Philadelphia is a historical, artistic, athletic, and pop-cultural representation of the United States of America. It is a cosmopolitan city that offers so many things you could take multiple trips here and not see the same things twice! Here is one variation: a two-day vacation in the city for $200!
Philadelphia is perhaps most world renowned for the history that is represented here – most notably the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the writing of the U.S. Constitution, both of which occurred at Independence Hall (above).
It is also home to the oldest continuously inhabited street in America, Elfreth’s Alley. (For more beautiful photos and a write-up of the history of Elfreth’s Alley, check out this post by my colleague, Enchanted Serendipity!)
Plus, see the home of Betsy Ross, throw a penny on Benjamin Franklin’s grave (remember, his motto was: A penny saved is a penny earned!), and visit the first U.S. Post Office. There’s also the First and Second Banks of the United States (established under Alexander Hamilton!) and of course, the Liberty Bell, possibly the preeminent international symbol of freedom. While there are entrance fees, or at least timed tickets for entry to some places, you can walk all around the Old City District and experience many of these things for free.
A walk thru Chinatown will get you a view of the Friendship Gate and some of the best dumplings ever. (I must admit, we were so focused on eating the dumplings that we didn’t take any pictures!)
While we were visiting, the Chinese Lantern Festival was happening in Franklin Square (May-June 2017). For $17, you could get a timed ticket on Friday and Saturday evenings and walk amongst these elaborate and iconic lanterns lit up against the dark night. However, during the daytime, you can walk thru the park for FREE and avoid the crowds! While not as dramatic as when they are lit at night, they are still very enjoyable to look at.
Cost: FREE (daytime) / $17 (evening)
If you’re not a history buff and sports are more your thing than take a run up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Made famous by Rocky movies, I guarantee you will start humming the theme song as you climb the 72 steps to the top. Definitely worth doing for the sake of American pop-culture, and for the gorgeous view of downtown Philadelphia you’ll see at the top. When you go back down, turn to the left and you’ll quickly find the Rocky Statue.
Street Art abounds in Philadelphia. I love finding street murals in every city I visit and I didn’t come close to scratching the surface of all the many beautiful murals that exist in Philadelphia! There’s also the mosaic work of Isaiah Sagar at his museum, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens that has exploded into the surrounding neighborhood. While there’s a $10 fee for the Gardens, you can walk the streets around it and see many pieces of his work for free.
Cost: FREE (Streetart) / $10 (Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens)
I’ve enjoyed tracking down the many renditions of Robert Indiana’s LOVE statues around the world, and while Philadelphia does have one, it was temporarily down for repairs while I was there. However, Robert Indiana also has an AMOR statue that was installed by the city to commemorate the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia in 2015.
One of my favorite museums in Paris was the Rodin Museum. Turns out, Philadelphia also has a Rodin Museum and it contains the largest public collection of his work outside of Paris. The beautiful building and grounds house over 140 works of bronze, marble, and plasters by this elegant artist.
Cost: $10 (suggested donation)
Public markets have been a part of Philadelphia’s history since the late 1600’s. Reading Terminal Market first opened for business in 1892 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia, after the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Lots of good eats here!
Here’s a look at my Philadelphia itinerary and a few of the many places I didn’t get a chance to visit:
My budget for the trip came in at just over $200. I did use airline points for the trip there and shared a hotel room with a friend, but if you are on the east coast, it’s very easy to take a train or bus into Philadelphia and makes for an economical weekend getaway.
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I’m a Philadelphia native and I’m glad you were able to visit the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly affection). I think the city is generally underrated. It’s so much more than cheesesteaks and (sometimes) questionably behaved sports fans. Visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is free. You can pick up free day of timed tickets at the Visitors’ Center of Independence National Historical Park or get them in advance (recommended) online from the Park’s excellent website. Our city official visitors’ website is also excellent and often has hotel deals. They’re slogan is “Philadelphia is more fun when you sleep over”. https://www.visitphilly.com
PS: I’ve shared this post to my Philadelphia Pinterest page. Fly Eagles Fly. 🙂
Thanks for all the extra tips! I’m hoping to get there again this year or next so will definitely take advantage of them. (And, love that slogan!) Thanks for the share too, much appreciated!!
