The Cheapskate Guide To: Philadelphia

It's possible to travel Philadelphia on the cheap! $6 brunches, $5 bowling and $1.50 pretzels! //

If you’ve never been, the City of Brotherly Love is well worth a visit. It’s home of the famous Philly cheesesteak, hot live music venues, and one of the fastest-growing culinary scenes in the world! Allow us to expertly acquaint you with the best spots to checkout while you’re in town! Cheap travel in Philadelphia is totally possible!

Located in the heart of the city, Philly PR Girl is known for having the inside scoop on “All Things Philly,” and our downtown office – located just steps from iconic City Hall – positions us right inside of all the action. Most of our sociable staff are lifelong Philadelphians, so it’s safe to say we know the best places!

Philly is easily accessible from New Jersey, New York City, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. The Megabus has tickets starting as low as $1! Purchase a month or two in advance to lock down the best deals. (One of our girls just booked a bus to New York City from Philly for $3!)

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Rented Rooms

It is possible to find cute, clean, and unbelievably cheap accommodations for two for as little as $35/night! Check out this private room just 13 minutes from the city and this gorgeous, shared loft tucked away in Rittenhouse Square, the city’s ritziest neighborhood.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Hostels & shared rooms

Other options include grabbing a bunk at The Philadelphia House – one of Philly’s few hostels, and undoubtedly the best. They have four, eight, or 12-person rooms at their quarters in historic Old City, also starting at only $35/night.

If you’re an even thriftier, consider Couchsurfing. Plenty of Philadelphians are happy to open their doors (and their pull-out sofas) to visitors for free! Some hosts do ask that you bring a significant item (culture, city, food etc) of your choice as a trade-off, but that’s just part of the fun!


Liberty Bell – Free

Touring Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell is one of our favorite (and free!) recommendations for those new to the city. You can see the room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed, and then take a few steps across Chestnut Street to see the great symbol of American independence for yourself. Avoid waiting in line by visiting on off-peak hours.

The Cheapskates Guide to Philadelphia //

Philadephia Magic Gardens – $7

Attention narcissists: If you love snapping selfies, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens makes the most amazing photo backdrop. This mosaic gallery and its labyrinth sculpture garden is one of the coolest places to visit in the city, thanks to mural artist Isaiah Zagar. You can check out photos online, but trust us – pictures really don’t do this venue justice.

Love Park – Free

Named after the iconic Love Sign by Robert Indiana, this park is the perfect meeting place, and is aptly located in the heart of Center City. Snapping a picture in front of the sign is cliche, but so necessary. Those in need of respite will enjoy sitting around the fountain in the center of the park or across the street at the relatively new Dilworth Plaza. During the summer months, you’ll find kids splashing in the water. And in the winter, Love Park hosts a lovely Christmas market with a variety of vendors.

North or South Bowl – $5-6 a person

Nobody does retro quite like this bowling alley. Whether you’re near their North or South Philly location, pop in for their amazing happy hour, and stay to bowl the night away under their old school neon lights. On weekdays from 5-7 p.m., you can enjoy $2 PBRs, $3 Jim Beam Kentucky Fire shots, and $5 games of bowling.

Philadelphia Museum of Art – $20 or Pay What You Wish

No trip to Philly would be complete without mimicking Rocky Balboa’s iconic run up the Art Museum Steps. Enjoy the scenery of the Parkway from the top of the stairs before making your way back down to the Rocky statue. If your trip falls on either the first Sunday of the month or on any Wednesday, you’re in luck! Enjoy “Pay What You Wish” admission after 5 p.m, and check out the incredible exhibits our city’s monumental museum has to offer!

The Cheapskate Travel Guide to Philadelphia //

City Hall Observation Deck – $6

Fun fact: Philadelphia’s City Hall is the largest and highest in the United States. Take a ride up to the observation deck, just below the iconic William Penn statue, which offers a magnificent 360-degree view of the Philadelphia region. The tour last 15 minutes – we’ll understand if you don’t want to come back down.

Comcast Center – Free

The venue that houses Comcast’s world headquarters is  the tallest “green” building in the country (and the tallest building in Philly, period). It’s practically impossible to miss The Comcast Experience Video Wall – a 2,000 square-foot LED screen that projects incredibly lifelike, vivid images. After taking in the sights for a few minutes, head downstairs to The Market at Comcast Center for some shopping and a daily cheese pairing tasting at locally renowned, gourmet grocer DiBruno Brothers from 4-7 p.m.

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Race Street Pier – Free

The Race Street Pier is a great place to stroll, but if you really want to enjoy the city like a local, get your vinyasa on with a little urban yoga by the Delaware River. Voted “Best Free Workout Class” by Philadelphia Magazine, Yoga on the Race Street Pier offers free classes every day of the week. On weekends, classes start at 9:30 a.m. Don’t forget your mat, and a small donation to show your love.

