50 free things to do with kids in Philadelphia

    Welcome to the 2014 edition of “free ways to keep kids busy and happy” in Philly this summer. Residents and tourists alike can enjoy the City of Brotherly Love on a dime or less.

    Hang out at the hippest new spot in town! Spruce Street Harbor Park is a pop-up park open though August 31. Boardwalk, urban beach, fountains, floating barges, and restaurants.

    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. This is a must do.

    Spend the afternoon frolicking in Franklin Square. Great playground, snack bar and rides right in the heart of the city. July 25 is National Carousel Day and July 31 is the Franklin Square’s Birthday.

    Walk the Philadelphia Mural Mile. Philly is the City of Murals, so this self-guided tour clues you in on some of the stories behind the pictures.

    Run the hoses at the Fireman’s Hall Museum. A great spot for your firefighter-to-be.

    Hot out? Stomp around with the kids at a sprayground. Nothing like stomping through fountains to cool you off.

    Catch fireflies in Rittenhouse Square. It’s the simple things, right? (But why not do them in a fancy place, just for fun?)

    Three words: Kids bowl free. Sign up, and your kids can bowl two free games every day all summer long.

    Brush up on your strokes at one of the Philadelphia public pools. A new listing makes it easier for you to search for a pool by neighborhood. 

    Hike the beautiful Wissahickon Trail. Seriously, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Plus, kids enjoy trying to find the Indian Statue.

    Bring some popcorn and a blanket on Friday and Saturday nights to the Mt. Airy Moonlight Movies. From “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” to “Moon Struck” and “Pitch Perfect,” there’s something for everyone. 

    Pay-what-you wish admission on first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday night after 5 p.m. at the Art Museum. Enjoy their wonderful family programs.

    Test the kids’ detective skills at the Edgar Allen Poe National Historical Site. Complete the activities to become a Junior Ranger or just listen for the Tell-Tale Heart.

    Take walk, jog, or bike ride along Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive. Bring your own wheels because bike rentals are not free, but they do have those cute surrey bikes.

    Watch the coins roll at the U.S. Mint. That place is made of money.

    Get your groove on during the free concerts at Penn’s Landing. Enjoy orchestra, jazz and the army band.

    Take a Public Art Tour in West Philadelphia. So many statues, so little time!

    Swing and climb at a playground you’ve never visited before. Let us know if you find a new favorite.

    Sign ’em up for Science in the Summer. Two, two-hour sessions at select branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia. This year’s focus is “Simple Machines.”

    Spot the birds at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. Borrow a birding book from the library. 

    Build something new at Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshop

    Hike and learn at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

    Catch frogs in Pastorius Park. Toads or frogs? We have the skinny on that one. Try and catch one of the park’s free concerts while you’re there. 

    Channel your inner Rocky and run up the steps of the Art Museum.

    Complete a Tour by Foot — from Independence Hall to Ghost Tours. These are actually name-your-price tours.

    Take in a Young People’s Concert at the Mann Music Center. 

    Go hands-on at the Please Touch Museum Target First Wednesdays on August 6 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s not quite free, but it’ll only cost you $2, instead of the usual $16 per person.

    Learn and grow at Wissahickon Environmental Education Center. The Treehouse offers great kids programs.

    Bond with the animals at Fox Chase Farm. They offer an open house every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and Wednesday nights starting at 6 p.m. 

    Marvel at the treescape in Awbury Arboretum and go on a tree hunt!

    Throw a Frisbee in Fairmount Park. Maybe when they grow up, the kids can join the ultimate Frisbee league there.

    Get thee some history! Visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

    Splash amongst the fishies in Swann Memorial Fountain

    Take kissy pictures at the LOVE statue

    Do one (or all) of the seven Walking Tours in Historic Philadelphia. Choose from Fairmont Park, Rittenhouse Square and more.

    Check out Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse’s children’s activities. Weekly story times are on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

    Visit the beautiful Central Library.

    Take your toddlers for a free ride on SEPTA. Up to two children ages 4 and under ride free with paying adult (ages 5 to 11 pay 50 percent of adult fare).

    Send your teen sailing off to the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Rowing Camp. Mine went last year and loved it. It’s two weeks of free full-time camp.

    Check out “The Goonies” and more at Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing.

    Let the dog run free in Pretzel Park. Fido can enjoy a break from the city’s leash law

    Go people watching on South Street. 

    Help your school or daycare center to pick up free books from Books for Friends. It’s a great way to get more books into the hands of kids.

    Take a picnic to Belmont Grove. Or take a picnic anywhere really.

    Visit one of the Free Library branches and check out their wonderful summer programming. Lots of fun kids’ activities, speakers, and shows at the branches.

    Take the gang to the Barneson Wednesday nights for pay-what-you wish and free audio tours. Check out Cézanne and his apples!

    Download, call or text the Museum without Walls, and learn fascinating stories about sculptures all around the city. Audio accounts offer the voices of people personally connected to each sculpture. 

    Embrace the green in Bartram’s Garden. This lush, sprawling, historic site will leave you amazed that you’re still within city limits. 

    Browse the galleries and enjoy the art during First Fridays in Old City

    Test a homemade boat in the boat pond, splash in the fountain, or climb the Wissahickon-inspired mini-landscape at the Sister Cities Park. Paradise for the little ones!

    Know of a Philly family freebie we forgot to include? Please leave a comment!

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