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The best free and cheap things for students in Philadelphia

Museums, stadiums, and stores that offer discounts for college students.

Students can get discounted tickets to South Street's Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.
Students can get discounted tickets to South Street's Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.Read moreMARGO REED / Staff Photographer

Tuition, boarding, books, and food β€” students have enough to spend their money on.

Luckily, a student ID unlocks many special discounts and free things to do across Philly, including deals at museums and access to special events. This story was updated Sept. 9, 2022.

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Here’s where students can go for free and cheap museum entry, deals on live performances, discounted tickets to sports games, grocery store deals, and more.


CollegeFest is a 20-plus year tradition that welcomes students back for the new academic year. The annual event takes place over a weekend in September (Sept. 10-11 in 2022) with more than 25 free experiences across Philadelphia, including free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute, free rock climbing at The Cliffs at Callowhill, a meet and greet with the Phillie Phanatic, and more. Those who register for the event online are automatically entered to win prizes such as gift cards and concert tickets.

🌐, πŸ“… Sept. 10-12

SEPTA Key Cardholder Perks

If you’re using SEPTA to get around, you’ll want to get yourself a SEPTA Key Card. The card is reloadable, contactless, and used for payment across the transit system. If you go to Penn, Temple, Drexel, University of the Arts, or University of the Sciences, get about 10% off monthly and semester passes with theSEPTA Key University Pass Program.

Once you have that SEPTA Key card, you can flash it for discounts on food, drink, museums, sports, shops, etc. throughout the city. Visit the website for the current list of participating businesses.


Every September, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival celebrates innovation and creativity with a city-wide event. Now in its 26th year, the festival will run September 8 through October 2 with more than 1,000 performances. Each show offers discounted tickets for students and those 25 and under.

🌐, πŸ“… Sept. 8 - Oct. 3


African American Museum in Philadelphia

The African American Museum in Philadelphia opened in 1976 as the first institution built by a major US city to showcase the life and work of African Americans. Buy $10 timed tickets online or in person. Some exciting news: The city announced in August that the museum will be relocating to Ben Franklin Parkway, expanding to three times the space. The project will likely take several years of fundraising.

πŸ“ 701 Arch St., πŸ“ž 215-574-0380, 🌐, πŸ“·@aampmuseum

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

One of the only kunsthalles (non-collecting museums) in America, with an ever-changing rotation of under-recognized artists, the ICA is the place to explore what’s new in the art world. The ICA will reopen September 16 for a new season of programming. Admission is free.

πŸ“118 S. 36th St., πŸ“ž 215-898-7108, 🌐, πŸ“· @ICAPhiladelphia

You won’t see another museum like this outside of Paris. The Rodin Museum is entirely dedicated to the different phases of Auguste Rodin’s career, with 150 bronzes, marbles, and plasters, including some of the world’s most celebrated works of art. Admission to the Rodin Museum is pay what you wish, with a suggested admission of $7 for students. The garden is free year-round for everyone.

πŸ“2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 🌐, πŸ•‘ Fri.-Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Get that Rocky statue selfie and view the collections at one of the country’s oldest public art museums. Students can buy tickets for $14, but if you think you’ll be going more than once a year, grab a yearlong membership. With a valid school email address, student memberships are only $25 and come with other benefits, including admission to the Rodin Museum, discounted $10 parking, a 10% dining and shopping discount, access to members-only programs, and more.

πŸ“2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., πŸ“ž 215-763-8100, 🌐, πŸ“· @philamuseum, πŸ•‘ Sat.-Mon. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tue.-Wed. closed, Thur. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-8:45 p.m.

The Barnes houses an impressive collection of rare impressionist and post-impressionist art, including masterpieces by Renoir, Picasso, Seurat, Matisse, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. Use your college ID for $5 admission to the museum. (You must call to purchase a college ticket.)

πŸ“2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., πŸ“ž 215-278-7000, 🌐, πŸ“· @barnesfoundation, πŸ•‘ Thur.-Mon., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

This 19th century mansion in Chestnut Hill is dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia and houses more than 8,000 works of art. In addition to the nine galleries, there’s also Woodmere’s outdoor sculpture experience. Admission is free for students with ID, and free for everyone on Sundays.

