Free things to do in Philly

With spring in full gear, it’s that time of year to say ‘down to winter blahs’ and ‘hurray to sunshine.’ It’s time for everyone to step out of hibernation and revel in the awesome activities

With spring in full gear, it’s that time of year to say ‘down to winter blahs’ and ‘hurray to sunshine.’ It’s time for everyone to step out of hibernation and revel in the awesome activities that Philadelphia has to offer.


United States Mint

151 N. Independence Mall East

Weekdays, Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The beginning of the week is lame. Add some flavor with a bit of education. At The United States Mint, take a free tour and see actual coin production. Exhibits and audio and video stations explain history of the U.S. Mint and the country’s coinage. An added (not monetary) bonus: This tour won’t get boring, as it’s a quick 45 minutes long.

Movie Monday

Trocadero Theater

1003 Arch St.

Doors open at 6 p.m., movie at 8 p.m.


Later on Monday, stop at the Trocadero Theater for Movie Monday. This virtually free event is 21 years old and over. For $3, you see a movie and get a voucher for food or drink (beer and cocktails included). Upcoming movies include “Purple Rain,” “The Devil’s Rejects” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

“[Movie nights at Trocadero are] something fun to do,” said Scott Bell, a box office attendant at the Chinatown theater. “Everyone here enjoys it, so it is just a fun event for us to have.”

For the movie, bartenders dress up like characters and an intermission break provides time for another beverage and “goofy prize” giveaways. Following the movie, host Needles Jones leads The Monday Night Club, a two-hour performance mix of local bands, poets, comedians and DJs.


City Hall Tour

Weekdays, 12:30 p.m.

Tower Tour

Weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


By the second day of the week, it’s time to grab your weekly dose of history with a City Hall tour. Inside tours are given Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. and in roughly two hours, you see the historic building’s 695 rooms and 250 statues. For a unique site seeing experience, try a Tower Tour, given every 15 minutes between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Open Mic Comedy Night

Helium Comedy Club

2031 Sansom Street

8 p.m.


On Tuesday night stop into Helium Comedy Club at 8 p.m. for a dose of 20 laugh-busting pieces of local talent. According to general manager Mary Rae Cox, 35 to 40 people sign up each week, and so comedians are selected on a rotating basis. Although the event is free, Helium has a two-purchase minimum per person, which can just be a soda and a snack. A cool feature of the night is the happy hour prices throughout the show. Not 21 yet? Don’t worry; Helium will let up to four 18-and-over individuals inside for each person over 25 years old. The bad news is this guardian-type can’t drink with underage people at their table.

“100 or so people [come] every Tuesday, so it is a solid night. The comedians love it. I think it is one of their favorite open mics [in the city],” Cox said.


Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

532 North 7th St.

Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


This Wednesday, experience Philly with two free events. Between Wednesday and Saturday, the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is open for exploration. Take a tour of Poe’s only surviving Philadelphia residence, complete with exhibits about his life, live performances by actors narrating his works (some even put to music) and a souvenir gift shop.

The Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Locations vary

“Sentence Home,” April 24th 7 p.m., The Rotunda

“Knocking,” May 9th 6:30 p.m., National Constitution Center


About twice a month, on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings the ITVS (The Independent Television Service) promotes community screenings of independent films that explore complex issues. Screenings are sneak peeks of documentaries scheduled for later broadcast on PBS. Guest speakers related to the social issue of the film answer audience member’s questions with a post-show panel discussion. This is a great recommendation for people who feel that film can do more than entertain.


“Andrew’s Video Vault”

Second Thursday of the month

8 p.m.

The Gathering

Last Thursday of the month

10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Rotunda

4014 Walnut St.


The Rotunda may be a smoke and alcohol free space but it still has dope events. Andrew’s Video Vault is a double or triple feature taken from this Philly-based film director’s collection. Themed screenings begin at 8 p.m. on the second Thursday every month.

Each last Thursday of the month, The Rotunda presents “The Gathering,” promoted as the longest running hip hop event in Philly. At this legendary event, b-boys and b-girls, emcees and graffiti artists gather to share in the community celebration of hip hop and urban issues. DJs spin and artists hit up the tag wall, all in a night’s work.


The Gate

The Rotunda

8 p.m.

Third Friday of the month


By the time Friday arrives, don’t get The Rotunda out of your head yet. The third Friday of the month showcases “The Gate,” an event that fans and artists of experimental and ambient music and art will appreciate. Live music plays while oil projections, visual art or interactive participation heats up. This event is a pivotal resource for fans and artists of this forward-thinking art genre.

Melange Theater Live

The Rotunda

Fourth Friday of the month

7 p.m.

$7 suggested donation

The fourth Friday of the month welcomes Melange Theater Live to The Rotunda. These variety shows change monthly and have provided a stage for talented people to express themselves in an encouraging environment. Live theater, dance, jazz, opera, cabaret, Broadway and comedy performances are featured.


Upstairs Live Series

World Café Life

3025 Walnut Street

7 p.m.


When Saturday rolls around, it’s time to try a different venue that’s fresh and fun. About three Saturdays a month, World Café Live offers the “Free @ Upstairs Live” series. This upstairs section of the café offers comfortable seating and an ever-changing selection of performers. Some Saturday newcomer acts include Jana Losey, Sean Lee, Laura Brino and Rebecca Hart.


Philadelphia Art Museum

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Donations accepted

Sundays at the Philadelphia Museum of Art are ‘pay what you wish all day,’ meaning any donation is accepted for entry. The museum has held the ‘pay what you wish’ events for several years now and as a result, Sundays have become its most popular day.

“We want to make the collection accessible to people all around the city and in the surrounding area,” said Lauren Hughes, a visitor service assistant at the museum.

Colleen Dunn can be reached at

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