Cultural fun and historical sitesMusic lovers on a budget can dance, listen and learn during frequent free organ recitals, artist chats and concerts of all genres - some of which have audience members dancing along - at the five-year-old Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Free art and architecture tours also give visitors a behind-the-scenes look inside the majestic building. 260 S. Broad Street, (215) 670-2327,www.kimmelcenter.org.
Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches are in four locations around Valley Forge National Historical Park. Storytellers, trained at Once Upon A Nation's unique Benstitute, share riveting stories of the encampment, and how it became a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Short, five-minute stories are told for free at one of the signature 13-foot curved Once Upon A Nation benches. September 6 - October 25: 10:30 am - 4:30 pm, Saturdays & Sundays. For more info: www.historicphiladelphia.org.
The Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, a working history museum in Doylestown, wants its visitors to get their hands dirty as they help make ornamental clay tiles using the same techniques used by Henry Mercer's employees in the early 20th century when the tile works was a fully functioning factory. Self-guided tours cost $3.50 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and $2 for children ages 7 to 17. 130 Swamp Road, Doylestown, (215) 345-6722.
The Mummers Museum celebrates a centuries-old Philadelphia tradition, which can be traced back to Swedish settlers who brought to the Colonies their Christmas custom of dressing in costume and performing pantomimes. The annual parade started in South Philadelphia on New Year's Day 1901 and has grown into an elaborate 10,000-person, all-day affair. Admission to the museum, featuring a rich collection of Mummer's paraphernalia and memorabilia, is $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children. 1100 S. 2nd Street, (215) 336-3050, www.mummersmuseum.com.
Through imaginative interactive exhibits, the National Liberty Museum reminds visitors of the heroes who devoted their lives to preserving liberty for all by telling their vivid stories. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children with their families. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, www.libertymuseum.org.
On Sundays, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invites budget-conscious art lovers to pay what they wish for family programs and the opportunity to explore the collections, including works by Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dal?, Himalayan artists and local luminaries such as Thomas Eakins. The museum also offers free podcasts that help add perspective. 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, www.philamuseum.org.
Housing the largest collection of works by Auguste Rodin outside of Paris, the Rodin Museum features treasures such as The Gates of Hell and a bronze caste for The Thinker. A $3 donation is requested. 22nd Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, www.rodinmuseum.org.
Visitors to Philadelphia can explore town with a knowledgeable "friend" when they download a SoundAboutPhilly tour onto their iTunes or other audio players. Available at soundaboutphilly.com, the free, interactive and customizable audio tours offer insider tips from locals on where to go and what to know. The Web site integrates the audio with Google Maps to help people customize a map to match their selected tour.www.soundaboutphilly.com.
Although it may sound a little morbid, the Museum of Mourning Art offers a fascinating one-of-a-kind exploration of grieving rituals and symbols throughout the ages. Admission is free, but reservations are required. 2900 State Road, Drexel Hill, (610) 259-5800.
Popcorn, potato chips and pretzels, oh my! Visitors taking the free Herr's Snack Factory Tour can be assured that they won't be craving lunch. Factory visits finish with samples of chips, just out of the oven. Route 272 & Herr Drive, Nottingham, (610) 932-9330, www.herrs.com.
Tour Linvilla Orchards, a fully functioning, 300-acre farm, complete with a year-round farm market, barnyard animals and fields where visitors can pick-their-own fruits and veggies in season. Minimal costs for activities. 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, (610) 876-7116,www.linvilla.com.
Located on the grounds of beautiful Swarthmore College, The Scott Arboretum, an impressive 300-acre arboretum, features 4,000 varieties of regional ornamental plants and offers garden workshops. Free. 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, (610) 328-8025,www.scottarboretum.org.
Known as the birthplace of our nation, Independence National Historical Park includes the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Independence Hall requires day-of reservations for free admission and also sells $1.50 advance tickets, both available at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th & Market Streets. Between 5th & 6th Streets and Market & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305,www.nps.gov/inde.
The Betsy Ross House was the pint-sized Colonial home of Betsy Ross, who is credited with sewing the first American flag at the request of General George Washington. A $3 donation is requested for adults, $2 for children, but purchase of a $4 headset includes admission. 239 Arch Street, (215) 686-1252, www.betsyrosshouse.org .
For a bird's-eye view of Philadelphia, head to City Hall's observation deck, which sits just below the William Penn statue. Also, get a glimpse at the history of the city government while exploring this grand building. Currently, tours are free but docents will begin charging a small (yet to be determined) admission fee in spring 2007. Reservations recommended. Broad & Market Streets, (215) 686-2840.