P.S. as a born & raised Minnesota Vikings fan, while I was sad to lose to the Eagles this year, Philly definitely deserved their win and was glad to see them win the Super Bowl too!
I would love to take a tour at the Betsy Ross House. I really enjoy walking through time in a home because it brings so much more to the imagination. I love how many cities have their own China Town. I’ve been to many but have yet to visit the China Town in Philadelphia.
I enjoy the older homes too – seeing how everyday life used to look is fascinating. Seeing how they got by with different tools than we have now and often how much less they had to do so much more, is always a good reminder to me that maybe I can cut down on some of the things in my life…
This sounds like a great trip to get together with your friends and hang out. You can wander around the city for hours and pick up on culture through osmosis. Coming from Tucson, we always claimed to be the oldest, continuously inhabited town in America. You just have to count the Hohokum in that timeline.
It is so much fun to wander in this city with friends! Between the culture and the street art, there are so many things to see and discuss. I haven’t been to Tucson yet, but hoping to visit there one day soon!
This is a super useful post – I love the way you’ve added all the prices for each activity. I was going to say that old house looks really cool, which it does – but it’s newer than my parents house in the UK haha! I really want to go to Philly and this is such a great guide for budget hunters!
Thank you! And, yep even in one of our oldest cities we’re still so much younger than most the rest of the world! Haha
Philly is such a great city to visit for a weekend! Great choices here, especially in and around the Magic Gardens. So cool to see all of those mosaics around that part of the city. We love the Reading Terminal Market, especially DiNic’s and Beiler’s Donuts. So much good food to eat in Philly
Yes, the Magic Gardens neighboorhood was incredibly interesting! And, Beiler’s Donuts are so good!!
Wow, you really make Philadelphia shine! I didn’t know there was so much great art – love Robert Indiana, of course, and do appreciate Rodin. But also the streetart and China town look great; who would have guessed?!
Thank you! I really enjoyed all of the street art too. And, the food in Chinatown was AMAZING!!
The Chinese lantern festival looks so colourful and vibrant. And so does the street art! Good to know that you can do all these things for $200! Thank you for the tips.
You’re welcome! I really enjoyed the lantern festival – I can only imagine it’s even more fun at night, all lit up!
This is just what ai needed!! I was looking at flights today to philly for a long weekend!! I am so glad I found this!!
Yay, I’m glad I could help! Have a fun trip!!
This is an incredible itinerary, imagine for $200 you can enjoy Philadelphia’s nice spots. I just love that you included here different itineraries to enjoy if you are on a tight budget but still can enjoy most out of it. Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure in Philadelphia!
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Hope it helps you plan a trip there!
Philly and Boston are on my list for this side of US, and so your post comes in handy. Street art and vintage houses are two things that interest me too. $200 for 2 days is not bad at all.
Searching out and viewing street art has become one of my favorite tourist activities! Boston is another great city – I haven’t been there in a number of years, I’m due to go back for a visit!
I had no idea Philadelphia was so chock full of history. I would love to see the Liberty Bell and run up the Rocky steps (well run the first ten and then puff up the rest slowly). I look forward to using this guide next time I head to the East Coast. Do you think you could do it as a day trip from NYC?
It absolutely could be a day trip from NYC! You could easily drive or take a train between the two cities (approximately 1 1/2 hours each way). You might want to stay more focused on the historical areas and then head over to the Rocky steps if you’re only there 1 day, but you would get to see quite a lot!
So many interesting things in Philadelphia. I never been there, but it seems really nice. And it´s so good to know that is always possible to travel in one city for free!
There were SO many things to do there, I didn’t even get close to trying them all! You’ll certainly find something that you like!