πŸ“9201 Germantown Ave., πŸ“ž 215-247-0476, 🌐, πŸ“· @woodmereart, πŸ•‘ Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

Where else can you view the tallest skeleton on display in North America, slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, and the jaw tumor of President Grover Cleveland? The MΓΌtter Museum is dedicated to medical history and the human body, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Students with valid ID can buy $15 tickets or a $35 year membership. You can also snag a dual admission day ticket for $21 that includes admission to the Penn Museum.

πŸ“19 S. 22nd St., πŸ“ž 215-560-8564, 🌐, πŸ“· @muttermuseum, πŸ•‘ 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

See a 3,000-year-old, 15-ton Egyptian sphinx, as well as more than a million artifacts and archaeological finds from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Mediterranean. College students with a valid student ID get free admission Tuesdays through Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Penn students can visit for free anytime.

πŸ“3260 South St., πŸ“ž 215-898-4000, 🌐, πŸ“· @pennmuseum, πŸ•‘ Tue.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Curious about how scientific and technological developments affect our daily lives? Learn about the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences and how science is all around us. Admission is free for everyone.

πŸ“315 Chestnut St., πŸ“ž 215-925-2222, 🌐, πŸ“· @scihistoryorg, πŸ•‘ Thur.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Check out documents handwritten by American’s founding fathers, and explore the rare book library, complete with more than 400,000 volumes at this tucked-away Rittenhouse museum. Admission also includes a guided tour of the historic house. Students can purchase timed tickets for $5.

πŸ“2008-2010 Delancey Pl., πŸ“ž 215-732-1600, 🌐, πŸ“· @therosenbach, πŸ•‘ Fri.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Mon.-Thur.

See both completed works of contemporary art as well as the material research, samples, prototypes, and video of the artists’ process. Anyone can visit the museum for free, though a $5 donation is suggested.

πŸ“1214 Arch St., πŸ“ž 215-561-8888, 🌐, πŸ“· @fabricworkshop, πŸ•‘ Closed Mon., Tue., open to members only, Wed.-Fri., noon-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun., noon-4:30 p.m.

Take a walk back in time and visit Old City’s Elfreth’s Alley, a National Historic Landmark. Tickets to the museum are just $3 for all adults, but you can always walk the street and view the residences from the outside for free.

πŸ“124 Elfreth’s Alley, 🌐, πŸ“· @elfrethsalley, πŸ•‘ Fri.-Sun., noon-4 p.m.

Attractions and Programs

Visit the home where Edgar Allan Poe lived when he wrote some of his most popular pieces. Tour the basement that’s eerily similar to the one in The Black Cat. Take a photo underneath the shadow of the raven statue. Listen to a dramatic reading, view the exhibits, and watch a short film about the life of one of America’s most famous authors. Admission is free.

πŸ“ 532 N. 7th St., πŸ“ž 215-965-2305, 🌐

If you’re using SEPTA to get around, you’ll want to get yourself a SEPTA Key Card. The card is reloadable, contactless, and used for payment across the transit system. Penn, Temple, Drexel, University of the Arts, and University of the Sciences students get about 10% off monthly and semester passes with the SEPTA Key University Pass Program. Once you have that SEPTA Key card, you can flash it for discounts on food, drinks, museum entry, and more throughout the city. Visit the website for the current list of participating businesses.

Learn about the U.S. Constitution and what it means to be β€œWe the People.” Your college ID gets you discounted tickets to the National Constitution Center for $13.

πŸ“525 Arch St., πŸ“ž 215-409-6600, 🌐, πŸ“· @constitutionctr, πŸ•‘ Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Liberty Bell is free to visit every day (for students and everyone) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

πŸ“599 Market St., 🌐, πŸ•‘ daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

See the site where the United States was born. Reserve your tour time by phone or online. Tours are just $1 per ticket.

πŸ“520 Chestnut St., πŸ“ž 877-444-6777, 🌐, πŸ“· @independencenps, πŸ•‘ daily, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.

Wonderspaces is a cool and casual art space with immersive, interactive exhibits that rotate every few months. Show your student ID for discounted $20 tickets.

πŸ“27 N. 11th St., 🌐, πŸ“· @wonderspacesphl, πŸ•‘ Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Wed.-Thur., 4-10 p.m., Fri. noon-10 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

America’s most historic prison offers a variety of tours year-round in addition to the popular Halloween programming come fall. Your student ID gets you a discount on some tours and $13 admission.

πŸ“2027 Fairmount Ave., πŸ“ž 215-236-3300, 🌐, πŸ“· @easternstate

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a multilevel maze of stunning mosaics, colorful glass, handmade tiles and thousands of glittering mirrors. Reserve student tickets online for $12.

πŸ“1020 South St., πŸ“ž 215-733-0390, 🌐, πŸ“· @phillymagicgardens πŸ•‘ Wed.-Mon., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Tue.

Clear your mind out in nature with a walk around Morris Arboretum, which houses more than 13,000 plants throughout its 92 acres. If you’re a student at Penn, you get free admission with your PennCard. Other students can get $10 tickets.

πŸ“100 E. Northwestern Ave., πŸ“ž 215-247-5777, 🌐, πŸ“· @phillymagicgardens πŸ•‘ Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Theater and movies

America’s oldest theater doesn’t have a specific student discount, but if you’re 24 or younger, you can get same-day youth tickets for $25. To snag a cheap seat, you have to buy tickets in person at the box office.

πŸ“825 Walnut St., πŸ“ž 215-574-3550, 🌐

There’s no need to go to NYC when you can see the best of Broadway right on Broad Street. In addition to Broadway-style performances, you can listen to jazz or classical music, see a magic show, comedian and more, all at the Kimmel Cultural Campus consisting of The Kimmel Center, Millier Theater, Forrest Theatre and Academy of Music. High school and college students can sign up for KimmelSTIX to receive emails with discounted $10 tickets to select Kimmel Campus Presents and Broadway Series performances. There are also a limited number of discounted community rush tickets offered via the website each week for select performances. Plus, completely free events such as happy hour sessions and Lunchtime Unplugged.

πŸ“300 S. Broad St., πŸ“ž 215-893-1999, 🌐

The Wilma offers $15 tickets to their topical plays to anyone with a valid student ID. Limit one ticket per ID, and subject to availability.

πŸ“265 S. Broad St., πŸ“ž 215-546-7824, 🌐

Sure, there are tons of ways you can stream movies to watch at home, but there’s still something special about watching it on the big screen. This University City movie theater offers $5.50 tickets for students every Tuesday.

πŸ“4012 Walnut St., πŸ“ž 1-800-CINEMARK, 🌐

The Ritz is the place to go for the latest indie, foreign film, or smart movie from Hollywood. During the summer, anyone can buy $7 tickets every Wednesday. During the rest of the year, students can buy discounted $8 tickets every Wednesday.

πŸ“214 Walnut St., 🌐


Cheer for the home team with $20 tickets at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies Student Steal program is available to all high school, college, and graduate students. Use the code STUDENTSTEAL to get the discount.

πŸ“ 1 Citizens Bank Way, 🌐

Get a glimpse of Gritty and watch some hockey with the Flyers Student Rush program. You’ll get an email 24 to 48 hours before select home games with a link to buy discounted tickets. Bring your college ID to redeem.

πŸ“3601 S. Broad St., 🌐


Show your student ID on Sundays and Wednesdays and get 10% off at this favorite produce stand. Shop quality produce, nuts in bulk, homemade juices, and more.

πŸ“1136 Arch St., Unit 467, πŸ“ž 215-928-4366, 🌐, πŸ“· @iovinebrothersproduce, πŸ•‘ daily, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Shop fresh produce as well as some Asian grocery staples at this Reading Terminal Market spot. Show your student ID to receive 10% off.

πŸ“1136 Arch St., Unit 436, πŸ“ž 215-922-1353, 🌐, πŸ•‘ Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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About the writer

Michelle Reese is a freelance writer who also runs the kids activities blog Sweet Mini Moments. She lives in Bucks County.