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The best free things to do in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a city with a rich history and a thriving art scene – much of which can be enjoyed for nothing at all. From free concerts at one of the city’s biggest performing arts centers to photo opportunities of heavyweight champion proportions, here are our 15 favorite free things to do in the City of Brotherly Love.

skyline of Philadelphia, with a rose-pink and lavender sunset reflecting off the skyscrapers and the Schuykill River and the boardwalk trail in the foregroundThe Schuylkill River Trail is one of the best places to enjoy a summer sunset © Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Find relaxing riverside vibes at the Schuylkill River Trail

The greenish-blue Schuylkill River (pronounced ‘skoo-kul,’ if you’re wondering) has several places on its banks for visitors to enjoy themselves. We’re fans of the Schuylkill River Trail, which extends alongside the river for more than 100 miles. The 10-mile stretch within Philly is perfect for strolling with a special person, walking your dog or jogging. It’s one of the best places to watch the sun setting over Philly, too.

Embrace the life-sized murals of Mural Arts

Philadelphia triumphantly has more murals throughout its city limits than almost any other city in America and that is due mostly to the work of Mural Arts. This philanthropic organization helps paint gigantic, colorful murals throughout the city of Philadelphia featuring hometown heroes like Grammy Award winners The Roots, basketball legend Julius ‘Dr J’ Irving and more. You’ll find a mural anywhere you go – to catch them all, follow the official Mural Arts Tour.

Long shot of park set up on docs on a river with red and yellow umbrellas over tablesPhiladelphia’s most popular summer park is along the Delaware River © M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Hang out under the bright lights of Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park’s colorful lights and spacious hammocks make this Old City attraction worth the visit. Throw in regular events, like the ongoing live music series Waterfront Sessions, and this already enjoyable destination ramps up the fun for Philly residents and visitors alike. Life-sized games like tic-tac-toe also are available for those with a competitive edge.

Start your month with artful fun at the Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation is known for its vast art collection featuring work from icons like Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh, but on the first Sunday of every month The Barnes is also a hub for free family fun. Free first Sundays at the Barnes often feature art workshops, guided tours and more activities to accommodate art lovers of all ages.

The facade of a colonial-era home where George Washington once lived, now an open-air museum, is lit up at night, with a modern building in the backgroundThe facade of the President’s House in Philly at night © Michael Butler / Lonely Planet

Learn about the history of black people in America at the President’s House

The President’s House is an open-air structure that commemorates the complicated legacy of enslaved Africans in the United States. US presidents George Washington and John Adams both owned slaves, creating circumstances that make visitors re-evaluate the true meaning of freedom and the American dream. Fact-filled explanatory panels are on display throughout the space, allowing for an educational look at America’s past.

Enjoy the fountains and architecture of Dilworth Park

Dilworth Park is one of Center City’s most photogenic outdoor spaces. Formally opened in September 2014, Dilworth Park is known for gushing fountains and ongoing programming featuring live music, fitness classes and more. Enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown Philadelphia with the classical architecture of City Hall looming overhead.

Catch a rocking concert at the Kimmel Center

South Broad Street’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts regularly features free concerts showcasing genres as diverse as modern jazz and Latin salsa. It also offers family fun days plus workshops, plays and concerts for kids.

Distance shot of the ornate Chinatown Friendship gate that is at the entrance to Chinatown in PhiladelphiaThe 40-foot Chinatown Friendship Gate makes for a great photo-op © Visit Philadelphia

Snap a pic with a friend at the Chinatown Friendship Gate

Whether you’re in Chinatown for bubble tea or dinner at one of many Chinese restaurants, Philly’s Chinatown community is widely recognized by its ornate, beautifully designed Chinatown Friendship Gate, which was renovated in 2008. This symbol of cultural exchange and goodwill between Philly and its Chinese sister city, Tiajin, is a great backdrop for a memorable photo or two.

Explore nature in Philly with a trip to Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is the biggest outdoor park in Philadelphia and is a wonderful place to have fun at no cost at all. Bring some comfortable walking shoes: there are 2000 acres of hills, trails and woodlands, many of which wind through a true urban forest. In addition to its verdant, lush forests, Fairmount Park is also home to huge architectural structures like the Smith Memorial Arch.

Tap into modern art at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Located on a very visible corner of University City, The Institute of Contemporary Art has free admission year-round and showcases socially conscious and avant-garde artwork. ICA is known for exhibits that reimagine how we view visual art and the media used to create it. Don’t be surprised to see installations featuring video cameras, large sculptures or even engaging performance art.

Two men line up to photograph the bronze Rocky statue in PhiladelphiaThere’s always a line of admirers waiting for their moment with Rocky © Michael Butler / Lonely Planet

Take a picture with a film icon at the Rocky Statue

Once upon a time, an emerging actor created a film that would eventually represent the toughness that people now come to expect from Philadelphians. That movie was Rocky, and the film’s star (Sylvester Stallone)’s likeness as fictional boxer Rocky Balboa has been immortalized with a statue near the same art museum steps that his film helped make famous. Grab a picture with a Philly legend.

Run up the Rocky Steps like a reigning champion

The Rocky Statue is extremely popular for visitors, but at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a few steps away from the Rocky Statue is the real prize: The Rocky Steps! Run to the top of the iconic Art Museum steps just like Rocky Balboa did in the movies. Don’t be embarrassed: many visitors travel to Philly from all over the world just to recreate this classic film moment.

Watch money be made at the United States Mint

The United States Mint in Philadelphia gives visitors an intimate look at the coin-making process for free. Get a guided tour of a facility that produces millions of coins (!) every 30 minutes. Even if you can’t take millions of coins home with you from the facility, this fascinating Old City destination shows how much work goes into even one cent of US currency.

Salute a Philly champion at the Joe Frazier Statue

While fictional boxing hero Rocky Balboa may have more fanfare in pop culture, former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier’s statue at the Sports Complex is a treat for any sports fan. The late Philly sports star’s statue is located near XFINITY Live! and features ‘Smokin’ Joe’ just as he looked after knocking out Muhammad Ali in what sports lovers affectionately call ‘The Fight of the Century.’

Bonus: feed your inner art lover at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Pay whatever you want every Wednesday and the first Sunday of every month for admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Immerse yourself in iconic art from visual artists like Pablo Picasso. Afterward, the top of the Art Museum’s steps features a scenic view of Philly’s skyline. With new exhibits opening on a regular basis, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is always worth checking out.

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