Philadelphia is a rich city. Rich in history. Rich in culture. Rich in …cheesesteaks?

Indeed, the City of Brotherly Love is a wealth of things to do even for poor, huddled masses and coupon nuts.

So leave your powdered wig and your Benjamin Franklin outfit at home, and head to the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed. See if any of these free and inexpensive attractions, ahem, ring a bell:

The Founding Fathers: Visit the Independence National Historic Park to learn more about the creation of the good, old U.S. of A. From March  to  December, take a tour but remember to get a pre-scheduled ticket to enter Independence Hall. Step inside the building that played a crucial role in the birth of the United States. It is where the U.S. Constitution was adopted and Declaration of Independence was signed.

Let Freedom Ring: Across the street from Independence Hall sits another American symbol, the Liberty Bell. Gather the family for a snapshot with the bell and ponder the inscription chosen by William Penn, “Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land Unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Then keep your patriotic tour going. Old City Hall, Carpenters Hall, Franklin Court, Benjamin Franklin's print shop, National Constitution Center, Free Quaker Meeting House, and the Declaration House are other attractions in the Independence National Historic Park.

Liberty and Art For All: Explore Philadelphia’s center city when you visit 17 of the city’s murals, known as the Mural Mile. Download a free podcast or call their audio tour phone number from your cell phone to hear the story behind each mural.

Water Wonders: Learn about watersheds and other fun water facts at a tour of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. See how Philadelphia’s water needs have been supplied by the Schuylkill River since 1801. Learn how Fairmount Water Works became the model for over 30 American water systems. After exploring the center, quench your thirst with a tipple of H20.

Flame Fighter: Children and adults will love seeing the antique fire trucks, firefighter uniforms, equipment, chief's office and firefighter's recreation room at the Fireman's Hall Museum. A free tour of the museum may revive your childhood dreams of driving a fire truck.

Walk Into History: Penn's Landing, just a short walk from the center city and historic area, is located along the Delaware River waterfront. Year round visit Independence Seaport Museum (not free), The Great Plaza, Riverlink Ferry, and Festival Pier to view the waterfront and city skyline, learn about the Philadelphia's maritime history, and take a scenic river tour.

The City Modern: Add some culture to your trip with a visit to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Thanks to a grant, this art museum is now free! Located in University City, famous artists such as to Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, and Robert Indiana have been showcased at the museum.

Contemplate Freedom: Take a break from the city to check out the quiet side of Philadelphia in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Biking, hiking, photography, canoeing, fishing and pets are permitted in the refuge. Download a mobile app to get information on trails, bird watching and historic sites. During your visit, you may even catch a glimpse of a frog, turtle, fish, fox, deer, or muskrat.

Ah, the Cheese Steak: Let’s face it, all tourists have to stop and eat at some point! If you are in Philly, a steak sandwich or cheese steak sandwich is a must. Try Pat's King of Steaks or Geno's Steaks (they're across the street from each other). It's free to check out the photos of celebrities who have eaten at Pat's and Geno's.

 This has been a guest post by Heather from Lancaster, PA
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

Other Cities

Free tourist sites are available in almost every city across the country. Here are some tips for finding free tourist attractions:

Travel/Tourist Websites: The official tourism site for the city or state you are visiting is a great resource for fun and free things to do. Call or send an email. These cities want you to come visit and will happily provide you with all the information you need.

Local Visitor's Bureau: Make the local visitor's bureau your first stop. Tell them you are interested in free local activities, and see what they come up with.

Ask Locals: Who knows better than residents the best of free things to do. Every town has a few hidden gems, and if you don't ask, you might not find them.

Call Before You Go: Before you head out to a tourist site, pick up the phone and ask a few questions. Many places offer reduced prices or free tickets on certain days and times or have free exhibits available. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts and specials.

A Note

Nickel Tours is a new series of KCL's travel section. Look for periodic posts highlighting free and very inexpensive things to do in destination cities around the United States. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!


Nickel Tours: Your Wallet Will "Heart" The City of Brotherly Love