Inexpensive or Free Things To See, Eat and Stay in the City of Brotherly Love
When you are known as the traveling aunt, how do you entertain your nephew for the summer? Well I did what I do best, plan a trip! Why not finally go to the home of the Rocky films and go eat some dope food. I got my best friend and her daughter on board and made it a family vacation. Per my budget savy ways, I found a lot on inexpensive or FREE things to see, do and even stay on this trip.
First, the, most important thing is to get a Phlash Bus Pass; you can use it to transport from all the main sights for only $5.00/day or $2 each trip. Just look for the purple bus signs on the corner or get a free bus stop map from your hotel or any tourist attraction. A bus comes every 15 minutes like clockwork from 10:30 AM to 6PM daily. If you are following the map attached to the bottom of this article, it provides you with all the stops the Phlash bus will make.
I think United States history is dull and boring but you have to appreciate where history was made. You can walk in the area where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence was signed. On that day, you could not go into the building but you can see the room on display from the back entrance. The best part is a park in the back with benches and food trucks on each corner.
One of the most iconic United States symbol, besides the flag, is only one block up from Independence Hall and it is free to get a picture with it. However, get there early to avoid lines.
African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)
Is located four blocks up from Independence Hall. The permanent display I was obsessed with is on first-hand accounts of African American people during the 1776-1876. It offers 100 years’ worth of first hand experiences of African Americans as our country was being shaped. It is worth a work through. Adults $14, Students: $10, and Youth (4-12): $10.
Total: $10 (still a student)
Stop 5: (16th Street) gets you to the iconic LOVE statue. It is much smaller than I thought it would be but still beautiful. There was hardly any line so we got great shots.
Stop 6 (18th Street) stops at Logan square. On a hot summer day there is a huge fountain where people bring their children to swim. My friend and I relaxed with our feet in the water. Also the AMOR statute sits across the street; Also rather small in person. There are several museums and other things to do at this stop.
Both stops: Free
Eastern State Penitentiary
I can say visiting a prison is not my thing. When I wan San Francisco I had no desire to visit Alcatraz Island but Eastern State was different. The prison has always sat in the middle of a busy neighborhood and it stands out. I honestly thought it looked like a castle versus a prison. The tour takes you through the history of the prison system in America, provides first-hand accounts of prisoners and guards, and at the end challenges your way of thinking. Fun fact: Al Capone, the original Scarface, served time here from 1929-1930 on minor charges.
Cost: Adults $14 and Students $10 (save $2 and purchase tickets online)
All these places above are on the Phlash Bus line but there are a few places worth deviating off the path for.
Magic Gardens (located 1020 South St)
I am so hurt I did not get to visit the Magic Gardens because it was closed and we were rushing to leave but I still give the recommendation to go see it. Magic gardens can be described as an outdoor and indoor art gallery that was inspired by creativity and it shows! The inside offers great exhibits of local artist and the outdoor gallery was created by Isaiah Zagar. The art museum spans about a block and the outdoor exhibit was created with non-traditional materials.
Cost: Adult $10 & Student $8
Mural Mile (starts at 229 Arch Street-13th & chestnut)
Philadelphia has some of the most beautiful street art I have ever seen. I love creative spaces and I love how the city offers a program designed for creative minds to have an outlet. You can take a walking tour that takes you are through the amazing artwork and different neighborhoods by a Philly native. The proceeds go to the Mural Art Program. However, you can opt out of the tour and just walk it yourself but if you want the art to continue take the tour.
Penn’s landing (Located along the Philadelphia’s Delaware River Waterfront)
There are tons of attractions and events held here all year long. We attended Summerfest event held for the 4th of July. The real point of interest is Spruce Street Harbor Park. This park is open from May 11-September 30. Visitors can lounge and relax on colorful hammocks under beautiful lights hanging from the trees. You can also enjoy foods on floating barges.
$-10>, $$-15>, $$$-25< (Cost PP)
Reading Terminal Market
I can only describe this space as a diverse, creative space for small businesses. This space offers so many different creative outlets from food, artwork, and houseware decor. When you first enter the terminal, you will be bombarded with so many different captivating food smells and if you weren’t hungry you will be. They offer so many different foods from Philly-inspired dishes, American favorites, seafood, Cuban-style, and so many other options.
Ms. Tootsies Soul Food Café (1312 South St)
Who said you can only get soul food in the Southeast? Well this space provides a more contemporary lounge space to traditional southern eats. I actually did not get to go to the restaurant because we ran out of time. However, I actively stalked their website and Instagram (@mstootsies) for weeks and their food is mouth-watering! I am making a special trip to Philly again just to eat here. The menu offers fried chicken, barbecued ribs, smothered turkey chops and southern style collard greens with turkey; this is just some of great food they offer
(Depends on food section, most items under $17)
Max’s Steaks (3653 Germantown Ave)
As a tourist, you cannot go to Philly and not eat a Philly cheesesteak. It is one of the staple tourist must DOs; so go visit Max’s. Oh it even got a cameo in the hit-movie Creed. When I travel I want to try the authentic places where locals go;You will find that here. Several locals told us to venture away from Geno’s and Pat’s and go to North Philly to find authentic Philadelphia foods.
Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham (located near Airport)
I love staying by an airport! Hear me out, as a frequent traveler whether you are flying in or driving picking a hotel by the airport has so many advantages. One you are more than likely on/near a bus or train; taking a train or bus is much cheaper then Uber or Lyft and more convenient. Second, it is usually cheaper than other hotels because most people believe the hype that staying by an airport will keep you up all night. FALSE. I have never heard a plane on this trip or any other trip. Bonus points, this hotel offers free breakfast AND simple dinners!
Apple Hostel Philadelphia (32 Bank Street)
Hostels are usually always the cheaper option no matter the city or country. They are usually located close to everything and provide in-home entertainment. If I was not traveling with my best friend and her daughter this would have been my home for my 3 day trip.
Now that you have read my article on budget friendly things to See, Eat, and Stay in Philadelphia, I hope you feel inspired to travel to the city of Brotherly Love. If it will be your first trip, I hope you use this guide as a good starting point. If you are returning to Philly, I hope you were inspired to try something new.