6 Ways to Save on Your Philadelphia Vacation
Local experts share their best tips for travelers on a budget.
If you want a comprehensive look at Philadelphia, hop on Big Bus Tours, which stops at 27 different locations throughout the city.(Mark Callahan)
One great thing about visiting a city like Philadelphia is there are plenty of ways to spend your time without spending a lot of money. From taking self-guided tours to planning visits around special events, these suggestions from local experts will help budget-conscious travelers make the most out of their visit.
Explore the Center City grid.
Philadelphia is a very walkable destination with plenty of sights and landmarks within a few blocks of one another. If you're looking to explore part of the city on your own, Center City comes highly recommended.
[Read: The Best Hotels in Philadelphia.]
"The Center City grid – if you're able to walk and have no difficulty getting around – is very easily managed, and there's quite a bit to see," says Frank Marandino, chief concierge at The Rittenhouse Hotel.
Strolling through Center City, visitors will come across Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia City Hall and John F. Kennedy Plaza, known as Love Park (which is under construction until September 2017). Plus, the sections of Market, Chestnut and Walnut streets in Center City are packed with stores and restaurants, including The Shops at Liberty Place.
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Stop by Dilworth Park.
Though part of the Center City grid, Dilworth Park is worth mentioning on its own for a couple of reasons. The recently renovated space, located in the shadow of City Hall, is packed with things to do, especially for those traveling with the family.
"It's a cool place if you're trying to do something with the children, and you don't want to spend a lot of money but you want to have fun," says Roshid Milledge, concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. "You go in and they have these huge cool water shows and water exhibits. They just kind of jump up out the ground, you see the kids running around [and] benches where the parents can sit and watch the children."
In the winter, a large public ice rink replaces the fountain. Additionally, Dilworth Park has several great dining options.
Visit during a restaurant week.
If you consider yourself a foodie, Philadelphia has just the treat for you. The Center City area holds a restaurant week during the fall and winter, allowing diners to enjoy multiple courses at leading restaurants for a fixed price. Other areas in and around the city hold similar events as well.
[Read: The Best Philadelphia Tours.]
Coming to town during a restaurant week is "a great way to sample local flavors, and you can get into high-end restaurants," says Damien Infantino, event services manager at The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel. "They have a preset menu at a preset price, and that's a great way to sample local dishes [at] higher-end restaurants, and you can do it on a limited expense."
Buy a Philadelphia Pass.
Good for 12 months from the date of purchase, the Philadelphia Pass gives cardholders free entry to more than 40 attractions around town, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Zoo.
The Philadelphia Pass starts at $59 for an adult one-day pass and $49 for a child one-day pass.
Take a bus tour.
Rest your feet as you fit in many of the city's most popular sites during a low-cost bus tour.
Philadelphia has a few different options. Big Bus Tours offers one-, two- and three-day passes that start at $32 for adults, $29 for seniors and $10 for children ages 4 to 12. The tour makes stops at 27 different locations throughout the city.
You're getting "a narrated 1-hour-45-minute tour of almost all of the attractions of the city in the downtown area," Marandino says.
Stephen Hornstein, bell captain at The Warwick Hotel, Rittenhouse Square, notes another option is the trolleylike Philly Phlash Downtown Loop bus. Passes are $5 for the day, and buses operate daily every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check the website for the seasonal bus schedule.
[Read: 4 Must-See Parks in Philadelphia.]
Buy a SEPTA family pass.
The local transit system is a fine option for families looking for the freedom to move about the Greater Philadelphia region without spending a lot of money. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, offers a $29 pass for families of as many as five members traveling with at least one adult.
"If you want to see something or go outside of the downtown area, you can take our public transportation ... and you can go wherever you want," Milledge says.
The SEPTA family pass works on buses, subways, trolleys, certain Regional Rail trains and the Mann Center Summer Bus Service.
To experience more of what Philadelphia has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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