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My family are the kind of people who just LOVES free or fairly cheap places to go visit, especially if it has anything to do with education! Not that we’re penny-pinchers when we travel, it is only that if we can save some mullah here and there, we feel better…plus, some of those free/inexpensive places seem to have some really cool information!
If you live near or in Philadelphia, your staycation can be super fun and frugal!
I’m going to also add my favorites…the historical district! You could do so much, on so little, in the historic area of Philadelphia. (You can visit, www.visitphilly.com, for some more ideas and event updates).
Don’t live in Philadelphia? Not to worry. Tomorrow, I’ll have a list of staycations from many other cities for you to choose from!
Attractions to Visit While Exploring Philadelphia:
- Independence Hall – The location that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution was debated and adopted. You must have a ticket to get inside and have the tour, but the good news is…the tickets are FREE!
- Independence Visitor Center – You must stop here if you’re a visitor and you’re planning on doing anything in Philadelphia. Consider it your one-stop-destination for your free tickets to Independence Hall, information, restrooms, and other helpful insight to your enjoyment.
- Liberty Bell Center – This is where the Liberty Bell is kept. The actual building has a lot of options for more learning, such as historical videos, and activity centers.
- Washington Square – This park calls for a nice stroll and a visit to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolutionary War. The park is so tranquil.
- Valley Forge – Explore the grounds of Valley Forge, replica log cabins, and the home of Issac Potts that George Washington stayed in during the winter of 1777-78. A great little trip for the family.
- The National Constitution Center – The National Constitution Center has a LOT to offer! Sit in through a short video and learn the importance of the American jury, go through all the amazing exhibits. etc. The information you’ll receive about the U.S. Constitution is well worth the ticket prices! Adult $14.50 – Senior: $13 – Youth (13-18): $13 – Children (4-12): $8
- Fairmont Park – One of the largest parks in Philadelphia, perfect for a picnic lunch or family outing!
- Bertram’s Garden – Home to early John Bartram, America’s first great botanist. His place is beautifully managed and free to the public.
- The Betsy Ross House – Go visit the home of Betsy Ross, the woman credited for making America’s first flag! There are admission costs: Adult: $5 Children: $4
- Carpenter’s Hall – The “home” of the First Continental Congress.
- Franklin’s Grave – You can look at the grave of the famous American inventor, writer, and founding father, Benjamin Franklin, through the gates of the Christ Church Cemetery for free, or you can pay a small fee ($2 adult, $1 child) to actually tour the whole inside of the cemetery. You can pick Franklin’s grave out of the many others by looking for pennies strewn on the top of his stone. The pennies are thrown there in memory of his famous quote, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Other such as John Dunlap, the man who printed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, composer and poet, Francis Hopkinson, and medical pioneer Dr. Benjamin Rush are only a few other famous persons buried at Christ Church, also.
- The Franklin Institute
- Franklin’s Print Shop/Post Office – Wouldn’t it cool to go into the actual Post Office of Ben Franklin? Well, you can! It is still an actual post office, but in the back is a museum with a working printing press from Franklin’s time with a couple people demonstrating the process. A very cool learning experience!
Not-So-Free Attractions: These may not be free…or inexpensive, but they look amazing, so I had to add them!
- Adventure Aquarium – See the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, including the 550,000-gallon Shark Realm exhibit AND a 40-foot suspended shark tunnel, not to mention hands-on touch experiences, where your kids can roll up their sleeves and touch sharks and stingrays! Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium in the whole world to host a hippo!
Adult: $24.95 (13+) – Child: $17.95 (2-12) – Children under 2 are FREE with paying adult
- Philadelphia Zoo – Historic buff like me, I was so excited to learn that this was the first zoo made in America!
Adult: $20 (12+) – Child: $18 (2-11) – Child under 2 FREE OR for a family consisting of 2 adults and six children aged 18 and under you can purchase a Membership for $115 to return all year long for FREE!
Parking: $15 per vehicle
- American Helicopter Museum – Not exactly located in Philadelphia, but rather in West Chester, this museum will definitely catch the attention of your boys…and MEN! The museum displays over 35 civilian and military helicopters, autogiros and convertaplanes. Visitors can climb aboard helicopters of all kinds for a truly unique hands-on experience. WARNING: You might be pestered by your family to have a ride on one of the real helicopters. This costs a good bit…$40 per person for about a 5 minute ride.
Adult: $10 – Seniors: $8 – Children and Students with ID: $8 – Children under 2 with parent: FREE
- Simeone Auto Museum – Want a museum that your husband would enjoy? How about a car museum! Boys would be interested, too. The museum has some of the oldest racing vehicles date back from 1909!
Adult: $12 – Seniors: $10 – Students: $8 – Children 8 and under: FREE
- Philadelphia Art Museum – One of the largest art museums in the world, Philadelphia’s art museum contains some of the most renowned collections. It’s collections of more than 227,000 works of art include paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.
Adult: $20 (all tickets are good for 2 days) – Seniors: $18 – Students with valid ID or Youth (13-18): $14 – Children (12 and under): FREE OR First Sunday of the month and every Wednesday after 5:00 p.m.: pay what you wish
- Ride the Ducks – My mom and brothers did this a couple years ago. I loved the experience and information that the driver and tour guide was telling me…up until the vehicle entered the water. (I don’t really like murky water…) I’m pretty sure your whole family would LOVE this cool experience of an amphibian vehicle.
Adult: $27 (13+) – Child: $17 (4-12)
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour Rides – My family went on one of these and I think it was the highlight of my vacation. The guide told us so many interesting stories about historic Philadelphia. You can have the option for a short tour, or a longer tour.
Short tour – 15-20 minutes long; $35 for 1-4 people (additional persons $8 each)
Longer tour – 30-35 minutes long; $45 for 1-4 people (additional persons $10 each)
Shopping & Food:
- You can’t live in, or even visit, Philadelphia without indulging yourself in the world famous Philly Cheesesteak! Why not visit the first restaurant to ever make one? Pat’s King of Steaks is still in business and is still run by the family!
- Stop by the Franklin Fountain for their rich, creamy, old-fashioned ice cream! Go ahead and try some of the craziest flavors I’ve ever heard of such as the Green Tea, Rum Raisin, and see how different the Hydrox Cookie (Cookies & Cream) ice cream flavor!
- If you like to shop, you can check out the famous Philadelphia Premium Outlets with awesome discounts, or the Franklin Mills Mall!
A few books to introduce the history of Philadelphia to your children…or yourself:
- Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
- Journey Around Philadelphia from A to Z
- When Mr. Jefferson Came to Philadelphia: What I Learned of Freedom, 1776
- Saving the Liberty Bell
- The Great Big Wagon that Rang