It’s called the “Penn Bubble” for a reason.
Sure, Penn may be located in West Philadelphia, but our campus is by no means an accurate representation of our surroundings. Penn has an arguably younger demographic than the rest of the city, our green is too perfectly manicured, our street corners are overly-patrolled (or adequately patrolled, depending on who you ask) and our local eateries are overpriced.
Okay, everything in our surroundings is overpriced. Business owners know we’re young and have no concept of money.
We all have excuses for why we haven’t explored more of Philly:
- You have five midterms in November and you need to lock yourself in the library for the next month and a half.
- Aunt Phyllis told you about that time she got mugged while walking in North Philly 20 years ago. Now you’re terrified to venture past Drexel, even though it’s to the east.
- SEPTA is confusing.
- The city’s layout is confusing.
- Touring is expensive.
Fair enough. But these excuses don’t exactly hold for four years.
Click below to see a list of the best free things to do in Philly. It’ll cost a couple of Septa tokens, but these sights and activities are not to be missed!
Work up a sweat: Free workout classes at Athleta
1722 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Let’s be honest, Pottruck isn’t exactly the best or cheapest place to take classes. If you’d like to try Pilates or get back into your yoga routine, consider taking a free class at Athleta. This active-ware retailer holds classes several days a week, so grab a friend and sweat it out!
See famous works of art: The Rodin Museum
2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there’s another, more famous Rodin than the one whose name lives on with one of the high-rises. The Rodin Museum showcases a variety of Rodin sculptures and is always “pay as you will”—meaning the only entity holding you back from just paying a penny is your conscience. If you’re broke, take advantage of this opportunity, and if not, consider spending a few dollars.
Hear some top-notch concerts: Curtis Recital Series
1726 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Don’t let their student status fool you. Students at the Curtis Institute of Music are some of the most talented and well-trained musicians in the country. The school hosts over one hundred free recitals a year, several days a week. So if you’re an avid classical music listener, this is the perfect place to get your fix of Beethoven, Dvorak and Schumann, among other artists.
Absorb the city’s history: Independence National Historic Park
525 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
If you’re a history buff, visiting Independence National Historic Park should be a real treat. See the Liberty Bell, visit Old City Hall or take a free tour of Independence Hall where the U.S. Constitution was drafted.
People watch: Rittenhouse Square
Rittenhouse Square is a bubbling hub of culture, designer clothing stores and open park space. The area is vibrant and fun to explore. Feel free to pack a sandwich and spend a few hours enjoying the view.
Bonus: Curtis and Athleta are in the area, so consider knocking these off the list during your visit.
Take a walk: Boathouse Row
Along the east bank of the Schuylkill River
This historic site runs along the Schuylkill River and is arguably one of the more picturesque locations in Philly. The streets are lined with old clapboard houses that light up at night and change colors depending on events and seasons. Make sure to catch the Classic Regatta Series, which takes place between March and November. Students and professionals from around the country take part in these famous boat races.
Bonus: See if you can time your attendance so that it falls on the first Sunday of the month. Boathouse Row is within close proximity of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month.
Sample fresh food: Reading Terminal Market
51 North 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
It’s a feast for the senses! The market is swarming with free samples of a variety of foods. From fresh produce and meat to artisanal cheeses and food stands with savory menus, this is the place to go for those who love food. Make sure to check out all the neat crafts and pottery too.
Disclaimer: We will not be held accountable for anyone who ends up buying all the delicious foods she samples and then goes broke.
This list is nowhere near exhaustive, but it’s a great way to start.
Are there any attractions you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments!