Family Activities to Do on a Budget
Philadelphia is an ideal city for families any time of year, with lots of activities and attractions your kids will love. If you're on a budget, don't worry. You don't have to spend a ton of cash to enjoy the city. Here are five free things to do in Philadelphia that will entertain both you and your kids.
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse
The Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse (3500 Reservoir Dr., Philadelphia, PA) was created in the late 1800s by the Richard and Sarah Smith Trust and first opened in 1899. It's one of America's oldest playgrounds and one of the best free family attractions in Philadelphia. The Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide, which was recently restored, measures 39 feet long and 13 feet wide, which gives your little ones plenty of room to zoom down. The outdoor playground, which is intended for kids 10 and under, features more than 50 pieces of play equipment. It's open all year but may be closed during inclement weather.
Liberty Bell Center
Older children may appreciate a visit to the historic Liberty Bell, which is housed in the Liberty Bell Center (526 Market St., Philadelphia, PA). It's free admission for all, and the Center is open most days of the year, making it especially perfect for wintertime visits. Here you will find exhibits on the history of the bell, and you can also check out the actual Liberty Bell, which is cracked along the side. Use it as a chance to let your kids discover times past. You can also visit the nearby Independence Hall, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Hall is free, but you will need a ticket.
Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches
As you stroll around Philadelphia, you may come across one of the 13 Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches. The benches, located throughout the city's Historic District, invite visitors to sit and listen to free 5-minute tales recounted by professional storytellers. It's available on specific days throughout the spring, summer and fall, and you can find a map of all the benches on the Historic Philadelphia website. Your kids can pick up a “Story Flag” at any Storytelling Bench and collect stars from every storyteller along the way, too. If they collect all 13, the flag can be redeemed for a History Hero Certificate and a free carousel ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel in Franklin Square.
Want to see how coins are made? You can embark on a free tour of Philadelphia's U.S. Mint (151 North Independence Mall East, Philadelphia, PA) to learn about the process of money-making and to understand the detailed craftsmanship of your coins. The tours are self-guided, so you can take your time; the facility welcomes visitors most days of the year. Be sure to take home a special commemorative coin from the gift shop.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
In 1777, the Continental Army marched in to Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Today, that site is part of Valley Forge National Historic Park (1400 North Outer Line Dr., King of Prussia, PA), which you can tour for free during the summer months. The summer programming includes living history, storytelling, interactive children's activities and guided tours, and Valley Forge is also open to cycling and walking through its 30 miles of trails. It's best enjoyed during nice weather, a great way to get your family outdoors while traveling.