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aboutPhiladelphia Travel Guide

July 10, 2018
by Logan Hunt

Amazing Ways to Watch Your Wallet for your Vacation in Philadelphia

Philly...the one place on earth you know history is the backbone of almost everything. It isn’t the most affordable city in the country or state but if you’re trying to get the best bang for your buck, free and affordable attractions in the form of parks, galleries, historical sites, and museums are going to save the day. Historic sites like Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, The U.S. Mint and Christ Church either offer free admissions or require a small fee and when the right place hits the right spot, it makes every cent count.

Iconic powerhouses like Liberty Bell are absolutely free for all because you can stop by and take a picture of yourself with the cracked but historically-significant bell without parting with a single cent of your hard-earned money. You are also welcome to roam the rooms of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson at Independence Hall at your own time and pace. Budget-conscious folks can also opt to stroll through the gorgeous still-running Christ Church or organize a group tour to learn about the history of U.S. money at The U.S. Mint. For kids/students, it would be like watching the words from the pages of their history books come alive. Learning something new about the movers and shakers of a different era will beef up your knowledge about your country, anyway.

For something artsier, you can count on the recitals held at Curtis Institute of Music which are NOT free but you can pay as you wish. Every contributed cent goes towards funding future programs to encourage similar projects and outreach programs. Art museums also offer days of free admission and they deliver on value. No compromise on your educational and entertaining experience. A trip to free attractions gives you a passport to a whole new different world.

happy girl on grass, enjoying Philadelphia for free, cheap

1. Money Money Money...Learning from the United States Mint

US Mint
3500 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 392-1776
If we’re going to be talking about money, maybe it's time we get to the bottom it. A trip to the U.S. Mint won’t make you any richer but it is intriguing, especially for those who are into coin-collecting or investments. Cryptocurrencies aside, the United States Mint, which has been around since 1792, will show you how the facility churns out millions in coins every 30 minutes. You read right, every 30 minutes! Paper money is printed at the facility too but there’s something about shiny nickels in your hand that makes you feel extremely nostalgic. And rich.

The tour around the facility at Independence Mall is free and relaxed throughout a self-guided tour.  They have audio stations set up around it to guide you through the process from start to finish. The trip would not be complete without revisiting the country’s past and important coins. The Mint is the only manufacturer of the country’s legal tender coinage and paper money in circulation throughout the history of America and houses commemorative coins like silver and gold bullion coins. The facility is a self-sustaining one and the oldest agency in the Federal Government.

When you walk around, be sure to look around you, observing approximately how 1.600 workers in the attraction proudly go about their work in serving the American people. It also runs games and activities like Hoops and Darts, Pinky's Presidential Challenge, Coin Memory Match, Making Change and Peter the Eagle's Coin Drop for kids. It also shares information via coin fun facts, tips on how to collect coins and share their hobby with their family and friends.

The U.S. Mint - Nancy Reagan coin

2. Wonderful Wednesdays at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
(215) 763-8100
Hours: Tue, Thu, Sat and Sun 10am - 5pm, Wed and Fri 10am - 8.45pm, Closed on Monday
Things are the museum are free or “pay what you wish” on Wednesdays and it naturally becomes packed with parents, students, and their teachers. The art museum was originally chartered in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition which was the official World’s Fair held in Philadelphia from May to November that year. Considering how long it has been around, it feels marvelous to take on either the guided tours from Tue to Fri 10am - 5pm, or the self-guided tours from 12pm - 5pm.

There is no admission on Wednesdays but if you wish to join special programs, you might want to check in with their website for detailed information. Two Dhyana Yoga classes are held every week, coffee, offer tea, wine, and beer offered at The Balcony Cafe, while, on the second-floor Gallery 293, visitors can experience Backgammon. After paying whatever you want for admission, head over to Gallery 258 for Apples to Apples which usually ends around closing time at 8.45pm.

Registration for field trips and student visits begin in September every year; because the register fills up quickly, they encourage participants to submit their requests as early as possible to confirm an appointment. After picking the lesson topic, the website provides online resources to parents and teachers to prepare the kids for their trip which includes lesson plans and orientation materials. Chaperones get in free and there is a ratio of 1 adult to 5 Students for Preschool and 1 adult to 10 Students for Grades K-12.

3. Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 278.7220
Hours: Wed to Mon 11am - 5pm, Closed on Tue
The organization was founded by Albert C. Barnes the co-developer of an antiseptic called Argyrol, who was also an art lover and an avid collector. People also knew Barnes for his sharp business acumen. The Barnes Foundation was his way to promote his love for the arts and appreciation of horticulture. Assisted by an old schoolmate and painter, William Glackens, the foundation found its footing in 1902.

