, Chole, Radicchio and Zento. Bistro 7, 7 N. 3rd Street, (215) 931-1560, www.bistro7restaurant.com ; Chloe, 232 Arch Street, (215) 629-2337, www.chloebyob.com ; Radicchio, 402 Wood Street, (215) 627-6850, www.radicchio-cafe.com ; Zento, 138 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-9998, www.zentocontemporary.com


Affordable And After Dark:

  • During First Friday, taking place on the first Friday of every month, the galleries in Historic Philadelphia’s Old City open their doors to the public beginning at 5:00 p.m. and offer free snacks and sips, live music and new installations—all free of charge. www.oldcityarts.org
  • Hip-shaking, head-banging fun is pretty much a guarantee at The Khyber, where live music enthusiasts can check out just about any kind of band—rock, pop, hip-hop and otherwise—every night of the week. Upstairs, DJs mix it up, and drinks are just plain cheap. 56 S. 2nd Street, (215) 238-5888, www.thekhyber.com
  • Summer Friday nights mean free concerts at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. June features a variety of musical styles. In July, it’s R&B, and in August, it’s all about jazz. The party continues on the weekends with 12 multicultural festivals scheduled throughout the warm-weather season. Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 922-2FUN, www.pennslandingcorp.com


Getting There, Staying Over And Getting Around…On A Dime:

  • Getting to Philadelphia via Amtrak is now even easier and more affordable than ever. Travelers can save 50% off a companion ticket with a paid regular fare to Philadelphia. www.gophila.com/amtrak
  • The popular Philly Overnight® Hotel Package includes two nights at more than 30 different hotels, so visitors can find the place that’s perfect for their trip. The package includes free parking and a Philly’s More Fun™ teddy bear. Other amenities vary by hotel. www.gophila.com
  • Visitors can explore town with their MP3 player when they download a free SoundAboutPhilly® podcast tour. Interactive and customizable audio tours offer insider tips from locals on where to go and what to know. The Web site integrates the audio with Google Maps that people can customize to match their selected tour. www.soundaboutphilly.com
  • The Historic Philadelphia Trolley Loop makes 10 stops throughout Historic Philadelphia, including Franklin Square, the Liberty Bell Center, Penn’s Landing and more. Riders can enjoy all day on-and-off service for only $2 per person, May 3-September 7, 2008, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit www.gophila.com or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.