Edgar Allan Poe, master of the macabre and inventor of the detective story, spent his most prolific years in Philadelphia, where he wrote "The Tell-Tale Heart" and, rumor has it, "The Raven." Recorded narratives and readings set to music by artists like Lou Reed and Christopher Walken make a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site come alive. Free. 7th & Spring Garden Streets, (215) 597-8780, www.nps.gov/edal.
Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the U.S., is a quaint cobblestone alley located in Old City. Admission to the Museum House is $2 for adults, $1 for ages 6 to 18. 2nd Street between Arch & Race Streets, (215) 574-0560, www.elfrethsalley.org.
The Johnson House, a Quaker home in Germantown owned by four generations of the abolitionist Johnson family, was once a vital stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the house displays various slavery artifacts and hosts history lectures, art shows and other special programs. Admission is $5 adults, $3 children. Reservations required. 6306 Germantown Avenue, (215) 438-1768, www.johnsonhouse.org.
Just a half hour's drive from Center City, Valley Forge National Historical Park, the verdant wintertime encampment of the Continental Army, offers a glimpse into the Revolutionary War with Washington's headquarters, log huts, monuments and statues. Visitors are invited to explore the park by car, bike or on foot. Park admission is free; admission to Washington's Headquarters is normally $3 per adult (but will remain free for the foreseeable future because of construction), free for ages 16 and under. Route 23 & N. Gulph Road, Valley Forge, (610) 783-1077, www.nps.gov/vafo.
Historic Philadelphia, Inc.'s programs include the Betsy Ross House, Once Upon A Nation storytelling and Adventure Tours, Franklin Square, and the Lights of Liberty Show. For more information, call (215) 629-4026 or visit www.historicphiladelphia.org.
Independence After Hours Evening Adventure Tour is a walking tour of some of the landmarks of Philadelphia's Historic District and is populated with Colonial characters who bring history to life right in the place where it happened. Tour-takers walk through the shadows of Independence Hall (in this unique opportunity to visit inside the Hall at night, with no crowds) and experience what those late nights of the summer of 1776 were like for the Founding Fathers. (Tour includes dinner at City Tavern, Independence Hall visitation, and The Lights of Liberty Show.) Through October 25: 5:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays. Departs from Independence Living History Center, 3rd & Chestnut Streets. $76 adult, $50 child (12 & under), $70 senior/military/student (dining gratuity included). Duration: 4 hours. Wear comfortable shoes. Recommended for children 10 and older.
One of the most popular programs of Once Upon A Nation is the Tippler's Tour, a tavern tour of Colonial and modern-day watering holes. A Colonial Bar Keep, acting as hostess or host, shares historical facts about the traditions of drinking and leads guests in Colonial drinking songs and toasts. Through October 30, 5:30 pm, Thursdays. Departs from Independence Living History Center, 3rd & Chestnut Streets, $30 adults, $25 senior/military/student. (price includes tastings and gratuity, 21 and over with valid I.D.) Duration: 2 hours
The Story of Valley Forge Trolley Tour offers an entertaining tour for visitors to experience the story of Valley Forge National Historical Park as it's never been told. Once Upon A Nation storytellers bring history to life right where it all happened. Nationally renowned Once Upon A Nation storytellers, using historically entertaining anecdotes, educate and amuse visitors on this unique, 90-minute, open-air trolley tour of Valley Forge Park. Through October 26: 11 am, 1 pm, & 3 pm, Saturdays and Sundays. November 28 ? 30: 11 am, 1 pm, & 3 pm, daily. December 27 - 30: 11am, 1pm, & 3pm, daily. $15 adults, $12 student/senior/military, $7 children 11 & under. Duration: 90 minutes. Departs from Valley Forge NHP Welcome Center. Tickets available at Welcome Center.
Lights of Liberty Show Welcomes Vistors Through October - Take advantage of the cooler fall weather and earlier sunset to catch the Lights of Liberty Show in Historic Philadelphia. The amazing sound and light spectacular tells the spine-tingling story of the American Revolution, how it happened, where it happened. Autumn is a great time to see the Show... you'll find fewer crowds and start-times from 7:30 p.m., making it a great after-dinner activity for the whole family. The Lights of Liberty Show runs Friday and Saturday evenings through October 25. Call 215-542-3789 or visit lightsofliberty.org for tickets.