Through his belief that art has the power over one’s mind and can transform lives, the Barnes Foundation offers a diverse array of educational programs and maintains a beautiful arboretum and garden. The foundation holds class discussions, reading of philosophy, and learning how to work with space, color, line, and light. He was a firm believer that art reflects life principles and human experiences; hence, it encourages art lovers to be more active and productive members of society.

Today, as you walk into the establishments, the world of art would open up to you through thousands of objects, including over 900 paintings worth about $25 billion. The modernist, impressionist and post-impressionist works of art were curated from all parts of Europe, North America, Africa, Egypt, Greece, China and many more. The decorous collection shows off whimsical yet thoughtful strokes of geniuses.

4. Blue Cross RiverRink

101 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 925-7465
Mon to Thur 1pm - 11pm, Fri 1pm - 1am, Sat 11am - 1am, Sun 11am - 11pm
With an admission fee of $3 and skate rental of $10 per person, it is one of the most worthwhile free activities in downtown Philadelphia. It's where you get to lace up the skates during summer months and enjoy the awesome views of Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. The rink receives support from the Independence Blue Cross which has a hand in putting together Summerfest event. It has been described as a carnival of sorts. Apart from skating, there are also activities like amusement rides, mini golf, food, drinks and relaxing spots for picnics. For celebrations, you can book a table at The Bar at the Waterfront Crabshack, Chickie's & Pete's or the Franklin Fountain Clubhouse Cabin.

Letting visitors take a breather after a hard day’s work or a hang-out spot for friends, the combination of restaurants, boathouse-styled lodges, family-friendly play area and regular events contributes greatly to its charm and attraction. Recycled items were used by a local artist to design the attraction's 9-hole mini golf course which powers up the environmental activism game.

People would expect the carnival-style attraction to be packed during summer months but you can book your tickets online to avoid disappointment. After skating around the park or playing a few rounds of golf, enjoy a 60-foot Ferris Wheel ride where an unprecedented view of the downtown skyline is guaranteed.

The urban waterfront beach area offers a very naturalistic space with games for kids and teens when they need a break from skating. There are plenty of lounge chairs and picnic tables around shaded areas along Delaware River.

5. Timeless Tales Told Throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District

At the thirteen Storytelling Benches strategically-located throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District is ready to enthrall you and your young ones with free, 5-minute tall tales, riveting stories and historical facts presented by costumed, professionally-trained storytellers. The fascinating facts about Philadelphia, as well as some of the country’s earliest public figures, are told in animated, engaging style for free.

Your first stop would be the Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Bench where visitors can pick up a Story Flag for a chance to listen to the stories up-close-and-personal. Choice locations include:-

  1. Carpenters’ Hall
  2. Independence Visitor Center
  3. Signer’s Garden
  4. Elfreth’s Alley
  5. Franklin Court
  6. Franklin Square
  7. Arch Street Meeting House
  8. Betsy Ross House
  9. The Powell House
  10. the Museum of the American Revolution and a few others. 
Each time they’re done with an activity, a star is rewarded and they will get to go on their next storytelling journey! At the end of the tour, visitors can redeem a History Hero Certificate and free carousel ride at the Park Liberty Carousel at Franklin Square with their star-filled flag. If you’re keen on taking the carousel ride, make Franklin Square one of the last stops.

You can imagine how fun it would be for you to bring the entire class or a troop of cousins out for a trip along the thirteen benches. Yes, all of them.

historic philadelphia, America's heritage

6. Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site

A Poe-fectly Free Museum
532 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 965-2305
Word has it that the uncertainty of his early life, tumultuous relationship with his foster parents, deep financial problems, illness, a constant struggle in finding work and recognition, and the monsters in his head, were the things that made Edgar Allan Poe the writer the world knows. Poe and his family, once upon a time, rented The National Historic Site. Many of the things he experienced in his short 40 years of life were catalysts and templates for the countless horrifying, mystifying yet encapsulating tales told through his stories. He captured the hearts of audiences not just within the reaches of his home and country, but throughout the world.

The days he spent in Philadelphia, within the closed walls of this rented home, were the happiest and most productive days of his life. It was where he produced profound, spirited written works and helped the world see through the eyes of his pained soul.

