Photo: Josh Berglund

How to Save Money on Your Trip to Philadelphia

Philadelphia Insider Guides Budget Travel
by Janny Hoedemaker Feb 11, 2018

Philadelphia is quickly becoming one of the nation’s top cities to visit. Trendy neighborhoods, quirky eateries, and artsy boutiques are popping up all of the time. But when a city gets more popular, it gets more expensive. If you’re planning a trip to Philadelphia, here’s how to save some money on your trip.

1. Visit the museums when they’re free.

Philly has a renowned and historic museum scene. Instead of blowing your budget on entrance fees, visit when they’re free. The Barnes Foundation, which has one of the world’s top collections of French Impressionist and Post Impressionist works, is free on the first Sunday of each month. You’ll find Picasso, Renoir, Degas, Matisse, and more.

The Philadelphia Art Museum is the third largest art museum in the country and is free after 5 PM every Wednesday. The first Sunday of the month is “pay what you wish.” And, before you enter the museum, make sure to stop by the Rocky statue, and get a photo running up the art museum steps (both are free).

If you’re still itching for more, the Rodin Art Museum is “pay what you wish” every day, and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum never charge admission.

2. Learn about history at no cost.

Philadelphia is where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was the stomping grounds of Benjamin Franklin. It is the home of the Liberty Bell.

If you’re into history, you can get quite the lesson without opening your wallet. The Liberty Bell is free to all visitors, as is Independence Hall and Congress Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. You can visit the remains of President George Washington’s first home, and throw a penny on Ben Franklin’s grave.

Take an admission-free walk down Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continually-inhabited residential street in the country. Guests can visit Carpenter’s Hall, the meeting place of the first continental congress, and the United States Mint for free, too.

3. Find the best drink deals.

Never pay full price for drinks in Philly because chances are, they’re half price somewhere else.

Check out Franky Bradley’s on weeknights from 5-7. They have $3 drafts beers, $6 mixed drinks, and wine. Taqueria Feliz in Manayunk offers $4 sangria, $5.50 margaritas, $3 drafts and $2 off cocktails every weeknight from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. Brick and Mortar offers top notch cocktails for half price (usually $10 or more) from 4-6 PM on weeknights. Tattooed Mom offers two happy hours, one from 5-7 and another from 10-11 when you can get half-priced pints. Sundays from 7-close, guests can get $2 PBRs.

Also check out the Landmark Americana: it is a University City pub with deals that reflect the students’ budgets. Monday through Sunday they offer $3.50 sangria, $2.50 Gansett beer, and $3 SoCo and lime shots. The happy hours are from 11 PM to 1 AM on weeknights and 10 PM to midnight on weekends.

4. Find the best food deals.

There’s a buzz around Philly’s restaurant scene and it wouldn’t be hard to blow your entire budget on food. These meals are certainly worth their price tags. However, if you want to save money on your trip to Philly, there’s a way to get a memorable meal at cheap prices.

Start in the Reading Terminal Market, where there are over 40 stands of cheap eats like pork sandwiches, sushi, Amish breakfast food, and salads. Check out Loco Pez in Fishtown where the tacos run between $2-$3. On Tuesdays, you can get tacos for only $1. Era Ethiopian restaurant in Brewerytown offers hearty portions that run between $10-$13 a plate. Hardena Waroeng Surabaya Restaurant serves up authentic Indonesian food, cafeteria style. You will probably pay $8-$10 for a satisfying meal.

And, don’t forget to grab a cheesesteak at Pat’s or Geno’s. It’s part of the experience and the sandwiches are budget-friendly.

5. Visit on the first Friday of the month.

First Fridays are a prime time to be in Philadelphia. The city is full of specials on food, drink, entertainment, and activities. Each month is different, and you never know what you’ll find. Check the Facebook events in Philadelphia if you want to find out what’s going on during your First Friday visit.

Restaurants will usually have live music, special menus, discounts, and drink specials. And, for those who like to shop, you’ll find pop-up boutiques and markets all over the city. Art lovers can wander through the galleries, most of which are free to the public and offer complimentary alcohol and snacks (don’t forget to tip, though).

6. See the free attractions.

Aside from the museums and the historical center, there are a ton of free things to do in Philadelphia. Start at Spruce Street Harbor Park, which is full of food trucks and hammocks that overlook the Delaware River. You can walk the small boardwalk, play on the giant chess board, or grab a beer from the beer garden.

Move on to Franklin Square, which is an excellent place to rest while exploring the historic areas. The square is free, although the mini-golf course and food stands cost a small fee. If you want to spend more time outside, take a walk on the Schuylkill River Boardwalk, which has great views of the city. You can also explore Bartram’s Garden, the birthplace of American gardening. It’s located on the riverfront and guests can take bird walks or historic tours at no cost.

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