This was a popular post last summer, so here’s an updated rundown of 2013’s 50 free and local ways to keep kids busy and happy.
Whether you’ve been here all along, you’re new to Philly, or are just stopping by for a visit, there are some great insider favorites in here to please kids of all ages:
1. Spend the day climbing and twirling at Smith Playhouse. From the giant outdoor wooden slide to the fabulous and unique playground equipment, Smith is AMAZING. Must do!
2. Walk the Mural Mile Tour in Philadelphia. Philly is the City of Murals, so this self-guided tour clues you in on some of the stories behind the pictures.
3. Run the hoses at the Fireman’s Hall Museum. A great spot for your firefighter-to-be.
4. Hot out? Stomp around at a Sprayground. Nothing like stomping through fountains too cool you off.
5. Kids bowl free. Sign up and your kids can bowl free EVERY day all summer long.
6. Splash around in one of the Philadelphia Public Pools. New listing is done by neighborhood… much easier to find your local pools.
7. Hike the beautiful Wissahickon Trail. Seriously, it doesn’t get more beautiful, and kids enjoy trying to find the Indian Statue.
8. Set your teen’s creativity loose in the Summer Youth Arts Workshop in Chinatown. FREE.
9. Take walk, jog, or bike ride along Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive. Bike rentals are not free, but they even have those cute surrey bikes.
10. Watch the coins roll at the U.S. Mint. That place is made of money.
11. Ooooh and ahhh at the Friday night fireworks @ Penn’s Landing. BIG, loud, and in the sky.
12. Get in the groove at one of the free concerts @ Penn’s Landing. Enjoy orchestra, jazz, gospel and more.
13. Take a Public Art Tour in West Philadelphia. So many statues. So little time!
14. Dance the night away at a Night Market Philadelphia! A blast for kids and their grownups, coming to a neighborhood near you!
15. Swing and climb at a playground you’ve never visited before. Let us know if you find a new favorite.
16. Spy on the birds at the John Heniz Wildlife Refuge. Borrow a birding book from the library, or recycle your old toilet paper tubes and make your own!
17. Register for a free session of Apple Camp! Three-day Imovie camp for kids aged 8-12.
18. Catch fireflies in Rittenhouse Square. It’s the simple things, right? (But why not do them in a fancy place, just for fun?_
19. Build something new at Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshop. Saturday morning fun starts July 13.
20. Hike and learn at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. So much to learn and so much to explore.
21. Catch frogs in Pastorius Park. Toads? Frogs? We have the skinny on that one.
22. Spend the afternoon frolicking in Franklin Square. Great playground, snack bar and rides right in the heart of the city.
23. Channel your inner Rocky and run up the Steps of the Art Museum! Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da!
24. Complete a Tour by Foot. These are actually name-your-price tours… from Independence Hall to Ghost Tours.
25. Enjoy Summer Meals for Kids and Teens. More than 1,000 places around the city serve free meals to kids and teens age 18 and under.
26. Take in a Free Kids Concert at the Mann Music Center. Choose from the 4 Magic Mondays, Rock School of Dance or apply to be on stage as a Rising Star of Tomorrow!
27. Bring a blanket and take in one of the Pastorius Park Concerts in Chestnut Hill A pond, kids and dogs frolicking, good music… great nights.
28. Go hands-on at the Please Touch Museum Target First Wednesdays from 6-8pm. Not quite free, but only $3, instead of the usual $16 per person.
29. Learn and grow at Wissahickon Environmental Education Center. The Treehouse offers great kids programs.
30. Get your teen off that ithing and into a Teen Pop-up Event this summer. 3-on-3 hoops, skateboarding, ice skating and a pool party will get them moving.
31, Marvel at the treescape in Awbury Arboretum. Go on a tree hunt!
33. VIsit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Get thee some history!
34. Splash under the fishies in Swann Memorial Fountain. My favorite spot in the city. Especially at night.
35. Take sweet pictures at the LOVE Statue. Goofy fun to prove you really did make it downtown.
36. Do one (or all) of the seven Walking Tours in Philadelphia. Choose from Fairmont Park, Rittenhouse and more…
37. Check out Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse Children’s Activities. Wednesday story times at 4pm.
38. Visit the beautiful Central Library. Check out a book, sign up for cards, and enjoy a summer of reading.
39. Take your toddlers for a free ride on SEPTA! Up to two children age 4 and under, ride free with paying adult (ages 5-11 pay 50% of adult fare).
40. Engage in free play on the parkway! Play. It’s good for the soul.
41. Send your teen to the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Rowing Camp. Mine went last year and loved it. Two weeks of free full time camp!
42. Check out The Lorax, The Hobbit, or Catniss at Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing.
43. Let the dog run free in Pretzel Park. Fido can enjoy the break from the leash law!
44. People watch on South Street. Nighttime people watching is not rated G there, so maybe stick to the daytime with the little ones.
45. Help your school or daycare center to pick up FREE books from Books for Friends. Check it out… great way to get more books into the hands of kids.
46. Take a picnic to Belmont Grove. Or really, take a picnic anywhere.
47. Visit one of the Free Library branches and check out their wonderful summer programming. Lots of fun kids activities, speakers, and shows throughout the branches.
48. Bring some popcorn on Friday nights to the Mt. Airy Moonlight Movies. Brave, Akeela and the Bee, Grease!
50. Spend the attending the fabulous events of the Welcome America! celebration. Free ice cream socials, concerts, fireworks and much, much more.
Know of a freebie we forgot to include? Please leave a comment!