How to Spend 24 Hours in Philadelphia Without Breaking the Bank
Philadelphia has many free and low-cost attractions that are also top things to do in the city, making this a great place to visit for budget travelers.
From arts to religion to the overly abundant reminders of our country’s history as well as Philadelphia’s own history, there are budget-friendly attractions all over the city that are bound to meet the liking of everyone.
We’ll cover our recommended 1-day itinerary first and then list some additional options so you can customize your day in Philadelphia to your liking.
How To Enjoy One Day In Philadelphia On a Budget
- Start at Independence Hall
Philadelphia was central to the founding of our country and is chock full of historical sites, and Independence Hall is one of the most important. This must-see Philadelphia site is where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the U.S. Constitution was brought into fruition.
If you want to see Independence Hall before 5 PM, you’ll need a ticket. These are available (free) online, or in person at the Independence Visitors Center. Even the locals may want to visit the center from time to time, since, in addition to maps, tickets, and information, there is a cafe, information kiosks, free wireless internet, and convenient parking (not free, but reasonable) in a large garage under the center.
- See the Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is one of the most profound statements of liberty in our country. Weighing in at 2,000 pounds and hanging from an American elm yoke, this bell was cast from the metals of the original bell in 1753 after the original bell cracked.
For anyone wanting to step back into time and see a part of history, or anyone wanting to enrich his or her children’s knowledge of history, this is the place to go.
The Bell is housed in its own structure on the mall and insiders will tell you that if it is really crowded, walk around Market street and grab a look at it through the large glass wall.
The bell is inside the Liberty Bell Center, located between 5th and 6th street on Market Street. While it is an attraction open year-round, the hours vary by season.
- Tour The US Mint
The US Mint in Philadelphia, located on Independence Mall, specializes in minting coins, and tours are free and self-guided.
Be aware, however, that tour policies may change and if the Department of Homeland Security raises the security level, the Mint will be closed. Adults will have to show a government-issued ID to enter.
The visitor’s entrance is near the corner of 5th and Arch, and hours are usually Monday through Friday, but it is open on Saturdays in the summer. There is no parking at the Mint, but it is accessible by public transportation and public parking is nearby.
- Stop by Reading Terminal Market
Located on 12th and Arch Street, the Reading Terminal Market is something everyone should experience at least once. While the market opened in 1892, markets have been popular in Philadelphia for many prior centuries. It is a giant farmer’s market with more than 80 merchants selling everything from produce to baked goods to Pennsylvania Dutch specialties and just about everything in between.
While the merchants’ products are obviously not free, walking around and taking in all the aromas, sites, and sounds are. Also, there is live, free music every second Friday of each month and on the first and third Monday and Wednesday of each month.
For a truly unique and one-of-a-kind experience, Reading Terminal Market is a great place to visit during your day in Philly.
More Things to Do Tip: Some free historical places to visit in the area include the Edgar Allen Poe house, and the Thaddeus Kosciusco House.
Other Things to See In Philadelphia
Here are some more budget-friendly ideas on how to fill your day and evening during a 24-hour visit to Philadelphia.
Founded in 1695, the Christ Church located on 2nd Street above Market Street is a place full of ways to explore the lives of early Americans. The current building was built in 1744 and it was the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church. It had many famous parishioners including both George Washington and John Adams who served as the nation’s Chief Executives.
In keeping with the nickname “The City of Brotherly Love”, the Christ Church was where 25% of the city’s Africans, both free and enslaved, were baptized as well as where the first African-American priest was ordained. The burial ground, which can also be toured, is home to seven signers of the Declaration of Independence, most notably Benjamin Franklin. For a chance to see the importance of religion in our history, Christ Church is a must-see place to visit while in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
There are always lots of new and exciting exhibits at the museum, although special exhibits will cost extra to get into. Permanent exhibits like the period rooms and the armory are favorites with kids and adults alike.
Plus, if you show up on the first Sunday of the month you can get in by paying whatever you wish all day at both the main and the Perelman buildings. Be aware also, that if you have kids 12 and under with you, even on other days, and you pay full price, the kids get in free (this doesn’t apply to groups, such as students on a class trip).
Picnic and Music Under the Stars
If visiting Philadelphia in the summer and you want to take your day into night, check out Music Under the Stars. There, you can listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park during the summer.
Purchase lawn seats, pack a picnic dinner (alcohol is allowed), and a big blanket, and treat your date to a relaxing, enjoyable, romantic evening.
Enjoy Your Visit to Philadelphia!
Philadelphia is a great city. The country was essentially born here, so there is no shortage of historical sites to visit. The city is full of museums, nightlife, theaters, and other things that can occupy your time in a very enjoyable way.