61 Free Things to do with Kids in Philly Summer 2015
It’s the unofficial start of summer, so we wanted to start the season off right with our 2015 list of 57 Free Things to do with Kids in Philly this Summer!
1. They built it, so now it’s our turn to come! Dilworth Park kicks of its inaugural summer as “The People’s Park” with concerts, fountains, food and more right under the shadow of Billy Penn and City Hall.
2. Too nice a day for the museums? Head to Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy for InsideOut, an art exhibition of the greats outdoors. Follow the guide and map and get your art museum fix without ever stepping food inside.
3. Even though the snow is long gone, you can still take in breathtaking views of the bridge and the river under the big tent at the Blue Cross Riverbank. The space is transformed from ski loge to boathhouse with air conditioning and ambience under the big tent. (Roller skating rental and admission is available for a fee).
4. Try completing our Wissahickon Seeek-and-Find guide.
5. Get your hipster on at the Oval, the fabulous outdoor park that sits at the feet of the Art Museum steps. This summer’s season opens with Future Sensations, a miscue of science, storytelling, and art May 30 through June 6, but the fun in the park runs all summer long.
6. 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 for families.
7. Spend the afternoon frolicking in Franklin Square. Throw pennies in the fountain, run around the square, and hang out on the playground for free. If you want to spend your allowance, there’s also a snack bar, mini-golf and a fabulous carousel.
8. 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 amazing pictures on the walls.
9. Grab your board and head out to the newly christened Paine’s Park, with skateable benches, quarterpipes, and edges to thrill even the most seasoned skater. And right underneath the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Pretty nice scenery too.
10. Run the hoses at the Fireman’s Hall Museum. A great spot for your firefighter-to-be to dress-up and get their rescue fix.
11. Hot out? Splash around with the kids at a sprayground. Nothing like stomping through fountains to cool you off.
12. Catch fireflies in Rittenhouse Square. It’s the simple things, right? (But why not do them in a fancy place, just for fun?)
13. Three words: Kids bowl free. Sign up, and your kids can bowl two free games every day, all summer long.
14. Splash around in one of the Philadelphia public pools. You can search for local pools by neighborhood and find the perfect spot for your crew.
15. Hike the beautiful Wissahickon Trail. Seriously, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Plus, kids enjoy trying to find the Indian Statue.
16. Bring some popcorn and a blanket on Friday and Saturday nights to the Mt. Airy Moonlight Movies. Movie selections are typically a balance of family-friendly and outright fun flicks, so there’s sure to be something for everyone.
17. Pay-what-you wish admission on first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday night after 5 p.m. at the Art Museum. Wednesdays bring activities like yoga, games, and music. Sunday visitors can enjoy wonderful family programs.
18. 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.
19. Take walk, jog, or bike ride along the insanely scenic Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive. Bring your own wheels because bike rentals are not free, but they do have those cute surrey bikes if you decide to rent.
20. Watch the coins roll at the U.S. Mint. The tour is free, self-guided, and takes 45 minutes to complete. Plus, that place is made of money.
21. Get your groove on during the free concerts at Penn’s Landing. Enjoy orchestra, jazz and the army band.
22. Celebrate your culture or learn about a new one at the PECO Multicultural Series at Penn’s Landing. With Irish, Islamic, Portuguese, Hispanic, African, Mexican, Carribean, Brazilian, and Indian festivals planned, there’s lots to celebrate!
23. Take a Public Art Tour in West Philadelphia. So many statues, so little time!
24. Swing and climb at a playground you’ve never visited before. Let us know if you find a new favorite.
25. Sign ’em up to have a shockingly good time at Science in the Summer. Two, two-hour sessions for elementary school students at select branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia. This year’s focus is Physical Sciences and Electricity.
26. Spot the birds at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. Borrow a birding book from the library and see which feathered friends you can find.
27. Build something new at Lowe’s Build and Grow Workshop. June crafts include Iron Man’s Avenjet and Captain America’s Motorcycle.
30. Channel your inner Rocky and run up the steps of the Art Museum.
31. Complete a Tour by Foot — from Independence Hall to Ghost Tours. These are actually name-your-price tours.
32. Take in a Young People’s Concert at the Mann Music Center. Inca Son, Rock School of Dance, Rising Stars, and Three Kings grace the stage in summer 2015.
33. Go hands-on at the Please Touch Museum Target First Wednesdays 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 and most definitely worth it!
34. Learn and grow at Wissahickon Environmental Education Center. The Treehouse offers great kids programs for your budding naturalist.
35. Whisper sweet nothings or spy secrets at the Whispering Benches at the Smith Memorial Arch in Fairmount Park.
36. Marvel at the treescapes in Awbury Arboretum and go on a tree hunt!
37. Throw a Frisbee in Fairmount Park. Maybe when they grow up, the kids can join the ultimate Frisbee league there.
39. Splash amongst the majestic fishies in Swann Memorial Fountain.
41. Do one (or all) of the seven Walking Tours in Historic Philadelphia. Choose from Fairmont Park, Rittenhouse Square and more.
42. Enjoy Japanese drumming, modern dance, Cajun music, funk, jazz, be bop, Pacific islander dance, martial arts, art-building, film, face painting, jugglers, balloon art, and more on the last Saturday of the month through September, at the 40th Street Summer Series.
43. Check out Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse’s children’s activities. Weekly story times are on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.
45. 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).
46. Grab a seat, hear a tale, and channel your inner Ben or Betsy at one of the ten Storytelling Benches in the Historic District downtown.
47. Send your teen sailing off to the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Rowing Camp. Mine went and loved it. It’s two weeks of free full-time camp. (Ok, technically it’s $25 for two weeks of full time camp)
48. Check out “The Goonies” and more at Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing. 2015 listings include Annie, The Lego Movie, Cinderella, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
49. Let the dog run free in Pretzel Park. Fido can enjoy a break from the city’s leash law.
50. Go people watching on South Street.
51. 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.
52. Take a picnic to Belmont Grove. Or take a picnic anywhere really.
53. Catch a sneak peek of The Eagles as they hold Open Practices at Lincoln Financial and Franklin Fields. No tickets necessary for practice at Lincoln, but free tickets for Franklin must be secured in advance.
54. 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.
55. Take the gang to the Barnes Museum every first Sunday for pay-what-you wish and free audio tours. Check out Cézanne and his apples!
56. 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.
57. Embrace the green in Bartram’s Garden. This lush, sprawling, historic site will leave you amazed that you’re still within city limits.
58. Browse the galleries and enjoy the art during First Fridays in Old City. Eat dinner outside!
59. Test a homemade boat in the boat pond, splash in the fountain, enjoy the children’s garden and climb the Wissahickon-inspired mini-landscape at the Sister Cities Park.
60. Bring your skates and roll along the floors at one of the Parks & Recreation roller rinks. No skates? No worries. Rentals are just $3/person, but admission is always free.
61. Bask in the nighttime glow, relax in a hammock, or duke it out in a giant game of Connect Four at the Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Know of a Philly family freebie we forgot to include? Please leave a comment!