Poe was born to biological artist parents and the apple, as the saying goes, did not fall too far from the tree. Although he was raised by rich, successful foster parents, John and Frances Allan, his relationship with his foster father was a strained one. Heart-pounding and touching short stories, critical write-ups and poetry continued to pour off his heart even when his beloved wife died of tuberculosis in 1842, which sent him deep into the depression.

There is no fee to enter the historic site, and it does not require a reservation. It’s as good as just popping by in the rented charter bus and dropping by during its opening hours. Although many prefer to request for a ranger-led tour, others prefer to take their time around the home and its grounds with a self-guided tour.

room in Edgar Allan Poe's former home, a historic site in Philadelphia

7. Elfreth's Alley

124-126 Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106
As the name may already suggest, Elfreth’s Alley is a historic alley that dates as far back to 1702. It is recognized as the country’s oldest residential street. In Old City Philadelphia, it is a beloved historic part of the town that residents fervently fight to preserve. You can still find as many as 32 houses along the street that were built between 1782 and 1836. Despite having undergone necessary restorations over the years, pretty much everything about them remains the same. Old City itself is America’s oldest continually inhabited street.

The vibe of a historic 18th-century place jumps out at you. It was once home to a blacksmith after which the street was named after, tradesmen and their families, pewter and silversmiths plying their trade, furniture builders making a living and shipwrights growing their roots as close to Delaware River as possible. During the 1900s, residents along the street were predominantly of Irish descent.

When visiting, ask the Philadelphia charter bus driver to drop you off at either North 2nd Street or North Front Street which is where the streets start and (sort of) end. The trip is literally free - no admission fee and no extra cost if you choose to just stroll around and take tons of Instagram pictures. The Colonial-style cobblestone alley has the unexplainable capability of transporting you back in time. The only time you’d have to pay for anything is when you’re either shopping for something, dining or touring the Museum House or Chairmaker’s House.

Together with the Elfreth’s Alley Association, restoration efforts and consistent work ensure the street’s original dignity and pride despite surviving over 300 years of changes and modernization. Visitors should join in during celebrations like the 70-year-old “Fete Day” tradition, July 4th, Oktoberfest, and Halloween.

8. Christ Church Burial Ground

340 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-1695
Hours: Mon to Sat 10am - 4pm, Sun 12pm - 4pm
It might sound like a somber thing to do but if you wish to learn about and pay respect to some of America’s greatest achievers and early Americans, this is it. It is the final resting place for popular Americans like Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Other notable figures buried at the cemetery include lawyer and judge Francis Hopkinson, social reformer Dr. Benjamin Rush, "Father of Modern Surgery" Dr. Philip Syng Physick, Civil War General Major General George Cadwalader and Commander of Old Ironsides Commodore William Bainbridge.

Instead of feeling somber, the attraction which requires a small admission fee, marks the spot for finding the perfect place to relax and get away from the constant buzz of the city. Toss a penny through the now-open gates to honor Benjamin Franklin before you enter and it will feel like you’re taking part in a sacred tradition. It offers informative walking tours every single day but it would do wonders to have someone who knows their way around to help you navigate along the narrow pathways around the countless headstones.

The first and, arguably the most unique, Colonial and Revolution-era burial grounds in the country, there are approximately 1,400 markers. The site is pretty much hard to miss if you’re staring into a tourist map or looking at a travel website. Christ Church, however, was the birthplace of the country’s first Episcopal Church, founded in 1695. A luminary of significant people of the past have made their way there, and it includes William Penn, Presidents George Washington and John Adams, Betsy Ross, John Penn, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush and Francis Hopkinson.

The bonus is that you’re sure to get an awesome shot with your camera so, don’t forget to whip it out and snap away!

Get a Quote Bus Rentals Philadelphia’s Affordable Charter Bus Rental Packages Right Here, Right Now!

rent a charter bus for a downtown trip

The same way you would need to watch your wallet while making your way around Philadelphia’s best attractions, we can help you customize the charter bus rental packages to suit your needs. We have a price match feature to get you going. You can start with our affordable packages for day-trips, church outings, corporate functions (if you have a corporate account, please mention it while speaking to our customer service representatives), overnight or long-distance trips, or student or camp travel. Although we do not promise the cheapest rates on the internet, we will do our level best to come as close to them as possible.

Thanks to Bus Rentals Philadelphia’s decades of experience in the industry, we have become the reliable transportation partner you can count on for your times of trouble. With our price structure, you can literally find something to suit your event. We are so confident about the quality of our service we will try to beat the prices quoted by any of our reliable competitors.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get started by calling our agents at 1-800-304-1993 or contact us via email via the online request form on our website. We can’t wait to connect with you.

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