MilkBoy Philly – $10-17

MilkBoy Philly highlights three of the things that we do better than any other city in America: amazing food, booze, and music! Owned by music industry vet Tommy Joyner and Philly restaurant vet Jamie Lokoff, this small, multi-functional venue offers a stellar lineup of national and local recording artists. Stop in for dinner or drinks and enjoy one of their awesomely cheap shows, happening most nights each week.

Enjoy the great outdoors – Free

Philly doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its beautiful outdoor spaces. If you want to get a real feel for the city, catch an outdoor movie along the Schuylkill Banks, enjoy a seasonal concert or event on the Delaware Waterfront, or rent a bike to cruise down Kelly Drive just behind Boathouse Row.

If you’re visiting in the winter, grab your skates and head over to the Blue Cross Riverrink for a few laps on the ice. Cuddle up by one of their rustic, outdoor fire pits while checking out the gorgeous view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. In the warmer months, this multi-functional venue converts to Spruce Street Harbor Park, complete with food and games, a floating beer garden, and outdoor roller rink!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //


Yakitori Boy – $1 skewers and $3.50 sushi rolls

Located amongst the exotic shops, restaurants, and bars of Chinatown is one of our favorite late night spots. Where else can you find authentic apps for so cheap? Wash down sashimi, tempura, and yakitori with $4 domestic drafts. Yakitori Boy’s happy hour specials will keep your pockets and your belly full. Plus: belting out karaoke on the second floor is mandatory. Rent a private room for you and a group of friends, or just bring your A-game to the bar!

Cavanaugh’s – Half priced steaks, $3 tacos, and 50 cent wings

With four locations across the city, Cavanaugh’s is a great place to stop by for a quick and seriously satisfying bite. Their awesome daily specials make them an affordable option, and their food is certainly a step up from traditional bar fare. We love their funnel cake french fries, half-priced-burger-Wednesdays, and free Quizzo! No matter when you stop in, we promise… something awesome will be on special.

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Federal Donuts – $2.50 for the best donuts you’ll ever have

Need to refuel with a midday sugar fix? Federal Donuts has five AWESOME locations in the city. They only do two things: donuts and fried chicken. And they do them oh so well. Choose either fresh and hot classic flavors (vanilla spice, strawberry lavender) or fancy, which constantly change but currently include lemon ricotta and chocolate eclair. For $9, you get half of a fried chicken, a side of Japanese cucumber pickles, and a honey donut. If you wanna indulge in some down-home fried food, Federal Donuts is the place!

Honey’s Sit’N Eat – $6-14 Brunch

This cash-only BYO is the perfect place to brunch; or breakfast, depending on when you stop by. Grab a bottle of champagne to pair with their fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice or, if you’re in a hurry to explore the city, take advantage of their weekday breakfast special: two eggs, potato latke, grits or home fries with toast and a bottomless cup of delicious La Colombe coffee for only $4.95!

The Cheapskate Guide to Philadelphia //

Philly Pretzel Factory – Three pretzels for $1.50

Baked fresh every day, the Philly Pretzel Factory is insanely popular, so you won’t have trouble finding a location while roaming the city. However, you may have a bit of trouble deciding on a dipping sauce to pair with your soft, freshly-baked snack. And, if you want to balance out all those carbs with some protein, try their pretzel (hot) dogs or a gooey pretzel cheesesteak.

Cheesesteaks & water ice – $2-9

If you’re visiting in the spring or summertime, be sure to complete your trip with a pit-stop for water ice! Rita’s is a beloved regional chain and Philly Flavors is the go-to around Center City, but definitely stop by John’s Water Ice if you find yourself in South Philly.

Of course, no trip to Philly is complete without a classic cheesesteak. Most people swarm to the glittering lights and hubbub of Geno’s and Pat’s rivaling mainstays on East Passyunk, but we recommend that you head a bit off the beaten path to Del Rossi’s Cheesesteak Co. or even Campo’s Deli. Trust these local favorites to prepare an authentic Philly cheesesteak that is worth every bite.

What did I miss, fellow Philadelphians? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. How to live out of a suitcase – glamorously 

photos by dave z // airbnb – patrick // airbnb – dominic // philadelphia house // chris favero // cucombre libre // kaitlin // scott d welch // dcwriterdawn // delaware river waterfront instagram // schuylkill banks // terry robinson // yakitori boy // cavanaughs // federal donuts // philly pretzel factory // xiquinhosilva

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  1. Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine

    YES to Federal Donuts. Don’t forget that Philadelphia is also the land of student discounts. And I capitalize on them as much as humanly possible. The symphony, for example. You would think big price tag, but it doesn’t have to be. Great spots from a great group!

  2. Katie

    Jim’s on South Street is my cheesesteak pick! You get the authentic “Wit or witout” experience with grumpy servers and all!

  3. Erin

    I can’t believe Reading Terminal Market isn’t on this list! A large indoor market of all independent, owner-operated businesses – most of them delicious food.

    • Jill

      I absolutely agree – I was shocked it wasn’t included.

  4. Trevor Huxham

    This Texas boy has been itchin’ to fly up to Philly for some time now, so I found these recommendations super helpful! Now I’m excited to visit soon!

  5. Sara

    Thank you, I’m planning a trip now

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